Barry Strang wanted to be a Harley owner his whole life. After 38 years of wishing, he bought one and killed himself on it within a few minutes of riding it off of the dealer’s lot. The local newspaper reported his crash and death, “He was riding his long-awaited Harley Davidson northbound on Highway 789 when he negotiated a right-hand curve and, for unknown reasons, collided with the drive axles of a truck tractor, according to Wyoming Highway Patrol report. Strang was ejected from the motorcycle and went under the tractor-trailer. His helmet flew 30 feet away.”
I suspect everyone who reads this blog knows that Mr. Strang was not killed by his 38 years of wishing, but by his lack of motorcycle training and experience. Nothing in the article says he was in any way a trained or skilled motorcyclist. In fact, the article implies that he might not have been legally licensed. “Officials said the collision may have been because of Strang’s unfamiliarity with his new motorcycle.”
He was following a semi pulling two tanker trailers and plowed into the back of the second trailer in a curve. It’s an easy-to-visualize crash, especially given the low state of rider awareness and skill exhibited by an overwhelming number of bikers. It was avoidable in multiple ways. Strang’s son imagines that “Dad died with a smile on his face.” Those of us who have had jelly-side-down experiences know that is a happy fantasy. His last moments were filled with panic. All of his reactions to that panic were wrong and that builds momentum to the stress and fear.
It’s a sad, too often repeated story. I wish motorcycle ownership had worked out better for Mr. Strang.