Ride A Motorcycle


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I rode a Motorcycle for 24 years, and although I had my share of close calls, I managed to avoid ever crashing. I attribute this to luck, skill, vigilance, and training.

Is It Dangerous To Ride a Motorcycle? What To Keep In Mind?
Is It Dangerous To Ride a Motorcycle? What To Keep In Mind?

Training To Ride A Motorcycle

By training, I don’t mean formal training. I mean, muscle memory training. I started riding dirt bikes off-road when I was 12. Riding a motorcycle requires coordination from every limb. Your hands are working the throttle, front brake, and clutch, your arms are controlling the handlebars, your feet are working the rear brake and shifter, and your whole body controls the steering. When you first start riding a motorcycle, much of this coordination is to do consciously. Riding through the woods day after day, avoiding static obstacles, reacting to loose sand, dirt, rocks, and other changing surfaces, trained my muscles to respond in subtle ways to keep me from crashing. Of course, at 12 years old, my reaction time was probably about as good as it ever will be. Plus, falling was usually an inconvenience more than a problem. My lightweight and protective gear kept me relatively safe. 

There were times when my rear tire hit a wet maintenance hole cover and started sliding, or a puddle I forced into on the highway was WAY deeper that I thought, at those moments, deeply learned unconscious muscle reactions did what they had been trained to do over years and years. That subtle movement made the difference between crashing and not crashing and perhaps saved my life.

Is It Dangerous To Ride a Motorcycle? What To Keep In Mind?
Is It Dangerous To Ride a Motorcycle? What To Keep In Mind?

Vigilance

I ALWAYS assume the other drivers do not see me. I presume every car taking a left will do so right in front of me, leaving me no time to stop. Cars waiting at stop signs are impatient in my mind. Drivers changing lanes are distracted. The truck behind me is looking at the GPS and not the road. I drove my bike, assuming everyone was going to hit me. I never thought other drivers would do the safe thing.

I’ll tell a story to illustrate. One day I was driving in heavy traffic in a construction zone. To my left was a line of traffic barrels blocking an empty, newly paved section of road. I noticed the driver behind me was way too close. When the car in front of me stopped abruptly, I swerved between two barrels on my left that were barely far enough apart to squeeze through (I actual clipped one with my handlebar). As I came to a stop, the car that had been following me screeched to a halt right beside me, about 2 feet from the car I was following. 

Skill And Luck To Ride A Motorcycle

Generally speaking, I have the natural right balance and coordination. I’m not saying I’m a superstar athlete by any means, but I can usually pick up a new skill like skiing, snowboarding, skating, etc. faster than the average person.

Unfortunately, no matter the skill, vigilance, or training, someone, sometime will run a stoplight, fall asleep at the wheel, hydroplane, or any number of other unexpected events will occur. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, well, there is no such thing as a fender bender on a motorcycle.

People I rode with many times in my life, who were good riders, skilled, vigilant, and trained, got unlucky. Don’t get me wrong, riding is fun, but it’s a risk. I haven’t ridden in 5 years, mainly because I have a back issue that makes it uncomfortable to ride. Maybe someday I’ll ride again.

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