My last post had a link to an article about aging Road Warriors being highly represented in severe injuries and fatalities due to motorcycle accidents. It can seem depressing at first glance. There are many factors we don't know about in the study. There is also a lot we can do to keep the odds in our favor. Keeping our skill levels up, for example, can help us "beat the house". I use that term on purpose because I don't like the idea of leaving my well being up to random chance.
Factors we don't know about include the type of experience the riders have. We don't know much about the training levels of the riders. We don't know about attitudes. How many of the minimal gear, water hole to water hole riders are represented? These things I don't see listed in the report.
What I do know, based on my personal experience as a professional rider and trainer, is that a lot of riders don't take riding as seriously as they should. There's a variety of reasons for that but the end result is often the same. Different pathways leading to the same destination.
I try to find ways to impress upon riders the need to take training and skill development seriously. The old "Blood on the Asphalt" scare tactics don't seem to have much of an impact, pun intended. People always think it won't happen to them, anyway. Legislation regarding mandatory gear usage and punitive measures don't seem to be all that effective, either. Yes, there's a positive effect, but not like one might expect.
The big key is to influence and shape attitudes. That's where I put a lot of my efforts. Having the right attitude towards physical and mental riding skills will help us to "beat the house". Knowing the game so well that we can actually bend the odds in our favor is the goal. Better yet, I prefer to stack the deck. To take chance out of the equation and control the situation to the farthest extent I can. The trouble with trying to shape attitudes is in trying to find ways to get the point across to riders. In a positive and motivating way.
Recently I came across something written by Keith Code. He was talking about the width of racetracks versus the width of the streets we travel when in the real world. It ocurred to me that this line of thinking is a great way to help get the point across about taking our street riding seriously.
We always admire people who race motorcycles. We often think of them as having such great skills, don't we? The speeds they reach while racing are awe inspiring when you think about it. Imagine controlling a motorcycle so precisely while at those speeds in corners. Interestingly, a lot of young riders want to be just like the racers. Maybe this is a way to relate.
Not to take anything away from these riders, but they have a lot going in their favor. Street riders, on the other hand, actually have to be more precise. Think about this angle for a minute. As a starting point, take a look at this picture. A typical country road. This is a straight stretch between two curves.
Keith was talking about how a race track can be 30 to 40 feet wide. A typical lane of a roadway is 10 to 12 feet, depending. I prefer to go to the narrow side because we need to keep little things like our head and upper body in our own lane while leaned over in a curve.
Our lane is only a fourth or a third as wide as the track. So the upshot, based on physical distance, is that a street rider needs to be three to four times better and more precise at cornering than a racer. Yes, I know this is simplified. Speeds are higher on a track. On the other hand, it's a controlled environment. The street is more like controlled chaos so that has to count for something. The point isn't to directly compare racing and street riding.
The point is to offer another way to think about street riding. More importantly, to ponder the seriousness of developing expert physical and mental skills in riding. Precision. It's how we continue to "beat the house". Even as we become aging Road Warriors!
Miles and smiles,