Episode 31:  Motorcycling with Your Eyes Closed

I call this episode “Motorcycling with Your Eyes Closed - Don’t let this happen to you”.  Of course we ride with our eyes open!  What a silly thought.  We motorcycle riders are hyper aware of everything going on around us.  We make sure that the car we’re approaching sees us.  We watch for wildlife crossing the road.  We’ve got to be careful because our health depends on it.  

But this past week, my eyes were not as open as they should have been and I regret what I didn’t do.  Maybe it’s a lesson for all of us.  Thank you for joining me today.

I’m a safe rider.  Yeah, I approach the limits sometimes, but I consider myself and very experienced and very safe rider.  Ya know, when someone asks me, “Why do you wear a helmet?”  I can answer that question in one word.  “Experience”.  Like many of you, I rode minibikes and motorcycles as a kid, on the dirt, through the woods.  And when you’re a crazy kid, riding every day, on the dirt and through the woods, you’re going to fall.  And I did.  And you learn very quickly, that falling hurts and leaves scars. 

So yeah, just like you, I don’t want to get hurt again, so I wear all the protective gear, and especially out here in Colorado, I keep our eyes wide open.  Eyes wide open.

But, this past week, I wasn’t watching closely enough.  No, I wasn’t in an accident.  My eyes were wide open for my own safety, but I was not paying enough attention to the safety of someone else.  And I have been regretting that all week.

I was riding East on Highway 14 here in Colorado, from Walden toward Fort Collins.  This is a very windy road.  Most roads that follow the path of a mountain river are windy and 14 is no exception.  I was deep in the mountains, about 40 miles from town.  It was at the intersection of 14 and Pingree Park Road that I decided to stop and wipe the layers of bugs off of the shield of my helmet.  It was about near the time for sunset.  It was here that an old kinda beat up Subaru drove up beside me and stopped.  

The car was quite old and beat up and I noticed that the backseat was full stuff. I couldn’t really tell what.  The young lady, driving alone,  was maybe 20 years old and she had a British accent.  Now, in tourist towns like Estes Park, or ski areas like Vail, we hear accents from all over the world, but not out here, so far from where visitors to the area would normally come.  This is more wilderness that most folks are used to.

In her cool British accent, she said “I’m looking for a free place to camp for the night.  I’ve heard that I can camp for free up this road in Pingree Park.  Am I going the right way?”  And I replied with the correct answer which was “Yes, it’s right up that road”.  I knew too that some months ago, a family was badly injured, actually I think someone was killed on this road, rolling off the side of the mountain, so I added “Be very careful on this road, because it’s a dirt road with no guard rails and steep drop offs”.  She said “Oh, OK.  Will I find a place to camp before the dangerous parts?” and I said “I don’t think so, so be very careful”.

She thanked me for the information and advice, then she started up the steep dirt road, heading to Pingree Park.  I guess I thought to myself “well Ron, once again you’ve done a good deed” and I put back on my helmet with the clean windshield, started up my new motorcycle and headed for home.

It wasn’t until I had ridden for about 20 minutes, that it hit me.  I was stuck by the realization that I let this young lady go into possible harms way without offering an alternative.  I thought to myself, can I turn around and ride really fast and try to find her out there?  I decided that it would be too late to try and too dangerous for me to be racing up Pingree Park road this late in the evening, so I rode back to town. 

I rode back to my comfortable home, where my loving wife was waiting.  Where my dog, Sally would greet me by jumping all over when I walked in the door.  Where I would have a good meal and a comfortable bed, and a guaranteed safe and happy night's rest.   

When that young lady asked me for directions, all alone way out there in the middle of nowhere, in a way, she was asking for help.  Although my eyes were wide open, I was blind to that fact.  What I could have so easily done offer to pay for a camping spot near by.  I could have ask her to follow me back down Highway 14 down river for just a short distance where there was a beautiful, safe, public campground, with clean, safe restrooms, right by the river.  Yes, it’s requires a fee to camp there and that’s probably why she didn’t stop there.

Of course, her condition is just an assumption.  I know nothing about this young lady, other than she had the British accent and was driving a very beat up Subaru, but I could see the worry in her eyes about that road since I had described it as dangerous.  I would assume that she wouldn’t be risking going up to Pingree Park if she had the money to spend, maybe $25 or so, to pay for a nice camp spot just down the road.

I mentioned the situation to someone this week who told me that maybe this young lady just wanted to be alone out there and didn’t want anyone else around.  I wish I could convince myself of that possibility.  Yeah maybe, but I don’t think so.  A huge regret.

I share this, because we on motorcycles need to be approachable.  I guess if I did anything right, I appeared approachable.  But we also need to keep our eyes open to others who may be in need of help, but they’re just not using that word.  

I believe that sometimes we on our motorcycles are put into situations for a reason.  I mentioned on an earlier episode how I was out riding and a truck driver on the side of the road flagged me down.  She described a mechanical issue with this very large Diesel engine.  It was nothing less than a miracle that I had straps and large tie wraps in my tool bag that fixed that engine.  I still can’t believe it.

Anyway, we should always keep our eyes open for all those crazy drivers and wildlife that cross our paths sometimes.  But let’s also keep our eyes even more wide open, for each and every opportunity to do something good for others.

Thank you for listening and for telling your friends. I wish you peace.  I wish you love.]