As we all know, riding a motorcycle is great fun, and even if you’re not into the freedom a motorcycle or scooter brings, you have to appreciate the ability to get through busy traffic. But as we also know, riding a two wheeler, be it a powered one or a bicycle entails certain risks.
Risks are something we all face, from the moment we get up from bed, take a shower, shave, you name it, there’s a risk associated to the activity, and motorcycle riding is no exception. As is the case with any other activity, there are certain things you can do to minimize the risks, or their end-results. Many believe in the ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time – meaning you always wear your protective clothing and helmet), but that is not all that is going to get you to your destination in one piece.
Body Movement & Muscles
Let’s take one very simple thing; – your body movement on the motorcycle! If by bad luck you get highsided, or just simply drop your bike when parking it, your body is going to make a sudden movement. Let’s take the simple and non-lethal maneuver of dropping your motorcycle while trying to put it on a center stand. It’s common place, and it has happened to many of us. You drop the bike, and as a reaction, you try to keep it upright. But with that movement, your muscles and back and now suddenly confronted with a mass of 100’s of pounds.
So at the very least, your muscles will be aching for a few hours, and at its worst, you’ll have a torn ligament.
The same applies when riding. You might be making a sudden movement, and your muscles will protest, and that can be over in minutes, or might involve a trip to the local masseur.
Why? Because your muscles are cold and not stretched.
Tip: Before getting on your motorcycle, stretch your muscles for a minute or so. Enough for them to warm up and stretch gently for a bit. This way, when your muscles are solicited unexpectedly, they’ll be ready for it.
Another thing that happens regularly in traffic, is when a car cuts you off. Or a car that has just parked, opens its doors right in your upcoming path. Usually this is followed by you saying (to yourself, unless you have a Bluetooth communication device) “Ohh #&!! The %$¤£ù#@ did not see me!”. It’s a normal reaction.
But if this happens more than once during your trip, watch out: In fact, you’re the %$¤£ù#@, since you’re not paying attention.
Tip: Remember, it’s your responsibility to ensure you arrive sane & sound at your destination, not that soccer mom riding the SUV with 8 screaming kids, while talking on her mobile phone. That is your job, and you have to look at the traffic with as motto that everyone out there wants to kill you. So if you get that reaction a few times during your ride, watch out … you’re not paying attention! You are responsible for your own life!
It’s a proven fact that once you gain speed, even in a car, your field of vision narrows. The faster you go, the less peripheral vision you have. You start with some 190° vision, and at 60 mph, that is reduced to around 40°. The illustration below is just that, an illustration and not exact.
Motorcycle racers, riding at 200 mph only see directly what is happening in front of them. This means when you start your acceleration, you need to remember that you’re seeing less and less of what happening on your left & right. This means when riding a country road, and you open your throttle for some fun (don’t we all?), you’re not going to see that car approaching the upcoming intersection on your right until the very last moment.
Tip: Train yourself to look left & right when reaching speed. It’s a mind-over-matter thing; even if you’re going fast, nothing prevents you from checking what’s happening on the side. It means you can see that car approaching the intersection at a high speed, and it means you can anticipate its movement.
Better safe than sorrow. Be safe!