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BEING INVISIBLE

by SPEEDSLUG

Well, the latest stats seem to agree with what I've read here and there about the rash of accidents this year. It 'seems' to me that there are lot more incidents this year than the last couple of years on the forums. More riders, more accidents, more posts, I dunno. Granted, some situations will arise where you can not predict, let alone have the time to react. Others, well sometimes @#$% happens, and a little different approach may have changed the outcome, maybe not. If you're still duck walking in the parking lot or three point turning on a two lane street, keep reading.

I'm going to post a few things that you may want to try, or incorporate in your riding style. If anything it will heighten your awareness.

First off, they just plain don't see us. Get over it, learn to ride with it. Always has been always will be what the driver will always say to the officer. Sit in your own car. Now have a 'volunteer' stand in front of the car and slowly start walking around you. Note the places where your subject will disappear for a second. Especially when you need to use your mirrors. Lots of blind spots huh. More than you thought I'll bet. Well those are all places, as rider that you don't want to be in. Trucks especially. Your profile will easily fit 'underneath' the truck drivers field of view cause he is so much higher in the cab.

At four way stops, cars in the driveway about to enter traffic, anyplace a car is stopped. Check for eye contact, but never bet money on it. Again, they just don't see us. Even when they look right at us. Bright colors, lights, it helps, but don't count on it.

Keep a eye on the front tire. Before you can detect the car in motion, or the drivers posture, the front tire will start to turn. That's your cue to watch out.

Slow down. Especially before entering intersections. Get into the habit of looking down both sides (left/right) before you get there. Remember the last segment of 'Police' chases? I see more riders blindly flying into intersections just cause they are 'in the right' with a green light. Cover your brakes, be on engine deceleration, get ready to stop not speed up. Ok, so you don't like that one. Go find a parking lot. A big parking lot. Run it up to 35mph,not MSF 15mph, hit your braking marker and haul your bike down, then toss in a evasive turn.

Now do the same thing going 45-50mph, not an uncommon speed for a highway intersection. Takes a lot more of everything to do the same thing don't it? Especially if you've recently moved up to bigger, faster bike, you got to know what you can and cant do with 700 pounds of rolling iron. Contrary to how it may feel, forcing a 700# bike to slow, then turn, requires a lot more physical input and control that your old 250. Don't wait to find out in an intersection that using the rear brake only, easily locks up and doesn't slow the bike at all. Don't wait to find out afterwards that you coulda, shoulda, pushed AND pulled on the bars to make that turn. Practice using that front brake. Over and over and over and over and...well you get the point.

Dancing with cars. No it's not a new movie by Kevin. But it is way to think about riding with traffic. Let the car react to your presence, then you take the appropriate move. A little more or less throttle, a switch in lane position, things like that. I know, there is the other side of the coin where you 'take' control by coming up on cars then passing them before they can see you. I've done that too, but it raises my blood pressure level more than I like. Plus it begins to make me think that I need to be in a 'hurry'. No thanks, there are plenty of car drivers out there already in that mode.

Make use of that 'S' in SIPDE. It not only means scanning, but looking ahead and to the sides. I know, a lot of 'other' riders don't bother to look side to side much less ahead of themselves. Here's a time to be in the minority. Look ahead, know what's unfolding before you, it's the only way to give yourself those 2 or 3 extra seconds to decide what you need to do next.

Ride as often as you can. Even errands or ice cream runs. Repetition helps to refine and reinforce skills. In as little as a couple of weeks, you can literally lose all the practice you put in trying to master that u-turn. It's called degradation of skills. I never learned to play the piano when I was a kid. To try and learn it now would be difficult and never at a level that I could have achieved as a kid. Plus, if I quit, one month later I would have forgotten everything I tried to learn. If I mastered playing as a kid, then no matter when I decided to pick up playing again it would all 'come' back to me. Those of you that would consider yourselves late riders, need to remember that your skills weren't ingrained into you at a youthful age. While you can become quite proficient, it takes constant practice to keep and maintain that level of skill.

Final Tip: When I'm coming up onto a four-lane, four-way intersection....if at all possible I will slow down, or speed up, to make sure I HAVE a car beside me going through that intersection. I know, I know, but while they may not see me, they will see that car/truck right beside me. Also, It's not just watching the car ahead of you...but three or four cars ahead of you. It's important because of obstacles in the road. And if you're paying attention that far up the road, you'll notice folks swerving prior to running over that dead animal, or construction debris yourself.

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SPEEDSLUG is a frequent contributor to the Women Riders International (WRI) Forum and has generously allowed us to post his tips at here at RideMyOwn.com

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