You’ve got to love the twisties!
The curves you ride going up to the mountains are referred to as “twisties”. Motorcycle riders, for the most part, enjoy the twisties. It’s really awesome to lean into a corner and let the bike turn. When you get the angle just right, with the perfect speed … it’s a good feeling.
Of my nearly 10,000 miles in 5 months of riding my Gold Wing probably half of those miles I’ve ridden on the twisties! It’s just where I live that the rides I take are mostly in the foothills and mountains. Refer to an earlier blog “Five Lives … One Gone”. I’ve learned a lot about riding the twisties. I have read countless articles and watched too many YouTube videos on the skills needed for riding the twisties.
Certainly, my first thousand miles is different than my more recent thousand miles. Initially, I learned that slow is always the winner. As you ride more and more you begin to increase in skill: speed and lean angle increase and you look for new twisties to experience. I’d like to share what I’ve learned in my young motorcycle experiences. Feel free to criticize my thoughts and feel free to agree with my ideas. Here we go!
After me nearly ending my motorcycle experience on my first few miles of twisties, I began to more closely analyze riding the twisties. Here is a summary of what I’ve learned:
- Drivers of cars cross over the center line way too often.
- Motorcycle riders cross over the center line way too often.
- There is safety in staying away from the center line.
- The middle/right side of the lane is your safe zone.
- Practice riding in the right half of the lane.
Many years ago, I was into triathlons. Part of the triathlon was riding bikes. As a bike rider you realize how close cars, trucks (traffic) come to hitting you when you’re riding on your local roads highways! It’s amazing! It’s like drivers don’t see you and really don’t care to see you. Ask any cyclist about how close traffic comes to killing them … it’s unanimous. Once I began cycling and seeing how close people came to me, the next time I drove near a cyclist I gave them ample room … moving into the other lane if possible. It’s called sharing the rode!
As I began to ride motorcycles I couldn’t believe how many cars cross the center line when makings left turns on the twisties! It really caught me by surprise how many left front tires cross the line … into MY LANE. I get it! I’m pretty sure I never realized I was probably doing the same thing. It’s easy to do. As a motorcycle rider you are making a right hand turn around a blind curve and BAM! a car is there driving the opposite direction with a tire over the line! Scares the poo right out of you! Yes, drivers should never cross the yellow line … but, it happens. So, what do you do?
I began to ride twisties from the middle of the lane to the right side of the lane. I practice this and do this whenever I’m riding twisties. It does a couple of things. Frist, keeps me further away from oncoming traffic and still being able to practice getting better at entering corners at the correct angle to hit the apex and exit smoothly. Albeit, “my lane” is narrow, I can still practice those skills. Second, by staying on the right side of the lane (as a habit) while taking a right-hand curve, I get a little cushion in case I enter a little too fast. Instead of riding into the other lane; my mistake is moving into the left had side of my lane. This practice has saved my bacon too many times to count.
Twisties are really enjoyable!
Cars cross over the center line but, motorcycles do too! It’s been my experience riding up to Glenville and neighboring roads a million times that it’s the more sport touring bikes (crotch rockets) that can get into trouble. Those bikes can certainly handle curves faster than my heavy Gold Wing, but, I’ve seen this at least 10 times. Bikes coming in hot trying to make a right hand turn and drift into oncoming traffic (right at me). I get it … these guys and gals are having fun. But, as a practice I stay on the right side of my lane almost always … it just makes me feel good!
The other thing I have learned about twisties is that riding 30-40 miles on twisties takes it out of you! Twisties takes a lot of concentration and anticipation. This is why I think twisties are so much fun … it takes all of your riding skills … you need your mental game and your physical game. After a long time on twisties a few miles of straight works good.
The motorcycle safety class taught me about the idea of dirt/debris/gravel on corners. I’ve seen a lot of that in my short motorcycle career. Where does that dirt/gravel come from? One of the roads I travel has open range cattle. I have seen cows come down super steep hills dragging dirt with them all the way down covering the road. Trucks pulling trailers around a right-hand curve that has gravel on the inside of the lane that is dragged onto the road by the towed trailer. Gravel from freshly paved roads. The other weekend I rode to Lake Tahoe. Ran over some ice … not good! Not sure how I didn’t fall … but, wow! is ice slick! When coming upon gravel, sand, dirt and ice …. Slow wins the race. Slow down to be safe … not only on twisties, but almost every area of motorcycle riding slowing down saves injuries.
My next blog will be my thoughts on riding gear. The weather is changing and it’s getting cold. “They” say you need rain gear and gear for cold weather riding. Another great subject to learn about!