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 Motorcycle Safety
 Sharing of Lessons Learned
 Personal Limitations
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SteveS
Male Advanced Member
1208 Posts
[Mentor]


Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Harley-Davidson

2018 Tri-Gliide
Peer Review:

Posted - 02/07/2005 :  2:22 PM                       Like
Last week 4 friends from Toronto and I rented bikes in LV and road around in NV, AZ, CA for about 900 miles in 3 days. It was great AND I learned an important lesson AND RODE OUT OF IT .......... ON THE BACK OF A BUDDY'S BIKE.

In the two years I've been riding I have occasionally noticed that UNLIKE most/many/all? riders I prefer less curves and hills than they do. I will tend to take them a bit slower than most. My group knows this and no one has ever hassled me about it. I'm a newbie and I had thought of it as mostly an experience and/or confidence thing. I have learned to 'ride my own ride' thank goodness.

Last week on one of our rides out of LV we headed for Kingman, AZ and then it was suggested we take a little ride on Route #66. The weather was great we were well rested and all seemed fine. The lead decided with other's ok that we would ride to a small town called Oatman for lunch and see the "shoot out" and the small village at the top of the mountain.

Well what a ride. Full of switchbacks, extreme (to me anyway) ups and downs, very narrow road, no curb gard rails, and LOTS OF OPEN SPACES, BLIND CURVES, AND DEEP CANYON CLIFS! I became quite nervous, felt like I was going to fall off the mountain for sure. I had good control of the bike, took things at my own pace, but couldn't shake the fear. Kinda like Vertigo but not dizzy, just imagining myself sliding off a cliff. The journy up the mtn. took about 30-40 minutes but it seemed like hours. When we arrived, dismounted, and sat down for lunch one of the guys said, what's the matter, you look white as a ghost! I was shaking! I let them know how I was feeling and that helped. I ate a light meal, we took a walk and discussed the descent. I was very leery about making it back down, imagining all those drop offs, 180 degree turns, etc. even though going down I would be on the inside (next to the mountain mostly) I just wasn't mentally up to it. It didn't take long at all for the guys to say. Hey! Don't worry. We'll get you down, no problem. Hop on back of the lead bike, I'll ride yours down and we'll come back and get the other guys and the other bike. No problem. Well, I thought it over, the ego thing and all, and decided this wasn't the time to push myself and endanger myself and the others. I said, ok, that sounds like the best idea.

So that's what we did. After we were all down I was fine and rode the 2.5 hours back to LV no problem. Got up the next day and did another 300+ miles no problem.

I now know and so do my buddies know that I have limits and need to avoid certain types of rides.

I was complimented on thinking of my and their safety first. I was told individually by each of the guys on the trip that "I would ride with you anytime because you are man enough to say what you are confident, competent doing and not risking us all."

Of course I wish I had recognized this limitation before getting my ancient butt up that mountain, but as this fourm says ..... sometimes we goof and we can ride/be ridden, walk away from it.

I don't know if any others suffer from this fear of open spaces (for lack of another term). It is troublesome and now I know it does have to do with my sense of unsteadiness when I am on some very tight, blind curves and hills. I would like to hear from others who have any thoughts or ideas on how I might be able deal with this LIMITATION.

Obviously I use good enough technique to make the turns, etc., and keep the bike upright, by doing most things right, but this isn't just about biking. My wife reminded me when I returned home that I sometimes am uncomfortable in similar situations in the car. Hummmmm. Limitations ............ bummer, but I suppose it is far better to know them and abide by them than making another choice.

Sorry for the long windedness of this tale. Hope it is of value to someone.

TedGamble
Standard Member
214 Posts


Murfreesboro, TN
USA

Honda

GL1800A

Posted - 02/07/2005 :  2:55 PM
Steve,

Great job in recognizing the danger, but SHAME ON YOU for not stopping before you got so mentally stressed. (Now, please read on.)

Several things happen on group rides that are dangerous. Riders often feel that they have to ride beyond their limits to keep up. There is lots more to look out for in a group ride than when riding alone. The swerving back and forth on switchbacks with the train of bikes in front can cause vertigo (especially at night).

I used to lead group rides when I was the president of our Star Chapter two years ago. I always had the new guys (new being defined as those that are inexperienced in group rides or new being defined as those that regardless of their experience, had not ridden in our group before) ride immediately behind me. I then had a very experienced rider immediately behind the new guy(s) acting as a buffer. That way, I could keep an eye on them and those behind them could keep an eye on them.

Group riding is NOT for inexperienced riders. My pre-ride speech always strongly stressed, "RIDE YOUR OWN RIDE EVEN IF IT MEANS THAT WE HAVE TO STOP AND HELP YOU OUT." Above all, I did not want people pushed beyond their comfort zone. I would rather have someone drop back and ride alone with someone that was having problems than to endanger the group with something like you described.

When new riders would call or email me about an upcoming ride, I would always give them the 3rd degree to see how much experience they had. In a perfect world, I prefer that riders have at least 6 months of experience before participating in our rides.

What you experienced is (unfortunately) not uncommon. Folks love to go on group rides, but many times they find themselves in situations that endanger themselves and others. There is no shame in pulling over when you get into that situation. As a group ride leader, I would respect anyone much more if they pulled over when they got in trouble instead of continuing on and possibly being a danger to themselves and the group.

Steve, my words here might sound harsh. They are not intended to be, but they are intended to convey to anyone considering participating in group rides for the first time to sit back and think before just going on the ride. Each rider has a responsibility to themselves, the rider immediately in front of them, them and the rider immediately behind them.

I am extremely glad that you are still here with us to read them.
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DoubleDip
Senior Member
262 Posts


Erlanger, Kentucky
USA

Yamaha

650 V-Star Silverado

Posted - 02/07/2005 :  5:33 PM
Steve,
Good for you to have the guts to speak up and address the problem a lot of folks would have tried to tough it out and endanger everyone.

Again good for you...DD
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River
Male Advanced Member
506 Posts
[Mentor]


Chippewa Falls, WI
USA

Kawasaki

Concours

Posted - 02/07/2005 :  9:59 PM
Kudos, Steve-
If I am ever in a similar situation, I hope I have the ssense to back out too, instead of letting my ego rule the ride.
Thanks for sharing, I appreciate it... it's an important point.
^o^
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Cash Anthony
Female Administrator
1470 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, Texas
USA

Honda

Magna 750

Posted - 02/07/2005 :  11:45 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
One very dark night, riding back from North Carolina in a great hurry because of a family emergency in Houston (a funeral I absolutely had to attend), I had really reached my limit about 50 miles before we stopped. I had hoped to find a motel in Birmingham, but everywhere we tried to stop was full, and we had to keep going in hopes of finding a room "a few miles farther on."

We looked and looked without success -- there were "no vacancy" signs on every place we passed. We were west of the city and then out of the suburbs, and finally we got to a point where I could tell there was no sign of civilization ahead. And we needed food and gas. The only gas station I could find that was open was off the freeway about three miles down a country road, and I felt we were lucky to locate that one.

Once we had stopped for gas, I knew my stamina was gone. Even though I really hated to do it, we had to turn back and ride about 19 miles back to the last small town in hopes of finding something for the night, maybe a place we'd overlooked.

I was having terrible problems with fatigue, balance and tunnel vision by then, but I made it to an interchange where there were two motels on the frontage road. I got to the intersection of the frontage (heading east) and had to make a left turn under the overpass to reach the closest one (on the west-bound side). I stopped at the stop sign and then, somehow, failed to clear on the right and pulled out in front of a car coming from that direction. It woke me up, for sure, as the car did a major swerve around me and blew the horn. It scared me to death, but I got the bike parked by the motel as soon as I could. I got off and said to Jim, "I'm sorry, but I cannot ride another mile tonight. Whatever is going to happen about a place to stay, I'm going to have to ask you to take care of it." And I sat on the curb and put my head on my arms.

A little while later, I did go inside the motel and talk to the clerk, who said there were no rooms available there, and none at the place across the road, either. But she called around and found a room or two available about two miles away (and in a dump, but I didn't care), and told me how to get there. The problem was, I had a bike fully loaded with gear for a 10-day trip, and I wasn't about to throw a leg over the saddle again to move it, or my gear, or me.

Jim rode over to the place with the vacancy and made sure there was room for us, and then he came back to where I was half-passed out on the sidewalk near the Magna. I had asked the woman inside if it would be all right for me to leave my motorcycle parked there under the lights, but she refused -- she said the patrolman who checked for vehicles in their lot would see that I wasn't a registered guest and would tow the bike away! So I solved that by putting a big note on the windscreen under the cover that said that I had had to leave the bike for the night but was staying at the other motel and would come back for it the next morning. (Duh... what a stupid thing to do! Anyone who wanted to steal it would have had carte blanche.)

When Jim came back to tell me that he had made the reservation, he had already unloaded all the gear from his Wing so that I could climb onto the back of his bike and go get checked in. He took me over there, and I went into my room. I was totally fried -- I had a protein drink in my purse that I mixed up in the toothbrush cup as soon as I got into the room. I drank it, took off my boots, and promptly fell asleep.

While I was sleeping, Jim walked the two miles back to the original motel and got my Magna and rode it over to the motel, so that I would have clean clothes to change into whenever I woke up. That way we didn't have to be delayed the next morning -- and my bike wasn't towed or spirited away in the night by someone who knew there was no owner around!

I should have stopped the first time we went by that intersection, knowing that we were going to have trouble finding a place to stay that night and seeing how dark it was up ahead... and I'm not sure now why I didn't; but for some reason I thought we could do another hundred miles and would find a place after that. "The first thing to go is your judgement..." ??, maybe.

It's clear to me now that I made the wrong estimation of my own fatigue that night (physical and emotional, given the circumstances), and it was such a bad mistake that I could easily have been hit by the car that swerved and missed me when I pulled out... but it was a lesson I learned in spades from that trip: stop before you're fried. In fact, don't ride when you aren't 100%.

Though I'm usually the one who plans our stops and leads our rides, that was one time when I really felt I had no choice but to turn it all over to someone else. That's what a riding buddy is for, though -- to be a real 'buddy' when it comes to offering help to a friend who is having trouble on the road.

Steve, you did exactly the right thing in staying safe when you felt your skills at high-altitude riding weren't up to par that day.

If my riding buddy had been there, I like to think he'd have carried you down, as well. Of course, whenever I have problems with heights (I used to freak out going over high bridges and still don't like them much), he hits his PTT as we approach one and says, "Just close your eyes."


Cash

Edited by - Cash Anthony on 02/07/2005 11:52 PM
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nomad dan
Advanced Member
1276 Posts


Denver, Colorado
USA

Kawasaki

06 Vulcan Nomad 1600

Posted - 02/12/2005 :  9:43 PM
Cash wrote, "While I was sleeping, Jim walked the two miles back to the original motel and got my Magna and rode it over to the motel, so that I would have clean clothes to change into whenever I woke up."

Not only is James R. a safety conscious engineering nut, but he is obviously a gentleman of the highest order. Chivalry isn’t dead in Texas
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17375 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/14/2005 :  10:14 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Aw, shucks.
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SteveS
Male Advanced Member
1208 Posts
[Mentor]


Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Harley-Davidson

2018 Tri-Gliide

Posted - 02/14/2005 :  10:35 AM
Geeeees James!


quote:
Aw, shucks.


It took two days to come up with THAT! LOL

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SteveS
Male Advanced Member
1208 Posts
[Mentor]


Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Harley-Davidson

2018 Tri-Gliide

Posted - 02/14/2005 :  10:43 AM
Thanks for all the responses guys/gals.

NomadDan, Cash, River, Doubledip, TedGamble

It's not so much about group riding that's difficult for me it's about continuing to challenge my phobia! I will continue to work on it, slowly and safely. It does irk me to have such a 'limitation' but it will not defeat me!

Right now I'm starting to plan for more courses and practice in riding season (approx mid-late April here).

Here's the first course I will attend this spring: http://fastridingschool.com/english...g/index.html

Several of the guys I rode with in the desert will also be attending. I think it will likely be about 12 of us from our HOG chapter.

We're also starting to plan our next winter/spring fly/ride trip. Maybe to San Francisco. I believe that's Scott Nelson's backyard.

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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17375 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/14/2005 :  10:43 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Well, over the past few days I have been working on an edit of the videotape we did of our safety presentation and after having watched myself pitch for hour after hour I have decided that I'm bashful. I think it's because we shot the presentation from the side and I'm confronted with the inescapable fact that I have a big nose.

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SteveS
Male Advanced Member
1208 Posts
[Mentor]


Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Harley-Davidson

2018 Tri-Gliide

Posted - 02/14/2005 :  10:59 AM
I'm trying to think of something 'engineering' wise or scientific to say in reply ....... but since that is not my forte, I'll free associate ..........

Maybe your riding success is due in part to this phenomenon (TBN) as it acts as a rudder to keep you upright while assisting you in sniffing out possible danger?

Quien Sabe? No?

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DoubleDip
Senior Member
262 Posts


Erlanger, Kentucky
USA

Yamaha

650 V-Star Silverado

Posted - 02/14/2005 :  6:18 PM
I think if you check your history you will find that many great leaders had large proboscis' or is it proboscii. It helps in pointing the way.
DD
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Cash Anthony
Female Administrator
1470 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, Texas
USA

Honda

Magna 750

Posted - 02/14/2005 :  6:33 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
quote:
Originally posted by James R. Davis

Well,...I'm confronted with the inescapable fact that I have a big nose.





Don't all the girls have a 'rule of thumb' about guys with big noses?

"Woe is me...." ....and a Happy Valentine's Day, too!



Cash
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nomad dan
Advanced Member
1276 Posts


Denver, Colorado
USA

Kawasaki

06 Vulcan Nomad 1600

Posted - 02/15/2005 :  11:00 AM


quote:


Don't all the girls have a 'rule of thumb' about guys with big noses?

Cash



Funniest thing on the board for a long time
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jollyroger
Advanced Member
2157 Posts
[Mentor]


St. Charles, MO
USA

Harley-Davidson

Springer Classic

Posted - 02/15/2005 :  12:02 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Cash Anthony

quote:
Originally posted by James R. Davis

Well,...I'm confronted with the inescapable fact that I have a big nose.





Don't all the girls have a 'rule of thumb' about guys with big noses?

"Woe is me...." ....and a Happy Valentine's Day, too!



Cash


well I know what they say about guys with big hands........big gloves!
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