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  • I'm headed north, north to home, just past the Bike Week hub, when I see a solitary headlight up ahead, approaching fast. It's a motorcycle. In my lane. Going the wrong way. Fast. Collision is inevitable.

    Three things happen that change the course of our futures:

    1. The car in the lane to my right slows;

    2. I swerve into his lane;

    3. The biker ambles into the grassy median to our left and keeps going, easy like Sunday morning.

    I can feel the close call in my fingertips and toes. I think about the irony of the PSAs begging drivers to look twice, save a life; to take care, to share the road. I wonder what the bikers' PSAs say.

    I wonder if my biker will remember seeking my headlights in sober morning.


    They come in RVs, SUVs, pick-ups and cars, pulling their bikes behind them. But most simply take to the road, wending their way across the country down to Bike Week in Daytona Beach--a week-long bacchanal of motorcycle camaraderie, traffic congestion, and the inevitable fatality.

    Once they hit Florida, state law says if they're at least 21 years old with $10,000+ of medical coverage insurance, they can ride without a helmet. And there's nothing the like the feel of the open road.

    This year, there've been five deaths; a far cry from the dozen-death years that left paramedics and reporters scrambling. But each death is a series of lives turned upside down, families and friends crumpled in grief.

    As a journalist, I dreaded the Cops shift during Bike Week. I often wondered as I headed to crash scenes if bikers made the cross-country trek knowing that they could be the next fatality. Fatalistic, I know. But you deal with internalizing and writing about trauma how you can.


    This year, as the festivities wind down, I hope as I do every year, that they all make it home safely, knowing though, that the fates always have their own interpretation of hope.

    Photo by Sean McNeil used with permission.
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