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Simon Says

When we were kids, we probably all played Simon Says. For those who might have skipped this part of their childhood or who have forgotten it existed, in Simon Says you could only do something if the person in charge said, "Simon says" Then you had to do exactly what Simon said. If you followed an order that did not include "Simon says" or ignored one that held these magic words, you were thrown out of the game.

"It was also one of the few games from our early years that stifled creativity and punished the players for thinking for themselves."

Simon Says was challenging because it tested how quickly you could discern and execute "legitimate" directions from invalid ones. It was also one of the few games from our early years that stifled creativity and punished the players for thinking for themselves. To win the game, you had to follow the leader's rightful instructions flawlessly without falling victim to spurious commands.

Although Simon Says was left behind with our youth, there are still opportunities to inadvertently play the game. One of the most frequent chances we get to play is while we are riding in a group. It is very easy to slip into the "Simon Says" mode and believe that the rider leaders are taking care of everything we need for a safe ride. Most ride leaders do take all possible steps to make the ride a safe one.

It is easy to assume that the group will protect us and to focus only on the bike closest to us. We blindly follow the bike ahead too closely, relying on the hope that nothing will happen. We expect that the ride leaders have everything under control and that there will be no problems with other traffic, road debris, or errant riders. We get lulled into the false sense of security that we are shielded by the company of other riders and only need to follow the leader to remain protected.

But when we are riding with a group of other motorcycles, we must still remember that we are riding a motorcycle; our motorcycle. We cannot shirk our duty to control our own bike. We must still scan aggressively to see what's happening ahead and what is on the road. We must still make our own decisions about going through intersections. We must still determine for ourselves how closely we will follow the motorcycle directly in front of us.

This is not to say we can ignore the rest of the group and become a freelance rider. Renegades within a pack of riders are not a good situation either. We must adhere to the rules of the group so that there is some possible consistency in everyone's riding and some reasonable expectations of what to expect from other ride participants.

However we can't just rely on others to ensure we're safe. We can't abdicate our responsibility to the rider leaders and those around us to make the ride safe for us. Being thrown out of this game of Simon Says has far greater consequences than when we were playing as children.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!