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LET THE THAW BEGIN

by SPEEDSLUG

Is it spring yet? No, but maybe it's a good time to start getting into the 'mind set' of two wheeling. Well, actually, it's always good to keep mentally aware of everything going on whether you ride or drive.

Unfortunately, the accident stats for riders has been proportionately worse for riders than drivers the last few years. Some say it's the growing numbers, the age factor, etc. Despite factoring in all those things the stats for riders is going up while for drivers, it's going down. We aren't talking good numbers here either.

I think I'm going to start planting some 'seeds' and hopefully something will sprout and take root. Like some things about braking.

I'm sure that most everyone has seen the 'Real TV' spot where the sport rider hits the front brake and ends up on his head with the bike on top of him. Well, it's kind of true that it's not hard to do something like that. Modern disc brakes with multiple pistons and semi-metallic pads are truly wonderful ways to stop a bike compared to a rain soaked front drum brake. But take a good look at the bike. Its a sport bike. Very short wheelbase. The rider sits forward and high on his 32 inch seat height making his center of gravity very high. Grab the brake lever suddenly instead of squeezing those twin rotor, six piston calipers and no wonder it made a great video spot.

Kind of makes you apprehensive about really using your front brake doesn't it?

Here is why it shouldn't. Most of us are still riding good ol' steel framed bikes of various makes. That's a lot of weight. That spare seat behind you, though not generous, means the bike was made a bit longer to accommodate your passenger. Longer wheelbase. Unless you're 'ultra' tall, you flatfoot your bike and still have a bend in your knee. That's comfortably close to earth and the center of gravity pretty is proportionately lower. While these ramblings are broad generalizations, the point is that you can practice using your front brake and never worry about doing cartwheels. Isn't it a huge relief knowing that now?<g>
So go ahead, practice serious front braking during the first thaw.

Chin up, focus on what's ahead. Squeeze the lever for a count of one, then proceed to apply steady, continuous pressure on the brake lever. The 'one' count lets the disc rotor and the pads rub and build up heat to brake more efficiently. Balls of the feet on the pegs and clamp the tank with your knees to stabilize your upper torso. I know, this is all common knowledge and not anything new. Mostly it's a reminder that skills quickly begin to degrade with time. More than we care to admit. Riding means maintaining a level of skill through practice and more practice. It's not like jumping in a car being able to just mash that brake pedal until all four wheels are smoking. There is a difference.

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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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