I was at the motorcycle dealership yesterday buying some parts for the bike. Sometimes the Harley employees have a condescending attitude toward the diminutive Sportster. It’s just not manly enough for them. They call it a "girl's bike." They don’t consider it a “real” Harley, blah blah blah. For that you have to ride one of their “Big Twins.” Mostly we Sportster owners just grin and bear it, and vow to never buy anything but the absolute essentials from the "stealership" (as they are often called by Harley riders).
But John, the guy at the H-D parts counter yesterday was a Sportster fan like me. He owns two of them: one new and one older model. He also owns other bikes as well, as do I. Needless to say we got into a long conversation. Ironically, it was not primarily about motorcycles.
I told John that I do a lot of traveling on my bike. He mentioned a long trip he’d done at the beginning of last summer.
There is a famous road for motorcyclists in Deals Gap, North Carolina. Officially it is Highway 129, but everyone calls it the “Tail of the Dragon.” If you can envision how curvy such a road might be you’ll understand why motorcyclists love it so. Unfortunately, YouTube has more than a few videos of instances in which over-exuberant riders miscalculated their riding ability. It is a fact of life that every guy believes he is the best driver/rider/pilot on the face of the earth. The well-chronicled crashes have convinced me to stay well away from the road, even though it's sort of mandatory for all motorcyclists to ride it eventually.
John told me that this past summer he and his wife went to Deals Gap. Along with them was their 19 year-old daughter who also rides and was on her own bike. John was in the lead. As they came around one curve, John felt and heard a bang. When he looked in his mirror he did not see his daughter anymore. Pulling over, he discovered that she had hit another motorcyclist head-on. While her (and the other rider’s) injuries were serious, both lived. Both bikes were totaled.
I winced as I listened to the story. Like pilots, motorcyclists don’t like hearing descriptions of bad crashes – it’s not the way I wanted to start my day. I told John that I hoped his daughter recovered and would ride again. That’s when the story took a strange turn.
“She had been in college studying the ‘hospitality industry,’ because it was easy,” John said, and the look on his face said that he abided with it but perhaps felt she wasn’t living up to her potential. “But after the accident she realized that she was tougher than she thought. She changed colleges and majors and is now studying engineering, which was always her dream.”
Now that’s good news! We love hearing about life-changing events that work out for the better. But there was more.
John went on, “She had planned on a trip to El Salvador this past summer…a missionary trip with our church. But I had a very bad feeling about it…very bad. I wanted to stop her…but…what can you do? I prayed and prayed about it, but I just knew that if she went something bad was going to happen to her. Then the accident happened and she couldn’t go.” He told that last part with a curious look on his face…a look of wry bemusement.
I saw where he was going. “So…maybe the accident wasn’t such a bad thing in the long run?” I offered. “Do you think that, as bad as it was, it might have prevented something even more horrible from happening to her?”
Hmm. For sure, seeing your daughter involved in a motorcycle accident has got to be horrible for any parent to experience. But I can think of worse things.
The daughter healed, the bike has been replaced. Life goes on. Was there some sort of divine intervention going on with the daughter? It cannot be proven, but you couldn’t tell John otherwise.
I know it’s a trite expression, but the Lord really does work in mysterious ways.