Saturday, July 18, 2009

Skill Building

As a new rider, EVERY day is a skill-building day. Ride your own ride. Never outride your skill set. Ride with friends and never feel as though you have to keep up - your friends don't mind waiting for you while you build your skills at your own pace. And ALWAYS remember the basics that will save your life: maintain appropriate speed, maintain appropriate distance, keep your head up, scan as far ahead as practical, and maintain visibility.

Today, my crew and I rode about 150 miles, about half and half between freeway and city riding. It was a skill-building day, as there were many events that tested my ability as a rider and also tested my fortitude as a socially acceptable person. Had I been a brand new rider today, it might have been more of a bone-setting day rather than a skill-building day.

Face it: people aren't looking for motorcycles on the road with them, despite the fact that there are thousands of us out there. Car drivers are looking for other CARS. Car drivers are focused on where they want to go and not on who is sharing the road. Car drivers assume that the other folks on the road are as stable, protected, and practically anonymous as they themselves are. Car drivers don't always look both ways at intersections, and often start moving through the intersection before they've even looked ONE way. Car drivers don't always know where they are going and may brake erractically, change lanes often and without warning, or suddenly stop altogether. Car drivers sometimes are so fucused on making that left hand turn before the light changes that they don't notice the motorcycle traveling the opposite direction until they actually broadside it. Car drivers honk their horns for no apparent reason. Car drivers throw things out of their windows. Car drivers change lanes without signalling and cut across four lanes of traffic at 80 miles per hour because they realized they've passed their exit.

The Event of the Day today was random and sudden stopping. In a three-hour ride, four cars stopped suddenly right in front of me, each time while I had another rider directly to my left. For new riders, the REALLY important thing to remember in these situations is without power, a motorcycle has no traction. If a rider panics, pulls in the clutch and hits the brakes (probably locking up the rear wheel in panic), there is no traction whatsoever available to actually avoid a collision. 70% of a motorcycle's stopping power comes from the front brake. USE IT. Slow yourself as quickly as possible, downshift appropriately (you'll stall if you don't and then you have the same problem - no power), and SWERVE if still necessary. Power = traction and traction = stability.

Quick-stops are something easily practiced in a nearby parking lot. It's worth the time to practice this skill regularly... I guarantee you'll use it.

1 comment:

*~kAy~* said...

I'm still very very new to riding and am still trying to practice riding it to get used to it :P

my friends warned me about cars not being able to "see" motorcycle riders..

thanks for all of the great tips <3
I'm glad to have bumped into your blog! it's so hard to find good motorcycle blogs...

It was nice of you to drop by my blog :)
I will need to take pictures with my bike soon :P
I also like your idea :) I'll have to come up with a post on beauty tips for bikers as well! :)