Part 4

Speed in built up areas sometimes creeps up when being sucked along by the car in front.  I’m not talking about when there’s a long line of traffic.  Many’s the time the rider in front is doing 30 to 32 mph (where it’s safe of course) a car joins from our left or right ahead of us and is now going our way.  The car builds its speed up to 40 and the rider in front gets ‘sucked along’ and is soon keeping a nice distance behind said the same speed!

Often a lack of ability to suss out’ the traffic ahead, and pick a smooth, safe, uninterrupted passage through.  Again... not rocket science. Fail to use the advantage the motorcycle has given them.... thinking car!  Needs planning coupled with good forward observations, anticipation, and an accurate assessment of speed and distance!

All tied in with not looking far enough ahead ... ) We often have the scenario whereby the candidate waits for an overtaking opportunity, and I can literally read their thoughts by body language / movement. “Oh, I can overtakes now, I’ve an overtake on. Let’s see, err, gear, oh, right, I’ll come down to third, err, now that’s OK. mmm Mirror,  oh yes the mirror mmm seems ok,  oh hell,  a shoulder check,  right done that,  now we go,  we’ll show him what these Ninjas will do!”  Then they ride ROUND the car they’re overtaking.  That’s of course if they haven’t now missed the opportunity.

Rather  look beyond the vehicle in front, read the road, anticipate, plan plot and scheme, as I like say, We’ve caught the vehicle up, we’re travelling faster than it, so we’re already planning to overtake long before the opportunity is there. Do the homework, scan the mirrors, position out, cross views, and you’ll see the bit of road that’s just round this corner that’s straight enough.  Gear already, mirrors scanned, all homework done, and as the bend opens up WOOOOOOOSH!  Gone.  Without exception I can ask a candidate “And where was I when you looked in your mirror prior to that overtake?” the answer nearly always is “Already out there!”    Time and time again I see people ‘riding round’ the hazard, or the vehicle being overtaken.

A rigid insistence  not to overtake at or near a junction.  OK we know what the book says, and any doubt whatsoever.....  BUT junction ahead totally clear, NOTHING can emerge, and many is the time we can be past the car ahead before the junction. So why not?  OK sorry, I know what the book says!  But what speed is the car doing, could he possibly turn into that junction?  If he’s doing fifty mph five yards before that narrow drive we can see into, he couldn’t possibly turn into could he!

An important one this one - Do not analyse ... (Oxford again...’analyse’, examine methodically and in detail!)  their own riding,  the riding of others,  the last series of bends,  the entry,  negotiation and exit of that last roundabout,  the last overtake!  It’s only by analysing ones riding, oneself, that we can improve.  It matters not a jot that someone is teaching us if we don’t analyse for ourselves. No-one can kneel and be touched on the shoulder by the magic sword and be pronounced ‘an advanced rider’  “Arise Sir BOF, you can now wear The Badge!”

We often see riders  negotiating a bend on the ‘correct line’ in the wet..... Yet there’s a dry line a foot or a couple of feet off the ‘ideal’ line, let’s be in the dry.  On the straight they move abruptly to miss a manhole cover!  If you don’t want to ride over the damn thing see it when it’s in the far distance and get the correct line early.... otherwise let the suspension do its job!  Never sacrifice safety for position!

Don’t suffer the duffer, create a buffer ...  Having settled down to a nice speed in a built up area, following other vehicles, and not looking to glide past because our speed is OK, then let’s back off the vehicle in front and allow a much larger gap, I call it a ‘buffer zone!’ Think ‘Two second rule’ then think ‘even more’! We can move into it when traffic ahead is slowing and the prat behind is on the mobile, or eating his chips...or both. (6% of serious motorcycle injury accidents are rear end shunts!)  We can see what’s happening ahead much better, we don’t have to brake half as much, because we’re in that lower gear... aren’t we!  If anything happens in front of us we’re going be a witness.... not involved… right! Make it a four second rule… your very own duffer free zone!

It’s Not Rocket Science