It's some testament to the stupidity of the male brain that I'd been riding 22 years before I seriously noticed that biking could be a dangerous game. And then it happened twice in one week.
The first involved clattering my Honda VFR750 into roadwork poles trying to overtake where there was no gap. It was completely pointless. What struck me, briefly, was why I would be so stupid. I rode home and pretended it had never happened. But four days later I rounded a corner I'd known for 15 years at something like 160km/h - and found a tractor and trailer blocking the road.
It's hard to know what you think when stuff like this happens. I can only guess that guys killed on motorcycles spend their last seconds trying to form the thought that they wish life had a rewind button. I don't think I even got that far. I breathed in, tucked in my elbows and aimed for a gap clearly too narrow for an Honda VFR750.
By pure luck, I came out the other side. This time the near miss was impossible to ignore. I sat down in the verge, humbled by fear, and seriously enquired of myself what was going on. With hindsight, it was another matter, it was the best question I've ever asked.
Answering it was another matter, and I eventually enlisted the help of a psychotherapist. I'd always imagined I was a nice guy, but her gentle, lance-like questions and hanging silences exposed another side. Week by week we pieced together that when I got on a motorcycle I entered a rage, all the while pretending to myself that I was just trying to ride more and more perfectly. Going on to discover where the rage came from was a real shock: basically, a bunch of bad childhood experiences we needn't go to into here.
Seven years later I still love riding quickly but the suicidal recklessness has gone. I'm more cautious now. Instead of being a blur of white noise, riding has become a joyful hobby.