May is designated Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. That being said and myself being a biker over 42 years, I would like to talk about it and maybe share some tips on keeping that shiny side up.
Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to crashes than other drivers. Since the late 80’s and early 90’s, the big Boom in motorcyclist finding the freedom and comradery upon our roadways increase majorly and with that motorcycle safety also became an issue of increasing concern – fatalities involving drivers and motorcyclists increased 131 percent, according to NSC. In 2007, the mileage death rate for motorcyclists in 2007 was 37 times greater than for passenger car occupants.
Many crashes occur because motorcycles are hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. Drivers should always make a visual check for motorcyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic. Throughout spring and summer, the number of motorcyclists on the road will increase. It is important for both motorists and motorcyclists to be aware of one another. Here are some tips from the NSC:
- Passenger car drivers must allow greater following distance behind a motorcycle.
- Drivers also must show extra caution in intersections. Most crashes occur when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist and turns left in front of a motorcycle.
- Drivers should never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Always give a motorcycle the full lane width.
- Motorcyclists should avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
- Motorcyclists should position their motorcycles to avoid a driver’s blind spot.
- Motorcyclists must use turn signals for every turn or lane change.
Now let me add some experience to the mix! Do not take me wrong, everything written above is good. But those of us with 100’s of thousands of miles under our asses will tell you that Over Confidence of skills and abilities is just as dangerous! 99% of my brothers and sisters who ride to live, live to ride will tell you; “if you ride enough, you will go down!” I average 3 or more incidents on a 100-mile ride of being crowded off the road or near misses. Especially with all the traffic in the Denver area. I have had 3 crashes and 1 blowout on I-70 with my lady riding with me.
All four of those incidents could have been avoided if I just set my confidence aside and made good decisions.
First – A car in front turned on their right turn signal and started to turn right but made a change and turned back to the left cutting me off and I hit her in the side. Her fault but if I would not have accelerated, I would have had time to maneuver or stopped.
Second – I was riding home from Tri State car show. My friend Bear and I were in the show and when it ended, it had started snowing. Bear said, “Hell brother let’s get Jimmy and his trailer to take us home”. Not me, I decided I would ride. I-25 was mostly slushy, and a lady in a car slowed down to show her kids my bike and how crazy us bikers are riding in the snow. Well, when we got to the bridge where I-25 goes over I-70, it was cover with about 3 inches of snow. The car stayed beside me not knowing that her splash back from her tires was splashing against my front tire. I tried some maneuvers but lost control and slid 175 ft on my stomach and side, then hit the concrete barriers. Luckily, I walked away, and Bear and Jimmy seen me and took me home. Again, a choice was made.
Third – my old chopper is fast and with my ego, or the Devil on my right shoulder told me! Don’t wait on that tractor and trailer to make that merge onto I-76. Punch it and go around him! I knew I had the power, and I am very confident in my abilities. Again, I made that choice and as I went around the truck there was debris and an oil slick from an accident the day before and as I tried to maneuver around a piece of metal, I hit the oil slick at over 100 miles per hour. Well, my ass hit the pavement and I slid 200 feet plus. I walked away and rode home. Not even realizing how lucky I was.
Fourth – was when I had the rear tire blowout on I-70, with my lady Rianna on back of me. I realized my mortality! I was responsible for her life too! People who were riding behind us and seen this happen, were in shock! We took up two lanes of traffic with the power skids for a quarter of a mile. The riders said, we went out of sight three times as they looked through the window of the car between us. I told my love to hold tight like we are one. Everything slows down and your vision narrows with fear. Looking for a way to make sure she makes it out of here alive. In seconds, I heard Rianna whisper in my ear “you got this Honey” and we were in the emergency lane of I-70. The vehicles on the highway had all come to a complete stop. People jumping out of the cars to congratulate me on my expert riding skills! We never went all the way down, but it had to be experience, because I didn’t remember anything I did to prevent us from going down. Munky Mark came to the rescue and took us home and he quoted statistics to us during our trip. Munky said at 90mph with a rear tire seal break, 97% end up in a crash, but the one you beat brother is 69% don’t live to talk about it.
Munky and I talked about the incident and found that the error was my over confidence that my bike was ready to go without checking my tire pressure. I ran low tire pressure due to the bike being a rigid frame chopper and that is my shocks. But by not riding it for a month due to snow, the air pressure had dropped and then the additional weight of my lady riding with me, could have sent us to the unknown. Know your limitations, pre-trip your bikes, error on the side of safety and YOU will have a better chance of making it home!
As always, Keep the shiny side up!