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Riding Your Own Ride
(Playing the odds)

By: James R. Davis

I honestly don't want to sound preachy here but I do want to send a strong message out into the ether about something that can eliminate a lot of accidents - ride your own ride!

I know, we have all more or less said that before. But I want to EXPLAIN it this time.

When I took the instructor prep class to become an MSF instructor I fancied myself a pretty competent motorcyclist. It turns out that ALL of the soon to become instructors were pretty competent. Indeed, I soon discovered that no matter which skill or exercise was being taught, at least one of the students was BETTER at it than I was. Not just a little better - I mean WORLD CLASS better. My ego was severely damaged.

On the other hand, many of those same riders had survived one or more accidents while with my more than 500,000 miles on two wheels I have never been in an accident. Maybe I was 'better' at some things even than those guys. (Perhaps I was more lucky, too.)

But that was the genesis of a new understanding for me. When I'm in a group ride I just know that everyone in that group is better at something than I am, and often that something is a motorcycle skill. So it makes absolutely no sense for me to try to 'keep up', to try to do what others are doing as well as they are doing it, unless I am fully competent to do so (and it is safe to do so.) If a group carves a canyon rode at 80 MPH and I believe it is safe FOR ME to do it at 75 MPH, you can be CERTAIN that I will do it at 75 MPH and I couldn't care less what others in the group think about that.

'Ride your own ride' is not just a catchy phrase. It means just what it says - ride to YOUR skill level, not anybody else's. Accept that others may be 'better' at some motorcycle skills than you are because it's true. And know what your skills are, stay within your own competence envelope, and know that your odds of enjoying tomorrow's ride are at least as good as anybody else's because your odds of surviving today's ride are not lowered just to 'keep up.'

Play the odds - ride your own ride.

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(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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