Drinking, Thinking, Biking and Boomers

I love beer; specifically micro-brew. I love how it looks, I love how it tastes, I love how it smells, and I love how it makes me feel.

I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at a time when it was the beer capital of the US (Yes, I am old). My grandfather worked as a guard at one of the breweries and we would get free samples of prototype beer. Mmm! My mouth waters at the thought of it. Everyone drank; no one thought much of it. Many people would go to church on Sunday, and then go to the local bar. Getting drunk was fun and funny. It was something to brag about. Did I mention that I went to a lot of funerals when I was in high school?

I love riding a motorcycle. I love how my motorcycle looks (BMW K1200LT), I love how my motorcycle feels, and I love the smell of the outdoors when I am riding it (well, most of the time). I love speed. I love curves and the rush of acceleration, with the bike just consuming the road.

I love life. I realize that what I do affects the people that I love, who love and depend on me; therefore, I never drink and ride.

I need no extra encouragement to go fast, nor any false sense of control or power. It has always been by contention that to stay safe on a bike you have to compensate for all the distracted, daydreaming, or just generally mindless cagers around you. This is difficult enough when you are alert and sober. Anything that detracts from your ability to concentrate and/or reduces your motor skills and reaction time significantly increases your chances of becoming a statistic.

Alcohol and Fatal Motorcycle Crashes

Alcohol is a major contributor to fatal motorcycle crashes. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies of fatal motorcycle crashes have shown that:

Between 40% and 45% of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve the use of alcohol. 

In about one-third of the fatalities, the motorcyclist was legally intoxicated. 

About 2,500 motorcyclists that are killed and about 50,000 that are seriously injured in crashes per year, involved drinking and riding.

Motorcyclists are involved in fatal crashes at a rate of 35.0 per 100 million miles of travel compared with a rate of 1.7 per 100 million miles of travel in cars.

Motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes in 1995 had a higher intoxication rate than any other type of motor vehicle driver: motorcycle operators, 29.1 percent; light truck operators, 22.9 percent; and passenger car operators, 19.2 percent.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a new report, after analyzing the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). This report covers research of accidents during 1983 – 2003. It shows that the peak rate of death among alcohol-impaired motorcycle drivers shifted from those aged 20 – 24 years to those aged 40 – 44 years. In addition to this shift, during the same time frame, as the percentage of alcohol-impaired fatal motorcycle crashes declined for other age groups, the 55 – 59 year rider age group increased from 16.7% in 1983 to 21.1% in 2003.

So what’s up with us old people? Is it a case of, “You can’t teach an old dog…?” Why can’t you teach an old dog?


Most of us have computers and realize that we have to do those irritating “Critical Updates” for protection of our computer’s security. Who wants a crashed machine? We change the oil in our bikes and cars – to get rid of that nasty old oil that is filled with dirt. Well, maybe it’s time to do a critical update on ourselves. Get rid of that dirty, nasty old oil in our aging brains.

Middle-aged brain patch: insert “Drink + Riding = Trouble”

Alarmingly, as we get older, the effects of alcohol hit us faster. We can’t keep drinking the same way we did when we were in our twenties, just like all those other fun things that you used to be able to do so much better when you were 20! The younger you started drinking, the more that this is true, because the brain damage accumulates. Your brain actually shrinks (there is another comment in there, but I’ll skip it).

Now quit putting your fingers in your ears and shouting “la la la la la!”

Here is a game you can play from the University of Illinois. It helps you find out how quickly you will become legally drunk given your weight, gender, etc.

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