Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beware the bugs

I saw it coming about 100 metres away.
At first, it was a black speck off in the distance, but as I cruised down the highway at the legally posted speed limit on my motorcycle, the black dot got bigger and bigger until it looked like an eagle wearing a bug costume.
It was Jurassic bug.
This sucker was huge. I could literally see it coming. There was little I could do to avoid it as it was flying right down the middle of the road. I had only a few seconds between spotting it and hitting it, or it hitting me.
This thing was of such bulk I actually felt it hit my shoulder with a thud/splat combination.
I felt kind of bad because I am sure I had just killed the last of an ancient, 10-billion year old line of bugs that used to buzz T-Rex and his friends.
Somehow this thing had survived in some sort of stasis and awoke just seconds before flying into my riding jacket at 90 kilometres an hour (the posted speed limit.)
When I got to work I was mildly repulsed at the bug guts-black jacket motif I had created.
But when you ride, interactions of the bug variety are impossible to avoid.
A buddy of mine took a junebug to the visor once at about 160 k.p.h. and the impact actually damaged the clear plastic screen bolted to his cranium protector.
It snapped his head back and nearly knocked him off his bike, but it also gave him a great story to tell about flying critters and bikes without windjammers.
Another bug incident happened to a different friend who was riding down a lonely road late at night.
He was ahead of me and as he came around a tight corner and under a street light, he rode into a solid mass of white moths.
He gritted his teeth and plowed through. Problem was, when he gritted his teeth he must have opened his lips a little bit because he immediately pulled over and scraped several of the winged beasts from his pearly whites.
I had a full-face helmet on so I just sat back, watched and had good chuckle as he pulled bug guts from his gums.
It is reasons like this I cannot understand how anyone can ride a motorcycle without some sort of face shield. Be it a big windscreen, a full-faced helmet or something.
Years ago when I used to have a life, a few of us would get together once in a while and go screaming down to the Coast for a couple of days of fun and frivolity.
Often we would pop into a bike shop in Washington State where – at the time anyway – riders did not have to wear a helmet.
I can remember crossing the border, strapping the helmet to the back of the bike and thinking, “Is this ever going to be cool, ripping down the road, the wind in your face, feeling free.”
I had thoughts alright, but they were more along the lines of, “Does this ever suck. The wind is plastering my face and all the dirt, grit and bugs are sandblasting my pretty features.”
OK pretty is waaaay too much of a stretch, but if anyone wanted to get rid of wrinkles, just go for a high-speed ride without a helmet and all the crap in the air would blast those wrinkles away.
Of course, if you crash without a helmet, wrinkles would be the least of your worries.
Even if you survive cracking your cranium, there is a good chance you will be getting crayons for Christmas for the rest of your life.
I think I rode for about five minutes without a helmet before pulling over and putting that wonderful piece of cloth, foam and fibreglass back on.
I did learn one thing – you do have to be tough to ride without a helmet – you might not be too bright, but you have to be tough.
I kept looking at the ground and thinking the only thing between my skull and the pavement was a thin layer of hair and for me it was a very thin layer of hair.
I also thought about that junebug my friend encountered and realized riding without a helmet is not that cool after all.
In less time than it takes to boil and egg, I accepted I was a wimp and wanted my helmet back. I missed the protection if offered and felt naked without it and nobody wants to see me naked – trust me on this one.

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