By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist
As I write this morning, it’s raining outside — a beautiful, soaking, life-giving rain — the kind you wake up to and wish you could nap to all day.
I love it, but it does have my wings clipped a bit. You see, rain is not particularly conducive to enjoyable motorcycle riding.
About a year and three thousand miles ago, I surprised myself and a good many others by buying a motorcycle. I’ve had a “motorcycle endorsement” on my license for 30 years or so. I took the test on a friend’s bike (that’s what we bikers call motorcycles) while I was in college, and I’ve always paid the six or seven extra bucks to keep it on my license. Taking the test wasn’t that bad, but I don’t care to do it again.
For most of the ensuing 30 years, I’ve felt that owning a motorcycle and actually riding it would be, for a guy with four kids as dependants, pretty much immoral. If I’d wiped myself out on one back then, my wife would have, quite understandably, spit on my smouldering grave.
Yes, I know about motorcycle accident stats. They are, no two ways about it, fairly grim. Much of the problem is obvious: with so little protection, there’s just not hardly anything that it’s a very good idea to try to run over. You are, no doubt about it, pretty exposed.
Still, on the plus side, the stats show that experience is worth a bunch. The longer you ride, the less likely you are to get mangled or dead that way.
And I don’t suppose there’s an objective way to measure this, nor a kind way to say it, but we’ve all seen riders who skew the stats. Folks like the guy whose motto is “Every stop light a launch pad,” are sort of in the situation of the dear lady who, before brain surgery, asked her doctor, “Doctor, can I expect full use of my faculties following the operation?” To which the doc, knowing the state of her faculties, drily replied, “Madam, if I were you, I wouldn’t count on it.”
I can’t spare many “faculties” myself, so I’m trying to be careful, which is what I’ve always been — probably to a fault. I have no death wish, and I do have a beautiful granddaughter. But I was stodgy as a child; I’d rather not end up that way. The world has a very adequate supply of stodgy folks.
I also try not to be superstitious, but this is exactly the kind of article a guy writes one week before he bites a Peterbilt.
Still, I like the bike. I like it a lot. A trip to the Post Office used to be just boring. Now, it’s a ride, and rides are fun. I like the motto of the Honda Magna Owners of Texas: “Take the Long Way Home.” And I find myself, as gas is bumping up to $3 a gallon, answering a friend who asks, “Why would you buy a motorcycle?” with a one-word answer: “Duh!?” And agreeing with a fellow biker who can’t imagine why any able-bodied person really needs more than two wheels anyway.
But, as Jesus once said, sort of, as he was talking about life and not just motorcycles: Not everyone who claims to be “wisdom’s child” really is.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at