Recently I was hauling a half ton of (free!) firewood. My redneck-mobile was on cruise control and I was happily chugging along at roughly the speed limit. Not too fast but I wasn’t oozing down the road like an anemic Prius either. I was on a spacious two lane divided highway which was almost devoid of traffic; the perfect all-American paved environment I love so much.
I was mentally tallying my firewood inventory as if firewood (acquired for free!) were immensely valuable. When it comes to heaps of firewood I’m practically Scrooge McDuck.
What a marvelous day. The skies were sunny and my chainsaw had run like a top. Did I mention the wood was free? I couldn’t wait to get home and fire up my wood splitter. Free wood and a good truck. All was right with the world.
I caught up with a couple of sweet motorcycle cruisers. (It’s Sturgis season and their migratory activity is at it’s fullest.) I gawked at their superb styling as my truck cranked past in the left lane.
I had an interesting thought. “How is it that I’m swooping past them on cruise control?” Indeed my lumbering oversized truck had floated past all that gorgeous chrome like they were a couple of tricycles. Oh well.
I’m not a speed demon but when I’m on my motorcycle I wouldn’t generally let a heap of firewood ditch me on a highway. The solution was obvious. They weren’t wearing helmets. I’ve ridden my motorcycle with and (rarely) without a helmet. I know from experience that exposing your cranium to highway speeds tends to tire you out and encourage you to slow down. (You’d expect the force of the wind to be the main factor but I think it’s the noise. The roaring wind is almost visceral once you’re going Interstate speeds.)
My motorcycle (despite being a cruiser) is deliberately outfitted with a windshield and subtle ergonomic gadgetry. It was intended to reduce fatigue but a secondary benefit is that I can comfortably run at slightly higher speeds. The two wheeled artwork I’d just passed was the opposite. Ape hanger bars, forward controls, chrome doo dads at odd angles, leather fringes, and lowered rear suspensions; all the special touches that made them “unique” gave them the ergonomics of a proctology exam. I lost them in the rear view mirror and forgot they existed.
Five minutes later the bikes came up behind me like their ass was on fire. They passed at full throttle (which is massive overkill for overtaking a load of firewood). The racket was enormous. I rolled up my window to block out the painful sound.
Then, in a spectacular combination of stupid and annoying, they lurched back into the right lane close in front of me. It was as if they wanted nothing better than to test out my deer guard with their ass. I switched off the cruise control and started easing back. I don’t need the hassle of picking some loser’s femur out of my radiator.
My only thought was “what the hell makes the front of my truck so attractive?” They must have asked the same question. One of them glanced in the mirror and (presumably) realized he couldn’t see anything but my license plate at the level of his head. He apparently decided that “flattened by a truck” was a bad life plan and laid on the throttle. All this did was send out another barrage of ear splitting shrieks. The other bike followed. Once they’d created an epic shitload of sonic waves they finally found enough spare power to drag themselves of my truck’s kill zone.
Only when they were far ahead did I stop cursing the noise. I also hit “resume” on the cruise control. Ten miles later I passed them again. Apparently they just couldn’t hold highway speeds for long. They once again receded in the rear view mirror and I never saw them again.
. . .
The only thing that offended me was that one of the bikers had slapped a bumper sticker on his rear fender. The horror! A bumper sticker on that gorgeous bike? Why not add a tramp stamp to the Mona Lisa?
What did the bumper sticker say? “Loud pipes save lives.”
I call bullshit! You know what saves lives? Staying the hell away from the grill of a six ton truck. That’s what saves lives!
I call more bullshit! You know what else saves lives? Helmets. Yeah they suck. Nobody wants to ruin their moment of freedom and glory by wearing a skull condom. Too bad because helmets actually save lives. Splitting your cranium like an overripe melon when you highside is the exact opposite of “saving lives”. I don’t care if someone does or does not wear a helmet but I do care if someone is spreading bullshit. Balancing ones eggshell thin skull on a wobbly biped’s neck at 70 MPH while emoting about safety is utter and complete nonsense.
I call even more bullshit! You know what else saves lives? Volvos. No motorcycle, no matter how glorious the chrome, is as safe as the cheapest Volvo. If you’re really enthused about saving lives (especially your own) strap your ass in a Volvo. Wallow in the luxurious life saving joy of seat belts, crumple zones, reinforced door panels, anti-lock brakes, and air bags. That stuff is real, honest to God, life saving technology.
Which brings me back to loud pipes. Loud pipes are loud. That’s all they are. They’re no more related to safety than a generic barbed wire tattoo on a bicep.
I hate rationalization. If you want loud pipes have at it. (Though keeping them quieter than a screeching chainsaw being raped by a mutant amplified bagpipe would show a hint of good character.) Quit trying to come up with some bullshit safety based pretzel logic to explain that you installed “bitchin’ loud thunder pipes” for safety. Nobody on planet earth is fooled by your dumbass rationalizations so just quit pretending. Enjoy loud pipes because it’s fun to be obnoxiously loud. How hard is that?
P.S. And seriously…a bumper sticker? You’ve got to be kidding me.