Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chill the Attitude; Stay Alive.

This post started with an e-mail from my friend Dean W. Here's what he said:

"Lesson: After applying SIPDE, let it go, man. Just let it go."

This was a preface to a news story from Canada. Here's the story quoted from the CBC News website:

Two people are dead after a motorcycle crash in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island.

Police say the crash happened at about 3:30 p.m. PT Saturday on the Nanaimo Parkway, between the Jinglepot Road and College Drive exits.

The 17-year-old driver of a pickup truck went to change lanes when he spotted a motorcycle in his blind spot.

The driver of the truck corrected, police say, but the 51-year-old motorcycle driver pulled up beside the pickup and glared at the teen inside.

During this exchange, police say, the motorcycle driver failed to negotiate a curve in the road and crashed.

The motorcycle driver and his 40-year-old female passenger were taken to hospital where they both later died.

Isn't that often how it goes? I'm deeply grieved by the fact that two people died in this incident. I can almost see myself in this situation. Trying to scorch the young man with my hot glare. Focusing my laser beam eyes so intently that I miss important stuff. Like the upcoming corner.

I'm a bit aggressive and borderline combative by nature. Thus I have to continuously remind myself of one of my mantras.

"The Anger Demon, once unleased, can often turn upon he whom freed it."

On the off chance that you're not aware of the term SIPDE here is the quick explanation. It's the process for gathering good information and making good decisions while riding.

Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute.

Notice that four of the five parts are mental skills. The objective is to use the 80% that's mental to make small adjustments ahead of time, thus staying out of critical trouble. Which goes along with our definition of an expert rider.

"An expert rider is one who uses expert mental skills to avoid using expert physical skills."

Successful riding is mostly mental. Which means attitude is almost everything.

Katie and I found ourselves in Washington State on Friday and Saturday last week. I've always wanted to stop at one of the big Cabela's stores. I've seen two. One on the Washington / Idaho border on I-90 and one at Lacey, Washington just off I-5. We stopped at the Lacey store on Saturday. What a place!

Thinking of this post I snapped some shots with the G11.

We share the road with some lumbering creatures who seem to be in no hurry whatsoever. They don't have to be large sized in actuality. They simply have this attitude that blocking the pathway is their right. These creatures are usually found in the fast lane going the same speed as those in the slow lane.

There are those who think they become invincible in their vehicles. These ones do things that they wouldn't do outside of a car. In other words, face to face with us they would shrink in horror. Somehow they've convinced themselves that they are shrink wrapped with impenetrable armor. I always have to fight the impulse to drag them out of their vehicles and smack them around a bit.

A lot of drivers just seem like dumb herd animals. You can see their eyes but it's a sure bet there's nobody inside there. Weirdly enough, this kind of driver is pretty effective at hitting motorcyclists. They disguise themselves as left-turning drivers. We should all know better but still seem to trust eye contact. Pity.

It's so easy to get pissed off at those who show such selfish stupidity. Stupid and Selfish are the two traits that get me the most riled. Yet, they are also the two that are least likely to be fixed. You know the saying. "You can't fix stupid."

Yet, I can't bring myself to say that there's nothing that can be done about it. Ninety percent of the drivers seem to fit into one or both of those categories. If I shrug my shoulders in a gesture of giving up, what does that say about the human race? So I keep on getting mad and frustrated. It has to stay inside, though. I'm more than capable of being like the lion below and letting it show. The lion's got a pretty fierce look going, for sure. Trouble is, all his attention is on the intended victim.

That's when we miss stuff, though. Nothing important. Just things like oncoming traffic, cars itching to pull out in front of us, and upcoming corners!

We certainly need to be assertive. On the other hand, we have to keep it in check when appropriate. I like to think of it as controlled aggression.

One choice we might make is to rear up like this bear. Intimidating and dangerous. Sometimes the danger is to us, though.

The best choice is to be like this seal. Thick skinned and letting stuff slide off like water on its hide.

The trick is to not actually look like a seal. Chill the attitude and keep the cool. After all, we still gotta look good!

Miles and smiles,



RichardM said...

Great commentary. Many drivers and riders will sit in a blind spot for miles instead of simply speeding up a little or slowing down. I don't know why. Don't they teach about where blind spots are anymore? Or is it a "not my problem" sort of thing.


SonjaM said...

Well written. I have to admit, the anger demon gets me too every once in a while. I will keep it better in check now, remembering this horrible accident that claimed two lives. What a sad story.

Mike said...

Nice analogies with the animals. Cabela's looks nice. Looking forward to the one in Springfield.

I had one of those teaching moments on I-84 yesterday when a teenage girl in a 4-wheel pickup changed lanes in front of me real close. I'm trying to get better at forgiving people who increase my danger level for no apparent reason.

Thank you for your comment tonight.

Nikos said...
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Nikos said...
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BeemerGirl said...

Thank you for posting. Timely subject matter for me, as others have said. Was cut off extremely closely by someone for a reason only that he wanted to get around the slow guy in front of him without waiting for my lane to clear out. I wasn't in his blind spot. He was just a jerk. I will try to remember SIPDE next time... :) -Lori

Learning to Golf said...

I can excuse a driver if I'm in their blind spot. It is the idiots that I know see me and expect me to take evasive action to miss them that gets me going. Oh yea, and those that tailgate me are the worst of all.

irondad said...


I don't know what they teach anymore. What I know for sure is missing is taking responsibility for their driving.

Thus, staying out of blind spots becomes my problem. Simply for self preservation!


Thank you. Perspective is a hard thing to keep at times. It's too bad things like this have to happen to help us keep it.

Take care,


irondad said...


I hadn't heard one was coming to Springfield. The one in Lacey is a huge store and crammed full of people. It will be nice to have one closer to pick the visiting time more carefully.

That's one of my own frustrations. Why do drivers put us all at such risk for a selfish move? I don't know how I am at forgiveness. Mostly I try to be good at not engaging.

Take care,


Unknown said...

Dan, I've been reading you're blog for a while, thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts "out here". This post was timely for me as well.

Personal anger has no place on my motorcyle, however, the line between frustration and anger gets blurry at times. When dealing with the mindless left lane blockers while seeking to maintain my "flow", frustration has a tendency to lead to increasingly assertive manuevers, and I sometimes realize that I have completely lost my patience and have become the A**h**e Motorcylist weaving through traffic cutting people off, passing long lines of traffic on the right, etc. And I had been telling myself I was just minimizing my interaction with each car, spending as little time as possible in the vicinity of other vehicles.

But I need to chill and find another way to maintain my space and safety and accept that some days "the flow" won't be there.

Thanks again for your blog!


Unknown said...

Awesome and timely article. Not only do I have friends I really need to forward this to but some of their bad habits are rubbing off on me...even though I caution all new riders that when bikes and cages disagree, cages always win.

Lucky said...

Wow, that's a terrible story.

I have been told I have the patience of a saint. However, there is a certain horned-helmet-wearing part of myself that I occasionally have to keep in check.

Generally speaking, I'm can judge whether or not confronting a jerk is worth the effort. Most of the time it's not, especially in traffic.

Of course, sometimes a Viking just has to sink his ax into some jackhole's head and bellow in triumph. Metaphorically speaking.

Bluekat said...

Yeah, I know...it's a jungle out there!

Great post. I think I've seen every one of the animals mentioned. Fortunately no real close encounters. ( Which makes me wonder when my number will come up, and will I be ready for it.)

@ Mike
We're getting a Cabelas? Awesome!!!!
Happy dance!!!

Chuck Pefley said...

Dan, haven't checked in for a while, but am again reminded how valuable your posts are for those of us who ride daily. Thank you!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad (Dan):

If I glared at everyone in a mini-van who tried to kill me on the average ride, I'd be cross-eyed in a week. My safety comes first when I ride. I can always exercise my Constitutional right to label another driver a dope in my blog.

So this guy in Vancouver killed himself and his girlfriend to intimidate some kid? I bet the biker would act differently if he had a chance to do that one over again.

Still, I'm sorry the biker and his lady friend went down.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Anonymous said...

I freely admit am one of those blind drivers. Not riding a motorized cycle any more tends to make me an observer of any motorized machine, a fixation as it were.
Maybe wishing I was first able and secondly on said machine.
The internal road rage knowing I can't, won't, will not encounter any motorcycle ever again perhaps now limits me to stay away from those situations which would be disastrous to me on a notorcycle.

Allen Madding said...

Thanks for a good reminder. I'll bookmark it and periodically come back to remind myself. It seems my daily commute provides at least one of these moments both going and coming each day.


The Client said...


Note to self: Be the seal...be the seal...be the seal....not the giraffe who can see everything in its 4X4 but doesn't give a damn...

Greetings from South Africa.

irondad said...


It's a sad fact of life that these kind of drivers are numerous. You've got the right strategy. Find them before they find you!

Arizona Harley Dude,

I'm with you. I hate it when another driver purposely puts us all in danger for some selfish reason. D batteries work well for tailgaters. Not that I'm telling you to do it. Just sayin', you know?

Take care,


irondad said...


What I write often comes from personal experience. There are times when, like you, I find myself suddenly riding in a crazed state. I take more risk than I should. Heat of battle, I guess.

The post was a reminder to me, as well. Although I'm gratified to see that others find it useful.

Shannon T Baker,

First off, thank you so much for gracing the blog with your commment. I'm so pleased to see you here.

It's so hard to always keep cool when we are trangressed upon. Unfortunately, when we ride it's just something we have to accept. Or else.

Take care,


irondad said...


I'm pleased to see you not offended by my calling you a Viking. I started that with the utmost respect in mind. After having ridden as a passenger in your Mustang all over Phoenix, I can also say you have total control over your aggression.

Like you say, though, sometimes a Warrior just needs to take a trophy!


You bring up a really interesting topic. Are we fated to suffer some incident despite our best efforts?

Not sure that I am a believer in fate. On the other hand, I do believe in time and unforeseen occurence. Your desire to be ready will greatly increase the odds in your favor.

Take care,


irondad said...


Thank you! I'm honored. Both by your visit and your compliment.

Jack R,

See? Underneath all that bravado, bluster, and bragging, there really is a wise man in there!

That's the whole point of the post. To realize the possible consequences of our actions without having to suffer the final bad outcome. Then act accordingly.

Great comment! Thank you.

Take care,


irondad said...


So you're saying it's likely you'll run into a motorcycle due to target fixation? There's a lot hidden in that comment, I think. Take care of yourself, my friend!

Allen Madding,

Being battle hardened from daily exposure can be good or bad.

If it makes us complacent, that's bad.

If each encounter adds to our experience and keeps us sharp, that's a good thing.

I'm confident you are in the latter group!

Take care,


irondad said...

To the Client, aka the South African Legend

Thank you for visiting! I came across your blog on a recommendation from David. Interesting reading.

I agree. Be the Seal!

While eating donuts and giving people in beat up old pickups a hard time. :)

Take care,


Dean W said...

Once you learn that it's not personal, it's a lot easier to take the lethal incompetence demonstrated by other road users...

Just like running a day care center where you hand out running chainsaws at the door; it's all fun and games until OOOH SHINY THING!