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Old 09-28-2012, 05:46 PM   #1
GREY.HOUND OP
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Road Hazards! ??'s From reading "Proficient Motorcycling"

I'm about 75% done with the book and have a few questions/thoughts.

First off, great book, lots of information and definitely worth a read through again once I have a bike.

Second, I get the impression that road hazards are more of a problem than anything else.
So are road conditions really as treacherous as the book makes it out? Do I really need to be that scrutinous of every patch of road?

Just curious,
Sean

TGIF!
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Old 09-28-2012, 08:05 PM   #2
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it's not the roads you have to worry about. it's the other driver. you have to ride like you are invisible to others. learn how to use cars as defensive tools.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:17 PM   #3
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You do need to be concerned about the road condition in addition to the other vehicles on the road.

You need to be constantly scanning ahead, each side, and behind looking for potential threats.

Is that car going to pull out in front of you, where is your escape route, is that diesel fuel on the road, are you going too fast for the curve ahead, what is over the rise that you can't see?
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:19 PM   #4
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Yep, lose focus for a second and crash on anti-freeze, oil, gravel, mud, tar snakes, potholes, frost heaves, expansion joints, crosswalk or other road paint, metal plates, metal grates, Garbage Truck juice, or any number of other road conditions you may never notice in the car.
Brick streets can be a bummer, moist ones are even worse.
Ride a Bike on the street enough and either crash or develop skills to recognize and mitigate hazards before they present an unavoidable problem.
Turkeys, Turkey Vultures, Deer, Dogs, Cats, Skunk/Possum/Raccoon, all tend to appear when you least expect them. They'll hit you directly, get under your tires, or get between the front wheel and downtube, a percentage of those incidents are unavoidable.
When riding on the Interstate or Highway beware following any Pickups especially with utility racks or any type of open bed truck, stuff flies off/out at speed including ladders, ductwork, pipe, dirt, gravel, anything unsecured or improperly covered will come your way. Following a Truck towing a Lawn Service Trailer, unwise.
Riding experience hones sensory inputs that will tell you to speed up, slow down, stop, swerve, turn off, etc...
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GREY.HOUND View Post
I'm about 75% done with the book and have a few questions/thoughts.

First off, great book, lots of information and definitely worth a read through again once I have a bike.

Second, I get the impression that road hazards are more of a problem than anything else.
So are road conditions really as treacherous as the book makes it out? Do I really need to be that scrutinous of every patch of road?

Just curious,
Sean

TGIF!
Alligators.....clearly alligators are a danger crossing the road in front of you so you must be alert .............

That is if you happen to ride where alligators may present themselves as a danger. Just about anywhere else it would be
pointless to obsess about. The point is that you can't creep around every curve worrying about every possible hazard that
might make an incursion into your path. Be informed, be aware, be alert, be responsible, ride accordingly and you should be
fine. Otherwise, you could become a road hazard to others yourself.

While road hazards are of concern, you may hear this funny truism more than once. "Probably the most dangerous thing to
a rider is the defective nut holding the handlebars. " That is again why I'll say this: be informed, be aware, be alert, be
responsible and ride accordingly.

I'ts like I used to tell my students back in the day when I taught ultralight flying that I also included reminders to be aware
of changing environmental factors ie; weather, time of day, other vehicles in the vicinity and to consider the vehicle they
are in control of and its condition and also their own physical condition and state of mind. Pay attention, but don't fixate
onto a thing. If things are not up to your level of confidence or ability, then you should probably not go out there until things
are more favorable to you. And, ideally you are the best judge on how to bring yourself up to snuff and what your safe limits
are.

Oh, and yeah, watch out for the cage drivers...... many of them have a defective nut holding the steering wheel.
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:04 PM   #6
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The most unpredictable thing on the road is other drivers IMO. You never know what they're going to do. I make assumptions about their actions - if they don't fulfill my assumption great! Most of the time thats what happens.

One of the most challenging environments to ride is multi lane freeways. I usually stay in the fast lane or the slow lane in very busy traffic since it gives you an 'out' if someone crowds your lane. When approaching a car always look for the left hand (blinker hand) for the lane change. Doesn't mean they will use it but most do. If you can see their head moving left and right its an indicator of an imminent lane change - or some good music. I've been riding 2 wheelers for 47 years - I seem to have developed a 6th sense for bad drivers. I've yet to be driven over or smacked into (knock on wood!) - I've been able to avoid my fellow man's stupidity at the wheel.

One of the things I always do is check the rear view mirrors to see whats behind me. Something that happened about 15 years ago is still fresh in my mind. I could have been hurt bad but that 6th sense kicked in that day. A gal was behind me yakking on the cell phone and trying to do something with/to her kid in the back seat at the same time. While doing that she was also following very close in stop and go city traffic. I always put myself on the outside of the car in front of me during such traffic - lining up to where if someone behind me were to 'punt' me I'd shoot past the car in front of me instead of me being the 'ham' in a car sandwich. Anyway traffic was doing the accordion and as it came to a very quick stop I shot a glance behind me as I hit the brakes hard I moved over onto the centerline and stopped - and this gal stopped too! In a panic stop - damned near hit the car in front of us! She looked at me with wide open eyes - I yelled at her to put the f*&&^ing phone down and DRIVE! She put the phone down and gestured for me to go - I looked at her with a 'yeah right' and let her go. In front of me if you please! I never stop directly behind a car at a light or in heavy traffic - ever. I'd rather get punted into space than into the car in front of me.

Something I see lots of bike riders doing on 2 lane highways is riding the center line. What they fail to understand is their visibility to the second/third/fourth drivers in oncoming traffic is less than if they would just move over to the fog line until those cars pass by - then they can ride the center line. That second driver might be in a big hurry. He'll see you better if you are next to the fog line. And in the off chance he doesn't see you you'll have less road to cover to dive to the shoulder.

One of the biggest mistakes new riders make is the assumption that leaning is what steers the bike. Test this one out carefully - if you want the bike to go right FAST just push on the right handlebar. The bike will respond almost instantly. Try leaning into a turn that fast - ain't gonna happen. And while you're in a turn look to where the exit of the turn is and keep your head somewhat level to the road. Get into this habit! If you look directly ahead in a turn and you think you're leaning too much you may well panic and pull up and go right where you're looking - straight ahead. Bikes are much more capable of getting through the turns than the average rider riding them. Looking to the exit takes away that feeling of being over too far. At least until something scrapes. I had a couple of 650 Triumphs in the late 60's with fixed foot pegs - and they were filed down at about a 45* angle. Those were some solid pegs. I was quite proud of them. Those old Triumphs were solid performers. Too bad the Lucas electrics weren't.
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Old 09-29-2012, 12:34 AM   #7
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Thanks folks. I "think" I'm understanding the part about other drivers, I'm pretty cautious even in my car. It just struck me as almost a doomsday thing about road hazards as mentioned by Warney: potholes, gravel, oil, trash, junk, slippery surfaces and all kinds of other debris waiting to take traction away.
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Old 09-29-2012, 02:52 PM   #8
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In short, riding a motorcycle in traffic is like riding through a minefield. Every turn of the wheel could be your last. You need to watch out for EVERYTHING, other drivers (and I use the term loosely, most of them are far better at using cell phones than driving) road conditions like potholes, slippery stuff, gravel, etc, and of course the normal stuff like traffic lights, dogs, pedestrians, the list is almost endless. Any one of thousands of things you may encounter on the road can put you in the hospital or worse. As you get more experience, you will start to anticipate what operators of other vehicles may do, and plan ahead for it. You will learn where bad surface conditions on streets are more likely to be found. Blind curves are especially dangerous. Cops like to hide around them, but other things can be there as well. I ride a lot in the AZ mountains, and have gone around blind curves to find the road full of boulders, or a cow in the middle of the road. Always expect there to be something. City riding is by far the most dangerous, because there can be more dangerous things to watch out for than you can comprehend at once sometimes, and the one thing you miss is what will nail you. Despite it's being boring, I spend a lot of time out on the interstate, where there is not too much traffic, and visibility is good. There is still danger, speeds are a lot higher, and when something goes wrong, things happen in a hurry. But there is so much less to watch out far than in town. The more you ride, the better you will get at it. But never get complacent or overly confident. That will also get you.


But believe it or not, as bad as all of this sounds, it is also what makes riding fun. It takes a lot of skill and effort to do it right and survive. And that's actually part of what riding is, a survival game, where you cannot lose. I have had more than one combat veteran compare riding a motorcycle to being in combat. I have never been in combat, but I believe them. It takes more skill to ride a motorcycle in traffic than it does to fly an F-16 out in the open sky. As a former private pilot (Cessna 172) I can definitely tell you it takes more skill to ride a motorcycle in traffic than it does to fly a small plane around. Motorcycling is something to be taken seriously, it requires a major commitment, even a lifestyle change. You learn to look at things differently when you are on a bike than when you are sitting in a car. You become a sitting duck, and for all intents and purposes, everybody out there is out to get you. Even the environment. You will find that all of your senses become more intense, and you start to notice little things you didn't before, because now they are a threat to your life. Riding is risky, no doubt about it. But to me, a life without some degree of risk is no life at all, and I definitely don't want that.
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:32 PM   #9
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Just ride mate.
The more miles you do, the more the road surface conditions/tintops with pinheads/large furry animals becomes 2nd nature to avoid and get by.
Don't stress, be happy!
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:35 PM   #10
PeterW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GREY.HOUND View Post
I'm about 75% done with the book and have a few questions/thoughts.

First off, great book, lots of information and definitely worth a read through again once I have a bike.

Second, I get the impression that road hazards are more of a problem than anything else.
So are road conditions really as treacherous as the book makes it out? Do I really need to be that scrutinous of every patch of road?

Just curious,
Sean

TGIF!
Well, yeah, if you ride 9/10-10/10th everywhere that's what'll get you.

Lets see, yesterday, dead kangaroo in my line exiting a corner, big tree branch right across the road, scrubby tree fallen onto the road blocking my lane. Gravel on a few sealed corners, couple of cars using more than their fair share of the road.

Probably riding < 6/10ths for all of that, nothing was an issue - an inexperienced rider, panicing and hitting the brakes (particularly in response to the dead roo) and a crash would probably result.

I try to ride with enough margin that two bad things can happen without it causing me a problem i.e. there's crap in my lane that I'll have to miss AND there's someone coming around that corner and they are in my space. You can certainly ride a lot faster if you don't allow for that and quite a few riders do.

Miles help a LOT as does the type of bike, as does dirt riding experience. Hitting a patch of gravel mid corner on a sealed road causes a lot less fear if you just spent the last half hour on some snotty dirt road for example.

The final thing to remember, unlike a car a bikes natural position is lying down - so as well as having to just deal with surprises you also have to make some effort to keep it rubber side down. It gets pretty busy some times.

Pete
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:30 AM   #11
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The best advice to avoid avoidable road hazards is to never out drive your line of site. If you practice this religiously you won't be the fastest guy out there but you will greatly decrease pilot error get offs. Some things are unavoidable but giving yourself time to react will increase your odds of staying upright in the long run.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:29 AM   #12
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Very good discussion here. I need to reread it often especially the post about 6/10th riding..

BTW, I've been riding for 55 years and have had only two road crashes which neither were my fault but probably could have been avoided if I was riding 6/10th. I tend to ride 6/10th or less now days.

I don't count the many dirt crashes.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:51 AM   #13
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Riding a motorcycle or scooter will definitely increase your appreciation for road surface dangers that would never have affected you in a car.

Yes, the obvious things like animals, potholes, chunks of rubber from truck tires are things which you have always probably avoided because they can affect a car. What you newly have to develop a good respect for are things like tar snakes on hot days, painted lines on the road surfaces (can be slicker than snot if wet), railroad tracks, loose gravel kicked up from an unexpected place, and one especially relevent this time of year: wet leaves.

As others have said the greatest danger is from other drivers, but as you continue to add miles your mindset has to continually register risks that it never had to consider before. I have found that on scooters you have to be even more diligent about road conditions because of smaller diameter tires, but this is partially offset by the increased nimbleness of my Vespa's steering, vs my motorcycle. Be aware, be safe and have fun.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:45 PM   #14
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road hazards

If it hasn't rained for a long while, when it starts raining the road could be like ice.Wait to ride until the rain washes the oil off the top!!
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:56 PM   #15
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All good advice. Overconfidence and inattention are killers.
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