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  1. #1
    AlaskaMike's Avatar
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    Why do you ride?

    I've been following the "Assumption of Risk" thread with great interest....I didn't want to hijack that thread, so thought I'd start another:

    Why do you ride?

    All the statistics show that PWC's have a relatively high rate of mishaps (accidents) and collision/allisions top the list. PWC's have some unique characteristics (you all know about those....) and those folks that operate PWC's also have some unique traits; they ride because it gives them a feeling that no other boat can quite manage. There's a "thrill" associated with PWC's.

    I'm currently working on a Risk Management project for the Coast Guard and in researching why people take risks, I've discovered that we all take risks...everyday...and each of us "assesses" that risk differently, based on thousands of factors; i.e. our age, our health, our previous experience, our culture, etc, etc.

    And, (here's the interesting part) we have to have a certain level of risk in our lives. Otherwise, we don't feel "alive"....remember the "rush" you felt the last time you cheated death? You never felt more alive. That is the effect of adrenaline and endorphines in your system, stimulated by the risk you just took. Extreme sports are a good example of the level of risk that people will take for the 'rush'.

    PWC's are an easy route to the 'rush'....remember the first time you got on a PWC and the rush was huge! Now, years later, it takes more horsepower than ever to give you the same 'rush'....or, you take more risks to get the 'rush'. Here's the danger:

    When you successfully 'cheat death', you build a mental model of the experience. Then, when a similar situation faces you, your brain does a 'google search', looking for the nearest experience that will give you the choices/reactions available to you. Unfortunately, if the mental model is wrong (say you were just lucky the first time) and your brain tells you to hit the gas and turn hard to port, it might just kill you....

    It's why the military trains (and trains and trains and trains)....when the stress levels max out in combat, only the training (mental models) will get you through. As we build mental models throughout our life experiences, sometimes those models fail us....as in, "Dang, that worked the last time I tried it..." So, it becomes critically important that we build the mental models that will save our lives; not endanger it.

    Back to the question; Why do you ride?

    I'll give you my profile. I'm a 54 year old Caucasain male born and raised in the midwest (Iowa) and, like most midwest boys, didn't get much opportunity for the 'rush', save for cars and motorcycles...some of us got maimed and killed on those, looking for the 'rush'. I was the last of the draftees back in the early '70's and ended up in the Army in Alaska. I got married at 20 and am still in Alaska. I've tried ATV's, snowmobiles, airplanes, boats, cars, motorcycles, you name it. All supplied me with a 'rush', some more than others.

    Several years ago, I was introduced to PWC's....and, now I'm hooked. It's not only a 'rush', it allows me to show off a bit (here's where we get into the "LOOK AT ME" problem that is more prevalent among PWC riders than most other boats..there are exceptions, of course!)

    So now I ride partly for the 'rush' and for the chance to 'show off'....I don't that with my other boats...(but I did with my snowmobile...and motorcycles). I guess the reality is that there are certain kinds of motorized vehicles that will simply draw out those characteristics in the operators.

    Just to touch for a moment on the "assumption of risk" thread. Regardless of any other factors in that particular accident, I think the assumption of risk is something that we, as humans, have to make. If I skydive, fly a jet fighter, or get in the bathtub, there is an assumption of risk....getting out of bed assumes a risk; life assumes a risk. Risk is an integral, necessary part of living. How we deal with that risk becomes the real question. We all have a responsibility to recognize and assume the risks, whatever they are. If we don't, and something happens, are we not liable for assuming the risk?....I'd submit that we all have the obligation to understand the risks...and make others aware of those risks.

    We saw 3-wheelers disappear. Why? Were the inherent risks more than operators were willing to learn, accept and mitigate? Or were 3-wheelers simply an easy target for lawsuits? PWC's could easily fall into the same trap. It's up to all of us to organize, be responsible and protect our sport. Join AWA, your local clubs, Coast Guard Auxiliary, whatever...but don't moan about the attacks on the sport if you aren't part of the solution. It's all about taking the risks and enjoying it safely. Ride smart.

    Mike
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  2. #2
    bron1c's Avatar
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    Seriously, No Offence But I Dont Think Anyone On The Whole Forum Is Going To Read That Entire Post...

  3. #3
    AlaskaMike's Avatar
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    Red face It's always a possibility...

    None taken...did you read it all or how far did you get before your eyes glazed over? Mike

  4. #4
    Hydrotoys's Avatar
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    Sorry,
    I read it.

    ...and I disagree with it at this point in my hobby. It's the same horseshit I've heard for years, and years about motorcycles...

    I don't ride for "thrills." Oh when it was "new" and I was putting over 200 engine hours a year on a ski, it STARTED as a thrill. But after you ride for a few times, and master your world, riding is not dangerous. No more than driving in rush hour traffic at 5pm trying to get home or to work. I sure don't do that for thrills!



    But not now. I ride for one, overwhelming, non-escapable reason...

    TO FORGET...
    When I ride, I forget about work, life, bills, and anything else that distracts me. I have a habit of mentally working on projects in my head, while doing many other things. I don't do this when I ride. Nothing enters my head, except the next corner... the next wave... the mountains... the reed beds... the ocean, the swamps. When I'm riding with friends, it seems to be about the friendship, and trust. I can't even remember what I had for lunch that day, if I'm riding. I just love the feel of not worrying about work. Nothing but me and the water, and my machine. As soon as that throttle is gunned and that hull comes up on plane, I'm in another world.

    Personal freedoms are being snatched away at an alarming rate. This ski hobby is one of the last SAFE hobbies left.

  5. #5
    Buaidh No Bas howestek's Avatar
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    I read it, and thats one very well written post. I must disagree on the "mental model" as a personal record of those risky actions which can be attempted again with similar impugnity. Perhaps its age. Such incidents register to me as a "mental model" of those things to be wary of, to avoid, to eliminate by action or inaction. Once again, perhaps its age.

    BTW: Thats one COLD looking picture!

  6. #6

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    Hydrotoys---You could have not said it any better. Talk about hitting the nail on the head. I will be 73 on my next birthday---still I look forward to every time I climb aboard my ski---for the exact reasons you stated. I am no thrill seaker (except for out running all the young whipper snappers on my lake where I reside. ) Also--as you stated--there are lots of people out there that would like to outlaw PWC for whatever their perverted unfounded reasons are. I belong to AWA and also send them a donation over and above my membership fee. I hope all on this forum are members.

  7. #7
    Banned User
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    I ride to impale bugs into my teeth....

  8. #8
    AlaskaMike's Avatar
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    Why do you ride?

    Actually, I ride for the same reasons that Hydrotoys and Sundance do....that being said, I should have better defined the user group within the PWC riders that do in fact, ride for the 'thrill'....they are generally the (younger) riders with the least amount of experience and the ones most likely to be involved in an accident. Hydrotoys is right, once mastered, the 'thrill' of riding diminishes and the pure joy of being in control of a high performance boat replaces the 'thrill'....(perhaps 'thrill' isn't the right word here; technically speaking, I'm referring to the adrenaline that invigorates your state of mind and body ('rush'). It's what I felt when I first got on a PWC (or motorcycle, airplane, etc.) I still get a shot of adrenaline when I get on my PWC, but it isn't the same as when I first started....it's different now; much like Hydrotoys and Sundance explained. And, even Danny has a point (even if we have to read between the lines since he didn't elaborate)...I ride to go fast and it's fun. Do I take risks? Sure, we all do. Do I take unneccessary risks? I don't think that I do, but I'm sure there'll be some who disagree (critics of the sport, etc.)...the point is here that I'm interested why you ride; I'm not here to preach or pass judgement (even if it sounds like that sometimes). We're all willing to take the risks inherent to the sport; I simply want to know why so I can better understand risk assessment. Thanks for the input and keep it coming! Mike

  9. #9
    Ak Mike, I share your interest in the psychology and science of risk, from how its perceived to how its quantified mathematically. I even enjoy reading how advances in brain imaging (by MRI) allow scientists to study how perception of risk affects the brain's electrical circuitry. These concepts actually have real world application to many things from sales and negotiation strategies to casino card play.

    I do like the thrill of PWCs, but the thrill encompasses many things beyond speed or acceleration. I love the great outdoors and the physical skills and conditioning required. I agree with HToys that it completely clears my head of day to day worries and stress. But I also like all the technical things that you can get into, from mechanical systems to navigation and gear.

    I do enjoy riding in harsh conditions but I'm not sure that its because of risk vs the physical challenge. I know from our conversation on other threads that we have both spent time figuring out what we can do to minimize risk to feel safer in more remote locations.

    I agree that we must work to preserve PWC access and to promote good public relations. Thats one of the reasons why Im trying to make sure I know what statistics are kept and what they actually mean.

    Though intended for a different context, one of my favorite sayings is that the ancient Chinese symbol for "risk" and "opportunity" are exactly the same, you know, nothing ventured nothing gained. (I dont know how we got the expression "up the Yin-Yang" because thats really got nothing to do with the ancient concept).

    It will be interesting to hear more about the CG study once you get into it.
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  10. #10

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    Beware of any goverment study on any subject. What follows is always a loss of some freedoms.

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