Your Support Blesses Lives
As you read this month’s letter, Glenda and I are hosting a group of 51 Smiles for Life volunteers serving in the Dominican Republic. The week after we return to the United States, we will host our last ride of the season. Our group of guests will be blessed to experience the Grand Circle in its Red Rock splendor with the colors of the Fall leaves as the frosting on the cake. Doug Andrew, well-known author and host of his own radio show will be our guest clinician.
Your support of Learning Curves continues to bless our lives. Glenda and I recount every day the joy in our lives that comes from the new friendships that have come to us as we are blessed to serve new riders each year.
On an even more widespread note – the success of Learning Curves has made it possible for us to expand the outreach of our humanitarian efforts with Smiles for Life and Smiles for Hope. Beginning with the new year of 2015 our reach will be extended to Guatemala, Bolivia, Kenya and Nepal along with our continued efforts in the Dominican Republic. We look forward with great anticipation to these opportunities to create new and lasting friendships for a lifetime and beyond.
My experiences in life have given me wisdom that continues to grow. This I know without question: “The best way to be selfish, is to be unselfish because whatever you give you will always get back packed down and running over.” My thanks to each of you for being a part of my life.
Mistakes on the Road
Taking the correct action in a dangerous situation may be the difference between a close call and a crash. Unfortunately our natural instinct are not always the best reaction for a dangerous situation. Let’s look at a few hopefully thought-provoking situations.
We fail to act – We enter a corner, the corner tightens and we find we have entered with too much speed. We freeze or try to make a quick stop rather than leaning the motorcycle further to stay on the road and we run off the road.
Overreaction – Often after a moment of freeze and no reaction, we then over react. There can be grabbing the brakes too hard or swerving in the wrong direction and the bike skids and we lose control.
Target Fixation – I still have to constantly work on this one. You go where you look. We need to learn to look for our escape route rather than looking at the threat. This is just not human nature to do. Imagine a car has suddenly stopped in your lane on a two-lane road. Our human nature is to stare at hazard and then collide with it. We need to put off our human nature and spot an escape route and fixate on that route. Practice! Condition yourself to look for the solution, not the problem. Not a bad practice for our business plan and our life challenges in general.
Stopping – The Harley Touring bike I have has anti-lock braking (ABS). Many bikes do not. Most Harley Softails do not. Controlled stopping does not mean grabbing the brakes and over reacting which leads to a skid and loss of control. Even if you have ABS, you should go to a large parking lot and practice controlled stopping.
Overbreaking – When overbraking in a corner, we are even more at risk. Available traction is being shared by cornering and braking forces. This is one of the most common single-vehicle crash scenarios because it combines a panic response with a limited traction situation. The one time that I have laid down a bike so far in my life was exactly this. A tight corner, on gravel, need to slow quickly from entering the corner too fast and loss of traction on a curve in gravel while turning and down I went and my knee that hit the ground took the force that sent me to the orthopedic surgeon two hours of reconstruction in the operating room.
Cornering – We as humans are only comfortable leaning at about 20°. Anything more than that and our survival senses trigger panic. As we grow in our experience riding, we have to overcome this sense and train our mind and the forces of physics and gravity will allow us to corner safely at an extensive lean angle. Again, you need to practice on a clean parking lot and train your senses.
Swerving – This is not easy to do with control. Again, you need to practice on a clean parking lot because you must have this in your bag of maneuvers for avoiding trouble and be able to act with confidence. As I watch my special friend, Lance, do this maneuver, I look on with awe at his ability.
As a closing thought, we just need to always expect the unexpected along every minute of every mile we ride and never ever become complacent.
But, also—always remember that “staycations” are dangerous to our well-being so just get on and ride and enjoy the open road.
I converted my headlights to LED about three years ago with an after market set-up. The next year, I converted the highway lights as soon as they were available. Now there are many after-market bulbs available and Harley Davidson has put LED lights as standard equipment in all touring bikes.
On a recent Learning Curves tour as I was leading the group, the value of this upgrade became very apparent to me. As I followed the trailing bikes in my rearview mirror, I was amazed at how visible the LED was to on-coming traffic in comparison to the old style halogen bulbs.
I try to never ride at night except in an emergency. I know that LED gives you better vision at night as I have experienced that. But, that said, the main reason I want LED lights in my bike is so I can be seen. As a safety factor, I feel the real benefit of LED is being seen day and night as much or more than seeing at night.
Learning Curves hosts
Roy & Glenda Hammond
As always, we're happy to answer any questions you may have, so give us a call!
Learning Curves founders
Roy & Frances Hammond
Frances Hammond, 1941-2009.
We will never forget her.