It’s not normal where I live to have a 50 degree sunny day this late in the year. When snow and ice are gone, motorcyclist hit the streets to take advantage of a rare winter siesta. Today I decided to take my Urban Commando Route and check out what the metropolis had to offer. It’s good to get out of the rural areas and get an appreciation of city life. I normally reserve these days for early morning weekend runs, in hopes of missing traffic. I grew up in a very rural setting and now live in the burbs and lack experience with riding in the city.
The ride was splendid. Not much traffic and plenty of sun to warm the body in the cool November air. It’s fun to dart past the cars and busses as one traverses the metro streets. There is a lot of items to track and be aware of compared to navigating dairy farms where I live. There is so much to observe and ultimately, that is what got me into trouble. As I was driving down the road, I was paying attention to pedestrians on the river walk and did not see the stop light until I was just about under it and heading into the intersection. To my dismay the light was red and there was no way I could avoid the intersection. My first thought was panic. If there were cars coming from left or the right, I was a dead man. Luck was my passenger because there were no cars in either directions. I was lucky and stupid all at the same time.
I am always talking about the danger brought forth by others but realized this morning that I was my worst enemy. Lesson learned without anyone getting hurt but I am still pretty angry at myself.
Over confidence breeds trouble. I think I fell into this trap today and it was almost a costly lesson. It reminds me of what Jerry Garcia sang in one of my favorite songs, “Cause when life looks like easy
Street, there is danger at your door.”
Be safe and ride well………….
I was at work last Friday and someone said something about me turning into a motorcycle because I am always talking about them. On my way home that evening, I reflected upon that comment. There is no conceivable way to become a cycle but for many of us, our cycles are an extension of our being. I am sure that many people’s cycles mimic in some form their own individual persona. My current ride (Yamaha FJR 1300) is more of an alter personality then a personification of me. The FJR is fast, sleek and stylish and I am none of the above. I guess if I were to turn into a cycle it would be the Royal Enfield Bullet. It may not be the fastest bike nor the most modern but it has a character all its own.
I think it’s great to ride a bike that in some way is similar to your own traits and personality. With that said, there is absolutely no issue with riding a bike that represents nothing of what you are. Riding for me is about getting away from the norm. It’s about finding your own place on two wheels and letting everything else go. Ride what makes you happy, ride what makes you comfortable but most of all ride what makes you smile. A smile is the only true test of a bikes self-worth.
Have you ever just stopped and wondered what your five worse riding habits are? Here is my list:
- It is impossible for me to remember to turn off my blinker when I complete a turn (my Harley had self-canceling signals, not so much on the FJR)
- I never keep my cycle in gear while at a stop light (one of these days some crazy texting socialite is going to run into my rear when I am minding my own business at a stop sign)
- On long rides, I tend to Day Dream (contemplating if Vegan Dragons Exist, should not be the priority while riding)
- The Speed Limit is not my friend (one ticket to many could be the end of my employment which would quickly render me homeless)
- I always get angry when someone beeps their horn (it’s a weird trigger but horn blowing drives me insane)
What bad riding habits do you have?
There are no shortages in the amount of imprudent things I have done in my life. The list is long but distinguished. After reflecting upon the many foolish situations I have been a part of, I came to the conclusion that most of them occurred while in a large group of people. Normally I am a sensible prudent individual but put me in a crowd and I am able to look the fool in a moment’s notice. This behavior pattern has ramifications in many aspects of my life. The few times that I was almost involved in a motorcycle accident was while riding in a large cluster of cycles. Driving in crowds could be inherently more dangerous than riding alone. This could easily explain the previous statistic or could it be that I am not as safe riding while in a group compared to riding alone? If I am not as safe in a pack of cycles then why? It’s something to self-reflect upon.
None of us are perfect riders, the best at our jobs or flawless parents. It’s good to dwell upon improvement opportunities. When we analyze our abilities and find potential soft spots, it creates an ocean of self-improvement potential. We never have to be the best at anything in life. We just have to be willing to find self-development areas and have the motivation to cultivate them. We can never rest upon our laurels in life, same goes with riding.
About 10 years ago, I made a conscious decision to have my motorcycle parked in the late evening. This was not a set rule but was more of a guideline that I endeavored to keep. The reason for this guideline was my belief that the biggest external threat that I had while riding was from drunk drivers. My logic was that most people drive drunk latter in the evening and if I could avoid the peak drunk driving hours then I would dramatically reduce my risk while riding on two wheels (I have no evidence to back up my logic but it seemed rationale to me). Now a days, drunk drivers are the least of my concerns. More and more, distracted drivers are the culprits that I fear while riding. These drivers are on the road 24/7/365. They do not rest and continually plague our roadways with danger. An average text message takes a drivers eyes from the roadway for an average 4.6 seconds which at 55 mph is the length of entire football field. Just the simple task of reaching for a cell phone or dialing increases the risk of getting into a crash by three times. Think of these facts. One fourth of all teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. I did not make up these numbers, I got them off of www.distraction.gov. It gets worst; twenty percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit they have extended text conversations while driving. That number has anxiety written all over it. Individuals having text conversations while driving should just go ahead and drive while smoking crack blind folded. It’s just that dangerous.
We as motorcyclist have more to fear by distracted drivers then most. Hopefully this fear will never lead us away from doing what we care so much about. If there is a threat against our common interest as motorcyclist then should we not do something about it? Are there any motorcycle groups out there with a mission to stop distracted driving? Having a group of motorcyclist band together with the sole purpose to stopping Distracted Drivers seems like a good idea.
Just remember we can all do our own individual part to make our roads a safer place to ride. Talk to your kids, friends, spouse and co-workers about the safety hazards of texting and driving. Speak up against careless acts and remember to leave your phone alone while driving. You just may save a life.
Had a great ride on Monday. We rode around Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York. On our way we found an old Historic Sign in Waterloo, NY which took us back to simpler times where small town America prospered and the local Main St was king. In 2007, this historic sign was discovered after an adjacent building (Dempsey Building) was torn down. When the Dempsey building was built, it was located right up against the adjoining structure, hiding this sign for 110 years.
If you like Wine, then visiting Seneca Lake is a must. We rode around the entire lake and there was a different winery on every curve. Seneca Lake has a maximum depth of 618 feet. This extreme depth explains why the US Navy still conducts testing on the lake all year around. When you are there maybe you can find the “Great Sea Serpent of Seneca Lake”. My theory is that this giant snake has long since been torpedoed by the Navy.
Ride when you can b/c winter is almost upon us……………………………
There has been a lot of noise concerning dangerous motorcycle stunts leading to ugly incidents on the roadway of late. This is a sensitive subject for me because it is always a tragedy to hear when a fellow biker is injured on the street. It grieves me when any motorcyclist is injured, no matter what the circumstances. There is a certain family relationship that I feel towards any motorcyclist which I hope will never cease. One of the many reasons why I am so passionate about motorcycling is because of this bond that I have with those that ride. This fraternal instinct towards those riders encourages me to be as supportive in nature as possible and to do what I can to assist bikers in need.
It also pains me to hear when incidents caused by a few tarnish the good reputation of motorcyclists worldwide. We riders have an obligation to be there for one another but also have the same obligation to make good choices while riding on public streets. On the same token, I cannot be a hypocrite and tell you that I always follow the rules of the road. I have a tendency to cross the line from time to time while on two wheels but I strive to do so in such a way as to keep from harming others. I never cross that line when cages are involved or the public eye is upon me. This may not make my actions right but it has kept me out of trouble.
For those motorcyclist injured on the roadway no matter the circumstances, I truly pray for your good health and well-being. Every biker injured is a travesty. I also pray for those individuals injured by bikers whose actions may not have been proper. We as a motorcycling community should strive to do better.
Please remember that every action made while riding on two wheels on public roads will in some way affect the rest of the motorcycling community in which we live. We all have a moral obligation to promote a positive perception of the motorcycling community.