Main Motorcycle: 2010 Thunderbird SE
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kansas City
Other Motorcycle: eventually
When Too Old to Ride?
As I approached a stop sign yesterday I saw bike on its right side and a guy trying to lift it upright. I pulled my bike into a driveway and parked, took off my helmet and walked over to the guy. He was still in his riding pants, jacket and helmet, trying to lift his machine using proper bike righting technique, but not getting anywhere.
Even with his helmet on and visor down I could see that he was an older man (I’m 60, and he was significantly older than I am). “Ah, Triumph guy,” he called out. I was wearing my 20-year old Triumph T-shirt. “Think you can lift this thing?” I said I could with his help, so he lifted from the seat while I lifted from the bars. A car had pulled up behind us and a couple got out and I instructed them to lower the side stand.
We got the bike on its stand and I looked it over. Actually, this thing was not a motorcycle but a large scooter with a 650cc engine, hard saddle bags and a fairing. The right-hand mirror which housed the turn signal was the type that folds in an accident, so I pulled it out into its correct position. Aside from a few scratches it seems OK.
A guy on an XS1100 pulled up next to us and asked if he could help. “Hey, an 1100!” declared the old man. “You really have something there!”
I asked the old man if he would like to take off his helmet and sit for a while. He wanted to get going and straddled the scooter, turned the key and hit the starter. I noticed wires from a dash-mounted I-Pod going to earbuds in his helmet, and the wire was wrapped around the twist-grip. I untangled the wire and asked again if he would like to sit down for a bit. He started the scooter.
I delayed his leaving until all the cars had cleared the 4-way stop intersection (several cars had lined up behind us and I waved them around). Once the way was clear, the old man thanked me and XS1100 guy and took off. The old man left, making a very wide right turn (no on-coming traffic, fortunately) but making it.
I walked over to my bike, put my helmet and gloves on, hit the starter and rode off, taking the same right turn (but not nearly so widely). I rode a couple of blocks up the hill to a traffic light, which was red. I was in the right lane so I was unable to turn left. I looked to my left and saw the old man lying under his scooter in somebody’s lawn. He had evidently turned left and went wide, hopping the curb. He was slowly pulling himself out from under the scooter, helmet off, with neighbors gathering around him. He appeared to be OK, all things considered. Unable to turn left I rode on when the light turned green. A police car, a fire chief and a fire engine all raced by me towards the crash site, so I knew at that point that he would be taken care of. I regretted not insisting more forcefully that he take his helmet off and sit for a while before he rode away, but I can’t get a do-over on that.
As I continued to ride my very large, heavy, powerful motorcycle, it occurred to me that I was doing so with ease. The weight was not unwieldy for me and I was in complete control both physically and mentally. I felt bad for the old man, whose riding days are probably over (if he has any sense or if his kids can convince him). I felt young for the first time in a long time.