Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada (MCC) Media Release, August 1st
FOREST, ON – August 1st, 2023 by Marq Smith:
We all talk about the dangers of riding. Certainly, many of our non-riding friends talk about those dangers. I’ve always thought that everything is dangerous if you do it incorrectly. Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Scuba diving. Hiking in the wrong places. Just walking near a momma bear when cubs are around. And, as Billy Joel said, “Everything causes cancer.”
As motorcycle riders, we can mitigate the dangers around us. My big focus has always been on conspicuity. I wear a bright yellow helmet and use my high beams to let drivers know that I’m there.
Being conspicuous is part of the safety solution, but there is something that almost all of us are guilty of even if we’ve taken a motorcycle safety course. We may take a motorcycle safety course, and that’s a great first step. Anyone who starts riding without the proper training is literally on a dangerous road. But for those who do take the training, it’s what we do after the course is over and we have that coveted motorcycle license in our wallet that matters.
Once you’ve earned that license, have you made sure you are still in top form? Especially in the spring when we come out of hibernation. Are your emergency braking skills where they should be? How about consciously using gyroscopic precession? Observing what’s going on around you? How are your slow-riding skills?
Many times I meet other riders, and we go out for a cruise. As I observe them, it often seems that they really don’t have a clue how to keep the motorcycle safely on the road, or how the mechanics of the bike work. Of course, being the safety-conscious guy I am, I usually make constructive comments. Often those comments are met with derision, because “I’ve been riding for twenty years and never had a crash!”
Well, this is my 50th year of riding, and I still don’t know everything. I still have to tell myself to pay attention or don’t panic in a corner where I came in a bit too fast for conditions or watch out for blind corners. I’m always examining my skills when things get dodgy. In traffic, I always ride as if I’m invisible; one of the first lessons in the introductory motorcycle class.
Every rider should be constantly either practicing those slow maneuvers, emergency braking, cornering, and any of the other skills that we all use or should be using.
When there’s a mishap, I often hear that a rider went off the road in a corner because they were “Going too fast.” It is my firm belief that in almost every case, they just were not consciously using gyroscopic steering, or “push steering” to their benefit, panicked, and rode off the corner on the outside of the corner’s apex.
It all comes down to training and practicing the skills we need to remain upright. So how do you do that? One way is to go to a wide-open parking lot and practice every skill you can think of. A better way is to contact a local training center and see if they have an advanced course or some sort of training that will sharpen your skills.
I often let local motorcycle clubs use my parking lot to practice when my shop wasn’t open. They found that very useful, and most of them did it every spring. The bottom line is that we all get lazy. We all get comfortable. I’m not saying to be fearful, but you will find that the more you practice, and think about what you are doing in a particular environment, you will ultimately enjoy riding. Be alert, be relaxed, and have a great time riding.
The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be, and the more comfortable you are, the more enjoyment you will get out of riding. That’s all there is to it.
Author: Marq Smith