This is a recovery scene from a non-fatal accident that occured on Sunday

This is a recovery scene from a non-fatal accident that occured on Sunday

Column: The ache of motorcycle fatalities

This week's Throttle Therapy column parks the didactic view and looks through a lens of compassion.

It breaks my heart whenever I hear of a motorcycle fatality.

I first started riding when I was 25, and in my first year, a 25-year-old women died in a motorcycle accident, in the same city in which I lived.

My phone rang off the hook. No, it wasn’t me; yes, I was okay. Inwardly, I shuddered at the notion that it might have been me.

Sometimes, when there is a non-motorcyclist to blame, it makes it marginally easier. Marginally being the key word.

Because then there is an emotion outlet: you can rage against the “other,” the one who failed to notice “one of us.”

When the motorcyclist is at fault, there is no such outlet to relieve the ache.

In efforts to prevent this happening to anyone, I repeat the mantra over and over again: Take a course, take a course, take a course.

My first stint on a bike was in my early 20s, on the back seat. I loved it. My friend knew I would love it even more if I shifted to the front seat, so he attempted to teach me to handle the machine.

“It’s easy,” he said, “just hold in the clutch, put it in first, release the clutch and you’re off.”

After learning where the clutch was and how to tap the bike into gear, I did what he said, dropped his bike, and promptly (and happily) hopped back onto the back seat. After he picked both me and the bike up off the ground.

My next stint wasn’t until years later.This time, I signed up for a course, paid through the nose, and haven’t regretted a single spent penny. In fact, I was so married to the notion of being an educated rider that I became an instructor (and eventually a Chief instructor) with the Vancouver Island Safety Council for nearly a decade.

But here’s the kicker: educated or not, an accident — even a fatality — is a forever looming risk.

It’s horrible when we under-estimate our speed and take a corner too quickly, or when a deer leaps in front of our path of travel, or when a massive rock makes a sudden appearance from under the wheels of the vehicle in front of us.

It’s an accepted, educated risk. I know this can happen to me, but because I love to ride, I choose to.

We pit vehicles against bikers when there is an accident. We lash out and find blame at all the stupidity that’s been granted licences. We rant and rave. But strip away the futile rants, and all you’re left with is a core of sorrow.

As good as a rider I think I am, truth is, it could have been me.

Today, this column goes out to anyone who has lost a rider. There is a collective ache of sadness when this happens, and assigning blame will not undo the reality of what is.

Today, I have only two pieces of advice:

1. Ride smart.

2. Live compassionately.

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

Barriers to rental housing brought on by no-pet rules add stress to renters, says councillor. (Pixabay)
Saanich councillor wants to remove barriers to housing for pet owners

Motion calling for province to amend lease stipulations against pet ownership defeated in 5-4 vote

(Victoria Cool Aid Society/Facebook)
Victoria food drive aims to feed those also struggling with housing

Quadra Village furniture store hosting drive-thru event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in Saanich parkland

The birds don’t often touch down in the south of the Island

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read