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If in doubt...what?
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a story that encompasses so many aspects of riding I thought I should share it and get some feed back. How fast should you ride? What lane should you ride in? How close should you follow? These are some of the questions we ask and answer as we ride on a continuing basis with the answer depending upon the circumstance. This is the setting: I'm riding a 2005 HD Road Glide with some modifications, heading north passing through downtown Atalanta on I-75. There are six north bound lanes with heavy traffic. I have ridden this route many times before and found ridding in other than the left most lane just makes you a target for drivers from any lane to your left diving for an exit. So I routinely ride the left most lane and make whatever speed necessary to keep up with the speed of the lane. In this particular case that is just over 90 MPH. The bike is stable and purring, road is dry, and relative speeds are low. (Being in the left most lane reduces the likely assassins approach to only 180 degrees.) I'm following the car ahead at the greatest separation possible without the gap inviting someone to change lanes in front of me. All is moving smoothly and I'm frankly really digging it and having a ball.

OK, begin tale.

Glancing in my mirror I am noticing the car behind me is a bit close for comfort and its driver seems to be busy doing something other than driving. As I return my gaze to the front, the car ahead of me abandons the lane. I attempt to close the gap but before I am successful a full size GMC van with one of those bubble-top deals dives into the lane ahead of me with such suddenness that he begins to rock a bit. I am now really too close. And I notice his right rear tire looks pretty damned low... BAMMMM!!!! Right at that moment the tire literally explodes. A chunk of rubber the size of a box of kitchen matches comes over my windshield and hits me square between the eyes (Yes. I wear a full coverage helmet. No, I don't know why. I mean who ever falls off or gets knocked off a motorcycle? And if I was to fall off or get knocked off what are the chances I might actually bump my head? AND even if one was to work through all of those accumulating risk odds and did actually bump your head going 90 MPH on pavement, who among us can say they haven't bumper their head on something and lived to tell the story. See how silly it is to wear a helmet once you apply real clear reason to the question. Oh, silly me, helmet and all.) Anyway, a chunk of tire hits me between the eyes. The tire is shredded and the van is now rocking violently. I'm going 90+MPH and I know there is no room in the lane to my right, and I know the guy driving the car behind me is also braiding his girl friends hair and in all likely hood does not have a clue what just happened, and I know the van ahead of me is about to totally loose control or dive for the shoulder, and I also know the paved shoulder on my left is bound by a concrete wall, is littered with miscellaneous car parts and has significantly depressed storm drain inlets at unpredictable intervals.

In the nano-second you get to decide, what responsive action would you take?

I jump on the throttle and hit the left shoulder and accelerate around the van, return to the lane and continue on my way. I didn't brake or change lanes to the right because I was not interested in getting run over. That only left one choice and if the van didn't actually loose control, he was going to elect to go to the shoulder as well. So accelerating around him would allow me to clear the shoulder as soon as possible was the least poor choice in my mind. The entire episode takes only a few seconds start to finish and maybe 2 seconds from tire blow to clearing the situation. There was not much conscious thought really. I think that is a perfect illustration of why you have to already know where your escape is.

If there is a really sound response that I totally missed, please, be gentle in telling me.
 

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Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
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15,671 Posts
You evaluated the situation, and took what you thought was the best course of action. You survived, job well done.
 

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Visionary
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5,413 Posts
I approve of your choice for 2 reasons.
1) It worked.
2) You had a handle on the significant risk, that the van might swerve into your shoulder..you were focused on the van, very much aware of any movement, and using what advantage you have (speed and maneuverability) to put yourself out of an unpredictable situation quickly and simply, rather than entering the complicated traffic pattern to the right which may very quickly deteriorate from the situation that is unfolding.

My wife was faced with a similar high speed decision to make last year in Indiana, at about 85 mph a poorly merging vehicle and a short entrance ramp from construction caused a truck to force it's way into her path to avoid running over a slow moving van, she too chose to blast down the shoulder and put it all behind her as fast as she could. This worked for her too, even though I almost had a heart attack watching it in my mirror!
 

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316 Posts
That's scary as hell, but since you lived to tell about it there's no room for anyone to question your actions. Great job! Riding in the left lane, wearing a helmet, being attentive enough to notice the low tire, staying focused... you've earned your stripes!
 
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