Monday, June 2, 2008

Riding With Others

I’m the first to admit that I can be a bit timid on rough roads. While my companions are sailing around twist and turns smoothed along by their air shocks, my teeth can be rattling out of my head riding Jade. Unlike most of my riding buddies, I do not have comfy air shock to take up the jarring that rough roadways cause. Instead, Jade is equipped with front forks and a spring under the seat. I like to compare the difference to riding today’s automotive suspension and yesterday’s buckboard. When I encounter bad road conditions, I tend to slow up, and wave ahead anyone behind me.

From the comments I get from fellow riders, my feeling is there is little awareness of what I am experiencing. I am assuming this from the helpful hints they kindly try to suggest, so that my riding skills will improve. This became evident again on Sunday. I complained about the speed on bad roads, and was then questioned about the state of my shocks. I kindly asked them to examine them for me. The eyebrows rose in what I consider a “light bulb” moment when they realize I have none.

Then there are the twisties. For the road carver, riding the twisties is Nirvana. They would be for me as well, if all twists in the road were right handed. However, for some reason, leaning left seems so much more hair-raising. OK, so my left eye is compromised by the lenses I wear. One is for reading and one is for distance. This doesn’t help my left leaning ability since the left is for near not far. Yes, I have tried wearing my eyeglasses, but they bounce around on my nose, and then both eyes are compromised. What to do?

I love riding, but with others these two handicaps can cause hazard unless all are aware. When riding alone, I’m comfortable and feel capable in my riding skills. The lessons learned in the Rider Training Course are valuable tools I use each time Jade and I are out and about. While I try to be forthright about any shortcomings I may have, others aren’t so obliging. When group riding, you can’t know the experience level of every individual, their current physical health and that of their motorcycle. There are so many variables at play. I have my own method of coping with these situations. You need to find what works for you if you want to return home alive, because, yes, shortcoming on a bike can kill.

I my opinion, it is imperative that members of a group ride take time before kickstands up to have some frank talk. Discuss the riding style such as staggered or single file, hand signals that keep all riders informed of road hazards, turns, and stops. Understand the fuel tank limits of all the riders, the length of stops and the time between. Let the group know if the ride is aggressive, or leisurely. Don’t drop out of a ride without informing the group, or join halfway into the ride, as you have missed all the instructions and could put others at risk. After all, group riding is supposed to be fun, and accidents never are.

Here are couple of links for more information on safe group riding.

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