Chances are, if you don't ride a motorcycle, one of the first things that pops out of your mouth when one of your friends decides to learn to ride is "there was this guy I knew, and he rode a Harley, and he was hit by 5 different cars ALL AT THE SAME TIME and now he's a vegetable."

Or something like that.

A little probing generally reveals that the rider was on his bike without a helmet, or he was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, sometimes even flip flops; nothing to protect his body from a crash. Or he was a self-taught rider, never took a safety class. Or there was alcohol involved.

Riding is risky, but there are things a person can do to minimize the risk. Dress for the crash, not for the ride. Take a basic rider's class, don't learn from Crazy Uncle Larry. Wear a helmet. Start on a reasonable bike, not a 1300cc sportsbike.

The majority of motorcycle accidents involve untrained (whether they have years of experience or not) riders, riders not geared up, and riders who "just had one beer."

There are exceptions, though.

Sometimes the stars just don't align right, and something Really Bad happens.

The day my father-in-law died, the boyfriend of my closest friend's daughter was on a motorcycle; one car hit another car that hit him. He was fully geared up, he knew how to ride, and had years of well trained experience. But it happened anyway.

At first it sounded promising; he had a few broken bones and some brain swelling, but it was survivable. The pressure in his skull was reduced, some internal bleeding was resolved, and it seemed like it was just a matter of letting him heal.

But then things went horribly wrong. He developed pneumonia. One lung collapsed. He became septic. When all those things were resolved his blood stopped holding onto oxygen. His family and girlfriend watched helplessly and waited, holding hope against hope, and praying ferverently for the outcome they wanted.

His funeral was 2 days ago.

He was 24 years old.

I know the risks of riding; he knew the risks of riding. I know that even though I do everything I can to protect myself that something might happen. You can do everything right and something might still happen. A rear tire might blow at 50 miles an hour. Someone in a car might blow through an intersection. Someone turning left from a center lane might not be looking past the van headed their way and might turn as soon as it passes, not realizing there's a motorcycle behind it.

I'm still going to ride.

I don't know if I have a point. Maybe it's just that bad things happen even when we do everything we can to prevent them. It doesn't seem fair, but there ya go.

Life isn't always fair. We suck it up and go on.

If you do ride, do me a favor and put your passenger pegs down and take a ride around your neighborhood in memory of a 24 year old named Justin, a kid who did it as right as he knew how.

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