RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

The Road Often Traveled: ATGATT

Mar 11, 2012 View Comments by

My bike disappearing from beneath me remains the strangest sensation I’ve ever experienced. You get used to the sound and vibration of the engine and wind noise, which ordinarily only ends when the ride does, and you shut the bike down. This time, in an instant, there was complete silence as I flew through the air. Next came a dull smack of plastic from my helmet and the armor in my jacket and pants impacting the road, followed by some tumbling sounds, and then no sound at all until some passersby stopped to help me.

I’d been struck in the side by a deer at about 45 miles per hour. After a few minutes of body inventory I stood up, brushed myself off, and realized I was fine. I did find out later that I’d broken my collarbone. It’s a testament to the quality of today’s protective gear that, except for my helmet, the same jacket and over-pants I wore that day lasted another two years.

The worst part of crashing is having to tell those close to you what happened. You know what most reactions will be. The majority of people who don’t ride have preconceived notions about how dangerous motorcycle riding can be, and crash stories only reinforce their beliefs. Being able to say, “Yes, I’ve crashed and walked away,” makes it easier to allay some of their fears, and wearing proper gear increases the likelihood of this should the unthinkable happen.

I’ve always been safety conscious and still wear a light jacket all summer, along with a helmet, boots and gloves. My reasons are many, primarily my own safety of course; but it’s equally important that the people we leave at home when we set out for a ride know that we are aware of the risks and are serious about riding safely. It’s important for me that they have that small peace of mind. Let’s face it, there are dangers involved in motorcycling; but as a former rock climber, I’ve always said that just because something involves some element of risk doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be pursued. It means it should be pursued seriously and with an eye towards being as safe as possible.

To that end, I’ve taken the safety courses available locally, wear all the gear all the time (ATGATT), read what I can about proper technique, and let my loved ones see me suit up. It’s the least I can do for myself, and certainly the best thing I can do for those who care about me.

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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.