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Why a safety course is important


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Like so many of you, I've had my close calls on a bike.  What was different about Saturday was that I almost didn't make it home.

Rusty and his scout, myself on my chief with my lady friend are coming back from our IIRA meeting in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.  As my friend doesn't have a helmet, she's wearing mine, as well as my chaps and an extra leather jacket I have.  I'm wearing a du-rag (IIRA), and my heavy leather jacket, no chaps, but heavy gloves.  Rusty has on his gear (to include helmet), and we are cruising about 65 mph in the fast lane of I-470 with me leading on the left.

We've been about 2 seconds behind a couple suv's in the left lane for a while, and every so often they hit the brakes a little, just to keep at the speed limit (kind of a downhill run).  My option is to put a little pressure on the back brake and lose a little throttle.  Works fine for about 20 miles.

So they hit the brakes again, I put pressure on the back brake expecting the same drill, and the next thing I know the rear end of the car in front of me is going up, and he is pulling to the right of the left lane in an emergency stop.  I head left, the suv in front of him is doing the same thing on the left side of the left lane.  A 3rd car is stopped in front of him.  I have no room between them, too much speed to stop even if I did grab the front brake, and am skidding with my rear tire going right (brain thinks stop, your foot is on the brake, what do you do?  step harder). With about 1 foot of pavement on the left of the middle suv that I know I don't want to hit, I have no room there either - the Chief is wider than that.  And I'm not wearing a helmet - this is going to hurt -  a lot, and I don't want to wreck the chief just as the estranged wife is going to give it to me in the divorce.  Amazing how much can go through your mind in 2 seconds.  Barely time left for an oh, shit.

I know I can't stop by going forward, and I grab the clutch and push left as I come off the back brake.  I can feel the high side coming.  I push harder left and the high side suddenly disappears just before we get thrown, but now I am pointed into the median at an angle.  I manage to look where I want to go, miss the mile marker sign and go down into the median where I managed to keep her under control, shift down to 3rd, and then get back on the highway (took about 400 angels and a 16th of a mile or so, I imagine).  Thanks to the guy in the silver truck who was holding traffic back in the left lane, and Rusty, who somehow managed to avoid the traffic and ducked into the right lane holding traffic there.

I meet up with Rusty, my friend wants me to stop (all I can hear is we need to stop because we are missing something), so we pull over on the right shoulder.  Turns out her foot slipped (she did say she counted to 2 and thought about leaving the bike, but didn't know where to jump) and when it came back up, she inadvertantly closed the footpeg.

I heard Rusty say "Nice Save".  I have no idea if I even answered.  I was thinking to myself "what the hell just happened, why are we still alive, and how much more stupid could I have been?"  The rest of the ride home (about another 60 miles) went smoothly, and we all got home safe.  I did call Rusty later and left him a voicemail telling him thanks for the compliment, and that I was glad he was ok.  I still don't know how he managed to avoid it (I was about 1 and 1/2 to 2 seconds behind the suv in front of me, but wasn't using the front brake) since he was about 1 second in back of me on the right side of the lane.   My friend said Rusty looked like he'd seen a ghost.  I can attribute to that; I was probably the ghost.

Lessons learned:  Safety courses work.  Staying calm and looking where I wanted to go, having had practiced keeping the front wheel straight when skidding on the back wheel only, and somehow managing intuitively to ensure that the clutch is in (Foosh - thanks for putting that in my head whenever trouble happens) before I let go of the brake so there was little torque when the traction came back all helped.  So did pushing left to keep the bike in a lowside position as it came up for the high side (physics - stop a high side by making it a low side - time permitting).  All things taught in safety courses.

Why did it happen?  Following too close, not using the front brake, and not being able to see through more than 2 cars due to smoked windows on the lead suv.  You should always try to look at least 5 cars ahead.  If you can't, you should back off or change lanes.  The routine of step on the brake but keep going made me complacent.  That should have been my first warning something was wrong.  It was too easy.

 

Anyway, I'm glad no one got hurt or had to change clothes, and that I am here to relay to the larger group that you should always take a safety course seriously, practice those skills, and think about how important getting those routines into your riding is.  Push every rider to take some kind of rider's safety course, and keep up on the advanced courses when possible.

Remember that complacency on the road is not our friend.  We all know it.  We just don't always see it happening.  Sure makes you ensure you are thinking about every safety rule you know when it happens like this, though.

"Kept the shiny side" up has personal meaning to me now.  How about you?

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You hit the nail on the head, my friend. When it starts getting too easy, or you are getting too complacent, something bad is about to happen.

 

I am very glad you made it out of this one safe and sound. So many others haven't. One more good story for the motorcycle safety courses.

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As Walter Cronkite used to say (I think it was him) "and you are there".....that's how I felt reading your near accident. Am glad you're around to write about it!

 

You mentioned the tinted windows on those SUVs, between that and their height that's why I hate being behind them on a road. Because I can't see thru or over them it forces me to rely on the driver to stop in a timely manner......something I just don't want to do......my assumption is that everyone else there can't drive as well as me, that's not an ego thing so much as a safety attitude.

 

Having driven large vehicles professionally it's an automatic thing for me to constantly scan traffic all around me, and to plot my moves many steps ahead (like in chess). All about safety and the flow of traffic.....and also keeping an eye out for cops and half nekkid broads!

-ANT

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WOW!!!  Glad U and your friends R o.k. Falcon.  Thanks for the story and the reminder.  We all will have close calls eventually - I know I have.  And some will end better than others.  Glad to hear this one ended well.  Ride safe.
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Glad you are ok.. I had a very similar story, except I was on surface streets about a mile from my house.. It was summer in Louisiana, so all I had on was jeans, shirt and helmet--no real protection.

Of course I was too comfortable being so close to home, and  I applied both brakes as I normally do, but once the back brake locked up and I saw the rear of the vehicle in front of me rise and get closer faster than I was expecting, my first thought was trying to get around.  I was in a turn lane, with nowhere to go because of traffic in the left coming towards me and traffic on the right coming up on me from behind, all I could do was brace for impact and hope for the best...the last thing I was told at the Harley safety course was "you can release and reapply that front brake, but if you lock up the rear--ride it out", or else yor're going high side..."

and like you say, so much goes thru your mind in that brief few seconds..somehow--and to this day I can't figure it out-- I made it thru with only a little less rubber on my tires, and a lot of stares.

The things that saved me were the awareness to always look around and be aware of the traffic, and the confidence to know I was doing right by staying calm and riding out the skid., thus avoiding moving vehicles, and also the quick reaction skills to come out of a lean and stop..

I called and thanked the instructors personally.

I also had to thank them because the instructor found the vacuum leak in my pp100 and fixed it with a twig--he was real cool about it, and was even amazed at how the chief handled the safety course, even the police range.

safe riding..

eric

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Damn Lymon  ???

 

I sure am glad you pulled that one out.  I wanna ride those two Silver Chiefs together again.  And with a passenger too  :shocked:   THAT is a whole different ball game.  You can bet I'm forcing Cynder to read this in the mornin'.  I've been having her take lead so I can watch her tail.

 

Congratulations man...not only on the "nice save", but for the awesome detailed story.

 

You and the gal still friends?

 

:wave:

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Thanks for the kind words, all.  It is a good exercise to write down events like this, because it makes you think through the possibilities and reflect on the specific things that can make you a better rider.  Therapy for the soul, so to speak.

 

Yes, Foosh, we are.  It was only her 4th time on a bike; she held up pretty good.  And I'm sure that when you say you are watching Cynder's tail, that somehow there is a double-entendre there.  Anyone who's met Cynder knows you are enjoying the view.  I'd offer to help you watch, but I don't think you need any.  We'll ride together again sometime after May when my divorce is final.  I have 12 days of vacation to burn this year, just haven't figured out where or when.  

 

See ya on the road....

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 We'll ride together again sometime after May when my divorce is final.  I have 12 days of vacation to burn this year, just haven't figured out where or when.  

 

See ya on the road....

Hmmmmmmmmmm...

 

Wonder where you could go  ???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:bvictory:

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  • 3 years later...

wow! glad to hear you made it out ok, that split second feels like an eternity, and once again good training comes through. everyone should take the safety courses, what i learned has saved my butt quite a few times

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I have been licensed so long, I never took any kind of course. I recognize that I am getting complacent on the bike. A course might be just the thing to get me thinking about handling the big chief in an emergency. Otherwise, an accident could get me thinking also.

Hmmm..., whats it gonna be? Course or accident?

 

Thanks for posting that.

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well after your and HOmers story figured i would add mine.....yep counter steering and not letting go of a rear tire that is skidding while watching the horizon and looking where you WANT to go rather than the threat is paramount.

 

i was on a local toyrun.....things were fine but knew it was going to be hairy when the cops on interstate push it to 85mph with all exit and onramps blocked to get 1000 rider around the circuit as quick as possible. I was riding two up and it was cold.....about 2-3 seconds between me and next bike sometimes it stretches to 5 seconds but not enough for those speeds. I dont see brake lights lighting but notice when they do tap their brakes the guy in front of me is either riding his brake or it is staying lit all the time... Oh great...no indication from him

 

Next thing I know i see lights bright in front of him and he is slowing quickly.......they are two wide and he goes to right blocking my escape route and i notice in mirror another bike behind me going to left around me in the panic stop. I see that my threshold braking is not going to slow us both in time on my Chief and faintly remember hearing my back tire dragging on the highway. I see a gap just about wide enough for my red hot bitch between two harleys....I pull in clutch all the way...lay on rear break....let off front brake and focus on the center of the gap. We slid through the gap past the bikes in front and almost to the second row unscathed. Guy to my right told me to fuck off as I guess he thought i was showing off......the shit in my pants would have let him know otherwise. I felt like going over and punching him off bike but my passengers safety is my most important thought and ask if she is fine.....and she says...what the hell just happened and how come we are not hurt?

 

We finish the ride and i told her what happened and why it happened and apologized for trying to KEEP UP with the others when I knew better.....she was just thankful I was able to keep my cool and steer us into safety.

 

That shit works for a reason..........and counter steering and holding down the rear brake have saved me twice. You all ride safe this summer......

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Lyman,

Damn, got shudders just thinking that happened to you.

Glad you're okay.

Hey, come down to SoCal and join us for a ride - Inland Empire.

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Man, someone must have had nothing but time to spare to find that 3 year old post. I still think about that once in a while, usually when I'm behind an SUV, RV, or Semi. Still, I'm glad that the newer members get a chance to read it, and hope it will help them as well.

 

I'll get to SoCal one of these days. Now that I'm a half-century old, I gotta start traveling again.....

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:eyeblinks: Falcon1....thanks for sharing your brush with the Reaper,most of all I'm glad you're here to!I've been meaning to take the MSF course....gotta find out where it's offered around here. :outdoor:
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I've taken it 2-3 times...n always learn somthing...n if nothin else , it's good for a hoot!??! lol lasttime they put us on some SMALL hondas, now , I'm 6'4" n 350lbs.. but they put this BLACK fella about 7'+ on 1 also... talk about a joke.....lol

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I've taken it 2-3 times...n always learn somthing...n if nothin else , it's good for a hoot!??! lol lasttime they put us on some SMALL hondas, now , I'm 6'4" n 350lbs.. but they put this BLACK fella about 7'+ on 1 also... talk about a joke.....lol

 

:huh: Hey,C....yeah but what they do with this OLD guy orta be interesting.Well OK,I'm61...not that old..... :rotfl: .....YET!....I keep tellin' myself it's only a number,then I see this silver ghost in the mirror.... :outdoor:

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Falcon...glad to hear all of you are ok, and survived.....1-2 seconds is not enough clearnce...I know it's easy to folllow close like we do in cars, but you got to leve a little more room on the bike....padding they call it in the classes......a security guard where I used to work was an Instructor...learned a lot from that guy...he rides a goldwing......again, glad you are all ok, having wrecked numerous times on 2 wheeled rockets growing up, I know that even coming close sucks........

 

when I was inthe service, we used to ride hard...it was all about who had the worst wreck over the weekend.....I know...we were idiots.......can't tell you how many times my buddy Shamrock(no good luck in that name at all) and I got busted doing triple digits.........

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I caught most of it, but what is this high side low side stuff?

 

Didn't useta know about counter steer either. But when I learned what it was, turned out that is what I've done all along.

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high side=over top of the bike..like, it flings you up and over once that back wheel grabs comin outta a skid. Bike will chase ya and can land right on you.

 

Low side=ya go down with it on the side you're leaning on. Bike'll usually slide out from underneath you.

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