What to be mindful of while riding
By Tina Leman
We all want to mount up on two wheels, feel the wind in our face, and enjoy the open air around us. We also want to have a safe ride. To help you have fun on your motorcycle and feel safe while doing it, here are the top five road hazards for motorcyclists to be on the lookout for while traveling out on the road.
You can learn more tips like these by taking a motorcycle safety course, such as those offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). Also check out the MSF’s new iBook, “Intersection,” which illustrates potentially hazardous situations through the eyes of different types of motorists and explains why intersections can be especially dangerous.
1. Blind Spots
Be sure not to ride in any vehicle’s blind spot—that is, the area around a vehicle that is not visible to the driver using his or her mirrors. It’s bad enough when a car driver doesn’t turn and look when changing lanes in front of another car. Now think about that happening when the other car is a motorcycle. If you think you’re riding in that gray zone, either speed up and get past the vehicle or slow down to allow the vehicle enough room to change lanes.
2. Uneven Road Surfaces
Road construction is a pain, but we all get stuck riding in it. If the lanes are uneven, try to stay in the same lane until the uneven lanes end. Also be on the lookout for divets in the road. These are often caused by a large truck dragging something from its undercarriage, leaving a depression in the road—sometimes for a good distance. Getting your bike caught up in divets like these may cause your tire tread to “catch,” possibly leading to a loss of control.
3. Debris, Gravel, Oil, and Sand
Need I say more? Riding on two wheels is all about stability, and it doesn’t take much to lose that precious stability when riding on sand, gravel, oil, and other debris. If you’re not careful when riding through these materials, you can easily lose traction, causing the bike to slide. Whenever possible, stop and evaluate the surface. If it looks unsafe, find another way around. If you must ride through the hazard, do so carefully and at a slow, safe speed. Most importantly, never use only the front brake. Have you ever seen a bicyclist hit the front brake and go sailing over the handlebars? Same concept. I use mainly the rear brake when I ride through hazards like these, and I’m careful to brake slowly and smoothly.
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