Aim first, then fire!
Sorry, no pictures. There just wasn't anything that seemed to fit this time. I feel delinquent in the lack of attention I've been devoting to blogging, lately. So sorry. Please hang in there with me. I know what it's like to tune in for information and entertainment and find...nothing. There's a couple of trade shows to get out of the way this week. After that I promise to make it up to you all.
In the meantime, I came across a grim reminder of how many motorcyclists get the whole cornering sequence wrong. Good judgement's critical no matter what vehicle we're in or on. When the vehicle's a bike, it's even more critical. The consequences are so much worse for those of us on two wheels. I continually have cause to shake my head. It's not like new and unique things are always springing up to surprise riders. That happens once in a while like when I had a bear run across the road in front of me coming down off of Odell Lake. What gets the most motorcyclists are the same things over and over.
Getting corners wrong and being whacked by left turning cars are two scenarios that are repeated over and over, ad naseum. These are things that are right in front of us as riders. All we have to do is look. Use our eyes and gather information. It sounds over simplistic. While there's no magic bullets, simply using our eyes effectively isn't rocket science, either.
Riders don't look nearly far enough through corners. What happens is that extremely important decisions are made without having all the required information. Corners are taken literally on blind faith. If a rider can't see all the way through a corner, or worse, just hasn't looked the best that can happen is a guess. Time after time I see riders gamble their life on a guess. My question is, WHY???
Here's the latest thing that set me off.
Late Saturday afternoon. Highway 20 runs East of here and eventually heads over the Cascades into Central Oregon. Like any road that follows mountains it has its share of curves. Where the accident happened the curves were just starting. A 36 year old rider from Astoria was piloting a 2006 Kawasaki cruiser. Coming the other direction was a 25 year old man and a younger passenger in a Buick LaSabre. Bear in mind that Astoria is way up on the Northern Oregon Coast. Probably a couple of hours from the accident site. Which means that the road was likely not a familiar one to the Kawasaki pilot. Good visual information would have been the best ally for the motorcyclist. Accident reconstruction showed this factor to be missing. The rider crossed the center line in a curve and hit the Buick head on. This accident wasn't fatal but the rider was taken to a hospital with some pretty serious injuries.
Many police reports have that catch-all phrase listed. "Failure to negotiate" A casual observer would conclude that it was because of excessive speed. Someone more familiar with motorcycle accidents would ask where in the corner the accident happened. The last third? Ah, a classic case. Speeds weren't too fast for the bike, after all. Most bikes are way better than the rider ever hoped to be. No, the speed was too fast for the information the rider had. Crashing in the last third of the corner is the prime indicator. The rider does one of two things. One is straightening up and running off the road, colliding with a tree or some other fixed hazard. Or, as in this case, the rider runs over the center line and impacts oncoming traffic.
Looking is so important to the cornering sequence. Everything else hinges on the visual information. Entry speeds and lines should be set by what can be seen. Charging blindly through a corner can have disastrous consequences. Aiming comes first. Have a target to shoot for. If a rider can't see all the way through a corner then they need to assume the worst. Only after having a definite target can a rider successfully "fire", or pull the trigger on the corner.
I know I seem wound up about this. It's probably because I am. 85 percent of our fatalities in the last few years have been riders getting corners wrong. What a travesty! If motorcylists would just work on looking farther ahead, the fatalities and injuries would drop. I know I'm preaching to the choir with the ones who read this blog. Please accept my urgings to spread the gospel among riders you come into contact with.
Coming up in the next week or so should be a post on ABS and linked brakes, looking for traction clues, as well as some fun stories of riding to work. After all, that's why we do this, isn't it? We ride to have fun and look good, don't we? If there's any interest I might plug something in about lines and apexes in corners.
Miles and smiles,