The weather has suddenly turned warm. At least for a while between rain storms. When the sunshine comes out so do bikes. Who wouldn't want to enjoy a sunny day by being on a motorcycle? In my case I didn't get to spend much time riding. My weekend was spent conducting a couple of instructor training sessions up in the Portland area. I did, however, have a wonderful ride home last night among the backroads.
Many of the riders who are venturing out haven't ridden for months. Skills particular to riding have become rusty. I don't think folks actually realize how quickly things can fade when they don't ride for a while. The skills needed for driving a car have similarities to riding but there's unique differences. Rather than take some time to ease into riding while letting skills catch up, a lot of riders just plunge right in. Predictably, there's disastrous consequences.
A couple of weekends ago it was sunny and warm. There were a lot of bikes out and about. Unfortunately, we had four fatalities in this area as well. I really hate to see that happen. Today I checked my e-mail and there was the following dispatch from the Oregon State Police.
News Release from: Oregon State Police
SERIOUS INJURY CRASH - INTERSTATE 5 SOUTHBOUND NORTH OF EUGENE
Posted: April 19th, 2009 3:56 PM
A Medford-area man was seriously injured Sunday afternoon when his
motorcycle collided with a sport utility vehicle southbound Interstate 5
just south of the Brownsville interchange.
According to Oregon State Police (OSP) Recruit Trooper Tiffany Makin, on
April 20, 2009 at approximately 12:35 p.m. a 1987 Jeep Cherokee driven by
THOMAS C. OLSON, age 52, from Redding, California was southbound on
Interstate 5 near milepost 216 in the right hand lane following a 1996 Honda
Goldwing motorcycle operated by RICHARD R. GRAYBEAL, age 76, from Medford.
As the Jeep moved into the left lane to begin passing the motorcycle, the
motorcycle also began to change lanes and collided with the right rear
quarter panel of the Jeep.
After impact, the motorcycle and GRAYBEAL both fell onto the freeway and
traveled nearly 300 feet before coming to a stop on the right southbound
shoulder. OLSON was able to drive the Jeep to a stop on the same highway
shoulder just south of the downed motorcycle and operator.
GRAYBEAL was wearing a protective helmet and was seriously injured. REACH
Air ambulance responded to the scene and the southbound lanes were closed
about one hour. GRAYBEAL was transported by air to Sacred Heart Medical
Center at RiverBend in Springfield.
OLSON and his two male passengers, ages 14 and 15, were not injured. They
were using safety restraints.
OSP troopers from the Albany Area Command office are continuing the
investigation. Halsey Fire Department and ODOT assisted at the scene. One
lane was re-opened about 2:00 p.m. and both southbound lanes opened by 2:30
Is this a case of rusty skills? I can't say for sure. Things like this happen in a car, too. However, the consequences of a mistake on a bike are far worse than when driving. The reflexes and skills have to be extra sharp. Good judgement is especially critical when riding. It does strike me as interesting that the SUV was mostly past the bike by the time the rider changed lanes. There's no statement regarding the relative speeds of the vehicles. It really doesn't matter. What counts is that nobody in the SUV was injured. In contrast, Mr. Graybeal was seriously injured and had to be taken to the hospital by helicopter. It's also unclear what gear he was wearing other than a helmet.
Whatever the case, here's hoping that Mr. Graybeal makes a full recovery.
There's a couple of reasons why I'm posting this.
No matter how long we've been riding, the basics are important. It's easy to become complacent about them. I see this with experienced instructors in their classes. The basic steps of range control can be somewhat glossed over as not important. You know what, though? No matter how long the instructor's been teaching, range control for safety still matters a bunch. The same applies to riding. Don't get lazy about the things that are vital in protecting us. Things as simple as making a headcheck to ensure our lane change won't crash us into another vehicle.
The second reason is that I would urge you all to offer your riding friends reminders. We all know people who haven't ridden in a while. Heck, there's a lot of bloggers who haven't been able to ride for months, as well, due to snow and ice. Ease into things. Ride where there's as little multi-tasking required as possible. Give the reflexes and motor skills time to shake off the dust and rust and come back up to speed.
I don't want to read about anybody having accidents. Especially not you and your friends!
Miles and smiles,