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PSA - Familiarity can be a bad thing...
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PSA - Familiarity can be a bad thing... - August 2, 2013, 11:33 AM

After years of riding various motorcycles I like to think of myself not as a “fast” rider but one with enough time and miles to know my limitations and generally not put myself in a position where I exceed them. I failed in that recently and thought that I’d pass along the experience on the off chance it might keep someone from coming to grief.

It was a beautiful day and I was heading through a series of high speed sweepers I’ve ridden many times before at what I deem a fun but not crazy pace. Supremely confident I was within my personal comfort/safety zone.
As I came out of a left hander I realized my jacket wasn’t zipped up all the way and I casually reached down with one hand to zip it up (an unzipped jacket is not safe and I like being safe). The zipper was being stubborn so I looked down to try to see what the problem was, a fairly useless habit when wearing a full face helmet, but I digress. Yank, yank, re-adjust jacket, yank again… Damn thing… Pull once more, ah there we go. During this time I’m still hurtling down the empty road but hey, what could go wrong? The answer to that last question would become apparent to me in the following seconds…

Fooling with the zipper had taken more time than I had anticipated and during that time I allowed myself to become distracted. I looked up and found myself at the entrance to a right hand sweeper coming in hot, totally out of position, one hand on the bars, and completely unprepared to negotiate the turn.

A quick glance into corner showed no oncoming traffic so I allowed myself to cheat and drift across the double yellow as I hurried to get my physical and mental act together. I ended up in the middle of the oncoming lane before I got myself and the bike sorted out and back to my side of the road and continued on my way.

This might seem a rather uneventful story since I’m still here to tell it right? Meh, not really. Crossing the double yellow because you feel you have no choice is a life ending accident just waiting for a car or truck to enter from stage left to play out like a scene from Macbeth. I don’t like giving fate a free shot at ending me. It was a sobering moment to be out of control and realize I had put myself in a position where both the bike and I were somewhere I did NOT want to be. That's a sensation I don't get very damn often.

I gave fate a free shot, luckily she must have been dozing off at the moment. I'll not let her get another freebie chance to end me if I can avoid it. The moral of the story is: “Familiarity breeds contempt” is true. For motorcyclists that can mean getting killed by your own supreme confidence. Stay vigilant! When the wheels are turning there is only one task at hand - Ride the damn bike and constantly be spatially aware of your surroundings.
Let's go ride.


There's bold riders and old riders, but damn few bold old riders.

Last edited by windblown; August 2, 2013 at 12:37 PM..
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August 2, 2013, 11:44 AM

Good post.


It costs $0 to "pay attention" to the task at hand.
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August 2, 2013, 12:10 PM



-Fitz

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August 2, 2013, 12:19 PM

Another quality post and fantastic reminder!



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August 2, 2013, 12:29 PM

yanking while riding is indeed dangerous... but it can be fun.
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August 2, 2013, 01:15 PM

fap before the ride, fap after the ride, never ever fap during the ride


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I'm a Rookie, How do I Wheelie?
 
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August 2, 2013, 01:34 PM

Great Post
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August 2, 2013, 01:39 PM

I had a very similar reality check last time I was down at the Gap with Stan. For me, it was a combination of fatigue and lack of focus. Started looking at the far wooden guardrail and went chicken in a right sweeper on the Cherohala Skyway. I grabbed a lot of front brake while leaned pretty far over. I really shouldn't be able to tell this story, in fact, but I am. Moral is, never forget that motorcycle riding is inherently deadly.


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August 2, 2013, 01:55 PM

I actually had a moment myself today. I went out to meet my wife for lunch and took the back roads to get there. I was playing a little bit but, like you, well within my comfort zone (frederick county roads simply have too much traffic for me to ever consider pushing it). One of the things I do when playing is braking hard at intersections. I overcooked one and had the back wheel flapping back and forth off the ground, which put me a couple feet past the centerline of the road I was turning on to. Unthinkingly I went ahead and made the turn without being sure the way was clear. Thankfully there was no car there but it was pure luck that there wasn't.

I did the screw up because I was in a mindset to play but had let my normal mindset to live slip somehow. Even after a couple decades of regular riding it's easy to let it slip. That said, I do consider play, aka skills maintenance, an important part of riding. I just have to remember not to pretend that I'm in a controlled environment.
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August 3, 2013, 07:29 PM

Good reminder! We all, at some point, may take for granted something that kills us.


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August 7, 2013, 01:21 AM

Yeah, whenever, I get really comfortable, I keep reminding myself to not get distracted and stay alert.

I cruise around Clifton sometimes late night, and I counted about 25 deer and 3 foxes! Looked down for a split second to adjust my zipper, and I look up to see another deer just chilling waiting to cross. I can't believe I used to drive more than briskly around those roads years ago.
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Groping is a skill...
 
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August 7, 2013, 01:39 AM

I will fap to this. Good reminder!


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August 7, 2013, 01:39 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by airjor13 View Post
fap before the ride, fap after the ride, never ever fap during the ride
I like where your hand is at


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