Watch for Motorcyclists
This phrase or something similar maybe isn't as lame or dumb as it seems, and applies when we are on our bikes, not just something the cagers will ignore.
Last Friday I was on a lake ferry in British Columbia and all 5 bikes on the boat got slotted together. With only a little conversation we learned that three liked to "push the envelope," and it turned out on the road the Goldwing rider was only slightly faster than me.
Those "push the envelope" guys made very quick passes on double yellow lines where they could not possibly see over the crest of the hill. True, they didn't move out very far into the oncoming lane, but it could have been an accident for a quick motorcyclist coming the opposite direction in the left wheel track on this narrow road if the timing had been just right. We all were stopped for 15 minutes not far up the road, Goldwing and I together, fast guys two cagers ahead because of rock fall being cleared. Then the road crew moved all the bikes to the head of the line. So we got to watch them do it again.
There are a lot of these guys, good experienced riders, but they are dicing with your life. I'm not sure what the moral is. On blind uphills, I move to the center of the lane or even right of center to give these possible threats more room. And I slow down a bit if I think there is a possibility of a crossroad vehicle also coming onto the road near the crest.
I still occasionally ride very quickly, but I try to pick spots where that is not likely to do me or anybody else any harm.
Somebody else said it far more eloquently, but I try to respond to the "possible" threat rather than have to take emergency action for the one in my face.
You're right. There are enough threats forced upon us by other drivers. We don't need to create more on our own.
[QUOTE=BCKRIDER;822936] On blind uphills, I move to the center of the lane or even right of center to give these possible threats more room. And I slow down a bit if I think there is a possibility of a crossroad vehicle also coming onto the road near the crest.
On approaching a hilltop on a two lane road, I always reduce my speed. This has bode well for me on two occasions. Once, two dogs, were waiting, sitting on the right and left wheel tracks and on once, the van of passengers I was following decided to stop to sight see, just over the crest of the hill. In each case, further reducing my speed was not difficult.
I don't ride being afraid, but I do ride trying to anticipate situations which could arise and being prepared to avoid them.
When on or in a vehicle, I consider it my duty (to myself, my family and other road users) to do whatever I can to avoid something which might be unpleasant and life altering. There is too much evidence that many drivers/riders do not.
We had an accident here last week. Guy from out of state, riding the canyon on his Harley (not a Harley indictment...just saying what he rode). Took a turn a little too fast and drifted into oncoming lane. Turns out a local rider was coming that way. Harley clips local rider...major injury accident.
I sometimes find myself a little too close to centerline on left hand turns that are decreasing radius, when riding the canyon. Have a hard time hugging the right side because of drop-offs. Any advice to cure this? Thanks.
fly- ignore the drop off, and focus only on your good/safe line.
[QUOTE=flyrider;823324]We had an accident here last week. Guy from out of state, riding the canyon on his Harley (not a Harley indictment...just saying what he rode). Took a turn a little too fast and drifted into oncoming lane. Turns out a local rider was coming that way. Harley clips local rider...major injury accident.
I sometimes find myself a little too close to centerline on left hand turns that are decreasing radius, when riding the canyon. Have a hard time hugging the right side because of drop-offs. Any advice to cure this? Thanks.[/QUOTE]
Take Lee Parks course ( or any advanced riding course). Once you know that the bike will go exactly where you want it to go and you have a good understanding of late apexing, you will not be afraid to put the bike where it needs to be. Part of my commmute is on a very twisty 45 mph road that moves at 70mph during rush hour. I used to be scared to death of the guardrail ( a.k.a. MEAT GRINDER ). Now that I know the only way I'm hitting that rail is if I tell the bike that's where I want to go, I am much more if not totally at ease.
Bikerfish and Sedanman:
I understand the concept of bike following eye, but if I "look through the turn" on a long turn, my eye line is going to intersect the centerline...and there I go. I've taken to looking through the turn to note the apex, but to shift my gaze closer to the bike (like 50-100 feet, depending on speed) to set the line I'm going to follow "through the turn". That probably doesn't describe it well, but maybe you can help me here.
Wish I could draw a picture here. Maybe I can...I'll work on it...
Finding the third point
At Superbike School in Level I, you learn the Two Step Drill where you find your turn point (Step One) then turn your head and the bike when the bike runs over the turn point (second step) . You look at the point in the curve where you want the bike to go (probably the apex, depending on the shape of the curve). This is pretty much everything mentioned above so far.
In Level II, a third step is added and that is : as soon as you're leaned over and on your way to that point in the turn you've aimed for (i.e. the apex in the example above) you look for the point where you want to go after you exit the curve (probably your turn point for the next curve).
This works very well for two reasons:
1) It straightens out your line (you can stand up the bike faster, get on the gas faster, brake faster if you need to, etc, )
2) It keeps you looking as far down the road as possible and focused on the strip of pavement you plan on using.
After you're comfortable with turn points and turning your head, try adding this step. You'll love it! Much smoother and more confidence and you'll be amazed at how much usable pavement there is.
[QUOTE=flyrider;823355]Bikerfish and Sedanman:
I understand the concept of bike following eye, but if I "look through the turn" on a long turn, my eye line is going to intersect the centerline...and there I go. I've taken to looking through the turn to note the apex, but to shift my gaze closer to the bike ([COLOR="Red"]like 50-100 feet, depending on speed[/COLOR]) to set the line I'm going to follow "through the turn". That probably doesn't describe it well, but maybe you can help me here.
Wish I could draw a picture here. Maybe I can...I'll work on it...[/QUOTE]
probably too close, unless we're talking under 15 mph for 50, or 30 mph for 100.
your bike travels at approximately 1.5 ft per sec times your current mph- so 60 mph = 90 ft per sec. and you probably want to be looking about 2-4+ secs in front of yourself (assuming a reasonably curvy road that has limited sight distances from one curve to the next).
regarding your "long turn" (sweeper) issue of turning in too quickly- be aware of the entire curve, but hold yourself on the outside longer. to help you do that- don't look at that centerline as your target. your target is the exit of the corner- keep looking for that.
Also, the idea of looking ahead and into the turn is to plan where the bike and you will be, not where it is in immediate time. Where "it is" can also be thought of as approximately two seconds ahead of the bike and constantly moving just ahead of the bike. Within that two second zone, there isn't a lot you can do other than adjust speed and/or position. At 60 mph, that zone is approx 180 feet in front of you, so anything closer has little meaning.
By "little meaning", I also mean the look/scan/search you did just prior (assuming you did that) took into account whatever you needed to assess and adjust for. You did that before getting there, so no need to look "there" again unless your scan/search processing skills aren't that good, there are limited sightlines, poor visual conditions, etc. But that would mean slow down, adjust speed right? Actually, a more realistic zone is four seconds ahead, at 60 mph that's 360 feet, more than the length of a football field. Bigger turns, broader turns are easily over 300 feet in distance, so your scan/search should easily set up your entry/apex/exit plan. For many large broad curves at near recommended speeds, think of the turn as two lanes and adjust your apex that way. For tighter turns, think of your lane as three lanes, and plan your apex that way.
Human vision in fine detail and decision making, especially at speed, is a cone of about five to maybe ten degrees wide. "Place" that cone where you want to be to plan your path of travel. Scan/search four seconds ahead to plan using the big picture, where your 10 degree cone takes in the most, and the two second zone as relying on periphiral vision to make minor adjustments (crack in the road at mid-turn). There is little reason to be looking any closer ahead of the bike than that. What then really matters is the sample rate, or "frequency" of data input at the four and two second zones. If you take random "samples of data" say, every five seconds at 60 mph, your sample rate is way too low. At 60 mph, your sample rate for four seconds ahead should be every second. Could be you are not taking enough "data samples" and you need to adjust constantly once you are four to eight seconds ahead.
It can be the difference of "smooth riding" versus "constant recalculation".
Andy, it has been over a week and nobody has replied to your last post. I wonder if others, like me, are thinking "this sounds like important info, but I just don't get it and am afraid to say so." Could you try clarifying your thoughts?
Also welcome your comments on my approach to curves where I can't see or don't know when that curve will end. 1) On left bends, I put the bike in the right wheel track, scan for road condition as well as the curve ("slow to" signs are a valuable but not infallible guideline for gear and speed,) maintain that speed, and "look" mostly toward the center of my lane. When the end of the turn is visible, I increase throttle as the bike stands up and I come close to the centerline. 2) On right bends, I put the bike in the left wheel track and do all of the above EXCEPT I accept the fact that I may have to move right earlier than planned if a vehicle is encroaching on my lane. Seems to me that in identical conditions, one could safely ride a little faster on the same curve in the left bend than the right bend.
Confusing topic to write about or execute. Failed to mention that a slight "hang-off" of shoulders and head, with the head and eyes parallel to the road is very helpful.
It takes time and practice, and also remember these are guidelines to riding. Like many things cycle riding, there are no absolutes, no "this is the ONLY way to do it."
A couple things may help to clarify the techniques:
1. For larger, more broad turns, we can certainly stay in one lane section as conditions, traction, sightlines, road surface condition allow.
2. But, lane selection in broader turns are better in the center and third of the lane that creates more space away from the centerline (assuming a two lane road).
3. For most turns, a good practice is a "delayed entry" or delayed "apex". Meaning you go straight, deeper into the turn before pressing your way into the lean. This sets you up on the outside of the turn at entry, and tends to set you on the path of a delayed apex.
4. As turns tighten up, a delayed entry/apex is even more important. It gives more of the turn to scan/search before entry, and better sightlines to the turn exit.
5. Slow-in/fast-out is another good guideline. Decrease your speed at entry such to allow you a steady/increasing throttle through the turn. This may be only 5mph slower, but it gives you more scan/search/setup time.
Your description of taking turns is right on. But try delaying the lean initiation, where you "press the bike into the lean" (right turn/right grip, left turn/left grip) and see what results you get. With a delayed press, you may have to press a bit more, but the feedback is immediate and accurate. Also, you don't have to wait for the bike to straighten up before applying throttle. At lean angles using up to 3/4 of the lean angle capability of the bike, especially on modern tires, the tire contact patch actually gets bigger leaned over than straight up. Smooth increasing throttle gives steady feedback from the front tire, the bike will want to "stand up" a bit more, allowing more consistent feel at the grips as you press the bike through the lean angle desired.
Upper body position is another "I do it this way, you do it that way" issue. I tend to keep my upper body in line with the bike lean angle, but definitely keep my head level to the horizon/sightline. I got my girlfriend doing that early on after she starting riding behind me. Before that she let her head "fall into" the turn and she felt like we were going to fall over. Once she held her head level to the horizon, no more falling sensation, and no more "ohhh, OOOH, OOHHHHHH!!" as I leaned into the turns and heard her through our intercom.
If the turns get really tight, twisty and frequent, then I sit forward on the bike, and do a bit more body english on the bike, hang off a bit, etc.
Excellent reply, Andy! I really appreciate that you, as a MSF coach, understand that there is seldom only "one correct way" to do almost anything on a bike, though there may be best way for beginners to start.
I believe the "delayed turn point" is one of the harder things to learn in riding. You have to pick the spot, then trust your peripheral vision (fuzzy by definition) to tell you when you have reached it and instruct your arms to lean the bike fairly quickly. While the safest approach on most roads, it FEELS dangerous. The early turn point is what so often sends bikes off the road or into the oncoming lane.
[QUOTE=Paul_F;823009]On approaching a hilltop on a two lane road, I always reduce my speed..... once, the van of passengers I was following decided to stop to sight see, just over the crest of the hill.[/QUOTE]
I've been riding for about 100 years and never once have I ever given this scenario consideration - possibly because I've never encountered it. Cars/trucks in wrong lane, animals running around yes, but never this one.
Thanks for helping me learn something new today!