CHOICES…

It’s always upsetting to hear a fellow motorcyclist has lost their life while riding….more so when it’s a co-worker, friend, or family member. Friday morning – leading into the long Fourth of July weekend – I got the interoffice email from the President of the company with the subject line “Tragic News”…co-worker, fellow rider, and friend Jim Hogg had lost his life commuting to work earlier that morning. In the 45+ years I’ve been riding motorcycles, I’ve lost a few friends to riding accidents. I never get used to it, each time is different and they seem to all somehow accumulate in my soul changing my motorcycling perspective and the reasons I ride.

Motorcycles are dangerous, I get it. Such events drive this point home and make one seriously evaluate their passion for riding. It’s an extremely unpleasant mental process of questioning something in your life that brings you tremendous joy – yet may lead to your demise. The longer you’ve ridden the more likely you are to have multiple similar tragic stories in mind that all weigh in on the subject. For some, such an event would result in ceasing to ever ride again and I completely understand that. Sometimes these people become a little fanatical about trying to convince everyone they see with a helmet in their hand about the pending death that awaits them if they continue to ride. They mean well. Others try to stuff the event deep down and pretend it didn’t happen. I understand this as well, the riding means so much to them that they simply don’t want to examine the potential downfalls – often rationalizing the tragedy saying things like “They died doing what they loved” (this rarely applies…I don’t think Jim loved commuting to work on a crowded freeway). Still others look for reasons…how did this happen?…what could’ve been done (or avoided) that may have prevented this tragedy?…what can be learned from this?

I guess I mostly fall under that last category, I find myself wanting to know what happened. In this particular case, the questions are many and for the most part unanswered. See, according to the news story the police received a few calls reporting “a motorcycle down” on the side of the road at about 7:30am – and that’s it. They arrived on the scene to find Jim’s lifeless body near the crashed Dynaglide he was riding to work. Now, this is alongside of one of Southern California’s busiest 4-5 lane freeways during “rush-hour” traffic. That’s the first question that keeps going through my mind, of the hundreds – perhaps thousands who drove by – why didn’t anyone stop? Surely someone saw what happened and just continued driving. Even if they didn’t see it happen, here’s another human being lying on the side of a road – why didn’t any of them choose to stop and see if there was anything that could be done? Then there’s the actual mechanics or physics of the accident. Was there another vehicle involved, perhaps a road-rage situation of some sort? If so, this could mean a homicide was ultimately committed. Or was Jim simply speeding and traffic stacked up, as it often does in this area, and he swerved off the road losing control? Was there some sort of mechanical malfunction (not likely, Jim was a professional)? Maybe he had a freak heart attack or something and was gone before he ever hit the ground?

A CHP officer looks closely at a Harley-Davidson motorcycle after it’s rider died Friday morning in Anaheim.

CHP officers assist an OC Sheriff’s coroner during his examination Friday morning in Anaheim.
The answers to these and many others that keep bouncing around my head will likely never be answered. It seems that sadly there is a sort of bias towards motorcycle related injuries or fatalities at times. It’s as if people (who don’t ride) are too quick to jump to the simple conclusion “well, motorcycles are dangerous and that’s what happens”. Perhaps that’s what all those drivers thought to themselves as they chose to drive by Jim lying on the side of the road that morning. It reminds me of the line from the Rocky Horror Picture show when the motorcyclists ride by Brad & Janet, Brad says “-life’s pretty cheap for that type”. Those of us who ride know better. If anything we appreciate life more than most. We know it’s a fragile and precious commodity not to be wasted. Maybe that’s a big part of why we ride, and why we continue to ride. For me personally, I think it’s a balance…I have no illusions that it could never happen to me, but I also know what riding means to my soul. It’s not about fear verses thrill; it’s far more than that. It’s about understanding the risks and choosing ride in spite of them because of how riding enhances your life. I truly hate losing a friend and I know riding motorcycles is dangerous…but so is a life not lived to its fullest. I choose to keep riding.

Godspeed Jim…you left us too soon Brother.

5 Replies to “CHOICES…”

  1. Great article, Glenn, you nailed the essence of a very dangerous sport with fondness and respect for a fellow rider.
    You should mail this to a bike magazine publisher; its that good.
    Doug.

  2. This article is amazingly poignant, brings together each and every one of my thoughts and opinions regarding being a “rider”. And that I am. Most importantly this particular tragedy. Thank you for your touching and clinical observance of this situation. It actually kinda made me feel a little better, took off some weight. I knew Jim from Jr high and HS and this tragedy really shook me. Again, thank you Cycle Dude… New fan.

  3. Excellent article. It sums up a lot of what I’ve been feeling since I heard about accident. My condolences to you and his family.

  4. Well said my friend, I share your feelings, and miss Jim every day that goes by. Godspeed Jim Hogg, I hope to ride with you again one day.

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