One thing I loved when I first started riding sportbikes was the feel of immortality. Bound by nothing but the laws of physics, a ride in the mountains was an exhilarating thing. Heck, with a bike, the commute to work could even be something of transcendental joy. Nothing better than bopping in to work on a Monday morning all smiles because you just hopped off your bike.
I worked hard on my skills, progressing over time from an í81 GPz550 to an í85 VF700F and finally (after a detour or two) to a í95 RF600R. I rode every day; rain or shine, winter or summer, a bike was my only transportation. By 1999, my commute extended to 100 miles per day in the saddle, split evenly between superslabs, city traffic, and every winding two-lane I could squeeze into my daily trek. I had a couple spills, both in rainy weather, and I learned my lessons from them; cheaply, too, since the first involved nothing more than a bloody knee and the second a broken rib and thumb (Bikes, however, tend to get off light from sliding on greasy asphalt. Both times the rider cost more to repair than the ride.) The more and more I learned from my daily jousts with weather, winding roads, and woefully inattentive cagers, the more immortal I got.
By the time I had 37,000 miles under the tires of the RF, I was at the peak of my daily rider skills; I was truly immortal. Wolf Pen Gap and the North Georgia Mountains? Not a problem, I was fast and safe. The daily grind in rush-hour traffic on I-85? Likewise. Freezing wind? Dodging 18-wheelers in 3 AM sleet? I could do it in my sleep. And then it happened.
The first really good riding day of the summer, I got off the freeway a few exits earlier than usual to enjoy a balmy June ride on sun-dappled streets. On arrow-straight, tabletop-flat pavement seven lanes wide, as the only vehicle moving on that stretch of road, on a summer day at high noon with not a cloud in the sky, I was cleaned off my bike at a mere 45 mph by a Camry pulling out of a driveway, while the driver was looking right at me on my pink-and-blue Suzuki. They had to string the bits of my shinbone onto a steel rod like add-a-beads.
It was his fault, and he admitted it in traffic court. After a summer in a wheelchair, his insurance settled out of court. I no longer rely on just a bike for transportation, since the driver bought me a nice BMW ragtop. I did, of course, buy another bike; a Suzuki TL1000S, the first new vehicle Iíd ever owned.
I ride it a lot, both with my friends in the mountains and solo, because you can never stop riding. I still love it, too, but I find Iím no longer in the hunt to be first to the top of the mountain. I found that no matter what my skill level is, I donít control the skill level of the other drivers on the road.
And Iím not immortal any more.