Ride like Yoda

How to pre­dict the road ahead with to­tal clar­ity

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - Mark Ed­wards Re­tired po­lice mo­tor­cy­clist, now Class One in­struc­tor for Rapid Train­ing

Ever heard the say­ing: ‘There are old pi­lots and there are bold pi­lots, but there are no old, bold pi­lots’? This could just have eas­ily have been writ­ten with mo­tor­cy­clists in mind as a care­ful ap­proach is key to keep­ing out of trou­ble on to­day’s over­crowded roads.

How do you know what to ex­pect?

In short, you don’t. Ex­pect the un­ex­pected. When en­joy­ing the hot, sticky sum­mer Tar­mac of your favourite bends are you as­sum­ing the road ahead is clear? How­ever fa­mil­iar you are with the ge­og­ra­phy, never take an empty road for granted. Is there a man push­ing a wheel­bar­row across the road (yes, re­ally)? Maybe a bale of hay has dropped off the back of a trac­tor. Are you ready to deal with such an un­ex­pected ob­struc­tion?

Be ready to stop in time

Next time you’re out, be hon­est with your­self: can you stop in the dis­tance you can see to be clear? If not then it’s time to make some changes be­fore your luck runs out. Use ob­ser­va­tion in­tel­li­gently and use what you see to an­tic­i­pate what haz­ards may be ahead of you. Are you on a bus route? Ex­pect to see buses and ex­pect them to stop. Is there horse muck in the road? Ex­pect to see horses and riders soon. Have you just passed a cy­clist? Ex­pect to see more up ahead, and not just for the next cor­ner but for the next few miles. Coun­try roads are of­ten poorly main­tained so build this into your plan and be pre­pared to al­ter your road po­si­tion. Are there farm­ers in slow-mov­ing trac­tors head­ing out to check on lambs or the progress of the oil seed rape crop? All these ob­ser­va­tions are com­mon sense, so take a step back and en­gage brain be­fore each jour­ney.

Rid­ing too fast is easy

Re­mem­ber that what you can­not see com­ing up ahead is just as im­por­tant as what you can see – pos­si­bly more so, as a known risk is eas­ier to plan for and deal with than the un­known. Maybe it’s time for a new warn­ing sign to be erected in your mind. How about a ques­tion mark in a red tri­an­gle? Grade your speed of ap­proach into bends and ar­eas of lim­ited vis­i­bil­ity (hill crests, etc) strictly in line with how far ahead you can see. Rid­ing too fast is easy. The skill is know­ing when to tone the throt­tle back and tread a lit­tle more care­fully. Old or bold? You de­cide.

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