Learning Curves Food for Thought
One of the most important strategies for staying safe in traffic is to be predictable. This means riding normal speeds, not faster or slower than car traffic. You need to flow with the other vehicles. Slow down in neighborhoods and parking lots. These things are not new thoughts to you I am sure and they all make perfect sense.
Here is a thought shared with me a few weeks ago that had never occurred to me and maybe you as well. When coming to a stop in traffic, at a stop light, or stop sign, or for any reason, I often have concern. Is the vehicle behind me doing to stop at a safe distance behind me?
This was further reinforced last month when Glenda and I were stopped at a traffic signal on a four-lane highway and in the lane to our left, a car at full speed, ran into the rear of another car also stopped at the same traffic signal.
How can we decrease our risk? Our tail lights are not as bright and bold as those of an automobile. With this in mind, we need to make maximum use of them. I have also added two additional ones over and above the stock lighting.
Here is the thought process that now goes though my mind since this was brought to my attention. I normally use my engine gears to slow to prepare for my stop. When doing this, I forget that my tail lights are not going bright to signal to the vehicle behind of my decrease in speed and intention to stop.
Now when slowing for a stop in traffic using my engine and lower gears, I also lightly engage the front brake lever to activate the tail lights with the intent of the traffic behind me being made aware of my intentions. Hope this all makes sense as we work together to minimize our risk and maximize our joy of this summer riding opportunities.
Keep the rubber side down.
Worth Repeating, Worth Repeating
These clever titles and their content were so fun and so good that I want to share them with you this month. (This is reprinted and edited from the July 2011 issue of Rider Magazine, “There’s a Name for That.”)
- BRO DEPENDENCY: Doing what your riding buddies do just because they’re doing it. When riders stop thinking for themselves when riding in a group they are placing too much trust in their fellow riders for their own good.
- GRAVELTATIONAL FORCE: The powerful force that seems to pull a rider directly toward a patch of gravel found in the middle of a blind curve. Conversely, some riders find that the graveltation effect actually pushes them and their motorcycles away from the gravel and toward the road’s edge or oncoming traffic.
- FENDER BLENDER: Following the car ahead of you so closely there’s no room left for adequate reaction times. But, by creating even a few bikes lengths of distance between you and the vehicle ahead, you create usable time, space and the ability to plan.
- FATAL EXTRACTION: Getting one’s self out of a dangerous situation just in time to avoid tragedy. Do all you can to stay out of trouble in the first place, because if you don’t you could just have an unpleasant “Auto Body Experience.”
- HEMORRHIDE: An extended ride with excessive time spent in the saddle without a break. Get off your bike, stretch your legs, get blood flowing and rehydrate—you may prefer to remain standing while doing this.
- PASSING ZZZZZZONE: Taking far too long to overtake another vehicle in a passing zone on a two-lane road. If a pass can’t safely be done in less than four seconds from start to finish without excessive speed, then perhaps it’s best just to hang back and pass on passing.
- SLOP SIGN: An intersection with a stop sign at which a rider or motorist rolls through without coming to a complete stop (or taking sufficient time to determine if the path through the junction is truly clear). Roy needs help with that one...
- ERECT-STYLE DYSFUNCTION: Riding a motorcycle with a flexed, vertical riding position with back stiff and arms outstretched and tense. Rigid riders with erect-style dysfunction should exhale slowly, lightly touch the bars, curve the elbows, and relax the back to allow the rider to roll body weight smoothly from hip to hip.
- A CHANGE-OF-HEART ATTACK: What an unsuspecting motorcyclist might have when the driver of another vehicle suddenly changes his or her mind and direction (would that make the driver a “Carmeleon?”).
With all of these, follow the concluding words of advice: “Expect the unexpected. Look for indicators of drivers lost in unfamiliar territory or showing signs of tentative behavior. Maintain full awareness of your surroundings, create a little extra space, cover the brakes and be prepared to take advantage of that escape route you’ve planned for.”
It is not too late to join our September Ride on the Big Island of Hawaii. Stay at the five-star Mauna Lani Bay Hotel for four nights and discover the “Big Island” by day on your own two wheels. Last chance to register is now!
June 2012 will be here sooner than you think. If you want to be part of this “once in a life-time experience” through the Alps of Europe, now is the time to reserve your bike. Our space is limited! Drop us an email. Roy will return your inquiry with a phone call to give you a complete overview.
The joy of learning. The thrill of the ride.
Register now for 2011 & 2012!