RIDE CRAFT: One-per­cent faster

For max­i­mum safety on the street, take con­trol of your spa­tial re­la­tion­ships with traf­fic

Cycle World - - Front Page - By John L. Stein

Street rides are like a chess game, wherein dif­fer­ent threats can come from any quar­ter, at any­time. Let’s say you’re a king, perched up high and mighty on your new ADV. Pow­er­ful as you are, there’s still risk—risk in the form of the sud­denly swerv­ing lane-change guy head­ing for a free­way exit; like a bishop, he can an­gle across the en­tire chess board in one shot. The rook is a dimwit­ted blun­der­buss tail­gat­ing and crowd­ing ev­ery­thing out of its path, you in­cluded. And the ex­alted knight? An er­ratic psy­chopath ready to turn left in front of you.

An in­te­gral part of play­ing chess is see­ing th­ese moves be­ing set up ahead of time and then keep­ing out of reach. This means evolv­ing your game plan on the fly and thus stay­ing on the move rather than sit­ting there like a pawn, wait­ing to be cap­tured.

Four decades of street rid­ing has taught me the best de­fense is a care­ful, modest of­fense. And the rea­son is as sim­ple as preda­tor and prey. Al­ways and for­ever, I want to con­trol the spa­tial re­la­tion­ship of my bike and my­self to the traf­fic around me, rather than stay­ing locked into one place and let­ting any ran­dom driver con­trol that space for me. If rid­ing re­ally is like chess, safety in­volves be­ing able to move around the board at will. Here are four solid twowheeled chess­board moves.

1) GO SLIGHTLY FASTER. We’re not talk­ing crazy or il­le­gal here, but rid­ing slightly faster than traf­fic al­lows for you to con­tin­u­ally ad­just your re­la­tion­ship to other ve­hi­cles. A good sub­sti­tute is oc­cu­py­ing a sta­ble, open pocket of space away from other drivers.

2) SCAN FOR THREATS. Look for tell­tale signs of dangerous drivers: tail­gat­ing, fre­quent brak­ing, or lane chang­ing can signal im­pa­tience; talk­ing on the phone shows inat­ten­tive­ness; and drift­ing within a lane can in­di­cate dis­tracted driv­ing, sleepi­ness, or a DUI in process. 3) KNOW THY FOE. Chess re­quires know­ing all of the op­po­nent’s pieces and how they might be used to trap or take you out. Adapting the same as­sess­ment skills to street rid­ing helps you iden­tify the con­stantly chang­ing string of ri­vals. Con­tin­u­ally scan the road to un­der­stand what cars are where and the threat they rep­re­sent.

4) KNOW WHEN TO RE­TREAT. Just be­cause you can thread the nee­dle doesn’t mean you should. In chess, win­ners re­treat and re­group rather than wage a los­ing bat­tle. The rac­ing adage, “To fin­ish first, you must first fin­ish,” equally ap­plies. When it’s sketchy, back off.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.