The Rest of the Story

Through the years motorcycles have made leaps and bounds in braking, and suspension, and frames, and steering, and fuel delivery, and in so many things that make riding a pleasure. I have seen the speed and power of scooters increased to a level that should have riders saying enough, not more. But, I have also seen major progresses in safety. My 1976 Harley Davidson was one of the first generations with disk brakes front and back, now it’s nearly standard to have anti-locking linked disk brakes.

Road Chess

Everything you do on the road influences the traffic around you. When I’m on the Interstate, or on a two-lane highway and a big truck passes me I will flash my headlights at the driver. This tells the driver they have successfully cleared my space and its safe for the truck to come back over, this is sharing the road.

A Course on Lookin’ Good

Most of the Riders I ride with have been riding for some time, and I know from experience that just the mention of taking a motorcycle safety course can get a few of them ruffled under the feathers. I guess my suggestion might come across as me disrespecting their riding skills when I mention taking a motorcycle safety class, but it’s with all due respect when I say, “you should take a motorcycle safety riding course”. It can’t hurt to freshen up your skills, and with the right instruction you might learn a few new skills that, until taking the course, you didn’t think possible.

Keeping It Clean

One habit that has stuck with me since Basic Training in the Army is keeping things that I use clean. Breaking down a rifle, cleaning it, and putting it back together wasn’t just to keep us busy. In doing so we learned how the parts fit together, and we learned keeping it clean kept everything working properly.

Lessons Learned

Riding a motorcycle for over 50 years and driving as a professional driver for over two million (accident free) miles have revealed to me a few things that bikes and cages have in common other than just the traffic rules that apply to all. Here are some tips that will increase your odds for getting back home incident free whether you are driving or riding.

Motor Habits

Not recognizing our driving faults is probably one of the worse Habits we can have while we are Riders. Where do bad Habits come from when you are basically a good Rider? Most bad Habits are learned gradually by making the same mistakes over and over without even knowing you’re doing it. Maybe you are untrained at some riding skills. Let’s say, you have developed a bad Habit of dragging your feet on the ground in the parking lot after falling over several times. Training can correct this bad and dangerous Habit.

Back it Up …or Not

When parking a motorcycle with a group we do what the riders ahead of us do because normally the riders ahead are following the directions of the Road Captains. Most of the time the Road Captains will have pre-planned the parking situation and will work with event coordinators for the best place and safest way to park a large group of bikes for an event. Pre-planning a parking spot for a large group will help determine if the bikes should be pulled in fender to fender, or parked side by side, backed into a curb, or even pulled forward into the curb if it’s uphill.

The Ride of Your Life

38 years ago on a group ride one of the Riders I was riding with forgot about the face in the mirror rule and fell back creating a large space in the group. An impatient driver waiting to cross the highway decided the gap in the group was his chance to cross and he nailed it. The problem was that the cage was sitting on gravel when he gassed it.

Three Skills

There are three techniques taught in a parking lot class that a good rider will use and incorporate into their riding skills on the street. Each technique has its own relationship with the bike and all three are needed to gain a real feel of control of your machine. When all three skill sets become part of your daily riding you will have reached a level of riding skill you can be proud of.

Who’s Your Buddy?

Riding with a friend, or many friends is a gas when everyone is on the same page. We create friendships and bonds with strangers on rides and we meet up with old friends we haven’t seen in a while. Most of us have a favorite group of friends we like to ride with. Some of us consider ourselves a lone wolf, but we still end up in parades and funerals and fundraisers where other Riders are present, so everyone at one time or another will be riding with other bikes.

One Powerful Finger

One of the most important things we can do as Riders is communication. In a group, or solo, when we straddle that bike it is the riders responsibility to convey any movement
other than straight to those around you. We do turn signals and brake lights automatically, but there are many signals that have no lights or buttons, but they do
have fingers. The left handed one-finger signal used in a group is to move everyone into a single line and comes from the front and is passed back by the riders. This one signal,

Evasive Moves

When faced with a charging Elephant, or a driver full of rage just because you look like you’re having fun, you may need to use some of those slow speed skills I’m always
talking about. Of course, looking 12 seconds ahead will give you a fuller vision of what’s to come and knowing what’s up will prepare you, but this is in a perfect world where
there are no homeless vets, or abused kids. In our world stuff happens, in our world of riding motorcycles among four wheelers we are subject to situations that will require
either speeding up, swerving, or slowing down.

Enlightment and Fear

There are many factors that have sent us in the direction of riding a motorcycle, such as the love of motorcycles, and the urge we have to just get away with the wind in our hair. Maybe your buddy has a scooter, or maybe you admire others that have mastered the beast.

Is Enough Enough

In my right mirror I saw a motorcycle come flying out of the ditch and into the air without a rider, crashing into the trees along the highway. Then, I saw the gleam of chrome moving on the highway behind me as a second scooter slid on its side down the road along with the rider. This highway was a very nice straight slab of cement. The warm Sun was shining, the groups speed was at an even pace, and the traffic was light … so what happened?

Changes …#29

The NHTA says 49% of motorcycle accidents were single vehicle accidents indicating rider error. I used to think it was the young studs on their powerful rice rockets that were
stacking the fatality statistics for motorcycle riders, but no… The over 40 motorcycle crowd was 46% of motorcycle fatalities in 2013, that’s a 39% increase in that age group
since 2004. Most riders start their riding career at a young age, so if the average rider started riding in their twenties and the numbers say older riders are the majority

The Eyes Have It

One of the most important factors of being a good motorcycle rider is knowing how important it is to use your head and eyes, and I’m not only talking about looking at pretty girls, I’m talking about PRECEPTION also. We take for granted that sight is part of riding, but while you are riding what are you seeing?

Sharing the Road

Sharing the Road was written after the recent tragedy in the Bill Henry escort where another rider was killed escorting Bill’s remains westbound on I-80 near Atlantic, Iowa. We were in the left lane running about 75 mph (125 bikes), and an 81 year old driver tried to get over from the right lane because of a horse trailer on the shoulder, but no one let him in so he came over anyway.