Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: Motorcyclist is decapitated by a sheet of metal which falls from a passing truck.
Example: [Dale, 1978]
However, in a cruel instance of ostension, a motorist did indeed lose her life in such fashion. On
The appeal of the legend is universal — we like accounts of gruesome deaths because they serve to confirm that life is a fragile thing. The notion that at any moment the fabric of our safe, sensible world could be rent with a scene of unspeakable horror titillates us. We therefore remind ourselves that no matter how ordinary the corner we're standing on or how mundane the day that took us there, at any moment a headless motorcycle rider could come shooting
Horror legends are rife with beheadings because this form of demise is especially gruesome. Not only does a freakish accident result in loss of life, it leaves behind a mutilated corpse lacking a head. In a flash, the mind is cut off from the body, ending a life. A person who moments before was a living, thinking being is now just a headless trunk, spurting blood. Though all forms of demise lead to the same place, this one is sickly fascinating thanks to its elevated gore quotient and the speed with which it drives home the finality of death.
Our society is not the first to be enthralled with the spectres of decapitated riders, as many a headless horseman gallops across the pages of ghost lore and hero tales. In updatings of these older legends, ghostly headless motorcyclists are said to frequent certain old roads, such as the headless haunt who reportedly appears on Old Creek Road in Ojai, California, to ride alongside drivers on his vintage 1940s motorcycle. Ohio has its headless motorcyclist of Elmore, whom legend says repeats his fatal ride time and again.
Barbara "groundhog day on a hog" Mikkelson
Last updated: 18 January 2007
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.
Also told in: