Generally, I prefer to leave the preaching to the professionals. But when it comes to motorcycle safety, I''m not shy about expressing my opinions. Believers in ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) know that's it's not just about throwing on a helmet and calling it a day. We mean helmet, jacket, pants, gloves, boots, and a back/chest protector minimum. All The Time. Not just on canyon rides, or long rides, or rides when you're in the mood for some flash…but rides to the local diner, grocery store or gas station.
As riders we can never know when a corner will come too fast, an oil patch will find its way under our tires or a car will cut us off. Since we cannot predict these disasters we need to be smart and prepare beforehand. Riding skill level does not make a difference; whether wielding a brand new M class endorsement or still inflated from your AMA championship victory, proper gear is always a must. When MSF courses start adding reliable psychic research to their curriculum then the days of ATGATT will be numbered, but until then we have few alternatives.
This brings me to someone who learned the hard way. Brittany Morrow and I had the pleasure of meeting at a motorcycle safety show where she told me her grueling story. In 2005 Brittany hopped on the back of a friend’s GSXR 750 for a ride that would forever change her life. A crash ensued, sending her sliding for more than 500 feet wearing just jeans, a sweatshirt, and an oversized helmet. You can read more about the accident here. She spent two months in the hospital, received skin grafts on over 50 percent of her body, and let’s not get into the medical bills she had to pay. If you know someone who does not wear their gear all the time, a reference to the above website might at least get them thinking about the risks they're taking every day. In good taste we decided to leave the photos of Brittany's accident off this site, but feel free to Google Image her name. You probably won't want to do it with a concerned loved one in the room unless you want to make them a basket case of anxiety.
Today, Brittany tours the country sharing her story with the hope that she can change at least one person’s approach to riding gear. Brittany asks you to think of a loved one… your mom, dad, brother, child, best friend, boyfriend, wife…any one of the people who would be devastated by you being seriously injured or killed in an accident. Put your gear on for them, if you won't do it for yourself. To help spread the word of safety, Brittany has helped create the website rockthegear.org.
Of course, we are fortunate enough to live in a free society, and therefore the decision is yours to make. But remember that ignorance is bliss only until reality pounds it's way in back into your life. Most riders will attest though, that it isn't a matter of IF you will go down, but rather when. If you subscribe to ATGATT you insure that at least when you hit the asphalt, you'll be wearing gear that is designed for the job. Because no matter what your thoughts are about the coolness of wearing gear, all would agree that skinning yourself alive is not at all.