Room 101

Hi-viz clothing on motorcyclists!
Now I swore I wouldn’t get into moaning but what the …. is wrong with that shhhh? I’ve been riding bikes for years and okay, I get the idea, leathers are good for low-speed slides, they can save your skin, yep; I get it.
Crash helmets, yep; sure, if you slide and don’t smash your head against a post; kerb; vehicle; brick wall, etc etc at speed you should be lucky and survive. The same goes for boots, gloves, etc. At normal town-speeds, (20-30m.p.h) assuming you don’t mash yourself into anything too solid you will, in general, be okay.
I’ve had two low-speed, non-fault, (the polices words, not mine) accidents. One with a cyclist who rode straight out in front of me. No time to react, 25m.p.h, jeans, lid, gloves, leather. Knocked unconscious, fractured right collar-bone, various scuffs and bruises.
Second one was a car pulled out, no time to react, 7-10m.p.h, over bonnet, landed on head, flipped onto back, dislocated thumb and I’m coming to realise a year on that I also smashed a chunk out of my right elbow which makes leaning on it painful.
Now how hi-viz clothing would have made any difference whatsoever to the outcome of either of those ‘minor’ (no-one died) collisions I have no idea but I do know one thing.
I didn’t shame myself by walking around like a beacon of nafl.
I didn’t shame the world of men by noncing about like the lollipop man.
I didn’t embarrass myself, my family, my school, my colleagues, anyone whose ever known me or even seen me in passing, by indicating that a preference for orange or luminous yellow might actually have the slightest effect other than to illuminate to others that I am indeed a fully paid up member of the Advanced Sadass Section (A.S.S.) of the driving community.

Motorbikes are not safe. They can be made a lot safer by the interventionist, defensive, cautionary riding of an advanced and skilful rider but they can never be made safe and that’s why I like them.
I like that I might die.
I like that there’s a risk.
I like that they scare car drivers and the live-forever-even-if-it-means-sucking-soup-through-a-straw-for-the-last-five-years-while-I-piss-my-nappy-in-front-of-the-t.v-in-the-nursing-home brigade. In fact; I love that.
I love that the risk is lessened by the way I decide to ride and that so many of the lesser, weaker, members of society view my ability to take the risk as something slightly frightening or even stupid:’good; it is.
I fervently believe that anyone in hi-viz should be seen as a potential target. These are, after all, the sort of people who wear matching cardigans.
The sort of people who have a quick-release kagul handy at all times.
The sort of men who were In the cubs while their wives were guides and now prise their unsightly buttocks into inadvisably tight leather one-piece touring outfits. Why bother? Just buy the caravan you would be so much happier in, go to the south of France in that with your other dentist/accountant/civil servant friends and have done with it.
I know I’m about as rebellious as the maths teacher at the local high school but at least I’m attempting to keep the image up and there’s the rub.
Once upon a time there was an element of cool to riding bikes, the sort of people who did were mavericks; rebels, people with something about them; a story to tell.
Now we have Mr and Mrs Jones attempting to join the party and by doing so, ruining it for everyone, even those self-same car drivers who bemoan the yobby element of the motorcycle crowd but I honestly believe even they feel a little sense of shame and embarrassment when a fully-laden gold wing turns up with Mr and Mrs normal blaring Cliff Richard as they turn into the cross channel ferry port in matching hi-viz waistbands around their paunches! Unsightly, ugly, embarrassing and frankly: lamentable.

Have some dignity, buy a Volvo and leave us.


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