I have a confession to make. I was very careless on the road today. Yes, I know, it’s Christmas so we all should be caring and nice, but my boyfriend and I had a misunderstanding that caused me to be very emotional on the road.
Before we left for our destination, I noticed that it was unusually overcast. It was mostly sunny the whole week but it seemed like it was going to rain. I told him that I didn’t have my rain coat. Because we were in a hurry to fetch her sister, he simply told me, “Bahala ka!” (“That’s up to you” or “that’s your concern.”) His retort made me feel quite upset because it seemed to give me the impression that he didn’t care about whether or not I get wet when it rains.
To make matters worse, he left in such a hurry and left me. I drove quickly but failed to catch up with him and so I decided to wait in a gas station near the LRT Santolan Station where he told me we would fetch his sister, and then I called him up from there. After five missed calls and more panicking because it seemed like it was about to rain, my boyfriend finally answered my call and told me that he and his sister were already in Sumulong Highway on the way to Antipolo. This call was very choppy and the sound of the other vehicles was drowning our voices. I was barely able to discern a few words from him. “left LRT Station,” “after the U-Turn”, “Sumulong waiting for you.” I understood this as: “We already left the LRT Station and proceeded until after a U-turn where you can still follow to Sumulong. We are waiting for you.”
Even more upset… Already furious, I set off to catch up with him where he was waiting for me somewhere after a U-turn so that when I find him I can punch him scream and cry.
I was already along Sumulong highway coming from Marcos Highway when I realized that I already made it there without making any U-turns. I made a stop to call him but he wasn’t answering his phone. I was enraged beyond anything. I sped up Sumulong highway and overtook some cars. Somehow, I ended up riding beside an SUV whose driver obviously didn’t want me beside him or her. I knew I was at fault because I was already occupying a double yellow lane beside the vehicle but I couldn’t overtake at once because there was another car in front of us. The driver of the SUV made efforts not to let me get ahead. I overtook through the right (which is also wrong) and the driver of the SUV also overtook me from my left. This made me even more furious. I felt that I could accelerate faster and overtake the SUV again, but then, in that split-second between reason and rage, sound reason suddenly overtook me. I began to realize that I was behaving very dangerously. I was taking my anger out on someone else on the road. Worse, that someone else happened to be a driver of a much bigger vehicle and that road was Sumulong Highway which twists and turns along a mountain side–we’re talking about blind spots, trucks coming down from uphill, a really fatal ravine on the right. Also, I had to realize that I was the one who was out of place. I was the one who provoked the driver with my careless driving in the first place.
So, I decided to just let the SUV driver go ahead. I forced myself to calm down and ride at a more reasonable speed. I reached Antipolo safely.
And then, there was this tricycle. I knew I could fit right beside it and so I tried. Unfortunately, the driver suddenly moved a bit closer towards me blocking my way. Since the paved road was around 4 to 5 inches higher than the soil beside it, I thought it better to hit the breaks than to proceed further to the side and risk falling off sideways. When I hit the breaks; however, I slowed down and reacted by putting my foot down to keep my balance. My foot landed on the lower-leveled soil beside the road and so I failed to keep the bike in balance. My motorbike fell (luckily, on the soil which caused less damage compared to what pavement could do). I was fortunate enough to have the presence of mind to stand up and not fall with my bike.
I stared at my fallen bike for few seconds. Gathered my wits, removed my helmet and tried to think of a way to lift it up. Because I’m a girl who weighs less than 50 kg and my bike’s dry weight is 122 kg., I didn’t know if I could actually lift my bike up. Fortunately, in a few moments, some guys who witnessed the fall, came and helped me.
I was still inspecting my bike for damages when my boyfriend arrived. It turned out that he was the one trying to catch up with me, while all the while, I thought that he was the one who was way ahead of me. He had a look of concern written all over his face. I was just plain angry.
He convoyed me to our destination and then we talked. Our conversation led me to realize that he wasn’t being insensitive; we just had a massive miscommunication.
He told me that, while the original plan was to fetch her sister at the LRT Santolan station, he later informed me that the meet up point was changed to LRT Katipunan station instead. I was waiting for him in Santolan while from his perspective, I left him behind at Katipunan. On the phone, he told me that he was waiting for me right after the “right turn” to Sumulong, while I heard “U-turn.” He waited for me in Sumulong and even tried to flag me down when I drove by but I failed to see him. He was driving and rushing to catch up with me when he suddenly saw me at the side of the street after my minor accident.
The experience has taught me that communication is indeed very crucial in any relationship. Moreover, aside from this lesson I learned about love, I also learned important lessons about riding. These are not entirely new to anyone. I have also considered these to be common sense, but it took me quite an eventful ride to realize how serious these lessons are. I’m stating these here for myself so that I can avoid driving carelessly again and so that I might also offer some helpful tips to anyone else who might come across this resolution.
I have learned to ride with CARE.
C – Clothes that Protect
Often, many riders, including myself, find such protective stuff to be a hassle. We hardly find it useful anyway (in the sense that it only gets to be used when there’s an accident and we don’t have accidents everyday). But just one accident can make a lot of difference. I guess wearing protective gear and clothing for that one time should be worth it. I was even debating with myself whether to wear my boots (bought at Cubao Expo) and I’m grateful that I did. I just noticed that my boots now have scratches from my bike’s fall. Had I not worn them, I could have gotten hurt. I was wearing a protective jacket but I had no protection on my knees. I should invest on some knee and elbow pads for long rides. I should have also brought my raincoat. Come on, the weather is never really plain and predictable. The fear of getting drenched added to the pressure I was already facing.
A – Accident Anticipation
This may seem weird, common sense seems to say that accidents ought to be avoided, not anticipated. Well, my next two point are about avoiding accidents but this one expresses my opinion that it would do us some could if accidents can also be anticipated. I believe that being prepared for an accident is also important so that damage may be minimized should it inevitable occur. For example, I truly thank my friends who gave me some advice years ago and my past experience of another fall (when my muffler burned my leg), because I think these taught me to try to stand instead of fall with the bike. Of course, there is no guarantee that I would be able to stand every time, but knowing how to react can minimize my probability of falling.
I also saw videos of how women can prop up fallen bikes so I know there’s a technique that can be done even by women with bigger bikes, but I have never practiced this. Maybe I should make the effort to learn this skill more seriously. Um, I still don’t know how to develop this without practicing on my bike and damaging it in the process though.
R – Route Planning
A lot of risk (and heartache) would have been avoided if my boyfriend and I planned our route more seriously. We could have done this by agreeing about who goes first during our ride. We also could have determined default meet up points along the way should we lose site of one another. Relying on the mobile phone was really difficult because we couldn’t text or answer calls while driving and because the connectivity is not always assured. I was lucky because our ride was short and the road was already familiar to me, but we still got into trouble.
E- Emotion Management
I admit that I let my feelings overwhelm me and my experience, especially with the SUV, led me to realize that this is really very dangerous. One wrong split-second decision on a motorbike can mean a lifetime of consequences. I noticed that I became more imprudently gutsy because I was angry. I let my anger affect the way I made judgments and behaved on the road. I really regret the way I provoked that SUV driver and I consider myself lucky that I’m still alive right now, reflecting on my mistakes. Next time, I would prefer to make a stopover to calm down and gather my wits (and maybe even sing, My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music.) To the adage, “Don’t drink and drive,” I should add “and don’t get mad at your boyfriend and drive, either.” It even turned out that I was extremely angry over some wrong impressions that could have been easily corrected.
There! I think riding with CARE is applicable even for other drivers, but it is especially crucial for motorbike riders. The motorcycle is admitably less stable and more vulnerable compared to other vehicles. Aside from this physical consideration, many drivers also do not exactly have positive feelings regarding motorcycle drivers in general, so we have to be extra careful. An unnecessary fight (that is, one that is fought without principle) that is avoided is better than an unnecessary fight won; and, and accident avoided is better than an accident survived.
So, to my fellow riders out there, ride with CARE and love with more understanding! Merry Christmas!