Even though both of my bikes are considered power cruisers, I’ve always taken pride in not using that power irresponsibly. I like knowing that if I need to get out of a dangerous spot, I’ve got the power to do so. I can quickly accelerate to pass a large vehicle, or to get out of somebody’s blind spot. Twice, a twist of the wrist has taken me out of the path of potential danger. Maggie’s get-up-and-go has gotten me out of a couple of tight spots at intersections when another driver wasn’t paying attention.
But that power was not to be abused. I took pride that I drove close to the speed limit, didn’t shoot through intersections and waited for large gaps to merge or pass. To me, a good rider is one who makes good decisions and avoids the necessity of riding on the edge to avoid disaster, not somebody who lucks out after getting themselves in a bad spot with supposed riding skills. I had no respect for those people I’d see darting around cars and shooting intersections as the light changed. I still don’t.
Imagine my surprise then to discover I’d become one of them. I realized I was driving like some stupid young kid on a sport bike, or Squid, as we old cruisers call them. I was on the Valkyrie one day, stuck behind a couple of cars on a four-lane road. They were pacing each other going right at the speed limit. The road ahead was clear, but I couldn’t get around them as they poked along side by side at almost the same speed. They were actually traveling at a reasonable speed, the speed limit. But in my squidified mental state, this was an intolerable situation. A small gap finally opened up as one car slowly pulled ahead of the other and I cranked the throttle and shot through it. I kept the throttle open letting my cobras roar as I looped around the car ahead of me, cutting back into the lane far too quickly. I took some satisfaction in the thought that I probably scared the dickens out of the cage driver.
That’s when the 55-year-old, responsible adult who’d been asleep somewhere in the back of my brain finally woke up and demanded to know just what the heck I was doing. I’d only been back on the bike a couple of weeks at this time. Somehow I’d been seduced by the power available with the flick of a wrist. I don’t know if it was a subconscious revolt against the frailty I’d recently felt or some other factor. I just know I’d let it take over. The speed and acceleration had become a narcotic, and I’d gotten hooked.
There is no Squids Anonymous nor a 12-step program. This has to stop right now, cold turkey. And it has. To my relief, simply calling my behavior to light was enough to remove the desire to act that way. I’ve always been repulsed by the attitude of those who’s lack or respect for themselves, others and their sport, allow them to behave so irresponsibly. Realizing that I was behaving that way was disconcerting enough to remove the temptation to do so again.
Thank goodness my epiphany didn’t come with a call to 911 and the sound of sirens.
－ Guy Wheatley