After 25 years on 2 wheels, your perception of danger changes. What would have terrified me years ago often presents nothing more than a minor annoyance. Just as it’s rare for me to actually crash nowadays (usually in the rain on a bike I hate.) It takes a LOT for me to feel like I narrowly escaped death. Today it happened.
I was charging up one of my favorite country roads, in absolute bliss, rocking out to MGMT’s “Time to Pretend”. A flock of sportbikes headed south as I headed north. I gave them the thumbs up to indicate there had been no cops down the road. I was looking for a return signal from them. I hadn’t been on this road in a few months, and never when someone was turning out of the driveway just ahead on the right. Well, this being Memorial Day, even though we were well beyond the main recreation area, a driver pulled into my lane to turn left out of the driveway hidden behind the tall reeds.
From about 70mph, somewhat banked over in a turn, I knew I didn’t have time to stop. Lucky for me (and I mean LUCK) the driver froze in my lane, and there were no cars in the oncoming lane. So I was able to gently swerve around in front of him to avoid t-boning him. What’s interesting is that braking was not even a consideration. I’ve noticed that in two other recent incidents, neither of which were as life-threatening as this one.
As for today’s big drama, the correct thing to do would’ve been to go slow enough to stop if a surprise ran out of the bushes (as surprises tend to do in the mountains), then speed up again once I’m in an area with more visibility. If the driver had not stopped, I would’ve hit him. Even Vin Diesel’s stunt driver wouldn’t peel out of a driveway fast enough to have avoided that potential crash. I wish I’d had my camera on, picture being worth 1,000 words and all…
The Rebirth of Hope
I left the house this afternoon thinking about what I might want my life to be like five years from now. Which of course got me to thinking how my life is so not like what I imagined it would be five years ago. Lately I feel I’ve given up hope. Yet I keep pressing on, finding new sources of inspiration to keep my chin up. Seeing the Angeles National Forest covered in a blanket of green, racing through the scent of wildflowers, seeing this dammed river brimming with water, proves there is hope. Life is cyclical. No matter how destructive we are, life bounces back. It may not be the same life it was before, but there is this indestructible life force that will not be denied.
As my favorite quote says it- “Nature must not win the game. But she will not lose.” Still, I’d like it if we humans didn’t burn down the forest so often. And macabre as it may be, I did spend part of the rest of my ride wondering what I’d want to wear to my funeral. Still not sure, but it has to be something Evening that I made. Plenty to choose from. On the bright side, I turned the music off and focused on the ride. Had a glorious ride, particularly on a stretch of road I’d avoided for almost a decade, which has recently been repaved. I would’ve continued avoiding it, but my favorite road was in the midst of repaving. And gravel’s no fun on a sportbike. I got to the spot just in time to watch WSBK Race 2 and make new friends, and took that gorgeous picture on the way back. For perspective, here’s a picture I took in December 2009, not far down the road…