Riding "the Dragon": A Lesson in Motorcycle Safety
How did you learn to ride?
Did you take an MSF class?
Did a veteran rider teach you the do’s and the dont’s?
Whether you’re new to the sport or more skilled, if you slip into poor riding habits, you could easily find yourself in a position that will turn you into a Mack truck grill ornament.
Today, writer and motorcyclist Marilyn Elmore gives some share-worthy advice to help you avoid a potential accident: more
Back when I learned to ride we didn’t have riding clinics. You threw your leg over the saddle, listened to the seasoned veteran tell you where all the controls were, then prayed as your hands shook and your knees buckled and you dumped the clutch: killing the engine on your 1st attempt at moving forward.
No one ever told me about “THE SCAN”. It’s common sense, yes … but no one ever told me about it. Consequently I’ve found myself (especially on an Interstate), forgetting to look ALL around me. Blissfully riding forward, rarely checking my mirrors, or blind spots over my shoulders.
In short, an accident waiting to happen. Here’s an example.
I love to ride in the mountains; for the curves, the technical skills, the scenery, and the wildlife. They all creep into my consciousness to distract me from defensive riding.
Scared Witless …
Last year, while riding “THE DRAGON”, I found myself scared witless by a passing rider.
Instead of watching my rear-view, I was focused on following through the turns ahead with my eyes, plotting my track through the hair-pins. I was riding my Harley, not a road racing bike, a lot slower than the knee draggers who like to try to drag an elbow on the pavement.
I was pulling through a tricky hair-pin on my Sportster, leaning as far into it as I could, dragging my pipes and doing a little swivel on the shiny chrome as I swung around the curve. As I powered out of the curve, a knee dragger pulled around me and startled the **** out of me.
I didn’t overreact and pull on the bars, but I could have … and gotten some serious road rash that day.
Note: The “Dragon” is a stretch of Hwy 129 in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, a favorite of motorcycle riders — 318 curves in 11 miles!
The motorcycle safety lesson is two-fold:
- Scan. Scan. Scan. Know what’s behind you, know what’s in front of you, and know what’s in your blind spots.
- Never assume everyone respects the etiquette of passing.
Some folks get tired of hanging behind you as you blindly tool along without checking your rear-view mirror, and will pass you as soon as you leave an opening for them to do so.
Bottom line … we’re responsible for our own safety, so practice riding defensively. Whether being more aware of cars, trucks, or other motorcyclists, you’ll be a lot safer!
How do you ride safe?
What are the worst safety hazards for motorcyclists, and what advice would you give a newbie rider? Let’s share tips … leave a comment.
P.S.: Have you been meaning to take a refresher rider training class? For classes and contact information, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website.
Photo: William Klos (wjklos on flickr)
Great article on why people should wear motorcycle gloves.