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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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

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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

Visibility

I first heard rumors in town yesterday a motorcyclist had died in an accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway. http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20120516/NEWS/305160022/Motorcyclist-killed-Parkway?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage It is a sad occurrence which typically happens a few times each year. Considering the millions (YES MILLIONS) of motorcycle riders who will make the journey to one of our nations top motorcycle rides this year, I have a few suggestions on how to be safer on your travels.

image-motorcycle in fog on Blue Ridge Parkway

Motorcycle Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - fog

This tragic accident seems to have happened because of reduced visibility from rain / fog. At most entrances to the Blue Ridge Parkway you’ll see signs which say “avoid the parkway during fog and bad weather” (my paraphrasing, wording on signs varies).

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - Wait for the clouds to rise

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
1) Wait for the clouds to rise

As it was the middle of the day when I heard the first rumor, it means this accident probably happened earlier in the morning. Here’s the first bit of advice – wait until later in the day to get up in the high elevations. Typical weather patterns in the Smoky Mountains have the clouds settling on the mountains and valleys over night. You awake to fog in the morning. As the sun warms the clouds from above, they rise and the fog clears from the lower elevations. If there is a lot of moisture in the air (we’ve just been through an extended rainy period) it can take quite a while for the clouds to get above the 6000 ft heights of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If there is any bad weather occurring, it will hit the high parts first, and can linger up there all day while it’s fine and dandy down low.

 

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - It's on days like this a waterproof camera comes in handy. Visibility quickly vanishes when the clouds and rain close in.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
2) If you want an early start, see some other great biker roads first

Adopt a “locals” strategy. Most local riders know how different the weather can be up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and know to wait until later in the day to get the most out of that ride. As there are so many other great motorcycle rides in the area, there’s no reason to make the quick jump up high when you can get out and have a fun motorcycle ride down low. The Blue Ridge Parkway is just one great motorcycle ride. There are so many more. Use the opportunity to get the most out of your travels. With so many good biker roads intersecting the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can spend an hour or two cruising some of the best motorcycle roads in the country, then pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway at one of many entrances later in the day.

Photo-clouds-move-in-on-the-Blue-ridge-Parkway

Clouds will hang just at the mountaintops. Dense, wet, thick clouds which can reduce visibility to nearly nothing but whiteness.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
3) Eat first so you don’t lose time later

Take your time, enjoy a nice breakfast, you’ll make up the time lost – So you’re just interested in riding the Blue Ridge Parkway, no time to see those other roads, got to stay on schedule and knock out the miles?  One strategy I use when I need to cover some distance is to eat my big meal at breakfast. Sure it prevents that early eager start, but get your belly full, and you can make it through lunch with snacks at the overlooks. There are few convenient lunch stops on the parkway, so you’ll lose time later in the day when you go searching for one. You’ve got to sacrifice some time to eat, so do it early when it makes you safer through the day.

Visibility can be severely limited at the high elevations found on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it’s best to avoid the situation if you can.

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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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Just minding my own business? Not on a motorcycle!

Minding your own business while riding a motorcycle is a recipe for disaster!

“I was just riding along, minding my own business, when this cager came over into my lane and nearly hit me!” How often do you hear this said?

photo-when riding in traffic, ride to be seen.

When riding in traffic, ride to be seen.

Too often, if you ask me. It’s usually followed by a rant on how cars don’t look out for bikers and how stupid drivers are for not being more aware of motorcycles and tales of kicking doors, breaking mirrors, and other aggressive retaliation schemes by “some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet”.

Fault is always assigned to the auto driver, and it is with some justification, drivers should be more aware of their surroundings and pay more attention. But the saying is “it’s a two way street” and fault goes both ways. I never hear the motorcyclist taking any responsibility for what occurred. They were just riding along “minding their own business”.

“Minding your own business” on motorcycle is a recipe for disaster. If you’re not minding everyone else’s business out on the road, and actively working to insure you are always seen, that recipe can bake you some humble pie and a big plate of hurt.

Whenever I hear those “he came into my lane tales” I first wonder “Why did you let that happen?” You ride in a drivers blind spot and then get all bent out of shape when he doesn’t see you?

graphic-blind-spots

DON'T ride in the blind spots.

The remedy is to ride to be seen and pay attention to where you are positioned. Don’t ride in the drivers blind spot. Either fall back and give him room or roll on a little throttle and move ahead so you are clearly visible.

Assume and expect you are not seen, that other traffic will behave like you’re not there and ride accordingly. Mind what that driver nearby is doing. Watch their mirrors, where they are looking, the movement of their head as they glance up to check the review mirror or glance left or right. It can signal their intentions and alert you something is about to happen. You should always be watching for it.

Also keep an eye on what’s going on ahead of both you AND the car nearby. Slower traffic ahead in their lane or a flash of brake lights in the vehicle ahead of them means they may take quick and evasive action that involves the space you are occupying.

Above all, stay out of those blind spots. Recognize when you are in these danger zones and move out of them as quickly as possible. Minimize your time at most risk. When you find yourself alongside another vehicle you should be taking action to move out of the situation – that is what minding your own business should mean on a motorcycle. Drop back or move ahead.

If you’re going to ride in traffic you’ve got to both ride to be seen and assume you’re not.

Ok, so this is “Motorcycling 101”, everybody knows this stuff. Yet on any day you can visit a forum or social networking site and read scores of posts about how “some car came into my lane”. Knowing it is one thing. Apparently applying that knowledge is something we need to work on. Don’t let it happen to you!

Here’s a great site for more detailed review. http://www.motorcyclebasics.com/blind-spots.html

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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. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech

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Motorcycle Safety & Why We Get it Wrong

“Watch out for Bikers”“Loud Pipes Save Lives” , and other such “be safer riding” campaigns get a lot of attention from motorcyclists, but when you look at the science, they approach the problem from the wrong side.

Image - Watch out for Motorcycles

False Hope

Studies show the greatest improvements in motorcycle safety are gained through better riding skills and awareness. 

I recently spent as much time as I could stand reading through studies on motorcycle accidents from the early 70’s through the mid 80’s – I found little data after that. The most notable of these is the Hurt Report, though there are also a couple big ones from Europe.

The results of these studies are consistent over time and irrespective of location with similar conclusions.

  • The most common multiple vehicle accident is caused by a car turning left in front of a motorcycle at an intersection – about 2/3 of multiple vehicle accidents.
  • The most common single vehicle motorcycle accident is running wide in a turn and leaving the road or sliding out – about 1/3 of single vehicle accidents.
  • In about 40% of motorcycle accidents one of the contributing or cuasative factors is inexperience or lack of skills to evade or avoid the accident by the motorcyclist

photo-motorcycle-crashAll of these are best addressed by the motorcycle rider through increased awareness and better skills.

Those popular “Watch out for Bikers” and “Loud Pipes Save Lives” campaigns are not supported by the science. They may be popular, and it’s easy to put the blame and shift the responsibility to cage drivers, but it’s an ineffective approach.

Watch out for bikers? Size Matters;

The studies go in great detail examining how visible motorcycles are on the road; color, frontal area, bright clothing, lights on/off, etc. While each of these things does increase visibility and have an impact, overall it’s not significantly relevant.  Bottom line is motorcycles are small compared to any other motor vehicle out on the road. You can do things to be more visible, but don’t count on it helping much.

image - Loud pipes save lives

Too little, too late

Loud Pipes Save Lives? What’s that Noise?

We are primarily visual creatures. Biologically, we process and intake information visually. Auditory input is secondary. We listen to the radio or books on tape when driving because we know we process our driving information visually.

There are no scientific studies that examine whether loud pipes have any impact on driver awareness. The evidence is anecdotal or assumed – “I know my loud pipes kept that guy from moving into my lane”. Not if he didn’t see you. When it comes to the most dangerous situation for motorcycles, approaching an intersection, you can draw your own conclusions from a simple experiment. Next time your sitting at an intersection, note when you hear an approaching motorcycle. It’s long after you can see it. By the time the sound is loud enough to draw attention, it’s too late. Whatever is going to happen has already started.

 Photo-motorcycle crash How to ride safer:

Riding a motorcycle in traffic is like  a mouse running through a heard of elephants. Be alert and ready to take quick evasive actions or you’ll be crushed.

  1. Always ride like you’re not seen. Expect the most common accident, that car pulling out in front of you. Intersections, side streets, and anything that obstructs the view tells you to get ready to react. Develop that second sense and practice spotting these hazards.
  2. Be Ready to React – ease off the throttle, get your hands ready to brake / clutch, get your feet off the highway pegs, down where you can get at the controls and position yourself to respond quickly.
  3. REACT – here’s where most failures occur and where better skills make significant statistical difference.

Once is not enough:

Typical motorcycle fail in the studies – car pulls in front of bike. Biker jams rear brake. Bike either skids upright into car or is “laid down” and slides uncontrolled along the ground. If you did take a Motorcycle Safety Course you have been exposed to how to brake and swerve – once. That was in a parking lot, at low speeds, with nothing to run in to, when you were totally focused on what you were doing. If that was the last time you practiced braking and avoidance, you are an accident waiting for an opportunity.

Motorcycle Safety  – Getting it Right

photo-motorcycle-rider-crashingThe science shows improving motorcycle riders skills are the most effective means of reducing accidents.

1) Up your skills with practice –

I can’t ever recall seeing anyone practicing motorcycle skills independently. One reason may be you find a secluded safe location to do it so it happens out of sight. I have my own “secret test track” not far from home where I go to hone my skills on a regular basis, but then I’m a motorcycle instructor and demand a high level of personal performance so I  can demonstrate skills well for my students.

Honestly, without such a motivation I rarely practiced riding skills on my own previously in any serious manner. We all know we could be better with focused practice, but riding time is so precious, it’s tough to give up a fun ride for the rigors of working on skills and practicing technique.  Let’s face it, it’s the rare motorcycle rider who ever does any independent practice.

2)  Use the force – No Pain, No Gain –

At least swap one type of pain for another –  a little financial pain can save you a whole lot of potential physical pain, as well as the attendant monetary consequences that result from even a minor accident. Since we’re unlikely to practice skills on our own, force yourself to do it. Pay for it and you’ll be motivated to give up the time and get your money’s worth.

3) Get ‘er Done

While there are plenty of things you can do to learn to be a safer rider, online sources, books, etc, or occasional practice on your own to improve skills, if you wan’t to get the quickest, best, and easiest  results find professional structured instruction. You’ll accomplish more in less time, and progress more quickly to being a better safer rider.

 Are you going to be safer next year?

It’s time to start thinking about those New Year resolutions. Becoming a safer rider is one to put on your list. Whether it’s repeating a basic course you’ve already had, or scheduling a track day to work on advanced skills, take action now and find an appropriate class for you. I know you want to ride more next year, don’t we all. Let’s all be safer riders as well.

Commit to taking motorcycle instruction to become a better and safer rider right now – scientifically sound advice.

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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. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech

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Learn Total Control of your Motorcycle near the Dragon at Deals Gap

Photo - Dragon Riders

Master the skills to tame the Dragon

Have you ever come into a corner too fast and wondered if you’d make it? Can you swing your bike around on a two lane road or do you have to go looking for a place to turn around? Do you know how to set your bikes suspension correctly for yourself, your riding style, carrying a passenger or loaded with luggage? Would you like to have the skills, knowledge, and mindset to not only tame the Dragon but become a master of it?

Take your motorcycle riding to the next level with Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic July 16 – 17 in Robbinsville, North Carolina. Learn the skills, techniques, and mental preparation to get the most out of your motorcycle and improve your overall confidence and enjoyment of riding.

This is not for the newbie. Lee Parks Clinics teach the experienced rider how to handle a bike at speed, ride with control and confidence, and master the complex dynamics of setting your bike up correctly for your riding style. Whether you’re on a crusier, a touring bike, or a race replica, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills to get the most out of your ride and be safer doing it.

Photo - Rider on the Dragon

Master control regardless of conditions

You CAN ride faster, safer, and with more confidence and control with the knowledge you’ll gain from Lee Parks experienced rider instruction. Before you balk at the price, consider the cost of missing that next curve that shuts down on you, the tow truck winching your bike up the rocky embankment to plop it on it’s side on the back of a flatbed. In the last 6 weeks I’ve seen a bike in the Tennessee River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a sad group of onlookers at a crash site on the Cherohala Skyway, and just yesterday, a rider went over the guardrail on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Overheard at the Dragon – They were winching his bike up after the wreck when the rider said, “That’s not my bike”. A few minutes later they found the remains that had laid there unseen for who knows how long.

Lee Parks has been teaching these classes for years all across the country sharing the knowledge and experience he gained from years of racing and track riding and translating those skills and principles to be applied in everyday road riding. You CAN be a better rider. You CAN be a safer rider. It’s a small price to pay for an invaluable gain in your riding knowledge, experience, and confidence.

SportBikes4Hire

Contact Greg McCoy at SportBikes4Hire.com

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn these skills so close to the Dragon in Robbinsville July 16 – 17. Contact Greg McCoy at SportBikes4Hire.com to learn more about the class – 865-809-9147; greg@SportBikes4Hire.com.

I’ll be there. Hope to see you as well.

Class is Filling, limited space – CONTACT GREG NOW!

JULY 16-17
Robbinsville, North Carolina

Contact: Greg McCoy
greg@SportBikes4Hire.com
http:SportBikes4Hire.com
865-809-9147

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– 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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100 miles out on the Blue Ridge Parkway, my motorcycle was stuck in top gear

I’d dropped the bike. Pulling out from a back road along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a car suddenly appeared out of the dense clouds rounding a curve and I stalled the engine on the incline.  It went down hard on it’s left side breaking a turn signal lens and mangling the clutch and shift levers. Minor damage considering I’d avoided the car, but it would prove enough to make the trip home a challenge.

Photo - View From Switzerland Inn

The nicest weather came just before my meeting at the Switzerland Inn - http://SwitzerlandInn.com

Already modified from a prior incident (click to read about that debacle) the shift lever was now wedged beneath the side stand. The clutch lever flopped precariously but it was working, and with a decent foot effort I managed to pry the shifter upwards and snick through the gears to get moving again towards Asheville. It was when I tried to downshift for a curve the real problem became apparent. I could not shift into a lower gear.

Thankfully I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway, uninterrupted in its 469 mile length. No stops, no traffic lights, it would be a manageable inconvenience to be restricted to a single gear. The problems would come when I left the parkway and entered the city traffic. At least I’d have plenty of time to come up with a plan on how I’d get home without slowing or stopping.

Photo - bad weather on the Parkway

It's days like this a waterproof camera comes in handy on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Trying to bend the shift lever into a more useful shape was a last resort. Previously bent once, it would likely break if I stressed it any more. I decided I’d need to find a way home where I would not need to stop even once.

Traffic was light. The weather was already miserable at these high elevations and would continue to deteriorate as a strong front moved in. The wind gusted powerfully, rain squalls spit at me, and I was enveloped by thick clouds as I passed by the signs for Mt. Mitchell, then Craggy Gardens. The low fuel light came on as I drew near to Asheville but I knew there was no way I could negotiate traffic, stopping was not an option. I decided I must go on.

In 20 miles or so I’d reach the US 276 exit south of Waynesville. If I could get off the parkway without stalling, then make it down through the switchbacks on the steep incline, there would be but one traffic light to gamble on to reach home.

Cresting the rise that led into Bethel, I saw the light blink from red to green and rolled on the throttle to cleanly pass through it. 10 minutes later I pulled into my driveway. Just another day on the road.

A little video from the day –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j57PPHa_vVI

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– 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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Video Compilation of People Running Red Lights – Stay Alert!

A video to remind us to keep our heads up and remember most accidents happen at intersections. It a compilation of people running red lights and the results.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=-qvXbIenivk

There are thankfully few motorcycles involved. Many of the accidents happened while vehicles were making turns, something to consider the next time you’re doing so.

Don’t let your motorcycle vacation plans get spoiled by not paying attention and watching out for the crazy drivers out there. Better yet, avoid intersections altogether and stick to the back roads.

Have you ever been hit by someone running a red light?

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Video (NSFW) – Motorcycle Crash At Tail of the Dragon – Analysis

(Not Safe For Work – profanity) One of my favorite videos form the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap at the North Carolina / Tennessee border. There’s just so much wrong here, but could a more skilled motorcycle rider have pull it off?

Excessive speed and crossing on a yellow line are not atypical illegal practices on this notorious stretch of road and for these guys it was a big mistake that ended badly. But the more I look at it, the more I think it could have turned out differently.

It looks like the first rider could have reacted better. It appears he panics, sits up, fixates on the target ahead, and just grabs a handful of brakes. Unfortunately, he grabs the wrong brake (both of them do) locking the rear wheel and loosing grip just when they need it most. Rookie mistake, I’m not seeing the dive that would have come with better use of the front brake, and that’s why you now see so many new bikes with linked anti-lock braking systems.

Had he pitched into the turn I suspect a more skilled rider could have scrubbed off enough speed to make the next bend, though it would still have been hairy and left a nasty stain on the seat. I’d take going down trying to make the turn over just riding into the abyss any day. Even on an overweight behemoth of a bike like these Harleys, shifting your body makes a huge difference in negotiating a curve, and might have saved the day. Then again, it’s easy to judge from the safety of my comfy chair.

Bottom line, the “Dragon” bites another rider, though he did everything he could to provoke it.

See blog post “Move Your Ass to Save It” for tips on avoiding a similar fate – http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=131 and other mountain riding tips in posts nearby.

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