Ralph Couey

Ralph Couey
Photo by Darryl Cannon, Powerhead Productions

About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stealing a Day of Riding from December


Copyright © 2012 by Ralph Couey
 
Tuesday is one of my regular days off, one I try to reserve for chores, appointments, and riding, weather permitting.  Today was chilly (mid-40s), but sunny so I decided to take the bike out for a spin.  I plotted an 80-mile course on some roads I hadn’t been on yet, which according to Google Maps should take about three hours.  Yes, it is the second week of December, but as long as it was above freezing and not snowing, that’s a reasonably good motorcycle day.
 
In deference to the chill, I dressed carefully, starting with a base layer then jeans and sweatshirt, a pair of heavy sweatpants over the jeans, then my jacket with all the liners in and chaps.  Under the helmet I donned a balaclava.  The final addition was a pair of heavy lined leather gloves.
 
Even with all those layers, it didn’t take long for the cold to penetrate.  Still, the sun felt warm.  I went west on US50 to Aldie, VA where I picked up the Snickersville Turnpike. 
 
This historic route was the first toll road in the United States, opening in 1786.  It was part of a longer route that connected Alexandria, VA with Winchester.  The section between Aldie and Bluemont (originally Snickersville) is 15 miles of narrow, windy blacktop that passes through both rural farms (all carrying sophisticated names) and dense Virginia forest.  At one point it crosses Hibbs Bridge, a short 180-year-old arched span of stone and mortar that roofs Beaverdam Creek.  The road terminates at Virginia Route 7, which continues on to Winchester.
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Using Stats Like a Gumby Doll

On a New Hampshire Jaunt.

Copyright © 2012 by Ralph Couey

For reasons that still astound me, the admission that I ride a motorcycle nearly always sparks the same response. The other person dives into a terrible and tragic story of someone they knew who was seriously injured or killed in a motorcycle accident. I get that there may be an on-going macabre fascination with violent death. But there are, at last accounting, 10.4 million motorcycles in the United States, a number that increased 58 percent since 1998. Statistics show that the average rider is a responsible adult who rides straight and sober, has insurance, and rides responsibly. Yes, I know about the squids. Despite their high visibility however, riders who actually engage in riding stupid are well in the minority.
 
But that doesn’t stop people from taking pot shots.
 
Fox News Latino published on November 28, an article which reported on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that tallied up the costs of death and injuries from motorcycle accidents. Deftly weaving numbers in and through what was a thinly-veiled hit piece on the motorcycling community, the fair and balanced journalists (who went nameless in the byline) painted a grim picture. 82,000 injuries. 4,502 deaths. $16.2 billion in direct costs.
 
The tone and tenor of the writing implicated the motorcyclists themselves as being the sole cause of the entire tragedy.
 
But in this journalistic dance, the authors completely side-stepped what continues to be the most important source of motorcycle accidents.