Andrew Anderson © 2012 The Happy Biker All Rights Reserved
THE TWISTIES - Enjoy going around the bend!
Ok we all know that bikes and bends go together like Punch and Judy. The twisty bits are where we have our fun… but get it wrong and you can end up getting hurt….. If you insist on coming off on a bend… please pick one with a good run off, and away from traffic.
Even the best of us sometimes feel that heart-in-mouth moment when we pile into a corner way too fast, realize too late and have to deal with it too quickly. What you do next will determine if get round in one piece and live to tell your mates the tale of your near miss down the pub or end up with a mangled bike and worse an injury. You don’t have to be riding fast to have an accident.
So how do you get away with it… well thinking about it beforehand can help…. prepare your mind for that moment. So if you have already thought about what you would do it should come naturally. Most people fall off going around bends because they bottle it.. thinking I wont make it round.
I was very lucky when I had my off on a left hander as a result of diesel spewed across both carriageways, was I paying sufficient attention to the condition of the road… NO…. was I lucky… YES - Firstly nothing was coming the other way when I slid across the other side of the road, and secondly, I missed the dry stone wall on the other side of the road… ok me and the bike ended up in a field….. but fortunately for me the gate was open….. I might not be writing this if just one of those circumstances had changed. Yes I was very very lucky, so learn from my mistake… I walked away without a scratch… the bike was a write off after a 35 mph spill. Bikes can be replaced, we can’t.
Where – Any bend can be the venue for your next off, because the bike is cranked over, any loss of traction can cause a slide, which could mean you going down the road on your backside.
Why – When a bike does slide in a bend… its usually without the help of another vehicle….. apart from the one that spewed the diesel… but you should have seen that… shouldn’t you…. The most common accident is called “lack of bike control” You misjudge the corner… go in too fast… and panic… you try to brake, which stands the bike up or locks the wheel, or you get fixated to that lamppost on the pavement and run straight on into it.
Result - If you are on a left hander and you slide, and something is coming the other way… its gona hurt! Reverse the scenario and on a right hander you could be getting intimate with a big old oak tree! Falling off in itself, rarely ends in serious injury… assuming you are properly kitted out. What caused the big injuries are road side furniture… no not arm chairs.. lampposts.. post-boxes, trees crash barriers. Even hitting a kerb can do a lot of damage!
Avoidance - As you would expect… concentration and observation are the key to safe and effective cornering:
• If you cant see all the way round… go slow in and rocket out if its clear...its better than running up the back of farmer Giles’s tractor;
• Charging around bends when traffic is heavy is asking for trouble, keep something in reserve, and look out for idiots coming the other way on your side of the road!
• If you are canning it… just think what you could hit… that lamppost might look nice but it WILL HURT;
• If you are going in too fast scrub as much speed off as you can, brake hard, do it whilst you are riding in a straight line, so you don’t overload the front wheel;
• Don’t panic Mr Mannering if your bike is going to make it around the corner on the brakes.. it will make it anyway;
• Look for dark patches… not in your underwear… but on the road…. Diesel, water, wet leaves in the autumn, mud… all as slippery as hell;
• Watch out for those drain covers.. especially when its wet… your good old local authority always seems to place them in our riding line… do they want us to crash?
• Look for road signs…. If you have just been round a bent that didn’t have any warning signs, and you see chevrons ahead or warning signs, then the bend you are approaching is more severe than the one you have just been around;
• If you can see lampposts going off to the right… you know the road is likely to bend to the right;
• Why did the car heading towards you just come around the bend on the wrong side of the road, the bend must be tight… and he went in too fast… SLOW DOWN;
• Don’t try to keep up with your mates, yes they may be better riders than you… have a better bike… stickier tyres… or just be on the brink of crashing themselves;
• Use the vanishing point to assess the severity of the bend…. If it is rushing towards you… the bend is tightening up… SLOW DOWN… if it stays a constant distance from you your speed is spot on for the corner… if the vanishing point is moving away from you… the bend is opening up and you can increase your speed;
• Relax and enjoy bends.. they are fun… but treat them with respect.