April 2002 Safety Thoughts

Know Your Limitations

by Dave Hansen, Safety Officer

Despite the snow the last couple days, riding season is (essentially) here. The Chapter Rides begin soon, bringing a wealth of opportunity for both the new & the seasoned riders. These Chapter ride opportunities are varied in length, destinations and riding conditions. While the Chapter can't control the weather for these rides, the Activities Committee, along with many from the general active membership, has included both variety and varying degrees of difficulty in the Rides schedule. This has been done in recognition of the need to provide rides that can accommodate both the relative newcomer to riding and the many seasoned veterans within the Chapter that have ridden 10's of thousands of miles with the Chapter.

A couple years ago, we began rating our rides as a way to provide our membership with a guide to how difficult any particular ride may be. The first year or two, we used "stars" to rate the rides.

This was interpreted by many as equating to how desirable a ride was to participate in. "One star" was maybe a bit boring, while "3 stars" was great fun.

Last year, in an attempt to provide a more dramatic understanding of the Ride Rating System, we began to rate the rides with "skull & crossbones" symbols. I don't particularly agree with this because the Ride Rating System also includes a list of Riding Skills that are commensurate with the one, two & three skull ratings given to the rides. I believe if we're going to use skulls to define the skills, then a "3 skull" symbol should be assigned to the Minimum Skills definition and the Advanced Skills definition should be assigned a "one skull" symbol.

If this sounds confusing, I believe I've made my point. My point here is that we've had many riders sign up for Chapter Rides totally ignoring the Rides Rating System, or .....

They've not honestly evaluated their own riding skills based on the guidelines of the Chapter's Ride Rating System.

If you've not ridden in the rain alone, then you're not ready to ride in the rain with the Chapter.

If you've never ridden on the expressway at "5 over", then you're not ready to go on a Chapter Ride that includes expressway riding.

If you avoid finding & riding roads that are filled with corners, then you're not ready to go on a Chapter Ride whose main purpose is to seek out these kinds of roads.

If you haven't, on your own, already experienced riding in the rain on winding curvy roads with big hills & no guardrails, don't sign up for the Rolling Thunder Ride. If you do, plan your own route, do your own ride & meet the Chapter at the hotels at the end of the day.

Our Chapter Road Captains are just that, Road Captains. They're not your mother, not your father, and certainly not your priest or rabbi. Get a clue. Use the tools we've provided to help make our Chapter Rides safe for everyone. If you don't have the requisite skills for a particular ride, don't plan to ride with the group. All that does is increase the risk level for not just yourself, but for everyone else participating in the ride.

Words of Safety