04 October 2012
A Day's Ride
From Indianapolis North to the State line, Indiana, with a few exceptions, is nearly flat as a billiard table.
South of Indy the geography starts gradually changing. At first the terrain starts to undulate, but elevation changes aren't so great as to require the roads to go around hills.
Then the hills get bigger and the roads begin to resemble snakes. Just North of the Ohio river, elevation changes get pretty dramatic and the roads are heaven for motorcyclists.
I grew up just South of Indianapolis. I didn't have to venture very far to find "interesting" roads to ride on my 250cc Harley-Davidson "Sprint".
Since bikers attract bikers, it wasn't difficult to find yourself in the middle of a group of four or five guys, all headed South to find some curves. One summer day in 1963 my little Harley was surrounded by a group of friends riding a Honda, a Triumph, and an Allstate-Puch. South on Indiana Highway 135, we found ourselves carving curves in Brown County State Park. Roads in the park are smooth, wide, and traffic is relatively light. Soon we were challenging one another to see who could negotiate curves faster.
It wasn't long before we attracted the attention of Park Rangers. Stopped as a group, we surrendered our Driver's licenses and were instructed to "follow me, boys!" We soon found ourselves at the office of a local Justice of the Peace, paid a $35 fine, and were told to be on our way and "SLOW DOWN!"
The balloon had been popped and the fun of the day was gone.
We headed North for home.
About three miles from home, back on relatively flat ground, looking out ahead to the next intersection, we saw a State Police car on the right berm, lights flashing. Having just been chastised by law enforcement, we slowed down to a snail's pace. Abeam the trooper's cruiser, off the road about 30 feet, we saw a mangled Honda 50cc "Cub" just in the corn field in front of a big four-door sedan. We stopped, dismounted, and walked back toward the trooper investigating the accident.
"Two sets of identical twins. Two Honda 50's. The older set of twins had their driver's licenses so one each was driving the bikes. Each of the younger set of twins was riding as passenger. The first bike was about half a mile ahead of the second, so in order to try to catch up the boys on the second bike ignored the stop sign and were T-boned by the car."
"How are the boys?"
He sighed, paused... "I think they're gone."
Even today it makes me sad to think about it.
Think of the chaos and emotion at that scene...
Two boys frantically trying to get help for their identical twin brothers.
A Summer joy ride turned into a horror because of a mistake at a blind intersection.
Life is a risk.
If you break the rules or make a mistake, you're asking for pain.
But we're human and we know we'll sometimes break the rules or make mistakes.
That's when wearing your seatbelt or wearing a helmet and gear may be the difference between livin' and dyin'.
Put that ugly, uncomfortable thing on your head.