That Sixth Sense

Jan 22, 2014 View Comments by

The Sixth SenseSince the start of winter and my recovery (which, by the way, is going fine) I have found myself in the unfamiliar position of passenger, while my wife drives. What I have noticed is that either I have become the world’s worst back seat driver, or I have developed a sixth sense. Logically, I assume it to be the latter, and expect that most motorcycle riders are also so-gifted.

What I found myself doing is calling out to my wife the numerous shortcomings of the other drivers on the road. Things like, “look out, he’s going to cut you off; Yeah, I know he doesn’t have his signals on.” Or,“they’re not going to stop!” My wife is amazed (and annoyed) at these powers of mine, and on numerous occasions has asked how I knew these people were going to respond so poorly.

What I believe is that these are the survival techniques I have learned from 30-plus years of motorcycle riding. “Everyone is out to get you.” Believe this and you’ll live; don’t and you’ll learn new words like HMO (Health Maintenance Organization). We have grown into this heightened state by the very nature of our sport. Let’s face it, we are a very small target in a herd of four, six, and eighteen-wheeled monsters. To survive we learn to watch for the subtle signs: wheels that are turned just a little too much, that glance over the shoulder, a sudden burst of speed, the agitated driver cutting in and out, talking on the phone, or, worse, texting. More than a sixth sense, it’s a learned response of the experienced.

The best advice I got was when I was just turning 16 was from an older rider, like someone my age now. It was simple but true. “The day you think you know everything about riding a motorcycle is the day you don’t get on. Because that’s the day you’re going to get hurt. Always expect the unexpected.”

Ride on.


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About the author

A Wisconsin farm boy, I learned how to ride a cow, before a horse and way before a motorcycle. I first started riding on my 16th birthday and I took my first real ride at my party: I pulled a wheelie and dug a trench in the lawn, which sent the bike in one direction and me in another. I was irrevocably hooked!