I feel bad because she was trying to follow me in

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by viverrid, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    30,482
    Location:
    Western Mass
    Wife has been making great progress improving her riding skills now that we have been making the effort for her to ride every weekend. She always rides her own XT-225 and usually also takes another ride rear seat with me on my 990 Adventure. While 2-up I will demo stuff she asks about from her own ride. She seemed to have gotten past her noobishness, was enjoying riding, and on her way to being a competent though not bold rider.

    This afternoon was a beautiful day here and we went out for a short 1 to 1.5 hour local ride, local paved roads and maintained dirt roads, with me on my DRZ. We avoid & minimize higher speed roads and roads with heavy traffic. My DRZ is geared for rocks and has knobbies so I don't like to go more than 55 MPH and would rather go 45. Her bike actually has a higher useable top speed. We try to mix up the routes for variety and do a different loop every week.

    Here's what turned out to be the first link in the chain of causation: As we were both sitting on our bikes in the road in front of our house, bikes running, gear on & ready to go, I realized I'd left my GPS inside. I briefly considered going back in for it but WTF, I am not going to get lost on a local ride. I was founding Trailboss for our club's popular Dualsport event, laid out 130 mile Big Bike routes for 8 years or so, I ought to be able to find my way.

    We had made it maybe 2/3 of the way around our loop and were on our way home. We were on a paved town road that's used as a through road and I intended we turn right onto a dirt road that comes in on one side (only). We 'd both been down it before on bikes and in cars but not frequently. We were going 40-45 MPH when the side road came up sooner than I'd expected. If I'd had the GPS, I would have known.

    I actually considered purposely riding past it, stopping further down, and telling Wife we needed to make a U-turn. But I didn't want to have her U-turn on that road because it is moderately traveled and (despite having passed MSF just fine) she doesn't like U-turns and I've seen her get stuck in the U half way through. We'd rather have her practice those in a parking lot (we use the commercial area right in front of our development) or on a very low speed and less traveled road where cars would not come up on her fast. I decided the turn was still make-able, which was the 2nd link.

    I braked hard, straight ahead, on the clean pavement of the through road. There was nobody anywhere nearby behind us. After getting the bike slowed down, I made a very square turn into the side road. There was nobody coming out of it, I looked. It was not a smooth maneuver, it was "saving it", but it worked. My wife does not tailgate, she was a good 100 feet or more behind me. I figured if she wasn't comfortable stopping that quickly, that she'd just roll past, and have to make that dreaded U-turn. As it happens, on our previous ride we had practiced hard stops in the parking lot before we went out on the road.

    But here was the 3rd link. She angled right while she was braking, like a shortcut into the turn. If only she'd stayed straight she would have been okay. The 50/50 dualsport front tire on her bike stops a lot better on pavement than the knobby front on mine. But she was still braking firmly as she angled into the sand and then tried to turn in. The front tucked and down she went, though at a slow speed maybe 10 MPH since she gotten it slowed down a lot.

    While it was happening, neither of us expected the getoff to result in significant injury. Looking her gear over afterward, there wasn't a tear or even a scuff on the elbow/forearm pads (she'd taken the upper body impact on the forearm) on her riding jacket, nor on her riding pants. She was wearing dirt boots that are nearly knee-high. Unfortunately as she went down her boot got caught between the bike and the ground and got a twist put on it.

    Local volunteer ambulance & fire responded. On the scene we thought there was only an ankle sprain as there was no displacement, and a bruised knee from impact. But x-ray showed a hairline ankle fracture (no displacement) and while nothing showed up on the knee x-ray, the knee had become hugely swollen so is now officially a "sprain".

    Satisfied she was "stabilized", the ER sent her home with an aircast for the ankle and an immobilizer for the knee, with instructions to call the ortho-doc in the morning. Not a life threatening injury but she'll likely be hobbling for a while, and CAN'T DRIVE which will be a PITA. And to add insult to injury, the painkillers she got made her sick and she threw up into a flowerpot.

    One funny thing was that a local VFD guy, who rides, and was driving the other way in his work truck, actually saw her go down. And that they know each other, he being a regular customer of her business. He was the one who called it in after it became clear she wasn't just going to be able to walk it off. A lot of the responders knew her son (my stepson) who is also on the VFD there, but was out of town that day. And while we were in the ER, a guy was wheeled in with a bloody head; he was a former employee of hers who'd taken a fall inside his house. Yup it's a small town here.
    #1
  2. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface 30-125

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    13,460
    Location:
    Where Prince Charles spent his honeymoon
    Glad it's not worse. Here's to a quick recovery for her!

    I have these fears when my wife and/or kids are riding with me. It's an easy enough thing to have happen.

    John
    #2
  3. Unstable Rider

    Unstable Rider Moto Fotografist

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,711
    Location:
    Minn.
    Hope she heals up fast brother.

    Stuff happens, sorry to hear of it.

    Accidents are by accident, that's why they are called that. Sounds like you guys were instantly in good hands. Thats priceless.

    Glad it was not worse!
    #3
  4. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    30,482
    Location:
    Western Mass
    I am still kicking myself for not stopping in the main road and waiting for her to stop too, before turning. She can do a hard stop straight ahead, we just did those in a parking lot when that was the only thing she is doing. But to hard brake straight and to not quite stop, release and THEN turn onto a looser surface was more than she coordinate on the fly without an advance briefing. What was pretty much automatic for me was an advanced maneuver for her and was over her head. She said later that it did not occur to her to release the brake before turning onto the dirt.
    #4
  5. unaweep

    unaweep Uses lotsa band-aids

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    22,265
    Location:
    Western Colorado
    Dang! Sorry for your wife's injury.:cry

    Hope she heals up quickly.:freaky
    #5
  6. O.C.F.RIDER

    O.C.F.RIDER Loose nut behind h/bars

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,922
    Location:
    Hewitt,New Jerseystan, OBAMANATION
    Glad she's pretty much OK!
    Sometimes the best way to REALLY learn something is when there's a bit of pain involved. Ask me how I know. :lol3

    Chris
    #6
  7. zeeede

    zeeede Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,167
    I've found two things very helpful for riding with my girlfriend while she learned:
    1) Bike-to-bike comms... in our case we use SENA blutooth headsets. It lets me give her tips and help correct things on the fly. For instance, I've seen her get worried on a curve and reminded her to "Turn your head... turn your head... look through the turn" and seen the results instantly.

    2) Having her ride in front... that way she can ride at her own pace, instead of at my pace. And with the bike-to-bike comms, I can navigate from behind and let her know a turn's coming up. If I don't give her enough of a heads-up where to turn, it makes her decision to ride past the turn much easier. And, I can keep an eye on her and giver her feedback as we ride (remember positive re-inforcement, too... i try to say 2 or 3 positive things for every thing I give her to work on)


    I couldn't imagine helping her learn to ride without the bike-to-bike comms.
    #7
  8. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    30,482
    Location:
    Western Mass
    This has been discussed before. IMHO this does not work at all.

    When we tried this, she ran 50 MPH through a rural residential area where 30 or 40 max would have been more appropriate, and then didn't spot an upcoming (paved) curve and went in too hot, didn't know what to do, and ran wide half way into the oncoming lane (on a road with no shoulders) and just random chance that there's not a lot of traffic there, prevented her from becoming a hood ornament.

    Running first, the less experienced rider is at risk of NOT SPOTTING all kinds of hazards that the more experienced rider can't see first either, being to the rear. It gives the less experienced rider NO GUIDANCE as to what the appropriate speeds or line are. With me in front she can follow my line and see what a realistic speed is. If she's not comfortable doing the speed she can fall back. Lately she normally maintains moderate pace and only drops back in a few specific areas which are then identified to work on. If she always went first I'm pretty sure would have advance much less, from lack of example of what was possible.

    There have been some other stories posted of people who were riding with a less experienced wife or GF going first, and who watched as that person crashed in front of them for not spotting some road condition that they would have seen if they'd been first. I think we would have had many more crashes if she rode in front, from wrong lines and riding into errors.

    In this case if she had actually followed my line she'd have been okay. As I noted, the way the bikes are set up, hers is more capable on pavement as to braking and turning. The bike I lead these rides with has knobbies and she has a more 50/50 setup. On the roads, if my bike can do it, then her bike can do it. If she's not comfortable doing it, she falls back.

    If she ran first she would get no guidance from example and not even realize (by seeing it in front of her) that there was a better way to do something. I don't ride race pace in front of her, just moderate pace that she can aspire to achieve. If she ran first she'd think it was normal to run 15 where she could be running 30, and also she could run 50 where she should be running 30. Besides, she doesn't want to ride first since she's directionally challenged and has no desire to manage the route.

    I feel bad this time because in hindsight I could have just stopped in the main road, so as to make her options more foolproof. But she said no, she knows to continue straight if she can't make a turn, she just didn't. Instead she tried to turn and brake the front at the same time while transitioning from pavement to dirt, which she could have just as well done while riding in front.

    But if it works for you for her to go first, then go ahead and keep doing it. I like the idea of bike comms but have never ridden with them so have not regarded them as a necessity.
    #8
  9. zeeede

    zeeede Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,167

    I hear ya on that... didn't think of it your way. Fortunately she's never had a problem with not seeing road hazards...though I do sometimes have to remind her "The speed limit's only 25 here..." as we pass through country towns.

    My girlfriend's also at the point where she rides by herself no problem, so she's no dependant on someone in front of her to help her decide how fast to go. She only started riding a year ago, but has done around 5,000 miles in that year.


    The bike-to-bike comms changed the way I ride... I definitely wouldn't have her in front without them. It's nice because the first rider doesn't have to constantly be checking up on the other, either... and if something happens the following rider can communicate it without having to wait for the lead rider to realize no one is behind them and head back and look...
    #9
  10. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    10,487
    Location:
    Western Sierras
    +2 on the helmet comms. I recently picked up a wireless set when my wife got her license, and it became obvious the 6 foot cord wasn't going to reach. I got the Sena SMH5, with upgraded speakers and an extra charger for around $250. It has come in handy numerous times, and just makes riding as a couple more enjoyable.

    Your reasoning for having your wife ride behind had some good points. Up until now, we have done just the opposite, figuring I might be able to point out what she does wrong (I keep that kind of criticism to a minimum unless it is important). Now that she has some saddle time with and without me nearby, it might be a good change to switch.

    Bummer about the fractured ankle. I hope she heals quickly.
    #10
  11. tread55

    tread55 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2013
    Oddometer:
    46
    Location:
    Greensboro, NC
    I'm glad your wife isn't more banged up. Hopefully she'll heal up quick and not let this incident negatively effect her.

    I do have to admit that I got the same feeling reading about your experience that I get when I see or hear about a parent who is overprotective. You seem to be holding yourself solely responsible for her crash. It's great that you want to help her along in learning to ride but at some point don't you have to 'cut the cord' and let her learn from her own mistakes? It seems possible that being in her position, mimicking your lines, speed, etcetera could lead to her basically turning off her awareness and just depend on you to get her safely through. I totally understand you wanting to be with her, teach her to ride and keep her safe but I also think it would benefit you both to let her do some riding on her own. She needs to have confidence in her skills and so do you. If she wants to ride a motorcycle then she needs to be able to do it without depending on someone else to make all the decisions. It would also seem that if you and/or her don't feel confident enough in her skills to let her ride alone then perhaps she's better off remaining a passenger. It's not just her that could be put in danger. This ranting is not meant to be offensive or judgemental of you nor your wife. I'm am happy to hear that it wasn't worse and I hope you take this as a well meaning critique.

    Cheers,
    Brent
    #11
  12. cleandirt

    cleandirt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Little Rock
    +1
    Her crash sounds like one of those things that can happen when your trying to learn to ride a motorcycle. It was a mistake that can only be learned by experience. Sorry to hear her experience caused her to get hurt, glad it wan't worse. It wasn't clear from your post if you taught her how to ride or if she took a riding course. If she hasn't taken a msf course do that and give her a copy of Proficient Motorcycling to study. Then let her go ride on her own, practice in empty parking lots and low use roads etc. without you looking over her shoulder. Learning how to ride from a spouse sounds like it could be stressful. She's got to learn to make her own decisions. I doubt following you is having the effect you think it is. I found while learning how to ride following someone was one of the more difficult things to do because I would tend to pay more attention to them than the road. She needs to concentrate on watching the road and riding safety, your instruction maybe a distraction from that. When you do ride with her let her lead sometimes and follow others. There are things to learn from both situations. Pick and choose what advise you give her, just answer her questions and maybe add something extra if it's absolutely necessary. If the two of you find that she's not cut out for riding then you need to be open to that discussion and enjoy riding 2up.
    #12
  13. Camper292000

    Camper292000 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2012
    Oddometer:
    28
    Location:
    Heavy traffic! Marietta, GA
    I had the exact lay down last year. I was a new rider and was just at the level where I was feeling confident. Saw the turn, braked hard on a vstar 650, and continued hard braking in the turn. Never saw the patch of gravel and never felt the fall happen. One moment I was turning, the next is BAM of my helmet hitting on the right side and should and hip. So glad I had those padded pants on!
    That tire came loose and it came down on the crash bar and traveled straight about 10 feet.

    Ok so looking back I am very very glad I had that oops. Good education for me. It can happen and I'm glad I had my schooling at about 10 mph.

    I'm like grandma on turns now!



    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2
    #13
  14. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    10,487
    Location:
    Western Sierras
    Makes sense.
    #14
  15. pjm204

    pjm204 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,036
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    The same thing happened to my buddy's girlfriend. I came into right hand turn hard, instead of just passing it, she decided to try and make it as well and slid out, cutting up her knee and trashing her brand new jacket. (just glad it wasn't my girlfriend (that doesn't exist))

    New riders need to learn to go at their own pace.
    #15