...everytime I climb on my scooter and head out the driveway on a ride.
And I know it and the fear of taking that chance kept me from riding a scooter or a motorcycle for over 20 years.
And tonight on the local news another motorcyclist has been killed by a car "not seeing" them. I know this happens all the time. And yet I continue to choose to ride.
And I've decked out "hi viz" in obnoxious yellow and orange just to be seen. I've flown a hi viz bicycle flag from my scooter, I've worn a hi viz vest over my jacket, I've outlined my scooter frame with 3M reflective tape, I choose colors for bags and accessories that enhance visibility.
And yet I know that even this may not be enough. But I choose to take that chance because I love to ride. And I refuse to live my life afraid of doing so anymore. I refuse to waste any more of my years watching scooters and motorcyclists ride past my door and yearn to join them, but being afraid.
I have joined them these past 5 years and I've had some close calls myself, even with all my "hi viz" and "high vigilance". Twice to be exact. Twice if I not been purely "lucky" I would have been killed by a car.
Once was right in front of my house. I was considering stopping by my mailbox on the right side of the road before turning in my drive on the left side of the road and thought, no, I'll check the mail later. But something pulled me over to the right side of the road where I stopped and all of a sudden, silently and very fast, an SUV came up my left side from over the hill behind me. Had I turned left into the drive I would have been hit and killed.
No doubt this driver never saw me because he almost side-swiped me. I felt the suction of the wind on my left side he was that close.
Another time was similar and but for the grace of God I was not killed. I was stopped on a quiet 2 lane road in front of an Amish market and was signaling to turn left. Not a car in sight. Luckily I was posed on near the center line. A car (with a drunk person) came from behind at high speed and almost side-swiped me from the right.
Again, I felt the pull of the mass of the car to my right. Never heard it, he never saw me. He wasn't looking. Then he proceeded to stop his car, get out, and walk back toward me ranting and swinging his fist calling me every name in the book.
Luckily an Amish buggy pulled up behind me and he saw the Amish man step down and come over toward me. He then turned and went back to his car.
After each of those incidents (2 years apart) I sat off of the scoot for almost a week. I was shaken. For all my vigilance and care in riding I still could have been a statistic.
Eventually I got back on because I know that everything we do out on the road, car or scooter, is a chance we take.
I must drive a car in order to make a living. I choose to ride a scooter because doing so brings me wonderful experiences and feelings that I do not want to be without in my life.
I do everything I know to take precautions: I do not ride when I am tired or distracted; I deck out "hi viz"; I ride as if I am invisible; I stay away from as many roads as possible that are heavily traveled by cars; I am constantly checking my rear view mirrors; if I feel unsafe I pull over and let others go by with no shame whatsoever; I gear up; I ring my Gremlin Bell! LOL.
On the Ruckus I more or less rode it like a bike, staying on slow roads and riding on the side most of the time on roads 45mph+. On the Elite things will be different. I will be able to go up to close to 55mph and can traverse some 45-55mph roads when necessary. I won't do this often, but I will have the option if I am traveling at distance from home, which I will be more easily able to do with the Elite.
Any MSF courses are over 75 miles away in Cincinnati and they fill up fast. I have never been able to avail myself of one for those reasons. Riding there on the Ruckus (or even the Elite) would be almost crazy, considering the traffic I would have to ride in to get there to the site.
I am wanting to check out somehow doing one of these, however, even if I cannot do it on my own ride and have to use one of their motorcycles. So I am going to check into doing that and also see if the Harley dealers sponsor a safety course anywhere close to me.
Beyond all that, I still know that every time I ride I take a chance. I am ok with that for now. I wonder if I will always be "ok" with that. I hope so. I have so many things I'd like to do, so many places I would like to explore on a scooter or motorcycle. I can't imagine not having all that to look forward to.