Reflections on the Loss of a Good Motorcycle Buddy

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March 29, 2012 | By: Scott Holton

I write this blog post with a heavy heart. I just came from the funeral services for my friend Charlie Ganoe. Charlie was the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. Quick with a smile, genuinely friendly, hardworking, a wonderful father and grandfather, Charlie lost his life as the result of a motorcycle accident almost two weeks ago.

The Saturday night of St. Patrick’s Day during the celebrations here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a young couple on a motorcycle also lost their lives in a grisly wreck. And during this month’s Daytona Bike Week, seven fellow motorcycling souls where lost.

As motorcyclists, we have to consider the possible consequences of our choice of transportation. I have made my choice to enjoy the freedom that riding a motorcycle gives to me. Each of us has to make that personal choice.

The point here isn’t to tell you how dangerous riding motorcycles can be, but to remind each and every one of us to be careful and ride safely when we’re in the saddle.

When I ride, I always assume that I am invisible going down the road. I’m always prepared to take evasive action from a cage driver who can’t see me, or likely ignores me because they are bigger than I am. You know what? They are bigger and they can hurt (or kill) us!

I’ve been riding for 40+ years now (since I was 12 years old), and I’m seriously thinking about taking a course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. I’ve never had any formal motorcycle training, so what can it hurt? Maybe they can show me some things to help.

Charlie Ganoe was 54 — just a few months older than I am — and this tragedy struck very close to home. This could easily happen to me. Charlie was an experienced rider, and while I’ll never know all the details surrounding his accident, I wonder how I would have fared given the same circumstances.

We all need to remove the illusion that we are indestructible. When I was younger, I thought I was 10 feet tall and bulletproof. As I get older and my ability to heal declines, I know just how untrue that statement is. When you ride, don’t assume the driver of that cage can see you because it’s quite likely they don’t.

I don’t want to get on more of a soapbox here, but don’t ride drunk or stoned. Watch out all around you. Ride safe.

Godspeed, Charlie. I’ll miss you, brother.

Comments: 9 Comments | Categorized Under: Motorcycle Safety, Uncategorized

Comments (9)

Thank you Scott. My dad was a great man and loved to ride. No matter how skilled of a rider you are, it’s a huge risk to ride a bike. Be safe everyone. R.I.P. Dad I love you

As Charlie’s son, I thank you for the condolences. He was a great man and loved riding his bike. He always told me to watch for other drivers because they don’t respect motorcycles. I remember riding on the back of my dad’s bike back when it was new, and a semi ran us off the road while passing him. He laughed the whole time. Maybe they are jealous of our freedom. Maybe they want to add more risk to us. I will never stop riding because people say it’s unsafe, just be more cautious. Be safe everyone. R.I.P. Dad, I love you

I took a MSF class after riding with what I taught myself from twenty years of riding. The class was well worth my time. I just wish cagers had to stop reading the morning tribune, doing their nails and texting while sharing the road with those that give a shit. Sorry for your loss.

These are my rules for safe riding compiled from the crashes of my Buddys and my personal crash where I was hit head-on by another biker.

Nine Toe’s Personal Safety Riding Rules
1) If you’re in a hurry, take the car.
2) Never ride next to a vehicle, either be passing or behind. Always leave room for them to make sudden movements.
3) If you can’t see them, they can’t see you. Approaching an intersection? Can you see the left turn lane? Are you hidden from view behind the side of some vehicle, or from the person pulling out making a right turn? Is someone pulling out of a Burger King driveway or bank drive-thru?
4) Don’t ride faster than you can see to stop. When cresting a hill, is there some kind of an obstruction in the road, does it curve? When rounding a corner, does sand/gravel all of the sudden appear? If the vehicle in front of you quickly changes lanes, can you stop before hitting what he was avoiding?
5) Sand and gravel are not your friends, whether moving or stopped.
6) Never ride faster than what you are comfortable with, even when riding with others. Predetermine the next stopping place and get there at your leisure if you need to.
7) Pressure on the handlebars for turning these heavy bikes really works. They are much more responsive with this technique.
8) Contrary to what you may have been told, they are out to get you.

Nice article Scott. Maybe we’ll see you in one of the free 1-day BRC II (formerly Experienced Rider Course) the state of Iowa is sponsoring at Kirkwood or many other sites around the state.

You have my condolences for your friend Charlie. I take the safety course every few years just to keep my skills and awareness in top shape. In fact, my next class is in a few weeks. Experienced or not, we do forget a few little safety details in the long run when we don’t pay attention to the road. Live to Ride, and ride safe comrades.

I tell younger riders- and older- to not only assume drivers don’t see them, but to assume they DO see them – and are trying to kill them- so drive accordingly, trust no one.

Scott, wouldnt it help all riders to learn and discuss the cause of accidents that happen where we live and ride. I am also a scuba diver, and when there is an accident, a detailed report is published so we can all learn, and hopefully not repeat any mistakes, or we can learn what to look out for. Maybe its because there are so many?, but as a new rider, I want to learn all I can, and we learn best by experience, even the experiences of others. Condolences for your loss.

I lost my husband September 4th just 19 days before his 56th birthday.I wish families didn’t have to go thru something like but I know there will be way too many families that will. My heart goes out to his family.

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