As the weather turns warmer, there’s always one thing you can count on.

I’m referring to the sight of individuals zooming around town on their motorcycles. Weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds and showing off their toys, this is the time of year when you see more and more of them on the road, cruising up and down the main drags of town on those small, fast and shiny sport bikes.

I have to admit it, whenever I see those guys fly past me on the road, I think of my friend Clint.

He was a close friend of mine in college and simply put, Clint was a great guy and a loyal friend.

It was a warm May night, finals were over and graduation was just a few days away. We were ready to put college behind us.

Clint had a sport bike, I think it was a Suzuki. He decided to go out for a ride that night.

As he walked out the door of our house, he said, “I’ll talk to you later.”

Unfortunately, I never got to talk to him later that night — and I won’t get to talk to him ever again.

At some point during his joy ride, Clint ended up on a back country road. He may or may not have been racing someone. What is known is that he was going very fast when he hit something in the road, possibly a pothole. He lost control, flew off his bike and slammed head first into a utility pole. He was killed instantly.

Clint had a bright future, but it was wiped out in an instant. He had a great family, too. They were on their way to town to see their son graduate. Instead, they had to plan a funeral. I’m sure they’ve never been the same. And I know I miss chatting with my friend.

My point? Be careful on those bikes, guys. No one is invincible. And crashes happen...bad ones.

According to the United States Transportation Department, nearly 5,300 motorcycle riders died in crashes in the United States in 2008. And 96,000 more riders were injured in crashes.

Also, between 1997 and 2008, motorcycle fatalities grew in the United States from 2,116 to 5,290.

And here’s another scary statistic to think about. The state of Kansas reported an 11 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities from 2008 to 2009, according to the Associated Press.

There were 49 deaths in Kansas in 2009 as a result of motorcycle crashes. Of course, that includes not just sport bikes, but also Harley-Davidsons and other larger motorcycles, too.

Of course, not all of those crashes are the fault of those riding the motorcycles. Motorists should watch out for motorcycles on the road, too. Be careful when changing lanes and just be aware of their presence on the road.

Anyway, enjoy your sport bikes all you want — just try not to be too reckless.

If you need a reminder to be careful, think of my friend Clint.

He was a great guy that never got to experience a full life.

If that’s not enough, think about Clint’s parents. I’ll always remember the sight of them cleaning out his old room, taking his belongings home — without their son.

— Jason Peake, Tribune Sports Editor

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