Perils of Motorcycle Riding

With the winter finally here in New York, I cannot take it for granted that I can ride my motorcycle to work everyday. Firstly its cold. The temperature in in the 40 deg F range….which is close to 0 deg C. Ad to that the wind chill at 30 miles per hour. However a good jacket and gloves and a full face helmet are my saviours on such days. What makes it very difficult to use the bike, is the freezing rain. And this week we had a lot of it.

So everyday I get on my bike is one extra day. The thought of not using it over the winter is depressing. The only saving grace is that, I will be in Bombay in less than a month and then can ride my motorcycle there to my hearts content.

Motorcycle riding has been something in my blood for generations. My grandfather rode an 1946 AJS Matchless, and my uncles and dad grew up on everything from scooters to Rajdoot to Kinetic Hondas.

My own bikes are the KB 100 in Bombay and the Honda Nighthawk 750 here in NYC.

This article in the Wired this week sums up some of the travails that go into motorcycle riding in the US, where there is scant regard for motorcyclists. Motorcyclists call car drivers “cagers”, after the fact that car drivers are ensconed in a cage of metal !!!

I was riding my motorcycle to work one morning a few months ago when the car in front of me stopped. Cold. The woman behind the wheel had a phone to her ear, but she also had the green light. There wasn’t any traffic to speak of and there was nobody in front of her. In other words, she stopped for absolutely no reason at all (except, probably, for whatever it was someone had just whispered into her shell-like ear).

Although I was at the speed limit, her stopping was so completely unexpected that I didn’t have time to ride around her, which would have been the usual evasion tactic. My choices: Dump the bike or visit her back seat. I hit the brakes and down I went, ass over teakettle. I never touched her. I landed on top of the bike, fortunately, emerging with a badly bruised elbow (not to mention a rip in my leather jacket) and a pretty nasty welt on my upper thigh. The motorcycle got beaten up pretty good but everything was put right for about $400 — more than the bike itself is probably worth.

As I looked up, with murder in my heart, off she went, oblivious to what had just happened behind her. I hope that phone call was her boyfriend, dumping her.

Continue reading at the Wired.