I have just completed reading the novel “Lone Survivor” based on a true story of the role the Navy Seals played in the defense of the country I love, our country, the United States of America. We recently lost one of our beloved and highly trained Utah County Sheriffs Deputies and a close friend of our beloved friend and Learning Curves teammate, Lance. These men and women serve each day to protect our lives and property here in Utah. We, at Learning Curves, are filled with gratitude for the men and women in uniform. They not only work hard, they train hard.
Situational awareness is one of the key training points that they are all committed to. This training is a key to reducing their risk factor. We can learn from them. To reduce the risk factor, we need to be tuned to our own pursuit of situational awareness. We need to be always aware of what is going on around us.
A Navy Seal must absorb everything that is happening in a battle—the position and status of his team, the location of any enemies. Good is not good enough. One missed clue can spell doom. The same is true of all of our servants in uniform.
On our motorcycles, we need the same alertness to stay safe. Particularly on the road where there are four-wheeled and four-legged obstacles around every curve. Concentrate on what is important and dismiss what isn’t. Use your vision, hearing, feel and smell. Practice being in tune with your peripheral vision. By using the acute sense in your peripheral vision you can simultaneously watch where you’re going while remaining alert for incoming hazards from the sides.
Reduce distractions; turn off your iPod and smartphones. You need situational awareness far more than you need either of these. Pretend you are one of the squirrels that are always looking for a way to invade our home here at Sundance. Their heads are always swiveling and absorbing everything going on around them. If you stare into the landscape ahead of you for a while, your mind will eventually wander into daydreams or other concerns even as you continue to look at the scenery. To remain alert to potential harm, we must continuously guard against complacency. We cannot afford complacency in any aspect of our relationships or life pursuits.
Be safe and cherish every curve.
Rules of the Road
Where is your lane? As you head down the open road and enjoy the beauties that surround you, there are choices to be made concerning where in your lane you choose to ride. On two wheels you have three options whereas on four wheels you have only one. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each position:
- Riding in the right shoulder track where the right tires of the four wheeled vehicle goes
- Riding the left track where the left tires of a four wheel vehicle goes
- Riding the center of the lane which would be between the right and left tires of a four wheeled vehicle
Let’s first consider option number 1:
- You are away from oncoming traffic should they accidentally cross over the center lane
- You can mostly avoid the blast of air that comes from a large truck
- You can avoid debris that might be kicked up by an oncoming vehicle
- But you are less visible to oncoming traffic
- But you are closer to a wild animals or farm animals that may dash onto the road unexpected and thus there is less time to react
Next let’s consider option number 2:
- You can be better seen by oncoming traffic
- You have more space and time to react to an animal coming from the roadside
- You are closer to another vehicle trying to pass coming the opposite direction
- Other vehicles on the road behind you that are trying to pass are less likely to squeeze into your spot on the road
- But you are continually more vulnerable to the oncoming traffic and those huge wind blasts that can come off a large truck or debris on the road that they may kick your way
Now, if we could consider option number 3:
- This is probably the least desirable lane
- This is where oil drops from vehicles and collects over time. After a new rain storm this area can be very slick
- Debris dropped on the road often end up here as other vehicles straddle it
- A truck or SUV without a clear back window cannot see you because you are not in view of either rear view mirror. Remember that if you cannot see the rear view mirror of a large truck, the driver cannot see you.
- But in heavy traffic, with another lane on each side, this position allows a cushion on both sides to help prevent someone from squeezing you on your lane
Now some thoughts on group riding:
- On the open road, we ride in staggered formations.
- The lead bike takes the number two position. This allows oncoming traffic to better and sooner see the bikes coming.
- When the group enters a tight curve, we move to single file and each rider can then use the entire lane to enter the curve wide and be able to see further ahead.
- The center lane is used if there is an obstacle in the road that makes it necessary for a temporary movement out of lane 1 or 2 to avoid the obstacle. For example, if I am leading and a large truck is coming, I am going to temporarily move from lane number 2 near the center line to lane number 3 to avoid some of the air blast of the truck. Of course, I check my rear view mirror first and then move back to lane number 2 after the truck has passed.
- And, of course, we only pass another vehicle one by one in single file with each rider responsible to be sure their own space for safety is available.
- My final word would be, there are no RULES. Each of us is responsible to weigh the advantage and disadvantages of each position depending on the circumstances. Make smart choices.