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 - 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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Motorcycle Detour for I-75 Slide near Jellico, TN

If you’re headed south to Daytona from the midwest, here’s a alternate route for motorcycles that will help you avoid the traffic – 

Coming home from a Total Rider Tech instructor training in Chicago yesterday, I ran into the roadblock on I-75 near the Tennessee / Kentucky state line. On the ride up I noted the rushing streams and rivers from recent storms and apparently Sinking Creek washed out and undermined a section of I-75 causing the southbound lane to subside and be closed at exit 160.

Even at 4 AM my cartographers instincts compelled me to look for an alternate route for my 2 wheeled friends that would get them away from the traffic that would now choke the “official” detour route which leads you down US 25W through La Follette.

Screenshot of Google Map

The "official" detour routs you east through La Follette. I've identified another way to the west that you should enjoy more.

Link to Google Map Route – http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211107090297552226361.0004bb0ddf208a14a207c&msa=0&ll=36.408573,-83.946533&spn=0.584666,1.489334

Pass through Jellico, keeping left at the intersection in town with US 25W. Follow TN 297 south as it twists and winds through Newcomb and Elk Valley. Turn left onto TN 63 (Howard Baker HWY) to reconnect to the interstate just below the slide area at exit 141. There are a couple gas stations at this exit. It’s actually a pretty engaging ride for the motorcycle rider that you can enjoy, plan on 30 minutes or so without other traffic.

I did not scout the “official” route, though it looks like it too has some tight and twisty bits at the north end. Get a few big semi’s on this road and traffic is bound to slow to a crawl.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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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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Roads In Bad Shape After Rains

After nearly a month of rain over the mountains of North Carolina we can now be thankful the long period of drought is behind us though some of our roads are suffering damage. The rain is good news and is welcome to a region which had been parched dry along with much of the southeast United States. The bad news is the heavy rainfall has been taking it’s toll on the roads.

Thin soil on steep slopes is prone to slide when accumulated water adds weight and lubrication to the mix and reports of road damage is widespread. Minor flooding has occurred periodically in low lying areas while several small slides have occured around Asheville, Cashiers, and Brevard. Numerous trees have fallen causing temporary road closures throughout the region.

While I’ve heard of no major incidents, I urge visitors to be aware of the situation and exercise caution while riding through the area. Watch for gravel and sand, particulalry in turns, rocks fallen into the roads, and debris washed down steep driveways and side roads. You may also expect repair crews on the roads as things are put back in order.

On the up side, there’s no better time to take a tour of the watrefalls!

Wayne@americaridesmaps.com

>> Go To America Rides Maps.com http://americaridesmaps.com

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