Casual Everyday Heroes
Some psychologists claim that people sometimes watch horrible stories because of their subconscious need to feel safe; in other words, people are glad that a certain nasty thing hasn't happened to them.
It may sound a bit wacky, but there is much truth in this. And if you're true to yourselves, just think about your favorite online motorcycle community and how often you check the topics related to crashes, fatal or not. Why this is, there's need for a lot of scientific research over longer periods of time, and most likely no definitive and widely-accepted answer could ever be forwarded.
The idea of this editorial came as I simply stumbled upon the most interesting YouTube movie showing a guy whose right arm and leg had been amputated...yet he was racing hard on a sportsbike, and he was doing it pretty well.
After the initial awe faded away, I just sat and thought about my friends who have sustained all sorts of injuries after crashing in various situations; and my thoughts were also of those (few of them, happily) who have died in bike accidents. I wondered how life can change after an utterly unfortunate event which leaves the rider scarred, missing a finger, an arm, a foot or an entire leg and so on.
The forums are literally full with people commenting on crash-related topics and many of those who write there add the “I'm thinking about selling the bike...it's too dangerous these days” every now and then. A question pops up: is it really worth quitting riding?
After watching that initial movie, I kept on searching for similar ones and I was amazed to find out that there are a lot of riders who had bad luck and lost arms or legs and have not quit. It may sound like a crappy motivational discourse, but seeing these guys struggling back in the seats of their bikes again is absolutely majestic.
I've thought about this matter more than once... what would happen if something really bad comes my way? What if I lose a leg? What happens if a reckless car driver doesn't see me coming his way and hits my bike leaving me in a wheelchair? What if I simply crash because of my own mistakes or stupidity and get seriously injured? Will I ride again after recovering to what's left of my former normal life?
Some might say that we shouldn't pay too much attention to such thoughts, and that they are too scary to contemplate. Indeed, these are dark and unhappy things, but claiming that they're not real doesn't simply wipe them away from existence. Each time we get on our bikes, no matter how well-prepared we are or how experienced we might be, we ride in the wake of danger.
Even more, I'd say we're sailing a sea of dangers and there are only a few things that might help us get back in one piece at home. Nevertheless, I won't get on my motorcycle in fear; neither would I ride in disdain: it's just the fact that my ride must be ok and end ok. And looking at those guys made me realize that “ok” can take so many shapes...
Dramatic as it is, losing a limb due to a motorcycle accident seems not that much of an obstacle for some. If one can race using only the left hand and leg, it means that there is definitely much more to life than quitting while one is in perfect health.
Seeing the efforts people make to sit on their bikes and learning how to balance in the absence of a leg or getting used to the modifications made to their motorcycle so that they can operate it with one hand makes me believe that they're some sort of modern heroes.
They are the casual everyday heroes, people whose inner strength I openly admire. And if you just think a bit further, you'll most likely agree that a wonderful ray of light still shines through the clouds of bad luck: their families and friends who support them with all their hearts, being by their side as they learn how to cope with their new state and trying their best to help them follow their dream.
Feel sorrow and weep for those who are no more, pity those whose lives changed forever after horrible injuries, but by all means, never fail to support them as much as you can. They need your help – as little as you can provide; they need to win their own strength back and carry on. And as they do so, you'll most likely enjoy riding with them once more, having a beer at the end of the day and realize that true passion makes life beautiful.
And that's not only about the bikes, but about the life itself: be good and ride safe!