Motorcycle Awareness Month – The Wrong Way Down

Motorcycle Awareness Month – The Wrong Way Down

A controversial viewpoint that looks at motorcycle safety from the other side of the looking glass

I’m a lifelong motorcyclist. I’m a professional rider, I earn my bread from the seat of my bike. I been a trainer, had training, been all over the country and overseas, led tours, coordinated events and rallies, read the books and every accident study I can get to. I’ve had my share of spills, close calls, and mistakes and I’ve got the scars to remember them by.

May is motorcycle awareness monthMotorcycle Awareness Month doesn’t even make the list of  “commemorative months” on wikipedia and is about as effective as “National Ice Cream Month” (which does make the list) – It’s the wrong approach to the problem of how to be safer riding a motorcycle on our increasing dangerous roads.

Image - Watch out for Motorcycles

False Hope

“Watch our for Bikers” is wishful thinking. It puts the responsibility on someone else – “You need to watch out for me”. Believing that little yellow diamond is going to penetrate the brain of a pony-tailed soccer mom with a minivan full of kids rushing to get to the little  league game is quite a leap of faith. Or that the road warrior salesman is going to suddenly take his mind off his next meeting as he’s fighting his way through the traffic on his way to Des Moines. That the old codger in the Buick with a line of traffic a half mile behind him is going to suddenly wake up and recognize there are other vehicles on the road? That teen is gonna put away the cell phone and start driving the car? Not my experieince. Not the real world. YOU need to watch out for YOU.

Even if you could get through and alert every other driver on the road you’re not going to change the laws of physics. Motorcycles are just plain hard to see because they are the smallest vehicle out on the roads. They are comparatively rare so people don’t expect them. They are easy to lose track of surrounded by so many larger vehicles. Every one of us knows a driver can look right at you and not see you coming. Accept it – you’re virtually invisible to others the road.

motorcycle-wreck-maggieThe “motorcycle awareness” that will keep you alive longest is the awareness that you are responsible for your own safety on the road. You need to up your riding game. Distracted driving is the leading contributor to accidents on our roadways. The counter strategy is increased awareness on the part of the motorcyclist, not all the other people out on the road. They’re not going to change, you need to change to adapt to the conditions that exist.

We know the most common causes of motorcycle accidents related to other vehicles – car pulls out or turns in front of motorcycle, car changes lanes on highway into motorcycle, car runs into motorcycle stopped at intersection.

The motorcycle awareness we need is to deal with these situations as riders as effectively as possible. This is what happens – expect it and assume it will every time.

  • Ride as if that car IS going to pull out or turn in front of you. Be prepared to react to it. Every car, every time.
  • Constantly be aware of your position to surrounding traffic on the road and don’t ride in blind spots. Don’t assume that car next to you sees you – if he needs to swerve I’ll bet he’d rather hit you than a truck. Move out of the situation. When they crowd in on you get out of the situation as soon as possible.
  • Position yourself to be visible when stopped. Don’t sit right behind a car, move out to create a silhouette that stands out from behind. Keep the bike in gear and have an escape route ready in case you see that car running up on you too fast.

learn-to-ride-safe

The roads are getting more crowded and more dangerous. There are new challenges to face. People are just going to keep doing what they’re doing, they are not going to change. If you want to be safer, take your safety in your own hands – the others are too busy to bother.

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Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – Clear skies, great views, low traffic are some of the rewards of winter riding. Dress right and it’s no big deal.

Don’t let the cold weather put an end to your motorcycle riding season. If you dress well for it, winter riding can be comfortable and fun even here in the mountains. It’s not all snow and ice all the time here in the Smokies. Even the highest sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway stay open for most of the winter. Here are some of my personal tips on dressing for winter motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, what works best for me.

Dress to adapt to the changing temperature. Often winter days start out very cold then get milder once the sun is high. Bundle up for the chilly start then simply zip your jacket open and loosen the seals at the wrists a bit once it warms. Using vents keeps you from having to stop and peel off layers.

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – With the right clothes, you can ride all day in conditions like this and never be cold.

Cinch and Seal – Before you head out, close all the vents on your jacket. Cinch wrists, ankles, and neck to keep out drafts and seal the warm air in. Snug up any adjustment straps on your jacket to trap warm air better.

A full face helmet is warmer – a balaclava or thin hoodie under the helmet helps when it’s really cold. Manage fogging by cracking the visor just the right amount, flipping it up at stops. Lifting your chin increases air flow, it sometimes works. Eventually your helmet temp equilibrates until you come to a stop again, etc. Fogging problems usually go away as the day gets warmer. Keep visors clean.

Get “Expedition weight” long underwear – go for the warmest, the best quality. You don’t want big seams, buttons and flaps, keep it simple and comfortable.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway last year. It was a gorgeous day in February.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway last February. It was a gorgeous day, don’t pass up these great opportunities to enjoy winter on your motorcycle.

Seal your inner layer – make your outer shirt a windblock layer that extends up your neck to the chin, and have a zipper so you can vent it. It’ll hold heat better and a zipper lets you vent when it warms.

Put the linings back in – If you took those quilted linings out of your jacket and pants for the summer, put them back in, as well as any waterproof or wind blocking linings.

2 socks, 2 gloves – Start with a warm thinner sock, then add a heavy duty second sock that extends up to your calf. Thin glove liners add heat under a good lined gauntlet style outer glove.

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – you can see so much more in winter when the leaves rare off the trees. It’s a new landscape to enjoy.

If you ultimately decide you enjoy year round motorcycle riding, heated electric gear is the way to go. It’s a big expense, but it lasts for many years. Go all the way and get dual controllers – you’ll want your exposed gloves warmer than your covered vest.

There is one thing you can do to help keep your motorcycle running or stored during the winter months – install a battery tender. It’s as simple as adding a couple wires to your battery terminals for the plug/connector, or if the bike is put up for the winter, just attaching a couple clamps to the battery terminals. Cold weather kills batteries, a battery tender will kept it alive and fresh and extend it’s life for many years. 

Photo-Whitesides-mountain-nc-motorcycle-by-frozen-lake

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – A minute after this photo was taken my bike lay on its side and I couldn’t pick it up on the ice. Read about it here – http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=1650

http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=1650

Got a winter riding question or tip to share?

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.
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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Fall leaves can be deadly!

Motorcycle riding tips – Wet leaves in the road can be slick as ice! Watch out for them.

The fall leaf color show is nearing it’s end. With every good breeze a shower of tree trash rains down to blanket the ground for winter’s slumber. Usually those winds blow it clear from the road and it’s no big deal for the motorcycle rider flying along with trails of floating color swirling romantically in your wake.

There is still plenty of fall color to enjoy in the Blue Ridge, but those leaves can become a hazard!

There is still plenty of fall color to enjoy in the Blue Ridge, but those leaves can become a hazard!

But add water to the mix and those leaves get heavy and stick to the road piling up between the two tire tracks cleared by passing autos. The water acts as a lubricant. Stray out of those tire tracks cleared by the cars, especially in a curve, and you’ll find your traction goes from hero to zero in an instant.

We all know the painted lines are slick when wet -

We all know the painted lines are slick when wet – it can be deadly when you add wet leaves on top of them. Watch out and hold your line in the curves!

Be especially alert and cautious when riding now after it rains. The problem goes away pretty quickly with sunshine, but don’t be fooled. Many areas of our mountain roads are perpetually shady and those leaves remain wet and slippery even on the brightest of days.

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.
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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Tips for Riding the Dragon on your Motorcycle – #5 Dance

5) Relax and enjoy it – do the Dragon Dance

Relax – don’t ride scared. Don’t push beyond fun. While it’s OK to feel the thrill, if you’re not relaxed, you are compromising the function of your motorcycle. Worse yet, you may be on the verge of panic when you slip out of your comfort zone. Everything you do when you panic makes the situation worse – you tense up, sit up, roll off the throttle, and hit the brakes, all of which makes the motorcycle stand up go in a straight line while reducing traction. There are no straight lines in the Dragons’ corners.

Sport Bikes on the Dragon

Control the corners – slow in, fast out.

The right attitude is to dance with the Dragon, not fight with it. Find a pace where you flow into the curves in control with a little in reserve. It’s supposed to be fun. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong. Seek out that rhythm where you are rolling into the curves at a speed where where you’re getting on the throttle as soon as possible, not the brakes. Gently power through them and you’ll find you have more ground clearance and better traction. Strive for a slow approach to the corners, gently power through, and you’ll end up with a smooth quick controlled exit AND a margin for error or the unexpected.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Tips for Riding the Dragon on your Motorcycle – #4 Da Bike

4)  Ride the Bike you Brought

You can have a good time riding the Dragon on any bike you can ride there. If you’ve ridden there, you’ve got the basic skills to ride the road. In fact, you’ve already hit some decent curves on the way. So what makes the Dragon such a challenge? You do – it’s all about how you ride it. But…

A scooter on the Dragon

A scooter on the Dragon – a fun ride regardless what you brought.

The Dragon will not magically transform your behemoth cruiser into a Moto GP race bike. It will not make the mass of your passenger disappear. You will not miraculously find the ground clearance you never had before. If you’re dragging hard parts through every corner, hard on the brakes coming into each turn, you’re doing it wrong and it’s just a matter of time before the Dragon bites.

Chopper on the Dragon

Ride the bike you brought as it was built to be ridden.

Riding the Dragon well comes down to skill and technique regardless of the bike. Strive to be smooth, relaxed, and in control.
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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Tips for Riding the Dragon on your Motorcycle – #2 Recon

2) Pre-ride the Road

Racers walk the track before they ride it to identify lines, note the subtle nuances, study the surface, and make mental plans on how to best approach each corner. While that’s not practical at the Dragon, it’s a fools venture to just roll out of the parking lot and get on the throttle. While you’re not going to memorize every turn on a slow ride through, you’ll get some idea of what to expect should you decide to come at it with more vigor. You may discover the 30 mph speed limit is way above what you can safely carry through many of the hairpin curves, especially the ones that unexpectedly close down on you and tighten up.

Motorcycles on the Draon

Take some time to judge the conditions – you’ll be better prepared for what lies ahead

Use the pre-ride to judge the conditions that day and adjust to them. Note the traffic, how the riders and drivers are behaving. Get a feel for the condition of the road – is there debris from a recent storm, are the shady spots wet, is there dirt or leaves in a corner? Is there a big group visiting or some event going on? Note where the photographers are so you’re not taken by surprise and distracted. Judge what the traffic enforcement is like that day – if there are a dozen troopers along the road it’s not the time for misbehaving. Sometimes, it’s better to head off to other roads and come back later.

The Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort at the Dragon

Spend a few minutes observing what’s going on that day. 10 minutes on the porch at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort will give you a wealth of information.

Pause for a few minutes at the end of the run and just observe. The Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort parking lot, the Calderwood Dam overlook, Tabcat Bridge pull-out are good places to spend a few minutes observing, chatting with other riders, and generally getting a feel for the rhythm of what’s going on. Listen and watch. Traffic tends to come in waves, judge your moment to start your run according to the flow.
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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Tips for Riding the Dragon on your Motorcycle – #1 Attitude

1) Come with the Right Attitude

The biggest challenge to riding the Dragon at Deals Gap  on your motorcycle is in your head. It’s the expectations and beliefs that this road is the place to prove yourself, test your skills, and take it to the limit. After all, that’s what all the hype and publicity is about. No arguments it’s a challenging stretch of road with some very tight and tricky curves. Odds are, you’re going to see something that surprises you, something you think is just plain reckless or crazy, and perhaps, something (like another vehicle straying into your lane) that scares the poo out of you. Go in expecting it, ride as if it is going to happen, and always keep a healthy margin of safety in your favor.

Motorcycles on the Dragon

Ride your own ride at your own pace and maintain a healthy margin fo the unexpected.

Check that ego and don’t get caught up in the hype that you’ve got to attack it with all you’ve got. Ride your own ride, at your own pace, and stay within your own limits. Accept there will always be someone faster, crazier, or more aggressive than you and just let them pass on by. If somebody is on your tail, put on your turn signal, give them room, and pull off at the next opportunity. There are plenty of paved spots to pull off or do a roll-through so the maniacs can safely pass. Much better to let them safely pass than get caught up in the carnage if they try to bolt around you on a blind corner and it goes badly. Don’t fall into the trap of following someone quicker – they may know the road better, be more experienced, or riding beyond their limits.

Motorcycle on the Dragon

Riding on the very edge leaves nothing in reserve for the unexpected. You’ll get away with it 9 times out of 10, but then….

Always be ready to just let it go. It’s just a motorcycle ride, there’s no trophy waiting at the end. If you find yourself riding somebodies tail, back off, find a pull off, and take a break until the traffic lets up. The road isn’t going anywhere. Wait for things to clear out and calm down, then ride your own ride. Getting a clear, unhindered run through the road at your own pace is rare. Don’t feel disappointed when it doesn’t happen, odds are it wont.
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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – NC 215 Update

After hearing of several wrecks this weekend I decided I’d better make another run out to NC 215 near the Blue Ridge Parkway to check the status of the road work. The photo shows the current state – a new coat of gravel.

Best Motorcycle Rides in NC - NC 215 - new gravel

Best Motorcycle Rides in NC – NC 215; This rider made the right choice for him, hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fresh gravel on NC 215 at this stage of the repaving, it will get better soon.

If you like drifting your motorcycle and power sliding through turns, it doesn’t get much better than this. A topcoat of gravel over s smooth hard base makes for ideal conditions. I had a blast!

Most riders though are going to find this the worst of conditions, and for now you’d better avoid it until the next phase of roadwork is completed. I’ll keep and eye on it and let you know when it improves.

Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina - NC 215

Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – Paving on NC 215 has started from the top down. You can see one lane done here, still a way to go.

ADD –  Looks like US 276 is done, nice pavement, but still no road markings. Read More about what’s going on here – http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=5031

You’ll find these roads on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with another 50 or so outstanding rides in the surrounding area and a guide to the numerous roadside waterfalls.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Motorcycle Safety – Respect and Skin in the Game

I don’t remember much, it was almost 40 years ago. My first thought when I regained my senses was to find the piece of the bike which had the key in it – didn’t want somebody stealing it. Obviously, I was still rattled a bit. That was the last ride for that Honda CB 450.

I remember the dog that shot out of nowhere as I rode home, I may have been coming from high school. It came running out of a cow field and right into the bike. Almost went down, but found myself riding along the sandy shoulder of the road. Hardly suited to off-road riding, I was rolling on the throttle to keep the front wheel of that heavy Honda from washing out in the soft sand, picking up speed.

I remember thinking I was doing pretty good on this bike in those conditions, heck, I’d saved it, but making the coming curve meant I needed to be back on the pavement.  I picked my spot only to find there was a deep gully where so many cars had run wide and a mound of patch built up in a futile attempt to fill it.

I remember the loud bang as the front wheel hit the asphalt.

I remember looking straight down at the pavement as the now vertical bike landed on the front wheel and for an instant it seemed to balance and roll along in control. Then the bars were jerked violently from my hands as the front end buckled, and it was slow motion silence as I floated through the air doing a somersault.

I remember thinking “This is going to be a bad one”.

* * * * *

How to Avoid Skinning Yourself Alive – Brittany Morrow from Brittany Morrow on Vimeo.
Direct link – http://vimeo.com/22897515

Looking at my helmet my head probably contacted first. Considering my injuries, I then laid out on my back and slid down the road and into the pasture. The bike probably took out the barbed-wire fence just before I went through it, no deep cuts or lacerations.

I remember walking along the road thumbing for a ride. I knew there was a fire station nearby, if I could get there they could help me.

I remember the cars slowing down, I looked fine from the front, then taking off when they saw the bloody mess where all the skin had been taken off my back. The light cotton shirt and blue jeans I was wearing in the summer heat of Florida might as well have been paper. No protection at all. Last time I would ever ride without at least a jacket.

I spent the next few weeks lying face down on the fold-out couch as my wounds healed. Most of that was in a codeine stupor. Seems every joint in my body had donated some flesh. A few scars remain, but the years have faded most of them. There would be more to come before I learned the value of leather and then textile gear.

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Direct link – http://youtu.be/Uz748Q4tkGo

I don’t often tell this tale. There are others. So why bring it up?

I spent a few hours this weekend at a rally. Don’t really like doing events, it can be pretty boring. You end up doing a lot of people watching.

Many of the riders were from out-of-state, groups from Georgia, Florida. Standard biker attire, blue jeans and a t-shirt. Some wore shorts. Slip on shoes. Many of the passengers wore only jeans and a tank top. Some pretty ladies. Not even wearing gloves. The smallest skid lids that would keep you from getting pulled over.

I went through my recent photos. All too common attire. Photos of riders on some of the most challenging roads they will ever see, for the first time. You can often see the look on their faces that tell the ride is demanding something from them.

I watched Daryl’s (Killboy.com) recent 12 minute video from the Dragon. Easy to spot the bare flesh rolling by, particularly the passengers, on one of the most challenging and dangerous motorcycle rides in the world.

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WAKE UP PEOPLE. Riding in the mountains is some serious sh*t. RESPECT IT.

Go off the road up here and road rash will probably be the best of outcomes. We’ve got rocks and trees right up to the roadside. You’ll probably be plunging over a steep hillside or worse yet a rocky cliff. It takes hours to get a rope team out to haul your inured body up to the ambulance.  Show some freakin’ respect for it.

Word to you “easy riders”watch the video – You know who you are. Low and slow and always in control. Too hot to wear gear. I like the feel of the wind and the sun, yadda, yadda, gonna work on my tan. Gotta look the part with the right biker attire – blue jeans, your biker t-shirt, the tiniest helmet you are forced to wear – I never planned any of the motorcycle accidents I’ve had. Most happened relatively close to home. Just a short ride, a commute, running to the store, work, school, going to hang out with my buds,  etc. Almost all have been under 30 mph. Just riding along minding my own business, taking it easy, la-la-la. If there was skin exposed, it was skin in the game, skin lost.


Direct link – http://youtu.be/EhJ74f-MGak

PS – I’m not just posting this  for you flatlanders – it’s pretty common up here as well. As if that big fat bike is going to protect you. Gotta look the part, dress like everyone else, feel the freedom! WAKE UP. Think about all those times you’re rounding a curve and there’s a car half in your lane coming at you. All those times some old geezer pulls out at 10 mph in front of you. It’s always the worst of curves where the cars slip off the inside edge and kick gravel and rocks onto the road. You KNOW it happens. You KNOW what I’m talking about.

Forget the blue jeans. Useless. Repeated personal experience. You’ve got 2 choices – textile or leather. If you can get some armor in there it will help keep bones from breaking. Respect the ride. If you don’t need it, at least respect your rider and get her the right gear. She’s trusting in you, do her right.

If there is skin exposed, it is skin in the game, a game you are forced to play every ride. 

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Wayne Busch

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– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
Courteous Passing  and Signal your intentions

I’m opening myself up for some criticism by posting this, but when motorcycle riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway and you need to pass, one safety tip I’ve found helpful is using better communication and courteous passing. While passing may be illegal, it’s a frequent occurrence. Here’s how I deal with it.

Why take the criticism? Because I see it so often – it’s a rare stretch of the 469 mile long Blue Ridge motorcycle ride that isn’t painted with a double yellow line. Passing zones are few and far between. Crossing the double yellow line is breaking the law, so consider that before you do it. If something goes wrong, you’re at fault, and any ticket you get is deserved.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips Courteous Passing  and Signal your intentions - Crossing the double yellow line is illegal. Legal passes are safe passes.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips – Courteous Passing and Signal your intentions – Crossing the double yellow line is illegal. Legal passes are safe passes.

Still, I can’t recall a recent motorcycle ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway where it didn’t happen. It’s a common situation as the comfortable travel speed for many car drivers is around 35 mph on this mostly 45 mph road. While most bikers are content to adapt to the lower speed and relax and enjoy the scenery, the situation can get frustrating when the curves get tighter.

Motorcycles and cars approach curves differently. Cars tend to get off the throttle and slow down when going through a turn. Motorcycles want to be on the gas to gain traction, ground clearance, and stabilize the bike in a turn. Applying the brakes when behind a car in a turn makes the motorcycle want to stand up when it should be leaning and it’s harder to steer and more unstable.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - Courteous Passing and Signal your intentions - There are lots of overlooks through the most scenic sections. Use your signal lights to communicate to the driver ahead.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips – Courteous Passing and Signal your intentions – There are lots of overlooks through the most scenic sections. Use your signal lights to communicate to the driver ahead.

In a perfect world, you follow along to the next pull-out, the car slips in and lets you by. Give the driver that opportunity, it’s the best, safest, and legal option. A lot of times that happens. Sometimes it takes a couple overlooks before the driver recognizes the easy solution.

Just as often though, you’ll come up on a car which slows and starts waving you by to make an illegal pass. Here’s how I approach it –

  • If you don’t want to pass, drop back and give the car some space.
  • If you do want to pass, but it’s not safe here due to an approaching curve, limited visibility, or other traffic, be courteous and work with the driver. Drop back a little and signal your intent that you do want an opportunity to pass by using your turn signal.

Communicating to the driver by using your turn signal lets him know your intent and you can work together to make the pass as safe as possible.

The driver may wait for the next pull off, give him the opportunity to use it, as it’s safest for everyone and the legal way to do it.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - Courteous Passing and Signal your intentions - Choose your passing spots carefully and wisely.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips – Courteous Passing and Signal your intentions – Choose your passing spots carefully and wisely. This is hardly the place to even consider it. Wait patiently for those sections where you have a long view ahead and plenty of road before the next curve.

If you do choose to pass, do it politely and with some respect. Don’t blast by at warp speed with the pipes screaming. Stay in as high a gear as you can and make it a smooth and controlled quiet pass. Wait for a long enough section of road with clear visibility and enough margin for safety so you don’t convince the driver all bikers are dangerous and out of control or end up proving it as well. I usually give a wave of thanks to those who let me slip by, I appreciate their courtesy and respond in kind.

In summary;

  • Use passing zones when available
  • Crossing the double yellow line is illegal
  • Give the car a chance or two to exit into an overlook and let you by
  • Communicate with the driver by using your turn signals
  • Wait for a safe opportunity
  • Pass quietly and with respect
Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - illegal passing is not without risks and potential consequences!

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips – Illegal passing is not without risks and potential consequences!

At some point on your Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle ride you’re going to be presented with this dilemma – to pass or not to pass. There’s a darned good reason crossing the double yellow line is illegal, it’s dangerous! In a dangerous situation one of your best tools is good communication. Use those signal lights and show some thanks if you decide to take a ride on the wild side of the line. A lot of times, seeing your signal lights alerts the driver and results in a safe and legal passing event and a better Blue Ridge Parkway ride for everyone.

These tips work with bicycles as well, be kind and let’s all enjoy our ride!

See the Blue Ridge Parkway Park Service Safety Page

See the Blue Ridge Motorcycling Parkway Safety Tips Page

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch – Cartographer

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Learn Total Control

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– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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