Archive for June, 2009

Curve With a Curve Ball

June 18, 2009
Is there a left-turning car behind those trees?

Is there a left-turning car behind those trees?

Sometimes life can throw us a curve. As motorcyclists, we tend to like that. After all, curves are fun, right? But what about when a curve — especially one that seems relatively routine — throws us a curve of its own? I’m talking about the left hand bend that has a side road or driveway to the right. While we can often see if a vehicle is situated on that side road as we approach, we are often unable to see around the bend for any potential threat. What are we looking for? What should we expect? A fun curve like the one shown can be a real drag when an oncoming vehicle decides to turn left across our lane onto that tertiary road as we maintain speed. So what can we do? First, we need to recognize that a side road on a left hand bend can be one of the most dangerous situations we encounter on back roads. Become aware of side roads and adjust your speed downward, no matter how much that curve is beckoning your throttle. By moving to the right side of your lane you’ll see any oncoming vehicles sooner, giving you more time and more space to work with should that driver opt to turn in front of you. The number one scenario for motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle is a left turning car crossing the rider’s path. The risks go up on blind left curves with a side road to the right. The only safe play when a curve throws you this curve ball is to create sufficient time and space. Note the skid marks on the road in the photo that are the likely result of drivers being surprised by a left-turning car.

ET

How to Avoid a Spill

June 18, 2009

This past weekend I was working a private training session with a great group of guys from New Jersey. At one of our breaks we were discussing the value of keeping our eyes up while riding. In addition to improving a rider’s ability to see more of what might be developing up ahead, it is also one of the best tools to establish overall stability and smoothness. Ever see a rider wobbling about at low speed in a parking lot or struggling to turn smoothly from a stop? Chances are, he or she is looking just a few feet in front of the motorcycle and down toward the road surface. Probably due to fear of dumping the bike. The result is choppy and awkward riding and potentially a low speed spill … exactly what the rider was trying so hard to avoid. Conversely, when a rider gets his eyes up and looks to a distant point where he will ultimately place the motorcycle, the bike tracks smoothly and neatly with little drama. Not buying it? As Tom — one of the guys in the training session –suggested, it’s a lot like carrying a cup of coffee.

The Coffee Method: Look up to avoid spillage!

The Coffee Method: Look up to avoid spillage!

He’s absolutely right. Try filling a cup with coffee to just below the brim. Then attempt to walk across the floor without spilling any. Human nature makes you want to look down at the cup as you walk.  You know, to be absolutely certain you don’t spill any of the liquid onto the carpet. Unfortunately, when you do that and concentrate so hard on what is immediately in front of you, you’re likely to leave a nice long trail of java across the carpet. On the other hand, if you can force yourself to peer all the way across the room as you walk, with your eyes fixed on your destination, you will walk more smoothly, the cup will stay steady and, most likely, you won’t spill so much as a drop — even if you climb the stairs. The very same technique works for riding — especially at low speeds. So, next time you face a situation when you’re concerned about spilling your bike, consider having a cup of coffee before you pull away. Figuratively speaking of course.

ET