- March 20th, 2013
What sounds like a cat hacking a hairball is actually a sound piece of advice.
From a logical perspective All The Gear All The Time makes sense. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to be as protected as possible when you climb aboard a motorcycle? ATGATT, however, appears to have an alternate meaning to many riders, particularly in warm weather: ‘alf The Gear, ‘alf The Time.
Not long ago I had a discussion with a rider about just how much protective gear your should wear while riding. He was of the minimalist school, meaning a mandated helmet was it. I mentioned that he was compromising his hide. He had an interesting answer; “You start compromising your safety as soon as you get out of bed.” As bold and true as that may be, all the romance of it long disappears as your hide is being scrubbed off by the asphalt.
I began racing motorcycles almost as soon as I started riding. Because of this, the idea of not wearing a helmet is not on my “To do” list. As a dirt track racer with marginal talent I tested the protective qualities of my helmets on an all-too-regular basis. On the street –-during my young and invincible period-− the helmet remained but the rest of my gear severely compromised the ATGATT maxim. My rationale went along the lines of, “Hey, lose a little skin, break a few bones, no biggie.”
As my riding years accrued wisdom began to overrule my “no biggie” concept. What pushed me solidly into the ATGATT corner was a discussion I had with an orthopedist, a bone Doc… who is also a long-time rider. This being family-oriented I can’t print his words verbatim, but I think you can figure it out; “Reg, don’t (screw) with the feet, knees or hands.” He went on to tell me that despite all the advances in medicine, technology, and improved therapy, you usually are never 100% after serious injury to these joints, and all too often you are severely crippled. This becomes understandable when you look at their complexity. There are 26 bones in your foot/ankle combo, three major ones in your knee, eight more in your wrist, and 19 in your hand. If my math is correct this means that there are at least 112 bones in these joints that you can (screw) with.
And, of course, there’s the rest of your body…28 bones in your skull, 30 in your arms and legs, 26 in your back, etc. Add ‘em all up and it comes to 206 ways in which to (screw) up your body.
Yeah I know, I start compromising my safety as soon as I “get out of bed.” But what I really don’t want to compromise is my ability to ride long and hard, so -–for me-- the A in ATGATT stands for All, not ‘alf. I love the wind in my hair, sun on my arms, and bugs in my teeth, but every time I get ready to ride, I remind myself of “206.”