Mountain Musings


Born To Be Wild


Sadly, another motorcyclist perished on Highway 18 last month. On average, about five or six of these fatal incidents occur each year on our challenging mountain highways. But then what motorcyclist doesn’t enjoy a challenging, wild ride?


“Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway. Lookin’ for adventure and whatever comes our way… Born to be wild, born to be wild…” (“Born To Be Wild” – Steppenwolf – 1968)


Some would call these incidents accidental, but in reality motorcycles (I like to call them “murdercyles”) are an accident waiting to happen. Oh, I know what some of you are thinking… “This Uncle Mott character is just plain insensitive.” Think what you want, but these tragic deaths were entirely preventable.


Had these “Easy Riders” steered clear of murdercyles and encased themselves in a modern automobile, equipped with seat restraints and airbags, they would most likely still be alive today.


In case you’re wondering why I call them “murdercycles,” it goes back to the mid-60s when I was working my way through school as a central office technician for “Ma Bell.” (An affectionate term for the Bell Telephone Company – in this case, Pacific Telephone)


Each and every month, all us employees were summarily summoned to the break room to view a safety film, not unlike the ones shown in high school driver training classes, or that class you have to take when you get a speeding ticket.


One particularly gory film I recall that you may have also seen was called Red Asphalt. But the one that scared the sweet bejeezus out of me during my days at Ma Bell was called Murdercycles. It seems that the phone company, back in the day, discouraged its employees from riding motorcycles and, in so doing, instituted a policy banning all motorcycles from the company parking lot. Nowadays, they probably couldn’t get away with that.


A week or so after this particular safety film viewing, one disgruntled employee showed up for work one day on his Harley-Davidson, steering it through the doorway of the central office switch room, where he performed a most amazing wheelie… needless to say, as of that moment he was no longer an employee of Ma Bell. Not surprisingly, a few weeks later he died while riding his Harley.


“Like a true nature’s child, we were born to be wild, born to be wild. We can climb so high I never want to die. Born to be wild, born to be wild.”


By this time, you probably figure I’m prejudiced against murdercyles… you got that right!


“I don’t want a pickle, I just want to ride on my motorcycle. Yeah, and I don’t want a tickle, ‘cause I’d rather ride on my motorcycle. And I don’t want to die, just want to ride my motor-cyyy-cle.” (“Motorcycle Song” – Arlo Guthrie – 1967)


Keep it flyin’, Uncle Mott