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Drive less, ride more...
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As this Christmas approaches, I used some "alone" time to do a bit of soul searching.

While "searching", I realized that I have been riding street motorcycles for right at 5 years, as of this month.

During that time, I have done some things aboard a motorcycle that I am not proud of...:(. Nonetheless, I have otherwise tried to generally be a good rep for the rest of the motorcycling "family".

I have also been in 3 bike crashes....and (thank God!) was able to walk away from all of them. Obviously, it's been a very educational experience for me.

My biggest disappointment with the sport is of course the incredible amount of disrespect we still get from the non-riding public. Some of this disrespect certainly has been brought upon us by a "select few" (e.g., YouTube is full of examples of riders doing stupid things on motorcycles...:doh:). But I think the lion's share of this problem is that rookie (or other) cagers simply are not taught on any level how to look out for us or to be sure to give us the right of way when it is ours. Also: the legal penalties for wrongfully injuring or killing a motorcyclist certainly have no real teeth and thus there is no real deterrent for this offense. There are other factors at work here--but they are for another time and another thread (or even another forum).

Anyway....rather than sound like a know-it-all, or like I'm preaching a sermon (hey, too late, right?...:)...), I thought others here might be willing to share with the rest of the forum what he/she thinks is the most important lesson (of late) to pass on to others from his/her own riding experiences.

Anyone? Anyone?.....:beerchug:
 

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Retired USAF (IYAAYAS)
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My own is to simply recognize my own limitations, and mortality. I also discovered myself doing much more risk assessing than when I was a cager only.
 

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I learned that I am as dumb as I ever was and gravity gets stronger as I grow older.
 

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Daily rider
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I've learned to never get complacent
 

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It's been said here before, you are invisible. Drive like everyone is out to get you...
 

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You have to be a legitimate Miss Cleo and be able to predict what everyone around you in traffic is going to do while at the same time forming a plan for what you're going to do if and when they do the unpredictable.

As far as riding goes, I still think that the best piece of wisdom that I ever got was from my MSF instructor. He said that when (not if) you find yourself going into a curve too fast, just lean the bike over harder rather than lock up the brakes and risk a slide either into oncoming traffic or off into the ditch. He said that he's continually amazed at how far motorcycles will lean over. While I'm a tad more experienced now and don't find myself misjudging curves much anymore, that piece of wisdom saved my bacon several times during the first year that I was riding regularly.

--FA
 

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Take the MSF course.
 

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Trust your instincts. If your gut is telling you something, don't dismiss it. Even if your bike is warming in the drive and you're all geared up about to throw a leg over. You get a bad feeling, put it back in the garage.

Same for on the road. If you sense something, see something, or feel something's about to happen - slow down, look around, and check your mirrors. Get your alertness up even more and be both clutch and break ready.
 

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When You Think You What You Are Doing

All good advice, I think the biggest is to not become complacent. When you get comfortable and let your guard down. We all have those days when we think know what we are doing, it is not always what we are doing or not doing that can hurt you. You are at risk. What anyone around you does can hurt you. I say "hurt" to be kind.
 

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Undercover Sportbiker
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Trust your instincts. If your gut is telling you something, don't dismiss it. Even if your bike is warming in the drive and you're all geared up about to throw a leg over. You get a bad feeling, put it back in the garage.

Same for on the road. If you sense something, see something, or feel something's about to happen - slow down, look around, and check your mirrors. Get your alertness up even more and be both clutch and break ready.
+1,000,000!!!

The day of my crash, I KNEW that crazy broad was going to do something stupid. But I ignored that voice, and ended up with 3 broken bones for my ignorace.


Not to be fatalistic or overly cynical, but when you throw a leg over, you need to accept that today might be the day you crash. In the last 3 weeks, I've had 2 very close encounters. BOTH at the very same intersection where I had my first crash.

2 weeks ago Friday. Picture this - left hand turn on green arrow, 2 turn lanes, turning onto a street with 3 lanes in each direction (not counting turn lanes). I'm in the right turn lane. Guy in front of me stops short to pull in the corner market lot. As I go to swerve around him, the genius in the left turn lane next to me decides he wants to do that too, and proceeds to come on over. Can't swerve right, not enough room to gas and go, and stopping guarantees I get creamed, either from behind by the people still coming around the corner, or from the left by the idiot on his way over. Without thinking and without being told, my left foot lurched out and kicked the crap out of the guy's passenger door. Being that it was an $80k Mercedes AMG, the guy immediately swerved back left into the proper lane, opening up my lane to proceed forward. In a show of anger, he guns it past me, cuts across all 3 lanes and whips around the next corner.

Teusday. Same corner, same placement. A car from the opposite direction stops in the crosswalk, wanting to make a right had turn ont othe same road I am making my left onto. My light goes green, so hers was 100% RED. I'm thorugh the turn, crossing in front of the car, and HOLY CRAP HERE SHE COMES!!! I was already on my air horn as soon as I saw her moving to no avail. Lacking any real options I gunned it, and for some reason stood on my pegs and looked down. It's weird seeing a car bumper nearly under the footpeg! I stop next to her at the next light and she just looks at me like I"M the a-hole.


I guess my point is that if you ride you need to be prepared at ALL times for the worst to happen. I've accepted the risks that come with riding, and do my best to mitigate the risks wherever / whenever possible. This is why I don't ride in the rain. People in So Cal have a hard enough time driving when conditions are fairly perfect. Throw in some rain and it's almost like the wild wild west....
 

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Always wear my knee brace when I ride, otherwise my knee would be in really bad shape from Monday night!!!:doh:
 

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+1,000,000!!!

The day of my crash, I KNEW that crazy broad was going to do something stupid. But I ignored that voice, and ended up with 3 broken bones for my ignorace.
You and I have had identical experiences. You on the bike, me in the heli. We both ignored our instincts and came within a hairs breadth of paying the ultimate price. I think ignoring instincts defines complacency.

Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.
- Vladimir Nabokov

^ That is why we ALL need to talk about it.
 

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Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.
- Vladimir Nabokov
I'll be stealing that one! Thanks!

--FA
 

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Linkmeister Supreme
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On the Master Strategy Group board there is a forum for the "Sharing of Lessons Learned", where I have spent several evenings recently reading through many of the 859 topics currently listed there. When the vn750 board is slow this time of year, slip over to the MSG and read some of these threads. I have learned a bunch from them regarding all aspects of motorcycle safety. There is also some good advice for dealing with other road users and and keeping your head in the game.

Find it here:
http://www.msgroup.org/forums/mtt/forum.asp?FORUM_ID=102
 

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I think the whole "they are all out to kill you, they refuse to see you and never ever let your guard down" has been covered.

Therin, here are some other lessons learned after 40 years of riding:

Exhaust pipes get very hot. And stay that way for quite a bit of time even after you turn off the motor.:wow:

Before you take off, check your petcocks position. Nothing more embarressing to yourself than reaching down to switch to "reserve" while riding and finding it is already there.:doh:

Never sit your helmet on the seat...your are asking for it to fall off if you do.....And any tool will not only fall off but will hit and scatch something.

"Righty tighty/ Lefty Loosey" does not work on Yamaha mirrors.....


ALLWAYS walk around your bike to check for anything out of place before taking off. ..even if you just ran into a store to pick up some beer.

Wearing a helmet goes without saying...but always wear gloves.

If working on the bike, do not put parts , pans/tanks, on anything that can be knocked over or stepped on. This goes for the oil drain pan too..(Right Pick?)

Check your tire pressure frequently...and make sure your gauge is accurate.

Wet lawns are slippery as sheit.

Never try to oil your chain on a running bike.

Go over your bike at least once a month to check for loose bolts, nuts, and electrical connections.


Ride your ride. Do not be pressured to ride out of your comfort range if riding with a group.

Wear earplugs. Can't tell you how important this really is...especially on a medium to long ride. If you are young now and would like to be able to hear when you get older, wear earplugs all the time when you ride. Take it from an old biker who constantly says "What?" when talking to others.

Pay attention to where you are...the angle of the road and the condition before putting a foot down when you stop. Gravel, gas spills, oil spots or a sunken curb can put you off balance quickly if you are not expecting it.

Wave to all other motorcyclists, even if they do not wave back.


KM
 

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Good thread, and OlHoss, I'm going to start reading from the link you shared.

I know everyone has heard the saying that there are two kinds of riders, those who have crashed and those who will. I wonder who coined that? Well I'd like to rephrase the last part to "those who may crash - but only once". Only had one wreck myself and it was enough. Had that wreck happened in my early riding days I would have been badly hurt. As it was wearing the right gear. I cringe when I see people on bike with tank tops, shorts, sandals (would you believe it) and no helmet or eye protection. Yes - I've seen that a lot here in Florida.

I think for new riders and, well...I guess all riders I'd say don't ever feel pressured to ride harder than you feel comfortable, mentioned previously. I been through Deal's Gap on several trips and the buddy I ride the most with has gotten to be such a proficient rider (lots of track days) that I find myself trying to keep up. In fact I don't ever take the point on our rides because despite his saying he'll be patient he's always right on my tail (very competetive). Hence I push too hard (hence my ONE wreck the one time I did ride point). But pushing yourself comes in more than one flavor. Riding when you're too tired, or riding too long is potentially just as dangerous. I knew a guy who asked me if I ever got that feeling falling asleep when you feel like you're falling and you jerk. He did that, on his bike at a red light. He felt like he was falling and stepped off just before it was too late to get his leg out from under his ride. Of course riding when you're sick isn't the best idea although I do remember when my LTD was the ONLY transportation I had.

I read a book called Twist Of The Wrist - Volume II. They talk a lot about our "Survival Reactions", most of which are contrary to the best action for problems that arise when we ride. Fire Ant's MSF course instructor who said to lean into a corner more when you feel you're going in too fast is right. You're "survival reaction" is to slow down, you let up on the gas or brake, both of which stand the bike up and make the problem worse. I know you guys know this but it's worth mentioning, particularly to new riders. "When in doubt - power out." Easy to say, hard to do when you're freaking out.
The book also discusses the concept of balance and how weight should be carried over the front and rear wheels for optimal safe handling, steering input, etc. While is appears to have a sport bike bias the riding concepts are universal.

Do what you can to be conspicuous. On the way back from a site visit for my employer we saw a motorcycle coming towards us. He had a headlight modulator and one of the guys I was with said he HATED when bikes lights flickered like that. I said, "you mean that bike that you noticed, that you noticed enough to pay attention to right up to where we passed". He agreed that yes, that bike. He didn't get it until I said that headlight did exactly what it was meant to do. My SV has a tail light modulator and I have one to install for the headlight. I think it's particularly important on a bike with a single headlight, no light bars or auxilliary lighting. LED mods for the Vulcan will include modulators somewhere in the mix. I read another thread where someone mentioned a white helmet. I wear a full face (not white) but I will admit that when I see a shorty helmet that is white I notice it first, thinking it's a cop, then I notice whether it's a cop bike. I'm not a criminal, not paranoid but it is simply an attention catcher.

Lastly, hypervigilance. It's become a habit with me, so much so that I don't even know I do it. I believe it's made me a better cager as well. I hate when I hear people use the excuse that they didn't "see" a motorcyclist. Unless we are truly invisible there's no excuse. What they mean to say is "I didn't look well enough". But that doesn't sound as understandable to a police officer does it.
 

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Drive less, ride more...
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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
For what it's worth--the following (in quotes) is part of a recent (as of this posting, anyway) letter written in to one of the major bike magazines. Since the writer has a lot of riding experience (or so he says), I thought it was worth passing along:

"....With more than 45 years of motorcycling behind me, I've come to believe that the only way to survive on a bike is to ride as if everyone on the road is trying to kill you. In addition to a modulating headlight and brake light, may I suggest the following?

Swap out your wimpy beep-beep horn for the loudest automotive horn available. CarQuest has the Master Blaster for less than $25 and it will cause the jerk who pulled out in front of you to head for the ditch to escape the 18-wheeler he suddenly thinks is on his ass.

Wear a lime-green jacket and reflective gloves (reflective on both sides).

Wear a white or other bright-colored helmet...."

I'm thinking at least part of this wisdom will help someone here (myself included) avoid a collision--or a "close call" (although installing the mentioned horn on our bike might be a bit much...for some, anyway).

I hope everybody has a new year of safe & fun riding in 2011....:beerchug:....!!!
 

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Daily rider
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Swap out your wimpy beep-beep horn for the loudest automotive horn available. CarQuest has the Master Blaster for less than $25 and it will cause the jerk who pulled out in front of you to head for the ditch to escape the 18-wheeler he suddenly thinks is on his ass.
I'll have to check into that one. I was looking at a Wolo horn, but if this one is louder, I'll go with it.
 
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