Thursday, September 19, 2013

Smokers: BEWARE!! (Warning: tiny rant ahead)

After 650kms in one day, this was our warm welcome to the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Parry Sound, Ontario

Of course, after a few days of perfectly clear weather in Montreal, the day arrived when we would have to make a 650 kilometer run for Parry Sound, Ontario to make it to the Horizons Unlimited meeting, and it was pouring. Although we had wanted to get an early start in order to arrive before dark, we were more interested in staying dry than arriving by light. So, we waited until there was a break in the rain and then set out.

Our “good” weather lasted for about an hour and then a massive rain cloud caught up to us. I stayed dry for the most part, but hadn’t layered up before we left Montreal, so I got pretty cold, pretty quickly. This was a no-nonsense riding day, though… so we didn’t stop until we’d found a gas station to fuel up at, with a Wal-mart next-door where we could buy sandwich fixings. My mood improved after a good lunch and a healthy dose of endorphin releasing chocolate… but my butt was starting to sing, so I dug out my sheepskin seat cover from the bottom of my pannier, and fixed it over my seat. A nice bit of luxury, yes, but one that means I will be sitting about an inch higher up and my feet will be that much less firmly planted on the ground. Luxury, yes, but also a risk.

Anyway, we got back on the road and tried to put as many miles behind us as possible, before the sun set. I was thoroughly enjoying riding through the Algonquin Provincial Park, about 150 kilometers from our destination. The nicely designed road wound around beautiful lakes and the beginning hints of color suggested that autumn was not far off. So yes, I was enjoying this ride until we got stuck behind a Chevy that was clearly not as excited about its destination as we were. Oh well, it’s not entirely bad to have a car in front of you on roads that are signposted every 5 kilometers with Moose Crossing warnings. 

We ride with a pretty safe following distance, so it was quite obvious when a small flaming item came hurtling out one of the Chevy’s windows, and bounced along the road straight in the path of our motorcycles. A cigarette butt!!! Ok, what is the likelihood of this hurting us or doing damage to the bikes... not high. BUT, there have been instances of butts flung from cars flying up and getting trapped in motorcyclists pant legs or jackets, requiring them to execute risky emergency maneuvers in order to spare themselves from being severely burned. And there have also been reports of cigarette butts getting trapped in the helmets of riders, causing at least one person to fatally lose control of his motorcycle. Everyone knows what it feels like to burn her/himself on a hot pan: not good. But can you imagine having a burning cigarette stuck in your helmet? burning the sensitive areas around your eyes and cheeks?

So yes, even if the chances of these things happening are about as likely as being eaten by a Great White Shark, or struck by lightning, it is still considered littering, which there are laws against in most States/Provinces AND this person was littering in a Provincial Park! AND creating a forest fire hazard.

So, the Irish in me exploded to the surface, and I layed on my horn giving them a “what the heck” gesture I hoped they saw in their rear-view mirror. Perhaps they just didn’t realize that there were motorcyclists behind them… I mean, our bikes are rather quiet.

Nope!! Moments later, another fiery butt appeared from the passengers window. This time, I didn’t lay on the horn, I leaned on it… for a solid 10 seconds. I was FUMING (fortunately, not literally). I have a terrible memory, but I committed that cars details to memory… black Chevy with Ontario plates: BMME 959… fully intending to report them to the authorities in the next town. Perhaps not much could be done, but maybe a warning would make them think twice before chucking butts out the window, again.

We eventually passed them, worrying that they might be chain smoking and that we would soon have more blazing traffic hazards coming our way. And I will let you car drivers reading this in on a little guilty pleasure I have grown to appreciate during my time motorcycling... If you are telling someone off in traffic from the protective box of your car, they cannot hear you screaming at them. The glare from your windshield, your steering wheel, the side panels of your car, all detract from the message you are trying to convey to the other car who has just cut you off. However, on a motorcycle, these barriers do not exist, so when I pulled up next to that car as I was passing, and looked that driver directly in the eye, shook my head and gave him the most pithy, disgusted look I could manage, I’m pretty sure he got the message.  

Anyway, by the time we made it to Parry Sound that evening, I was frozen. We pulled into the camp where the event was being held and there were a number of motorcyclists sitting around the campfire and milling around event registration. Fully aware that I had put my seat cover on, trading stability for comfort, I focused so intensely on pulling my bike up and backing into a parking spot, that my feet were nearly warm by the time I successfully got off the bike without dropping it in front of 30 other bikers. Five minutes later, while we were in the process of registering, we heard a crash outside and another biker, a big, strong-looking, long-legged guy, had dropped his bike. See, it happens to everyone : )

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for telling it like it is! Just be aware of those who "Road Rage" people, especially to those on bikes:)