Street Savvy - Can't We All Just Get Along?

MC Garage

By Jason Harper, Photography by Aaron Frank

I'm not looking for sympathy. Just getting the word out about a little tumble I took last Sunday. My bike is totaled. I sustained four broken ribs, a T-7 spinal compression fracture and a bruised lung, along with some bumps and bruises. This despite full leathers, body armor, a full-face helmet, roadracing gloves and boots. Another 6-8 weeks should put me close to 100 percent. The doctor says not to lift anything over a pound-upsetting for me and my 22-lb., 15-month-old daughter-but the biggest trauma was to my wife's psyche. Before the tumble, she was happy just to see me so happy after a ride. Now, she's worried sick every time I head out. What happened? A motorcycle gang ran me off the road.

All 18 wore matching black-leather vests announcing them as some sort of "Riderz." Some wore shorts. A few wore gloves. Several wore open-face helmets. A couple were sporting the kind of shin guards typically reserved for baseball catchers. Nothing new: just some wannabe stunters with no apparent stunting abilities. I came across them on the same mountain road I've ridden for almost 20 years, moving at a medium-slow pace in tight formation. I thought about turning around or pulling over to put some space between us, but we're all brothers, right? Not to worry. I rode behind them for a mile or so, looking for an opening to move through safely.

They eventually started moving to the right. Some waved me through. A few had helmet-to-helmet communicators, so perhaps they were warning each other that I was coming. I was uncomfortable, but focused on getting out of there, giving them the thumbs-up as they let me through.

The first guy in line was more reluctant, watching his mirrors and using the whole lane to keep me behind him. I was more disappointed than frustrated. Just as I considered passing over the double-yellow, he pulled to the right for a couple of bends. That looked like permission to pass, so I did. Moving by on the left, I gave him the thumbs-up. He flipped me the middle finger, grabbed a handful of throttle and pulled alongside me as we entered the next right-hander. I moved slightly to the left and jumped hard on the brakes. My front tire skipped over a reflector on the centerline as my bike and I slid into the berm on the other side of the road.

Rising out of the dirt onto my hands and knees, I watched the Riderz go by. Not one stopped. Some flipped me off. Did they run me off the road simply for trying to ease politely by? Maybe. Did they teach me a lesson? Definitely.

If you come across a motorcycle gang and don't feel that brotherly love, give them a wide berth. It's not worth it. And if any of the Riderz happen to read this, brotherhood was my default position. What was yours?

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