Clearly, safety isn’t the priority

Another year, another set of motorcycle accidents thanks to the participants of BOSS Ironman Motorcycle Challenge (BIMC). It’s ironic given that the name itself, BOSS, is an acronym for BMW Owners Society of Saferiders. 

BIMC is an endurance challenge (so they say) that dares riders to cover 1,200km in 24 hours. For this year, they’ve gone a bit more and did almost 1,400km. That means one would only need 58 kph non-stop to finish within the time frame. Starting from Subic, they’ll stretch to the northwest at Alaminos, then Baguio, all the way up to Pagudpud and Sanchez Mira, east to Tuguegarao, Echague, Cabanatuan, and back to Subic. According to them, the challenge tests a rider’s skill, endurance, and discipline while promoting local tourism. 

Despite those dignified aims, the BIMC is notorious for two things – daredevil riders and endangering the public for their little fun. I don’t think there’s been a year where one rider didn’t cause an accident with a non-participant. It’s almost inevitable since the challenge involves driving during the night on open roads that aren’t as lit as the roads in Metro Manila. 

BIMC tried to curb this trend by implementing changes in the rules. In 2018, they stopped the record-holder challengers by having a 16-hour minimum finishing time. This means if you finished faster than that, you were clearly overspeeding and therefore disqualified. The last known record-finisher I can trace was Jotle Viray from 2014 who clocked in 11h:23m. An 11:30 run in a 1,200km distance means an average speed of 104 kph NON-STOP. If you stop for anything – bathroom break, meals, repairs, etc – you have to make up for it. No wonder some of them are doing 180 kph in their heydays.

There’s also additional GPS devices installed in the bikes of all participants. This way, the organizers can track those who are overspeeding against the local road speed limits and disqualify them (which they did in both Mindanao and Luzon legs). 

However, it doesn’t bring into account the real-world situations of the roads. Sure, a rider might be following the 80kph limit of the local highway, but it doesn’t see once the rider is going near sidewalks, pedestrians, doing illegal overtakes, or not slowing down in intersections. This is why there’s still a lot of accidents that flooded social media during the event. 

In their statement post-event, BOSS said that they are “actively working with local authorities and safety experts to understand the circumstances surrounding these incidents so we can implement measures to prevent future occurrences.” 

They make it seem like the solution is hidden in quantum physics but okay, here are two ideas for you.

If they are truly all about discipline, skills, and endurance – why not do this endurance challenge in a closed track like the 24 hours of Daytona or the 12 hours of Sebring? We have Clark International Speedway or Batangas Racing Circuit. Even LeMans, the most prestigious endurance racing series in the world, closes off public roads that are included in their track layout for the race. Close off the portions your participants will go through since you are “actively working” with local authorities anyway. Why does the public have to be collateral damage for your pissing game? 

If your concern is tourism since this year’s iteration is a partnership with the Department of Tourism, then add fuel economy in your so-called challenge. This will make the loop smaller but at least it would retain the test of skills, endurance, discipline, mixed with tourism, and will force those riders to slow down. 

Group B rallying, the closed-course public race that also killed contestants and spectators alike, only lived from 1982-1986 because of its nature. I wonder what makes BIMC so special that they are in their 18th year despite the death toll. 

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