The Key West Poker Run has come and gone, leaving thousands with memories and others with regrets. Every year, as in any bike event, there are accidents and arrests. This year was no different. Over the weekend, Miami Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz was arrested for DUI while riding his Harley. He was riding 70 plus miles per hour in a 30 mph zone. My question is why did it get to this point?
There is no doubt a DUI and/or arrest affect one’s life. And while it would be easy to pass judgment on the commissioner, I am actually going to pass judgment on everyone else. I’m not naïve nor stupid, and I do realize the commissioner has to take responsibility for his own actions, but, where were his “friends?”
When I first started M.S.A.R., a lot of people I use to ride with not only stopped riding with me, but bashed me publicly. Anny and I would get stared down at bike night. If we arrived at a location, some of “our friends” pretended not to see us or just simply left. This happened for a long time and continues to happen today. A lot of those people still won’t talk to us, removed/blocked us on Facebook, while others have apologized to us, and others continue to try to do us harm? Why?
M.S.A.R. was started with the goal of impacting the motorcycle community in positive way. The biker community sticks together and has each others’ backs, except, if you publicly come out against drinking, riding, and taking your skills to the next level. There seems to be a macho, frat-like mentality when it comes to drinking and riding, where ego and testosterone overrules logic.
I make money off DUI’s. I make money when a biker has to file for bankruptcy because an accident they were responsible for has resulted in tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. I make money off personal injury accidents when the biker was lucky enough that the cager was given a citation even though we know better. But I am willing to lose that income if it guaranteed not another biker is injured.
When I was taught by my friend Mike “El Professor,” a retired motorman, on riding at the next level, I was bashed publicly on my own group page. Comments such as “I already ready know how to ride,” “I’ve been riding my whole life,” and my favorite, “you are wasting your time practicing with those little cones.” I guess motorman have been wasting their time all these years even though they are the best riders out there.
Maybe bikers felt I was judging them, but since we are all over the age of 12, really? I never said don’t drink, hell, I always have a beer and if I stay somewhere long enough, make that two beers, but watch me closely next time. I eat, and I drink more water in a day than most people over three days. We are trying to save lives and avoid accidents. Your life! So I ask again, why are bikers being allowed to drink and ride by their “friends?”
About a year ago, a biker I do not know, died leaving Alabama Jack’s. He was heavily intoxicated. People stated publicly on Facebook that this person could barely walk, but staff, cagers, and bikers at Alabama Jack’s did nothing. I know stopping a stranger from jumping on his bike could lead to a fight, but for a person that does not like violence except as a last resort, that is a fight I am willing to get involved in. I’d rather get punched in the face than sit by idly and watch a tragedy take place.
I always say watch for inconsistencies, basically, another way of saying practice what you preach. Do you say I got your back, but then let me ride away after I’ve pounded bucket of beer? Then you don’t have shit!
Hypocrisy surrounds us. I’m no longer in jr. high so I understand that. But when it comes to protecting one another, saving the life of a fellow biker, you better put away your ego and hypocrisy.
Macho isn’t drinking and riding; macho is preventing someone from riding after they have had too much to drink. And to be very clear on the goal of M.S.A.R., we cannot and will not support anyone that needs help due to a fault of their own. Don’t tag us on your GOFUNDME page either; take responsibility for your own actions. Have your friends who let you ride off drunk, fund you.
M.S.A.R. has sponsored rider improvement classes and “El Professor” has unselfishly donated his time. Yet, few wish to improve their skills for whatever pathetic reason they have, usually they are afraid to drop their bike but not break their leg. Nothing like spending $30k on a bike, but $0.00 on actually learning how to ride it. M.S.A.R. will not compromise what we stand for. If that means at the end of day we made a few less friends, so be it. I’d rather save the life of a stranger than lose a hundred supposed “friends.”
What inevitably happens is that someone will have a friend die from a motorcycle accident, or suffer from serious injuries, or maybe have their life flash before their eyes, and that is when they realize getting “buzzed” is better left within the four walls of their home. By the way, as I write this, I got my buzz going on, the only difference, my bike isn’t moving today.
I’ve been there and done that, probably more times than you, and unlike most politicians, I will admit to smoking weed. The difference, I’m not jumping in my car or on my bike. I’m over 40, so are most of you, so why are you all still acting like I am in college?
Be safe, because I am tired of visiting people in the hospital and attending funerals!
I would be a liar and a hypocrite if I ever ran a story telling people not to drink and ride, without also admitting that for six years I was a weekend bartender in downtown Toronto.
Yes, drinking can be dangerous. So can motorcycle riding, taking home strangers met at clubs at nights, and an endless list of fun things.
How do we stay safe in a world where everything – even knitting – can hurt us, and any combination of things is even more dangerous?
Moderation in all things, my friends.
Picture yourself bartending every weekend for six years, with your motorcycle as your sole means of transportation. At 52 weekends a year, over the course of six years, how many times would you be riding home with alcohol in you? A hundred times? Two hundred times? Six hundred times?
I’ve never had an accident coming home from work on those rides. Why? The reality is that I was riding slower, calmer, and with more care.
I’ll never tell you not to drink and ride, but if you do, please remember: moderation is everything.