The old adage that there are old riders and there are aggressive riders but, there are no old aggressive riders has been proven many times over by those who rode before us. One of the major reasons is that old riders take every opportunity to learn from every incident they encounter. Here’s what I mean…..
INCIDENT: Throttle cable failure. I have had throttle cables break and jam wide open. I have also had cables freeze open from water collected in the cable combined with below – zero wind chill temps. In both cases, the first reaction is a surge of adrenalin. The second reaction is uttering the famous old words “Oh S%#@! The third reaction is to immediately decide what to do and…do it. In this case, I fumbled with the kill switch the first time, then turned off the engine and coasted to the side of the road. The second time, it was simply a case of turning the kill switch off to slow down and turning it on speed up until the cables thawed out.
LESSON LEARNED: Take every opportunity to mentally rehearse anything that you can imagine that could go wrong and what immediate action you would take. That will save you incredible and valuable micro seconds in an emergency.
INCIDENT: Highway obstacles. Riding east on I 70 behind a pickup truck carrying junk with a tarp over it. The tarp was inflated from air rushing into it. I decided to pass the truck before the tarp blew off. Too late. All of a sudden, the tarp blew off and took a cinder block with it. The tarp flew up in the air, the cinder block fell on the highway and I was distracted by the tarp. Looking up at the tarp, I failed to clear the highway and, upon realizing that I was headed for the sliding cinder block, I tried to swerve and, fortunately missed it and missed the tarp.
LESSON LEARNED: Two; always clear the highway ahead, always and, learn to execute immediate and aggressive swerves. Practive safe aggressive swerves until you are comfortable with swerving at highway speeds. Don’t let an emergency be the first time that you have to execute a swerve.
INCIDENT: Mechanical failure. 1993, Phoenix, CO. Rode to meet friends at the Buck Snort Saloon for dinner. I didn’t perform any safety check but, I knew that I had a low beam burned out on my headlight. Now, we had to get down off the mountain before nightfall because of many deer in that area and a very twisty road. Half way down that steep mountain road we encountered about five deer slowly crossing the road. Obviously alarmed by the noise of the bikes, they scattered everywhere, including toward us. My first reaction was to rev the engine and make a lot of noise. Then, hit the horn and turn off my high beam so they don’t stare into it and stop. Well, I forgot about my low beam being burned out until I hit the switch and all of a sudden….darkness and a full charge of adrenalin! I was frantically fumbling with my headlight switch to get lights while I inadvertently ran off the road into a guard rail and onto the shoulder. It was not a good night but, I didn’t hit a deer, I didn’t gp down, I only had cosmetic damage to me and the bike. Much more luck than skill.
LESSON LEARNED: Do a mechanical safety check of your bike every time your ride it. BUT, more importantly, fix anything that isn’t working before you go riding. You never know when you’ll need something as innocent as your low beam headlight.
So, if you want a good adage to ride by, try this….if it can go wrong, it will go wrong and…what will I do if it does. Practice that enough and you’ll have a much better chance of being one of us old riders….