Rule #1 – Ride your own Ride!
You are in control of your machine and your ride. Riding in a group is fun and exciting. Don’t let it obscure your own common sense and judgment.
It has happened to all of us. You are out riding with a group of friends, the road becomes twisty and the leader takes off. You get into a groove. Shifting around on your seat, setting the line, shooting out of the corner, this is one of the reasons you love riding a motorcycle. Then it happens… you realize that you are entering the right hand corner way to fast. You heart starts to race, this is not going to end well. That is all you can think about. Miraculously you make it through the corner, you have not crashed the bike and your heart rate eventually starts to slow. A number of factors might have come into play in keeping you safe. maybe your skill level kicked in, maybe it was not your day to slam your bike into the ground, or maybe it was pure luck. You may never know, but one thing is obvious. You got caught up with the group. Riding harder and faster than your skill level would allow. It has happened to all of us. The bad news is that not all of these stories end like the one I just described. It could have ended much worse, it could have been life changing.
Unfortunately for Jamie and I, it did not end as outlined above. I low sided the bike and when the world stopped spinning, I was fine, the bike was totaled and my beautiful Pillion was being lifted into an ambulance with a broken scapula and some fractured ribs along with a number of deep bruises. It was the worst day of my motorcycle life.
Looking back at the accident, the only reason this happened was the lack of my ability to control the urge to try and ride someone else’s ride, instead of my own. It was not the fault of the very skilled rider I was trying to follow. It was not Jamie’s fault, it was 100% mine. From that day forward I have tried to follow the one rule that can save your life That rule is
Ride you own Ride
Here are a few tips that might help you avoid the scenario pictured above. These are not all inclusive, I am sure there are a number of things that I will miss, or you may not agree with. These are just some things I have observed through the years of riding within a group.
Understand & Respect your talent level – Leave your EGO at home. Even if you don’t want to admit it. There is always someone faster, more talented and with a better understanding of Survival Reactions (Thanks Keith Code) than you. My accident above was caused by my L.O.T. Yes folks that was caused by my Lack Of Talent. Be honest with yourself concerning your riding skills and you will live to ride for many more years to come.
Speed Kills Most single rider accidents occur because the rider enters a corner “too hot” and then the L.O.T. kicks in and BAM it happens. The road is not a race track, you are not a MOTO GP racer and believe it or not, there are times, when gravel, animals, cars and other things that you can’t control enter your path. If you have your speed under control, these factors are easier to avoid and your day will end with a smile. Riding a motorcycle has its risks. Controlling things like speed can lower those risks.
Common Sense – Listen to it! We all have it, some people use it more than others. Common sense is a riding skill that is needed for you to have a long and enjoyable riding life. How many times are you following someone and they get tired of following the same slow car for the past mile, so they take a chance and pass them on a double yellow line. Yes they can see through it and no they did not put themselves in harms way, however if you try to follow, those same factors may change. Use common sense and Ride your own Ride! The group has been riding for over an hour and you need a break. You are starting to feel tired or need to stretch, but the group is not stopping. Do you go with the group, or do you try and get their attention, letting them know you need to stop? Use Common sense and Ride your own Ride! Your group pulls into a parking lot and you do not feel comfortable parking on a downward slope or in the gravel. Should you just park and take your chances. Maybe you won’t drop the bike, maybe you will. Why chance it? Use Common Sense and Ride your own Ride! You get the point. You are in control of your machine and your ride.
I am sure that even after riding for a number of years and writing these kinds of articles, I will still get caught up and not Ride my own Ride! Hopefully it will work out for the best, but if it does not, I will own it. We are all human and we will make mistakes from time to time. So when I take off with a group. I always remind myself to Ride my own Ride! It has become a habit and so far it has worked!
Until next time everyone, enjoy the cooler temps, the changing colors and the wonderful sights and sounds that escorts in the end of the riding season. Ride Safe!