March 2002 Safety Thoughts

Tune Up Time

by Dave Hansen, Safety Officer

Despite the near-blizzard conditions outside as I write this, I know Spring is just around the corner. That means it's time to begin preparing for the riding season. This means Tune Up Time. And while you may think I'm referring to the shiney Harley Davidson that's been tucked away all winter, I'm really referring to something else.

After months out of the saddle, it's time to tune up yourself for the riding season. Safe riding requires a sound, road-worthy machine, but it also requires a sound, quick-thinking, quick responding mind and body. Safe riding comes from an awareness of surroundings and an ability to observe, recognize, and respond to all the potential hazards we face while riding.

This all starts with discipline and training. Many times we see hazards, but don't recognize them as hazards. How can that be? Well, after months in 4-wheel vehicles, it's easy to just ignore things that don't affect 4-wheel travel, but impact tremendously on 2-wheel travel.

Think about this scenario:

Is that a water puddle in the right side of the road ahead?

So what? You're in your car. See, a little water spray but no problem.

You're on your bike. That puddle hid a pothole. The car's tires were wide enough that only part of the tire was over the hole. The bike's front tire catches the hidden edge of the pothole & slips sideways into the hole, then catches the far edge hard & throws the bike out of control. You lose it & go down, sliding many feet down the road before stopping. You're shaken up, but your leathers saved your skin from abrasions Unfortunately, the car following close behind you trying to get a close look at all the shiney chrome you're riding doesn't react quickly enough & runs over you.

Can't happen to you? Why not?

Or how about this?

You're the last bike riding in a group. The group is turning right onto an expressway entrance ramp. There's some sand on the far side of the on-ramp that tapers into the on-ramp/roadway intersection. Everyone in front of you makes the corner, no problem. You're riding in back, enjoying the day. You see the sand, but no one in front has a problem. No big deal. You drift just a bit wider than the rest of the group as you make your turn. The front end catches the sand & drifts out. You're down & didn't even realize what happened.

It can happen. It does happen.

It's time to get a Mental Motorcycle Tune Up.

And the best way I know is to sign up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Experienced Rider Course. It'll help get your thinking back in the 2-wheel mode. And it'll give you a chance. under controlled conditions, to re-establish that vital link between your brain and your tires.

If you haven't signed up for the ERC or another MSF class this year, you should. It could save chrome and your life.

Words of Safety