Riding A Motorcycle By Yourself This Summer? Here’s How To Stay Safe.

Riding A Motorcycle By Yourself This Summer? Here’s How To Stay Safe.
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I’m writing this article after coming across a fatal car-motorcycle crash yesterday, about two miles from my house, at an intersection outside a grocery store. It took place on a clear, blue day at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. The motorcycle was completely demolished.

The guy who died in the crash was all by himself. It’s doubly devastating because solo motorcycling is one of the most satisfying, exhilarating and pleasurable feelings in life. And there is no need to go down.

But riding alone creates particular hazards you may not have considered if you do most of your riding with others. So, in memory of this stranger who probably left his house to go pick up milk or similar but left this world in a completely avoidable way, here are some tips for solo riders.

*Be aware, be aware and be aware.

Motorcycling is hypnotic. It’s easy to get lost in thought. Statistics say that the average time a motorcyclist has to see danger and take evasive action is two seconds. So be alert for drivers making left turns in front of you, people merging into your lane with no signal or warning, and leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you so you have time to brake if that person stamps on their own brakes. Also, assume all drivers are oblivious chowderheads to be avoided if at all possible. (You do that anyway, don’t you?)

*Have a planned destination – even if you have to make one up.

Experts will tell you there is no safety on a motorcycle – only the illusion of safety. One way to keep it yourself focused is to pick a destination, any destination, point your missile and set off. There is, of course, always the urge to wander, to stop and to coast aimlessly here and there and that’s fine, but having a planned finish line helps keep you sharp whether you’re off to the store, to the beach, across several states or cross country.

Be sure to tell someone, too, where you’re going and more or less what time you might be expected to arrive. Remember it’s not just you on the bike – it’s your mother, father, sister, brother, significant other or child who wants you to arrive safely.

*Anticipate corners more acutely than when you’re riding in a group

Unless you’re the most experienced rider in a group and are up front where the experts rightly roll, you’ll usually watch the biker ahead of you execute hairy turns when you ride and adjust your speed accordingly. But by yourself, you’ll have no way of really knowing how sharp that curve is, especially if you’re a new or novice rider. Slow down before you reach that curve, eyeball the road 1/4 mile ahead (the bike will always go where you’re looking) and execute your turn smoothly, Cap’n.

*Be more aware of potential hazards overall

Riding in a group usually means someone along the line will alert the others when they spy traffic, wild animals in the road, the popo or a hazardous condition. You are the only lookout when you ride alone, so look out more than you ordinarily would. Keep daydreaming to a minimum.

*Get used to off-roading before you actually have to do it.

At some point in your riding life, you’ll be tasked with riding over gravel, mud, small floods, ice and snow and the list goes on. Better to become familiar with riding on something other than pavement before you need to do it, instead of when you’re by yourself, you’ve left the road and find yourself in deep doo-doo, figuratively. Find a pal to practice with, or participate in a professional off-road program, and you’ll be prepared to meet any muddy eventuality.

*Learn to pick up a dropped bike

With two riders or more, you can get a hand lifting your motorcycle back upright if it happens to go over. By yourself, it’s more challenging but it definitely can be done no matter your height, weight or sex. Here’s a video showing how to pick up a dropped bike. (You can search and find similar videos showing bikes that look like yours, too.)

If you can’t get the hang of picking up a bike from the video, go to your local dealer, who will usually be glad to show you. If you still can’t pick up your bike and it goes over, call the authorities to come and help, or swallow your pride and wait for someone to come along and give you a hand, and pray they don’t pull out phones instead to video you.

*Carry a note in your wallet telling people who may find you what you want them to do.

No one leaves their house and says “I’m gonna go pick up a bagel, then a roll of masking tape, then crash.” But if it does happen and you’re, God forbid, unconscious, make the job of the people who assist you as easy as possible.

Print out a small sheet of paper with name of your immediate family, your significant other, your primary medical caregiver and all people who should be alerted immediately in the event of a crash and possible incapacitation. Fold it up and keep it sandwiched in your wallet so it’s the first thing that pops out when strangers start pawing through your things while waiting for help to arrive.

Here’s mine.

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