Risky Business

I think of myself as a very risk-averse person. I don’t drink G & T in tropical countries in case the ice is made from unclean water. I don’t walk under ladders. I don’t like PB going into the loft on his own in case he falls out and I’m not there to call 999. But I must be labouring under a misconception, because it seems that I put my life in danger on a more-or-less daily basis.

For reasons connected to work, disclaimers and their legal force are on my mind at the moment, so I read the declaration on the back of the entry form for the National Rally with more than usual interest. I am required to agree that “the dominant cause of any serious injury will always be my voluntary decision to take part in a high risk activity.” Perhaps I’m deluding myself, but I don’t agree that riding a motorcycle is inherently a risky thing to do. I think it’s a highly-skilled activity demanding better training and higher mental focus than driving a car – and that’s what makes it worth doing.

Before an extremely long and boring meeting last week, while chatting to the bloke opposite, we discovered that as children we’d both wanted to be fighter pilots. Sadly, being in possession of a pair of ovaries knocked that ambition on the head for me, but we agreed there were strong parallels between wanting to be in command of the best and coolest thing in the sky and being able to ride the engineering miracle which is god’s humble motorcycle without dying.

But perhaps that just confirms me as a speed-addicted maniac. If I’d actually passed my IAM test, I’d be thinking about starting a campaign to send our green badges back in – unless of course Victor L Harman is simply a made-up name to encourage more correspondents to write to Advanced Driving magazine. Mr Harman avers that “motorcycling is over-glorified” and is incompatible with the “base princples” of the IAM (I like the thought of an organisation having base principles, mainly because it reminds me of the time Nicholas Parsons put down my Rocky Horror Show heckle with a withering “How base,”) “which are about avoiding unnecessary risks rather than inviting them, as motorcyclists regularly do.” I don’t think I invite unnecessary risks – but perhaps I do simply by leaving the house in the morning. Maybe I should take Felix Dennis’s advice:

Parachutes tangle;
Brake pads fail;
Seat belts strangle;
And trains derail.
Motorbikes maim you;
Ships collide;
New boots lame you;
Stay inside.



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8 responses to “Risky Business

  1. Ah yes, I saw Victor Harman’s wind up – a little research revealed that he is is motoring writer living in Macclesfield(?) ..if my 2 days Athenian addled brain serves me.He probably drinks at the Cat and Fiddle Inn and has a completely distorted impression of motorcyclists. In the same publication was a query from another “victor” or “herbert” concerning the efficacy of staying in lane 3 at the speed limit – the IAM did at least point out the error in this but I am beginning to wonder about the sort of people who frequent the IAM – maybe my BMW instructor was correct in his observation – the institute of average motorists.

  2. Mr Harman’s little rant provoked some comment on our group website as well. Plonker and caravan owner were amongst the least offensive phrases used. I read a couple of his pieces (in Wot Diesel Car, no less)and it is fair to say that they will not be studied as examples of breathless C21st prose in years to come. But they did cover the speed, handling and acceleration of the vehicles he was writing about. Another Gezzer wannabe! The guy is a Troll, but in claiming that all IAM rideouts exceed posted speed limits as a matter of course, I reckon he has entered the Gross Misconduct arena, it will be interesting to see where it goes from there

  3. I DON’T BELIEVE IT – WOT DIESEL CAR – ROFL!He’s probably big in the Austin Allegro owneras club too.

  4. Why is it that people in general see motorcycling as dangerous? I’ve had way more instances of near misses walking to the post office and crossing in a marked crosswalk with people trying to run over me than the few that have occured when riding. At least I have ATGATT on the bike. No protection as a pedestrian. The general public’s pre-conceived notions regarding motorcycling being dangerous astounds me at times.

  5. You have to promise that “any” serious injury is due to being on a motorbike? Ah well, good to know that if we’re all in danger of being wiped out by an asteroid strike, the way to avoid any serious injury is to make sure you’re not on a motorbike. Useful tip to remember.

  6. The thing to remember with disclaimers is that the courts would take a dim view of anyone trying to exclude liability for their own negligence. This is just a lawyers love fest at the end of the day…

  7. I agree wth Nikos.Have a great Easter

  8. ISTM, riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous simply because the machine on which we sit, moves at a fair pace and it is quite easy to fall off, or be knocked off it, and the consequence will be painful at the very least. However, like all risk it can be controlled, to a point, and the it can, therefore be mitigated, to a potentially acceptable degree. Hammering a nail into a piece of wood is also potentially dangerous but no-one suggests we shouldn’t do it. We should be free to accept risk to ourselves if we want to but putting others at risk through our actions or failure to take suitable action, requires acceptance of the possible consequences.
    I missed the letter in question,but from what you reiterate, I feel he has no idea what an IAM motorcycle rider aims to acheive. Having seeen several would be GP riders on the roads today, however, I think I know what he may be referring to.
    However, I also riled at the self righteous, self appointed, speed enforcer in the outside lane and was disappointed that the IAM response didn’t make it a lot clearer that this behaviour was simply not acceptable or indeed, safe. If that really is the IAM creed than my green badge will be in the post too.

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