Better flight than fight |

Better flight than fight


In most endeavors, I agree wholeheartedly with Steve Smith. In the latest flap on the Harley rally here in Glenwood over the 4th of July, I’m a bit more inclined to side with the “let ’em roar” crowd. That said, I need to confess that, during said festivities, I’m going to be as far back in the woods as I can get, same as I am on just about every 4th of July.

I don’t like noise. I don’t like the traffic noise that permeates our narrow valley like an ever-present large housefly. I don’t like firecrackers and the rest of the incendiary nuttiness that accompanies the 4th of July. I don’t like the loss of digits, sight, and hearing that occurs to several hundred people each year around the 4th. I don’t like the thousands of acres burned every year by fireworks-started fires. Let’s face it: I’m an aging, overly pragmatic stick-in-the-mud.

We do need to remember that our entire valley’s economy is, in point of fact, heavily dependent on the tourist “industry.” Like earning a living in a house of ill repute, that means we must deal with some people we like – and occasionally with some people we don’t like. While tourism is considered a “clean” industry, it’s still going to impact its immediate locale with some negatives. Crowds, traffic issues, lack of privacy, and, yes, more noise accompany tourists.

Still, I don’t buy the “loud pipes save lives” rationale. I made my living repairing motorcycles from 1967 until 1980; raced moto-cross, trials, road-racing, drag racing; belonged to two “outlaw” biker clubs; and put almost 200,000 miles on a combination of several different street bikes. I’m not in denial: I had loud pipes on (some) bikes strictly for increased performance and attention. And yes, sometimes I was loud just to sort of stick my thumb in the eye of “straight” society.

To date, I am unaware of any peer-reviewed, scientific studies that have established any statistically significant relationship between decibels emitted by motorcycles and accident rates. From personal experience, I noticed the same thing: oncoming four-wheel-vehicle drivers appeared equally likely to turn left in front of me whether I had 120-decibel open headers or whisper-quiet stock pipes. I simply drove the motorcycle as if I were invisible, which is the best philosophy to have for safety on a motorcycle.

Give it up, Steve. The priorities in our town have been established over many years. As someone else inferred, during these festivities, why don’t you just take a hike? As matter of fact, why don’t you join me for a backpack trip over the 4th and leave all the trappings of civilization behind?

I get a rush from a good blast on a Harley (well, actually, on a Buell, powered by a Harley), but I get a greater rush out of cresting the Continental Divide in the heart of the Bob Marshall after a long uphill grunt, or fording Bull Lake Creek without drowning during runoff in the Wind River Mountains, or waking up to sunrise at 12,000 feet near Big Spruce Lake in the Holy Cross right here in Colorado. It’s something that I think you’d appreciate, too. Leave Rome to the Visigoths.

Bob Shettel

Glenwood Springs

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