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Ninety percent of riding is half mental

Posted By Pam Fisher, Tuesday, May 31, 2016

From my two most recent blog posts, it may seem like I’ve spent most of my riding career recovering from crashes. I haven’t.

It’s just I feel that the lessons learned from those two major incidents were very important to share. The thing is, too many riders cannot figure out why they crashed, which is baffling to me.

My husband is a member of the Long Distance Riding community, and one of his mantras is to “always make new mistakes” – that is, don’t repeat the same mistake. If you crash/dump/drop and don’t know what happened to end up on the ground or in the weeds, then you can’t make changes to keep from repeating the event. Be aware of what you’re doing, how you feel (mentally and physically), what the road surface looks like, what traffic (or wildlife) around you is doing, how your bike is handling.

If you let your brain wander off and engage in wondering whether that awesome Italian restaurant is off this exit or in the next county (and how magnificent their spaghetti Bolognese was), or whether you remembered to pack that extra pair of socks/gloves whatever, something will sneak up and surprise you as you’re tooling down the road, with potentially disastrous consequences.

I was staffing a recent LD rally, and in spite of the Rally Master’s admonitions to all riders to ride safe and smart, there were two crashes. Fortunately, both were more or less minor. Both could have been far worse, but both could have been avoided entirely if the riders had been 100% engaged in riding their motorcycles. I talked to both when they returned to Rally HQ, and they both knew what they’d done that led to their crashes. One was so focused on getting underway as soon as that red light turned green, that he neglected to make sure traffic around him had stopped when their light turned red. He was hit (fortunately at relatively slow speed) by a driver trying to make the light. The other rider was “riding angry,” took a turn too fast, and panicked when she encountered gravel in the turn. Fortunately, both riders were wearing full gear and suffered milder injuries than they would have otherwise. Another point in their favor.

It was Yogi Berra who said, “90 percent of baseball is half mental.” I’d venture to say the same applies to being safe on a motorcycle.

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