Monday, May 5, 2014

Dusting off the Cobwebs

It’s finally springtime in New Hampshire and Blaze and I have been out on a few adventures. It’s almost impossible to describe the sensation of finally being in the saddle after such a long cold (and I do mean COLD) winter. Of course there are still times when I have to keep to my four wheeled pal Isis, my Chevy Cruiz, and it’s at these times I have the opportunity to observe from a cager’s perspective the faux pas of some riders on the road. In fact I often cringe at what I see. In an article I once read in the AMA magazine, the AMA claimed that riders often don’t see the part they have played in an accident. With that I will proceed on with my own advice.

Dodge Ball:
                On a recent trip to celebrate Easter at my daughter’s home the traffic started to crawl at a particular point. It usually does, because she lives in an area that is tourist and vacation land. A rider came from behind us, and was weaving in and out of traffic. This might have been OK, except he was sliding terribly close to the front bumpers of the people he’d dart in and out from. We were on pins and needles for close to 30 miles. He wasn't wearing any protective gear except for the state mandated helmet; although I couldn't see a logo that said it was DOT approved. In the end, all his dodging was for nothing, as we ended up ahead of him just keeping to a steady pace. It could have ended a lot worse for him and I think that because it was Easter, the prayers of many people kept him alive. Don’t weave in and out! Changing lanes is one thing. Everyone is changing lanes trying to avoid the tie-up, but playing dodge ball with your life is stupid.

Zoned Out:
                Are you riding with a group of people? Even with one other person, you should keep a presence of mind that there is someone else riding along with you. I know, it’s a great day, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, and you don’t have a worry in the world. Yet, when you zone out to the existence of another person, it could make their ride not so fun. When you aren’t paying attention, especially if you are in the lead, you may begin to roam from one side of the lane to the other. The person behind has to either continually adjust their own lane, adjust their speed because you are daydreaming, or drop back so they too can enjoy the ride and stop worrying about your rear fender getting too close to them.

Know Who You’re Riding With:
                Are you getting ready for a pleasant day of riding with a group of like minded free spirits?  Are you sure you are familiar with their riding preferences? I sometimes jump into a local group to ride. Some of the members know me, and some don’t. Likewise for myself; there may be people I’m not very familiar with. I like to check with them on what their riding style is like. Maybe I don’t want to get stuck behind someone who is a newbie, and feeling a bit timid. Neither do I want to get behind the peg scrapper. I like a moderate pace most of the time but if going to new places I haven’t seen before, I like to take my time and look around enjoying the scenery. So I might enjoy being a flower sniffer that day. Knowing the riding style of the people you’re riding with will keep you from finding yourself out of your comfort zone, or heating up under the helmet because you find yourself on the brake more than the throttle.

Super Slabs or Secondary Roads:
                While you’re checking on the riding styles of your pals, be sure to check others’ comfort levels with different types of roadways. I agreed to a ride with another woman once to find she never goes on the slabs. She said “her neck hurts” from the wind speeds. I was surprised and while I don’t mind all secondary roads to my destination, picking up the pace on the super slabs and opening up the throttle is fun too.

Riding Invisible:
                This is one I see all the time; solo riders riding in the lane so that they are invisible to drivers. I personally experienced a rather startling incident on my commute home, when a young man on a sports bike “suddenly” appeared out of nowhere. As I observed this lad, I realized he was riding to the right of the lane, neither visible in the left side mirror, or the rear view. His small profile kept him invisible in the right mirror as well. Essentially, this young man was riding in everyone’s blind spot. I have witness this type of riding so many times already this season that is has me a bit dismayed. I want motorcyclist to enjoy their ride, not regret it not knowing why their accident happened.

Don’t Spit:
                I was riding with a group of friends once, when the person ahead of me, who was to the right of the lane, decided to spit. Well, that glob of unwelcome sputum made a lovely arch and hit me square in the face. I was not a happy camper. So please don’t spit in the wind.

Revving the Engine:
                Today’s motorcycles are fabulous state of the art machines, so why do some folks feel they need to rev the engine? Is it a guy thing? Do they think they look cool? Is there a chick their trying to impress or do they just think its bad ass? Do they know it’s annoying? Stop it.

                I’m sure you have a few choice pieces of advice. I’d love to hear some of the things that you've seen that make you cringe. What advice would you like to share with other riders as they dust off the cobwebs for another season of riding?


RichardM said...

I see bikes sitting in blind spots all the time as if they have never driven a car or truck and know where the blind spots are. The other big problem, in my humble opinion, are bikes traveling in tight formation. That minimal following distance is consumed in very little time. said...

Richard, I've seen the following too closely too. And yes, I agree, not leaving yourself enough room for even a panic stop is not a good practice.

Trobairitz said...

Very well said.

What really bothers me is not only seeing other bikes follow cars too close (no room for that panic stop), but to stop right on their bumper leaving no escape route when that car rushed up fast from behind. Whether in heavy traffic or stopped at a light or stop sign.

Last thing I want to do as a rider is become a sandwich between two vehicles. Please leave enough room to plot your escape route.

Oh and I really agree with the revving thing? So not necessary on modern bikes and well tuned vintage models. said...

Trobairitz, If we can reach one person with your message, we may save a life. Yet, sometimes I feel we are preaching to the choir.