Five Lives – One Gone
For the last two weeks while Eleanor was getting tuned up, I was going to motorcycle class, I was also reading a couple of books on riding motorcycles. In addition, I researched and read about motorcycle accidents and deaths. Reviewed a few reports on the “dangers” of motorcycle riding.
Riding motorcycles and flying airplanes are similar in many ways. When you are the pilot of an airplane or driver of a motorcycle there are a lot of things going on that must be paid attention too, often simultaneously. For example, in flying an airplane you’ve got to control the plane; this includes watching your airspeed, compass heading, turn radius, looking out the windshield for other airplanes in the sky that might be near you. Plus, you must watch your engine temperature, terrain, raising and lowering flaps and landing gear at the correct times. There is a lot going on when flying a general aviation aircraft.
Riding a motorcycle is similar, there are a lot of things you must do to be successful. You’ve got to be able to balance the bike (particularly at slow speeds), you need to shift gears at the right time, manage your speed, constantly be looking ahead of you for obstacles like people, cars, curbs, animals, condition of the road. And if all is managed correctly you will enjoy a great ride.
The most important similarity of riding motorcycles and flying airplanes is that if either one crashes it is usually painful. Plane crash – motorcycle crash …. Best case scenario some skin might come off … worst case, you die.
Having read about some facts of motorcycle riding and that there are some inherent risks involved I decided at the onset of riding motorcycles that I would give myself 5 Lives. You heard that a cat has nine lives …. FIVE seemed to be a better number for a 60-year-old guy starting to ride bikes.
Today, I wasted one of my five lives …. Bummer.
My first day riding.
Got on the Gold Wing and rode over to a large vacant parking lot to practice riding the bike at slow speeds. Starting, stopping, slow riding and turning at slow speeds. I spent a
bout 30 minutes riding at no more than 15 miles per hour. Practicing the necessary skills I was introduced to from the Safety Motorcycle Class. After many turns, lots of stop and goes I decide to ride up to a place called Glennville, CA. Glenville is about a 35 mile ride one way. The two lane road is very smooth and very twisty. There are turns of every size … nearly 200 turns. It is a wonderful ride with great scenery.So … I start my ride to Glennville on this 950lb Gold Wing. The first few miles was going very well. Making good turns feeling like I’m totally in control. Not going fast … at least I didn’t think so 😊. About 8-10 miles into the ride there is part of the road that is strait for about a quarter mile with an uphill angle. Once you reach the peak of this hill the road bends to the left. I was probably going a little too fast because it surprised me that it turned slightly to the left. After you go straight for another quarter mile you make a 90 degree left turn. Up to this point in the ride all was good.
n the first 10 minutes of riding my confidence was booming (falsely). After the 90 degree left curve you ride for about another 400 yards and then there is long right hand turn. This is where my motorcycle days almost ended. I was clearly going a little too fast for my skill level (beginner on a 950lb beast!). The right hand turn increases in turn angle as you go through the turn. I entered the turn good (too fast), but the turn got a little tighter, the turn began to become a sharper turn and I wasn’t prepared. As I was unable to control the bike I drifted across the center line into the other lane while I was trying to slow down … totally out of control (if only for a few seconds). The moment I crossed the center line a White Wrangler Jeep was coming the other way …. I crossed the center lane right after passing the Jeep … total luck! As I was moving back into my lane (through the curve) I narrowly missed the second car, a red Ford pickup whose driver had big eyes! I came within a nano-second from hitting the trucks front bumper! This entire event took a total of no more than 3 seconds. All I could say was s#$t, s#$t, s#$t, s#$t! I know I messed up big. Clearly was going too fast for my skill level and frankly, I was lucky not to have been hurt! One of my 5 lives is gone! I have 4 remaining.
After stopping at a turn out and understanding what I had done I continued my trip to Glennville and then back home. I was riding much slower and allowed many cars to pass me by.
What were the mistakes made? 1) Chose a rode that was clearly to advance for my skill level. This was my first 10 miles. Maybe I should have gained some experience on a less curvy rode. 2) I clearly over estimated my skill level. I was like a student pilot trying to fly a Boeing 747! 3) To fast! It’s about the journey not the destination. Slow down and enjoy the ride!
This blog is depicting events that have happened early in my riding career. Today is October 2, 2017, the event in this blog took place May 26, 2017, the first day of my riding days. During the past four months I’ve logged nearly 8,000 miles. I am hooked on riding! I enjoy riding more than I ever thought imaginable. I’ve learned a lot about riding during the past 4 months and will share the great rides I’ve taken and the things I’ve learned. Stay tuned!