Born to Be Wild: motorcyclist dies riding helmet-less in a helmet law protest
Over the recent holiday weekend, a middle-aged motorcyclist in upstate NY died in an accident that occurred while he was participating – helmetless, natch – in a group ride protesting helmet laws. A state trooper suggested that the guy would have lived if he’d been wearing a helmet.
This, of course, sounds like one of those “truth is stranger than fiction” things, reminiscent of the classic Mary Tyler Moore episode in which Chuckles the Clown, dressed as a peanut, is crushed to death by an elephant. Only this time, there’s a real person who’s died, not a sitcom character you’d never even seen.
While I know a couple of people who “ride,” the amount of time that I have spent on a motorcycle equals the amount of time I have spent sky-diving and bungee jumping, raised to the nth power. That is to say, it is zero.
My father (pre-wife-and-kids) had an Indian Motorcycle, but I only knew my father in his Ford sedan days. When we encountered motorcyclists on the road while out for a Sunday ride, he would scoff at them as “Hairbreadth Harrys”, after a cartoon character of his boyhood. I assume that Hairbreadth at one point headed out on the highway, looking for adventure, in whatever came his way, thus creating the association between motorcyclists and old Hairbreadth.
I did ride a motorbike once.
I was in Bermuda for my company’s sales kick-off, and we had a free afternoon before any of the obligatory sessions took place. (Like every other sales kick-off I ever participated in, my role was that of boring content provider, sent by boring corporate to talk about boring new product features. The role of the sales attendee, on the other hand, was to get plastered each night, then show up – or not - bleary-eyed and hanging, at the “obligatory” product sessions run by the boring product managers and boring product marketing folks.)
Anyway, I rode – gingerly, I will say – into Hamilton with a couple of the other boring corporate types.
On the way back, I had gained a bit of confidence and picked up some speed.
Unfortunately, when we went into the rotary at the foot of the entrance to the resort hotel where we were staying, I headed in the American – not British – way. Overcorrecting, I ran into a stone wall, banging up my knee in the process. Nothing serious – I wasn’t going fast enough to do all that much damage – but I was caught on film by the video crew that was shooting footage for the HIGH-larious “show” that would take place a the wrap-up dinner on the last night of the sales kick-off.
I made it clear to the videographers that, if my crash scene actually was included in this film, I would personally hunt them down and beat the living crap out of them. Or hire someone to do it for me.
Fortunately, they took me seriously, which was surprising, since the overall tone of this particular company’s sales kickoffs was always gotcha!, especially when it came to the boring corporate pukes who always tried to drag down the sales kick-off by refusing to get shit-faced and run around the hotel corridors half-naked. (At another memorable sales kick-off – same company - a group of us bores barricaded ourselves in the suite of our division’s GM, where we sipped wine and played Trivial Pursuit while all hell rampaged outside our doors. At one point, a group of sales guys took the canister ashtray that was near the elevator and tried to use it as a battering ram to break in on us. After that, my company was banned from that hotel. We were also banned from ever returning to Bermuda, I believe. Something about a hot-tub incident involving a senior executive and Bermuda’s finest.)
Anyway, riding a motorcycle is not on my bucket list. Physical derring-do is just not my strong suit. (I’m afraid I’m the one in the motor cart getting lapped by six year olds.)
Plus I find the noise that motorcycles make appalling.
One thing when they’re on the highway making a lot of unmuffled noise so that we know they’re coming – which is the motorcyclists’ safety claim. Quite another when they’re in the middle of the city, gunning down Beacon Street after they’ve revved by the State House to, I guess, give the finger to the legislators who passed the helmet law that requires them to wear one while they’re riding.
Personally, freedom to go Easy Rider-ing, wind in the hair, is something that I’m in favor of.
Hey, if you want to put your life at risk, be my guest.
As long as you’re willing to take the economic risk, go forth and ride bareheaded, bandana’d, cowboy-hatted, Viet-Vet slouch-capped, or chapel veiled.
I just don’t want MY insurance premiums to be calculated based on YOUR risk pool, and I sure don’t want MY taxes going to provide brain surgery and after care on someone who was foolish enough – IMHO - to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet.
But if you’ve got insurance that’s got you covered. And if your loved ones are okey-dokey with this. Well, motor-on!
The guy in NY at least died doing something he loved, and something he believed in.
Tough at the age of 55, but not a bad way to go, although I’m quite sure that this is completely ghastly time for his friends and family.
RIP, Philip Contos. You died with your boots, if not your helmet, on.
Source: Huffington Post.
Born To Be Wild (Steppenwolf)
Get your motor running
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way…
Like a true nature child
We were born
Born to be wild
We have climbed so high
Never want to die
Born to be wild
Born to be wild
(I actually do hope they play this at his funeral…)