It’s no small irony that earlier this month I wrote a piece about how relaxed I feel on a motorcycle. Ironic, because this past Thursday I had a low speed crash. First time I’ve been down on the pavement in probably 20 years. As with any bad experience, I looked back to analyze it and figure out if I did anything wrong. I did. It was minor, but important. So I’m going to write it out, maybe it’ll sound familiar to you and maybe you’ll benefit from it.
I was riding in the far left lane of a three-lane surface street. I was following a car and we both moved over easily in to the center lane. I needed to get to the far right lane to hook up with the Highway 50 on ramp. In my mirrors, the right lane looked clear, but I was concerned about the blind spot. Mind you, there was so much traffic noise that I could not have heard an individual car next to me. Anyway, in the exact second that I turned my head right to check the blind spot, a car jerked out from the far right lane directly in front of the car I was following. That driver necessarily slammed on his brakes in reaction. The half-second or so my head was turned was all it took to make the situation dangerous. When I looked forward, the car in front of me was almost at a dead stop and all I could do was grab a fistful of front brake. Problem was, the front tire was not pointed perfectly straight, so when the tire locked up, it immediately washed out to the left and down we went.
95% of the fault in this scenario lies with the car driver who lunged out in front of the car I was following. I should also note that I was not tailgating the car in front of me, nor was I speeding. But the 5% of this scenario that was my fault should not have happened. As I said previously, my mistake in this scenario was minor, but important. I was in the aforementioned center lane, but was still moving from the left wheel track to the right wheel track within that lane. I should have never taken my eyes away from forward until I was fully in the right wheel track and ready to move another lane over. Had I done so, I would have seen the offending car make its lunge and would have had time to stop. Lesson learned. Lesson shared. I hope you’ll do the same with your own riding friends.
My trusty Triumph was spared any real structural damage, though the holes and gouges in the body panels covered a lot of real estate. But I got him patched up over the weekend, adorned now in gray primer “street fighter” modality, befitting his given nickname, “Mr. T”. And yes, to answer your unspoken question, I am back to relaxing once again.
Until next time, stay tuned and upright (I mean it)