Not me, of course. This was a snippet of conversation I heard at an adjoining table last night. Katie and I were at Red Robin. I'd had this huge urge for a bacon guacamole burger. I allow myself a artery hardening meal once a quarter or so.
At the table next to us were two couples. One of the guys had his lower leg in a cast. Short story was that he was telling his friends how he had to lay the bike down to avoid running off the road in a corner. I can't tell you how badly I wanted to turn around and say something. It doesn't help in these situations. So I stuffed my mouth full of burger and kept quiet.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard that same expression from people. This fallacy is everywhere. Do you remember a couple of posts ago where I included a newspaper article about how training has reduced fatalities in Oregon? In part of the article a man talks about how his son got killed on a bike. Here's a quote from the man.
A crash at a curve in the road three years ago claimed the life of Brandon Chike, 32, in one of the handful of fatal motorcycle crashes that happen each year in Oregon.
"He'd gotten in a fight with his girlfriend and took off on his bike like a maniac," said father Lewis Chike, a Keizer resident who would go on rides with his son every other weekend. "He lost it in a curve and hit a tree."Chike still rides motorcycles and is the owner of five, including two Harley-Davidsons.
He preaches the value of situational awareness to all his buddies."You have to be aware and watch everyone. You have to psyche yourself that the worst is going to happen at all times and be ready to act," he said. "You have to be ready to move or hit the brakes or lay the bike down at a moment's notice."
There it is, again. Be ready to lay the bike down at a moment's notice?
Even being a famous celebrity doesn't mean a rider knows the right thing to do, either. Here's an example from Arnold, the Governator. I mean no disrespect. Arnold's accomplished a great deal. This just illustrates how widespread wrong ideas are.
Before Arnold had the crash with his son in the sidecar, he had another crash. In this one Arnold was trying to avoid a truck. He laid his Harley down. The self-induced crash badly damaged the bike and broke three of Arnold's ribs. Here's the really odd part. Being a celebrity, Arnold was interviewed on national television. He was asked why he laid the bike down. Now, you'd expect some reasoned answer based on assessements of the situation. Instead, in front of God and America, this is what Arnold told the press: ( provide your own Austrian accent, here )
"Because that's how we did it in Terminator!"
It was a stunt in Terminator 2. That's where the picture of Arnold on the bike came from. What makes it worse is that Arnold is looked up to by many and will probably influence others in turn to do the wrong thing. It hangs on enough by itself without extra help.
If I'm wrong, Arnold, please correct me. However, there's a published record.
Remember the Hurt study? Want to know how many times in the thousands of accidents they studied that they would have recommended laying the bike down as an option? Not even once!
So why the lingering steadfastly held belief on the part of so many riders? Because once upon a time, in an age long ago, there was a grain of truth to this. It came from the very first police bikes being used. These bikes were, coincidently, cruiser styles from Indian and Harley. Technology was primitive, especially with brakes. Horsepower advances meant that the bike's ability to gain speed overpowered ( no pun intended ) the bike's ability to haul it down from those speeds. At that period in time the best way to stop a rapidly hurtling bike was to make it an anchor. It wasn't really a good technique but it was the lesser of two evils.
This is no longer the case. Brakes on every style of bike are up to the task of quick stops. Granted, some are better than others. When properly applied, however, bikes can be stopped pretty aggressively. Think of the situation in another way.
Laying the bike down is an accident. No two ways about it. It's a purposely induced crash. Does it usually help? Ask Arnold and his broken ribs. Ask the guy at the table next to me with his leg in a cast. Ask the guy killed ( if you could ) near here a few years ago. He laid his Harley down to avoid a truck. The bike never hit the truck but the rider smacked his head on the road and died. Can anyone really say they suffer less damage than if properly used accident skills were present?
Isn't that an irony? Accident avoidance skills. Laying the bike down and causing an accident on purpose to avoid an accident. Weird. What's got more traction for stopping? Brakes and tires or a rider's body and the bike's paint job? Like I said before, even if a rider ends up impacting an object, you can bet that staying on the bike until the last minute and braking hard is going to cause far less damage. Every mile per hour of speed scrubbed off weighs heavily in the equation.
Even better, rewind the film farther back. Can we detect hazards sooner and avoid being surprised at the last minute? Can we set up better for corners so we don't experience the danger of running off the road? So many better options, aren't there?
My wish is that I never hear that phrase used again. Maybe some day. Until then, I'll just keep trying to educate riders. There's a better way, let me show you!
Miles and smiles,