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Two Sundays ago, for the first time, someone in my riding group went down. I didn’t see the crash happen. I came around a bend and saw one of my fellow riders in a drainage ditch on the side of the road, getting out from under his Ninja. Two other bikes were parked and their riders running toward the downed rider. The leader of the pack hadn’t yet realized that he lost the group and would arrive a few moments later after making a U-turn. I was in the rear of the pack and I parked and scrambled as well.
The guy was OK. The bike was OK too – just a whole lotta mud and a small barely-noticeable scratch on the fairing. He rode away from the crash with everything physically and mechanically in tact – very fortunate. And even though I didn’t see things go down, there was a lot to learn from the situation:
It’s OK to be last in the pack. This particular group of riders are big-time risk takers. They have a “spirited” riding style and push the limits. But I enjoy the fellowship with them, and I always learn something. Kind of like when I ski with better skiers or golf with a scratch golfer. Art, the guy who leads the pack is in his 50’s but he’s the single most aggressive guy I ride with. He works for a performance bike shop and rides a jacked up 240 horsepower Triumph Rocket III Silverback. I can’t keep up. And I don’t try. I let them do their thing, and Art waits for me at the intersections.
If I were in the middle of the pack on this ride, trying to keep up, and the guy who crashed was in front of me, who knows what could have happened? Maybe I would have been startled and lost control myself. If I was in front of him, maybe I would have been the one to hit the patch of dirt that brought him down. But none of those things happened because I was content to ride along in the group at my own pace, and not pressure myself to keep up with a far superior group of riders.