There is the crunch of gravel under rubber, but this time it’s different. I’m travelling under my own power and the rubber… it’s the sole of my runners and not a front tire as you might have expected. It’s an experience I’m thankful for.
Almost a year ago I had an accident that had the medical types murmuring about “never running again”. Long story short, I got very lucky last year. This year, others haven’t.
Locally, there has been a rash of accidents of late, and this is the point I ruminate on while I jog… to call it running would be an overstatement. I’ve come to the point where I dread going onto the local sportbike forum for fear of what I’ll find. The “Rider Down” threads have become disturbingly common and familiar.
I crunch onward and a fellow traveller waves at me; in a moment I’m struck by what motorcyclists and runners have in common. The “biker’s wave” and the “runner’s wave”, they both give us a sense of community and belonging. And when someone goes absent from the morning jog or the evening coffee run we notice.
There are more than a handful absent from the local riding community these days. The causes are numerous, mechanical failure, road conditions, speed, inexperience and pilot error. Many of them are the same factors that fuelled my own airborne escapade and subsequent landing. As a result, I’m travelling slower now – there is no glorious re-attainment of the 6.5-minute mile in my future. On the bike I’ve slowed off too.
I’ll still go out and have a good stomp, moving like quicksilver through the corners when the spirit takes me. But not all the time. Why? Smelling the roses every now and then is part of it, believe it or not there’s this stuff called scenery. Realizing there is a world around us to explore by one wheel drive is part of the rational; there’s more to the motorcycling package than just an evening rip, travel by bike can be far more filling. Memory of the accident, it still looms large in my mind – especially in left hand sweepers. More important than all that though, is a growing sense of responsibility.
Lots of new bikes and riders have binned it this year, and a friend has made a good point regarding the root cause of these accidents. We’ve built a cult of speed. It’s the example that most sport riders set to the noobies. Often new comers to the sport struggle to keep up and are hurt or killed emulating this pattern.
Now I find myself travelling a little slower at times, I’m not exercising those little slippages of the law that have become the commonality of riding and I’m keeping an eye out for who may be watching.
Crunching down the trail I pass a slower jogger and wave. Thankfully there are no double yellows here.