Motorcycle Forum banner
1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
203 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I'm a returning rider with 10 months/4,400 miles of experience. I rode in the 1980's for two years so in some ways I count that as experience and in other ways I don't since it was so long ago. I also have 15+ years of driving manual transmission cars.

Sunday I was out riding on some curvy, twisty roads. The first 7 months of riding I've been on suburban roads in light to moderate (sometimes heavy) traffic. Believe it or not I haven't had any close calls riding in traffic. But for the past two months or so I've been honing my skills on the curvy roads where the speed limit is 30-55 MPH. Lots of fun but definitely not without hazards (blind curves, blind hilltops, gravel, sand, suicidal squirrels, etc.)

Sunday I was going through a low speed blind curve about 25 mph to the left. As I went through the curve I noticed a rough patch in the middle of the road. To the right of the rough patch there was a lane of smooth road about 2.5 feet wide and I leaned over into that but I leaned too far to the right and nearly went off the road. It was one of those "Oh Sh**!" feelings of being right on the edge...50% of me felt on the road and 50% felt I was getting ready to go off and crash. And the road had no shoulder or guard rail...just a 3' drop into some grass, wood, and rocks.

Anyway, I panicked and grabbed the bars super tight, twisted the throttle way open by mistake (but luckily kept the clutch in) bracing myself for impact. Had I released the clutch at that moment I would have surely lost the bike and crashed. I should have just counter steered a little to the left and I probably would've been fine. Better yet, I should've just ridden over the rough patch. I've hit pavement in way worse condition than this particular rough patch and me and my bike have been fine. It was also a bad idea to change my line in the middle of the curve. Somebody with superior skills could've pulled this off but for someone like me who's still learning, trying to change lines in the middle of a curve and thread the bike through a 2.5 foot path was a bad idea.

What else did I do wrong and what should I have done differently? It's funny because I thought the country roads would be safer than the city/suburban roads but in all honesty I think they can be just as dangerous as riding in traffic. In the 7 or so months I've been riding in Northern VA traffic I haven't had anything happen like what happened yesterday in the twisties in terms of nearly crashing.

I live right next to a high school and I always make it a point to practice emergency braking, low speed skills, and other maneuvers every single time I go out on my bike and I think that might have helped a bit in this situation.

Anyway, I'm all ears to anyone who wants to offer advice on what I could've done differently and what I should do going forward. My confidence has taken a hit from this experience for sure.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,892 Posts
Every time I ride, and something does not go too well, I add it to my list of things to think about. Been doing that for a loooooong time. What you are doing, is basically the same. Well done.

UK
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
432 Posts
I suspect that most of us who have tried to expand our riding envelopes have had one of those moments – I think it was Henry Ford who said the worst mistake is the one you don’t learn from (or something like that…). Two things I know I shouldn’t do, get up on that bars when I can’t see the road to the end of the maneuver I’m trying – we all know not to pass on a hill, cuz we can’t see what might be coming at us -- but how many will feel it is okay to drag pegs/boards through I blind curve (after all we have no intention of getting out of our lane – but we don’t know the road conditions that will appear in the next split second). My other common mistake is riding when mentally or physically fatigued/distracted – and I’ve bit the pavement a few times on that score…

There is a guy around here who often recites that the most dangerous time for a rider is between 2000 and 10000 miles of experience… the hand-eye coordination is there and improving nicely, but we know just enough to push too far too fast… but, I think that may apply to those approaching half a million miles as well…

Glad yer safe...
 

·
Visionary
Joined
·
5,278 Posts
It happens. We make mistakes. Sometimes they kill us. Most of the time they don't. The wise man learns from them and doesn't repeat the same mistake again. The fool keeps making the same mistake over and over again.

Sounds like your head is in the right place
 
  • Like
Reactions: SteveCB500F

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
203 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Every time I ride, and something does not go too well, I add it to my list of things to think about. Been doing that for a loooooong time. What you are doing, is basically the same. Well done.

UK
Thanks, Unkle Krusty...I totally agree. If you don't learn from your mistakes you are bound to repeat them (perhaps with much worse results). I've definitely made other mistakes as a returning rider but they were relatively minor in comparison to this one and easy to correct.

One other thing I know I did wrong was being tired. I was near the end of a 3 hour ride and even though it was only 10:00 AM it was over 90 so I was hot. I also rode the previous day very early in the morning to avoid the heat. I violated one of the cardinal rules...never ride when you're tired.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
203 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It happens. We make mistakes. Sometimes they kill us. Most of the time they don't. The wise man learns from them and doesn't repeat the same mistake again. The fool keeps making the same mistake over and over again.

Sounds like your head is in the right place
Thanks...glad to hear I'm doing the right thing. Appreciate your support!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
203 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I suspect that most of us who have tried to expand our riding envelopes have had one of those moments – I think it was Henry Ford who said the worst mistake is the one you don’t learn from (or something like that…). Two things I know I shouldn’t do, get up on that bars when I can’t see the road to the end of the maneuver I’m trying – we all know not to pass on a hill, cuz we can’t see what might be coming at us -- but how many will feel it is okay to drag pegs/boards through I blind curve (after all we have no intention of getting out of our lane – but we don’t know the road conditions that will appear in the next split second). My other common mistake is riding when mentally or physically fatigued/distracted – and I’ve bit the pavement a few times on that score…

There is a guy around here who often recites that the most dangerous time for a rider is between 2000 and 10000 miles of experience… the hand-eye coordination is there and improving nicely, but we know just enough to push too far too fast… but, I think that may apply to those approaching half a million miles as well…

Glad yer safe...
Thanks. On Saturday I was up at 4:30 so I could be on the road by 6:00 to beat the heat (rode for three hours) And I did the same thing on Sunday. In hindsight I probably should've only done about 1.5 hours of riding on Sunday.

I also read the same thing about riders who are most at risk. New riders are the most likely to crash is what one study found but riders with about 18 months of experience are the next most likely to crash. The study theorized that when a rider reaches that stage they have a pretty good skill set in place and they start to get a little too confident and let their guard down. They're good riders, but they're far from experts.

So I got past the new rider stage okay so far but now I'm approaching that second stage (the 18-month group). :surprise:
 

·
Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
Joined
·
15,538 Posts
Okay here is what I took out of your experience:

I leaned over into that but I leaned too far to the right and nearly went off the road.
I panicked and grabbed the bars super tight, twisted the throttle way open by mistake (but luckily kept the clutch in) bracing myself for impact.
I did wrong was being tired. I was near the end of a 3 hour ride and even though it was only 10:00 AM it was over 90 so I was hot

Okay so how do you fix this? What do you think you should have done differently in each circumstance?

Post your replies, I am sure others will post what they think you should have done differently, but I am interested in what you think you should have done. I will then tell you what I think you should work on so this doesn't happen again. After that UK can correct us both :)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
203 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Quote:
I leaned over into that but I leaned too far to the right and nearly went off the road.

Reply:
What I should have done is stayed on my line and ridden over the rough patch. I've hit much worse pavement than that and didn't have any problems. And even though it was a corner and I was leaned over a little bit I probably would've been okay riding over it (I was only going about 20-25 MPH). I don't have the skill level at this point in my riding career to thread the bike through a 2.5' area of the pavement when I only had a few seconds and feet to change my line and hit that 2.5' area.

Quote:
I panicked and grabbed the bars super tight, twisted the throttle way open by mistake (but luckily kept the clutch in) bracing myself for impact.

Reply:
Try to stay composed when faced with a critical situation. If you panic you lose all focus, can't assess the situation accurately, and can't react properly (that's why I had the throttle wide open). I lost it for a few seconds and was convinced I was gonna crash so I lost all focus about what to do.


Quote:
I did wrong was being tired. I was near the end of a 3 hour ride and even though it was only 10:00 AM it was over 90 so I was hot.

Reply:
Riding a motorcycle is a physically and mentally demanding activity. DON'T RIDE WHEN YOU'RE TIRED!! I also think I'm suffering from a bit of over-confidence. Getting up at 4:30 AM on both Sat and Sun for a three hour ride is a lot to ask of anyone regardless of their age. And I'm not exactly young anymore!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
319 Posts
I panicked.
Glad to hear a combination of luck and skill brought you through it without a scratch.

Panicking injures/kills more people than anything else...and the only remedy is experience.

I absolutely cringe when I see people post "Hey! I just passed the driving test on a 250 and now I'm heading out on the road with my 1000cc crotch rocket; any advice on how not to kill myself?"

My canned response is 2 fold...

1. You're going to kill yourself.
2. Buy a dirt bike and master it off road....that is THE BEST way to replace "panic" with skill.

Heated discussions here about ABS (one guy actually posting he trusts his life more to the computer than his own skill..YIKES!) and being able to put the bike into a skid...etc, etc...and I post my story of a car pulling from a stop sign right in front me as it tried to cross the road...I'm rolling at ~25mph, I put the bike into a side skid, slide into the side of the car at ~5mph, and walk away unharmed....instead of hitting it nose first and going over the bars to the concrete on the other side...a move made possible by years of dirt riding (sliding and crashing for "fun") and no ABS.

Sadly, that exact scenario played out over the weekend here; the rider hit the side of a car (that pulled right in front of him from a stop sign) nose first at low speed and was killed when he landed on the concrete on the side. Obviously he didn't put the bike into a slide...didn't have the skill, the time, or ABS prevented...we'll never know...but he held on to the bike and hit it nose first...probably panicked and froze...the skill to abandon ship or slide the bike was not a reflex built from experience and it cost him his life...RIP.

It's easy to "armchair" the situation today, but I can't believe I would have hit it head-on...I would have jumped or slid as a "no thought" reflex because I've done it so many times in the dirt back when I was immortal.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
203 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Glad to hear a combination of luck and skill brought you through it without a scratch.

Panicking injures/kills more people than anything else...and the only remedy is experience.

I absolutely cringe when I see people post "Hey! I just passed the driving test on a 250 and now I'm heading out on the road with my 1000cc crotch rocket; any advice on how not to kill myself?"

My canned response is 2 fold...

1. You're going to kill yourself.
2. Buy a dirt bike and master it off road....that is THE BEST way to replace "panic" with skill.

Heated discussions here about ABS (one guy actually posting he trusts his life more to the computer than his own skill..YIKES!) and being able to put the bike into a skid...etc, etc...and I post my story of a car pulling from a stop sign right in front me as it tried to cross the road...I'm rolling at ~25mph, I put the bike into a side skid, slide into the side of the car at ~5mph, and walk away unharmed....instead of hitting it nose first and going over the bars to the concrete on the other side...a move made possible by years of dirt riding (sliding and crashing for "fun") and no ABS.

Sadly, that exact scenario played out over the weekend here; the rider hit the side of a car (that pulled right in front of him from a stop sign) nose first at low speed and was killed when he landed on the concrete on the side. Obviously he didn't put the bike into a slide...didn't have the skill, the time, or ABS prevented...we'll never know...but he held on to the bike and hit it nose first...probably panicked and froze...the skill to abandon ship or slide the bike was not a reflex built from experience and it cost him his life...RIP.

It's easy to "armchair" the situation today, but I can't believe I would have hit it head-on...I would have jumped or slid as a "no thought" reflex because I've done it so many times in the dirt back when I was immortal.
Thanks for the advice! I think in my situation it was about 20% skill and 80% luck! I totally agree with you on learning dirt bikes first. I wish I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere with lots of land. I'd be on a dirt bike for sure. Unfortunately, here in the DC Metro area, there aren't a lot of areas nearby for dirt riding. There are some but you're talking 1-2 hours (or more) to get there. Plus I'd have to get a trailer and probably a power washer for the bike. Bummer because it's definitely the best way to learn IMHO.
 

·
Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
Joined
·
15,538 Posts
1. You were looking at the road instead of where you wanted to go. You will go where your eyes are looking. You moved to the right and you looked at that swatch of pavement and went straight to it. Once you got there you were still looking at it and continued toward the edge of the road. Look through the turn the bike will follow your eyes. Your little swerve would have been just that a little swerve in your trip through the corner.

You gave up control when you put a death grip on the bars, pulled in the clutch and opened the throttle. Easier said than done but you don't have control when you are gripping that hard. You need to have a relaxed grip and never pull the clutch. Instead you could have just driven through the curve if you had been looking down the road.

Tired. Take more breaks especially in the heat.

You are doing the right thing, sitting back and running the scene through your mind step by step. Once you have worked it out in your mind go back to you school parking lot. Head for a stripe at an angle and work on turning as you approach the line without looking at it. Keep doing it trying to get as close as you can without touching it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
319 Posts
Thanks for the advice! I think in my situation it was about 20% skill and 80% luck! I totally agree with you on learning dirt bikes first. I wish I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere with lots of land. I'd be on a dirt bike for sure. Unfortunately, here in the DC Metro area, there aren't a lot of areas nearby for dirt riding. There are some but you're talking 1-2 hours (or more) to get there. Plus I'd have to get a trailer and probably a power washer for the bike. Bummer because it's definitely the best way to learn IMHO.
Buy a "on/off" bike...a dirt bike with proper road lighting and a license plate...then you can ride it to the dirt patch...honestly, for me, it's still way more fun to ride in the dirt...no "laws", "speed limits", "cops" or concrete to deal with.

It's also easy to convert a dirt bike to dual use..

[edit] "power washer"...lol...memory flashback...I've "washed" many a dirt bike riding home in a pouring rain. Gosh, I remember as a kid, when it looked like rain, we scrambled to get to our favorite mud hole. It was literally a giant hole that filled with a foot or two of water at the bottom every-time we had a hard rain..it's now an apartment complex..sigh.

10 Insanely Fun 125cc Dirt Bikes For Beginner Off-Road Riders!
https://autowise.com/best-125cc-dirt-bikes/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,287 Posts
Quote:
I leaned over into that but...he road.

Reply:
What I should have done is stayed on my line and ridden over the rough patch...

Quote:
I panicked and grabbed the bars super tight...

Reply:
Try to stay composed when faced with a critical situation...

Quote:
I did wrong was being tired...

Reply:
Riding a motorcycle is a physically and mentally demanding activity. DON'T RIDE WHEN YOU'RE TIRED!!
This type of self assessment is the key to improving and lessening the chance of making the same mistake.

I've entered a few corners too hot and been lucky there was no one coming from the other direction! Being mindful of keeping my upper body relaxed and always looking where I want to be are two areas I've been able to improve significantly over the last year. Leaning the bike beyond my comfort zone is something I'm currently focusing on. I have a few corners near me that I will intentionally go into just a bit faster than I am comfortable with, knowing that the bike will handle it perfectly fine and that I'll need to lean more than I'm used to doing. Swerve drills in an empty lot can also come in handy...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
203 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
1. You were looking at the road instead of where you wanted to go. You will go where your eyes are looking. You moved to the right and you looked at that swatch of pavement and went straight to it. Once you got there you were still looking at it and continued toward the edge of the road. Look through the turn the bike will follow your eyes. Your little swerve would have been just that a little swerve in your trip through the corner.

You gave up control when you put a death grip on the bars, pulled in the clutch and opened the throttle. Easier said than done but you don't have control when you are gripping that hard. You need to have a relaxed grip and never pull the clutch. Instead you could have just driven through the curve if you had been looking down the road.

Tired. Take more breaks especially in the heat.

You are doing the right thing, sitting back and running the scene through your mind step by step. Once you have worked it out in your mind go back to you school parking lot. Head for a stripe at an angle and work on turning as you approach the line without looking at it. Keep doing it trying to get as close as you can without touching it.
Wow. You're so right. In playing the event through in my mind again that's exactly what I did. I saw the smoother part of the road and fixated on that. And then when I started to lose my balance to the right I started staring at what I was about to hit which wasn't the road at all. It was the dirt, rocks, and grass. That is definitely a recipe for disaster.

I wasn't looking up and through the turn. That is something I definitely need to focus on more while I'm riding. I know I do it but not enough. I need to consciously remind myself to do this in every single turn. Look through the turn. Point your nose where you want the bike to go. I did it in the MSF class but it definitely takes practice because as you're looking through the turn you're not looking exactly where the front wheel is going. So you sort of have to have some faith in that it's going in the right direction even when you can't see it.

I see a high school parking lot in my future Saturday morning. Thanks a lot for the words of wisdom.

:thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
2021 CanAm Spyder RT
Joined
·
3,938 Posts
Inexperienced riders often end up increasing throttle instead of decreasing, especially when panicked and reaching for the front brake lever. Practice keeping your right wrist down, even an exaggerated amount. With the wrist down, a quick reach for the brake lever will automatically roll the throttle to the off position. A high wrist position will inadvertently roll the throttle on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mike721

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
203 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This type of self assessment is the key to improving and lessening the chance of making the same mistake.

I've entered a few corners too hot and been lucky there was no one coming from the other direction! Being mindful of keeping my upper body relaxed and always looking where I want to be are two areas I've been able to improve significantly over the last year. Leaning the bike beyond my comfort zone is something I'm currently focusing on. I have a few corners near me that I will intentionally go into just a bit faster than I am comfortable with, knowing that the bike will handle it perfectly fine and that I'll need to lean more than I'm used to doing. Swerve drills in an empty lot can also come in handy...
You're a braver rider than I am! I'm still not comfortable leaning too much or pushing the bike beyond its limits. I think I proved on Sunday I still have a lot to learn so I'm going to get all the basics down as close to 100% before I push myself or the bike too hard.

I definitely need to work on swerving as well. I think my emergency braking procedures are good, however.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,287 Posts
You're a braver rider than I am! I'm still not comfortable leaning too much or pushing the bike beyond its limits. I think I proved on Sunday I still have a lot to learn so I'm going to get all the basics down as close to 100% before I push myself or the bike too hard.

I definitely need to work on swerving as well. I think my emergency braking procedures are good, however.
Have you considered doing a track day? It really opened my eyes as to how little I was pushing myself or, even more, the bike! I was super nervous but after the second session, it was exhilarating to ride without worrying about cars, lanes, or... squirrels! :smile_big:

Being in the "novice" group, most riders weren't focused on being fast but more on getting comfortable with their bike and the control riders were always willing to offer helpful observations/tips!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,200 Posts
I agree with Critter. When in the twisties, I quickly scan the road for debris or any irregularities but always keep my eyes focused further ahead in the curve looking where I want to go. A cruiser friend of mine went up to the Smoky mountains with me a couple of years ago. I couldn't break him of the habit of when in a curve, he's always looking at the pavement in front of the front wheel. You guessed it, he had a very difficult time in the twisties. I kept reiterating to him to look further down the road to where you want to go, He just couldn't do it for some reason.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
203 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Buy a "on/off" bike...a dirt bike with proper road lighting and a license plate...then you can ride it to the dirt patch...honestly, for me, it's still way more fun to ride in the dirt...no "laws", "speed limits", "cops" or concrete to deal with.

It's also easy to convert a dirt bike to dual use..

[edit] "power washer"...lol...memory flashback...I've "washed" many a dirt bike riding home in a pouring rain. Gosh, I remember as a kid, when it looked like rain, we scrambled to get to our favorite mud hole. It was literally a giant hole that filled with a foot or two of water at the bottom every-time we had a hard rain..it's now an apartment complex..sigh.

10 Insanely Fun 125cc Dirt Bikes For Beginner Off-Road Riders!
https://autowise.com/best-125cc-dirt-bikes/
Thanks a lot for the link. I'm still about an hour away from the nearest dirt trails but I'm going to do more research to see if there's anything closer.

I thought if you have a dirt bike you have to wash it quite a bit. A friend of mine that I ride mountain bikes with told me that and he used to ride motocross all the time. I'm with you on washing the bike in the rain, though...I do that all the time with my mountain bike. :)
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
Top