June 22, 2008

Some Good Advice

Those that know me know that my greatest passion is motorcycling (which is a real drag when I'm on the disabled list...) I'm always looking for new avenues of learning about what moves me, so I joined an online Women's Forum group (STOP laughing!) that has a section devoted exclusively to motorcycles; I don't care the source, if I can learn from it.

They have a great article this week on the do's and dont's of being a good passenger, that is a good base primer for those that have never ridden and wonder what it would be like to be on a bike and so take a lift.

Sometimes the commenters can get too far into the touchy-feely mode, but on the whole they really seem to know the score and tell it like it should be.

My most basic piece of advice for those considering riding?, just remember this:

There are two types of riders; those that have gone down, and those that will go down.

Every time I get on my bike, I always check to see if I experience just a tiny tingle of butterflys in my stomach, If I DON"T feel it, I don't ride. Reasonable fear is good, it helps keep you safe. ("Caution" may be a better word for it, but everyone knows what fear is and may term caution as something else.)

Decide if the risk is worth the experience (to me it IS) and plan ahead for that time when there is only time to "wonder just how much this is going to hurt". You ride long enough, it WILL happen. Being forewarned and prepared can make all the difference between "what a stupid thing to happen" and "The family requests that in lieu of flowers that a donation be made to (the charity of your choice)" Stay alert and always try to prepare for the worst scenario.

Friendly advice for what it's worth:

1) Take a riders safety course from the AMA, ABATE, or other qualified organization. Even as just a passenger, they can teach you how to stay as safe as possible, if you listen and take their instruction to heart.

2) ALWAYS dress properly :

(A) NEVER wear polyester (unless you really enjoy the Medics using a wire brush on your skin to get the melted debris off/out of it).

(B) Leather is the best option, heavy denim is second.

(C) Never wear shorts. Long sleeves are allways preferable.

(D) Wear heavy shoes that provide support and ankle protection. Boots would be best. Make sure that any footwear you ride in has a heavy sole that can give you traction and protection. Tennis shoes are NOT good riding gear.
Wearing Flip flops is a good way of clueing everyone around you on just how much of an idiot you are, so that they can try to stay as far away from your incipent tragedy as possible. (Hmmm. maybe that could be a good thing...I may have to re-think this one)

3) ALWAYS consider every other vehicle around you as an enemy that is out to ruin your day....most of them aren't but you never know WHICH one of them IS, so they must all be suspect. Plan for what they may do before they do it and try to always leave yourself an "out" and plan how you will use it.

4) WHEN that car pulls that bonehead action, and you know that there is no other option, LAY THE BIKE DOWN. Try to get the mass of the bike between you and what you're going to strike, it's a lot easier to replace a bike than your body parts. (Being properly dressed will give you more confidence that you will reduce your injuries as much as possible when using this manuever). This procedure is only rarely mentioned in passing, if at all, but I'm sitting here capable of passing this on because my father taught me how to do this when he first taught me how to ride as a young teenager with a skull full of mush. I'm convinced that it has saved my life on at least two occasions, and prevented some serious injuries on at least three other occasions

5) Use good sense, if you don't, riding is a highly effective way of thinning the gene pool. Yes, it IS a thrill to take that machine up to it's RPM limit, but the faster you go, the less chance you have to survive when things go wrong. I don't know too many riders that haven't gone up to that red line at least once, but count yourself lucky if you survive the experience and don't make a habit of it. On the flip side DON'T be TOO cautious either. It is really dangerous to be a roadblock in the way of ({usually} impatient) traffic, if you are too scared to ride at reasonable speed, biking just may not be the activity for you, at least not on public streets.

6) You may wonder why I haven't said "ALWAYS wear a helmet".
I think that it's a mixed bag. Beginning riders should always wear a helmet. Once you have enough experience under your belt, I personally feel it should be an individual choice.
I USUALLY wear one, but sometimes I just don't want to, and I feel that there really are some legitimate reasons NOT to, but that's a discussion for another time. Suffice it to say that personal freedom comes with personal responsibilty in making informed choices; I don't believe in legislating that choice away from anyone.

Posted by Delftsman3 at June 22, 2008 04:41 PM | TrackBack

Years ago when I was young, I gave a ride on my bike to a friend. As we made a turn where I properly leaned into it, he panicked and tried to compensate by throwing his weight the other way to bring the bike upright--which pulled us over. What an idiot! You can't have a backseat driver on a motorcycle. When we flipped I got scraped up pretty good, and I still remember it after decades.

Posted by: Woody at June 22, 2008 10:08 PM

Yeah, been there too, Woody.
I was lucky enough to get the bike back under control and didn't go down, but it was a near thing. Suffice it to say, that passenger and I had a VERY serious discussion on riding safety!

Posted by: Delftsman3 at June 23, 2008 01:35 AM

What a timely post. I live only a couple of miles from work, but my car uses about 14 gallons of fuel per week between work and errands so I'm getting a bike (Scooter is more likely). My wife wants one eventually, so I'm sending this to her.

Thanks for the comment on my blog by the way.

Posted by: GM Roper at June 23, 2008 07:07 AM


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