Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Few Words on Safety

I've often wondered about that "freedom" thing that you always hear HD riders talk about. It's not freedom from work, or the everyday mundane although I think some riders think that is what they are feeling. The freedom we celebrate when we ride our machines is the same freedom that an airplane pilot feels when he is in the air. We are free in an extra dimension. We don't just go left and right, we LEAN left and right. Our bikes simply would not make the turn if we didn't use the extra dimension of freedom, and if that dimension wasn't there, frankly I'd rather be in a convertible.

But it is there, and that's why I love to ride. That's why you see me talking about scraping my pegs in those corners. But from time to time and not often, I get reminded that the unexpected can happen. On my ride today, I entered the corner pictured above eager to feel that freedom again. I was moving toward the camera in the proper lane as you see the photo. Below is what was waiting just around the corner and out of sight.

Nothing bad right. Just a limb, and not even in my lane. Since I love to scrape those pegs, this obstacle just gave me an extra incentive to lean a little more, and since I always maintain a bit of a safety margin, I could make the turn without even touching the brakes.

But I didn't make the turn, instead I stopped to move the obstacle, partly because I was afraid someone would get hurt, and partly because I knew I was coming back down this road later.

I figured it would make an interesting pic for the website, so I broke out the old Canon and took a couple of photos before moving the branch. You can guess what happened next, and if you can't you can see it below.

The truck moved into what would have been my lane, without being able to see around the turn. As you can see, he was in my lane well before the obstacle and you can trust me when I tell you that he stayed there pretty far into the turn. This could've been a bad day for me. The decision to go high or low would have had to have been instantaneous and we can assume that the truck driver would be making a similar snap decision. Lots of potential for high heart rates in this scenario.

What to do?

I'm glad I didn't have to decide since I was safely esconced behind my camera, but give it some thought. What would you do? If you want to see more potential events like this and test your knowledge, go to the motorcycle safety foundation site and check out their Basic Rider Course Review. And if you haven't already (or recently) attend a motorcycle safety foundation course to learn what to do in situations like this, then maybe you should. Some spring ride, it might just save you from a really bad day.

By the way, I moved the limb and continued on my ride. What a great day. Beautiful weather, fantastic roads and the grace to ride again tomorrow.

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