Terry Keeter said his dream always was to own a Harley.
However, his first bike, a Harley-Davidson Street Glide, was purchased at age 40.
“My baby brother, Jamie, was killed on a motorcycle when he was only 17,” Terry said. “I just could not and would not ride a motorcycle because of the worry it would have been on my mother. After her death, I decided to buy my first Harley. I spent so much time with her, my wife, Carolyn, nicknamed her “Harlot,” the other woman.”
Since then, Terry has racked-up more than 100,000 miles on motorcycles, he said, driving as far as Niagara Falls.
In 2013, Carolyn and Terry were traveling on the “Harlot” to the North Carolina mountains when he noticed something wrong with his tire. They stopped at a Harley dealership.
“And before we left, we had traded the ‘Harlot’ for a touring bike nicknamed ‘Annabelle’ for our 30th Anniversary,” he said.
Keeter said he loves the comradery, open experience, unhindered sight, sound and smells of God’s creation when he is on a ride.
“It’s a world of its own and an escape, even if it’s only for the ride home,” he said.
But something more important is to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation basic rider safety course, Terry said. It is a three-day class, with two days on a bike practicing and training.
“It can save your life,” he said.
Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to bring awareness to motorcycle fatalities and severe injuries on North Carolina roadways. Motorists are encouraged to share the road and watch carefully for motorcycles and riders to practice safe riding, according to the proclamation.
“Vehicle drivers can unintentionally become huge dangers to a motorcyclist’s safety,” said Mark Ezzell, N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program director, in a press release. “Motorists need to pay more attention to their surroundings and drive more safely when motorcyclists are on the road with them.”
Motorcyclists are nearly five times more likely to be injured and 29 times more likely to be killed in a crash than any other vehicle. A rider not wearing a helmet is five times more likely to sustain a critical head injury.
Terry said people do not pay attention.
“Cellphone usage is the biggest danger on the road today, greater than driving while impaired,” he said. “Just coming home today someone pulled out too close; the driver didn’t look at all,” he said. “Riding a motorcycle makes you 10 times more conscientious because you are vulnerable.”
BikeSafe North Carolina invites motorcyclists to participate in a free “Rider Skills Day” class that offers an assessment of current driving skills and provides advice. For more information, including a full schedule of classes, visit www.bikesafenc.com.
“Most riders never take a safety course and therefore limit themselves from being the best and safest rider,” Terry said. “It is 100 percent up to the riders to look out for themselves. Don’t bank on others to do it for you.
“This, of course, hits very close to home because of my brother, so I’m very glad there is a state or national action this month to raise awareness for motorcycle safety as everyone is getting there rides out. I’m a 365 rider as a friend says, ‘If it ain’t raining, it’s a good day to ride a Harley.’ ”