Thursday, August 24, 2006

Slippin' and a Slidin'

Read an interesting post by Christine where she relates a recent scare she had while negotiating a turn. Seems there was some sand on the road which made her a bit nervous (I know the feeling - tar snakes do the same for me), and while concentrating on the sand she inadvertently went wide and almost into oncoming traffic. Rest assured, nobody got hurt.

I won't go into a long winded discussion on target fixation and how your eyes should always be looking where you want to go, 'cause I figure most motorcyclists have heard it before (if not, please sign-up for a motorcycle safety course now). Specifically, I want to talk about fear.

Fear isn't always a bad thing, and to be quite honest with you I tend to embrace it. But like all things, I guess there's a bit of yin and yang to fear. Good fear is the kind that keeps you alert and reminds you of your own limits; it also pushes you to improve your skills. The bad fear is the crippling kind; when it overpowers your ability to think and react accordingly to the situation at hand. Many have already seen the Bike Crashes Into A Tree video; and although it's an excellent demonstration of how target fixation can be a bad thing, I think it also speaks volumes on fear. Obviously, the guy isn't having a panic attack or anything quite as traumatic, but his fear of the unknown (in this case - the motorcycle) prevented him from doing any number of things to prevent the crash. He could've used the brakes, let go of the throttle, pull-in the cluth, turned the handlebars, etc... Instead, he ran right into the tree at a very low speed (1st gear, barely above idle).

So how does one get over the fear of sand on the roadway? Simple - get a dirtbike and go to school. No matter what kind of streetbike you ride, from a Naked Ducati, to a full dresser Harley, you will learn more in one afternoon of dirtbiking with a 125CC thumper than a full year's worth of pavement pounding. Don't have a dirt bike? Then rent, borrow or buy one. Even a cheap, beat-up MX from the seventies will allow you to feel what it's like to have the rear wheel lose traction in a turn - a very humbling experience the first time around! All that you learn in the dirt will carry over onto the tarmac.

Fill that bag of experience!


Christine said...

You are correct, Lucky...

Actually, that's how I learned to ride--I learned to ride on dirt with a Honda CR250.

There was quite a bit of sand on the roadway and yes, I was concentrating on negotiating the was a slow right hand turn from a stop. I wasn't afraid, but I was *very* conscious about the sand on the ground.

Yes, riding on dirt is a heck of an education; I agree with you. I can't tell you how many times I've recovered and stayed in the saddle due to my experience on dirt.

Anyone that has never ridden on dirt will certainly get an education. Just remind all those Cruiser riders out there that if they choose to go lidless in a wifebeater of the streets, that this is the time to wear armor and a helmet!!!

Have a great day!!

Lucky said...


Thanks for stopping by. I hope you didn't take offence to my post, I wasn't pointing the finger at you. It was more of a general observation (my usual rambling self).

Once again, I'm glad it turned out OK.


Christine said...

No, Lucky, no offense taken at all, thanks for the linkback...

LOL.....I meant to say wifebeater on the street...ha ha ha!!

I was totally at fault and I wanted to give thanks to the cage driver that was paying attention and reacted appropriately.

Biker Betty said...

My youngest son is wanting to learn motorcycling and I have been given the advice a couple of times to get him a dirt bike. That he will be a better street bike driver once he's old enough for it (he's currently 12 yrs). Our problem is if we did this we can't follow him with our street bikes, lol. We can't afford dirt bikes for all of us, so time will tell how we approach this.

I think most of us riders like to keep a little fear with us. Nothing that would cripple us, just enough to keep us on our toes and thinking through the situations that could happen. It keeps me from going faster then I'm capable of handling.

I can remember in the MSF beginner course learning to "Look" thru the corners. I am starting to get a better handle on this and have recently been applying it to my car driving. I have noted an improvement in driving the curves with my car. I still go out in parking lots occasionally and practice this.

I do have to admit, that when I go through sand I do look down and slow down. I've read too many others mishaps with sand and respect it greatly. I now purposely drive on sand/gravel to get used to it (in a place not busy).