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.