Wednesday, 13 February 2013

"Keep your eyes on the road..."

That’s the way a well-known song by the Doors starts. And when it comes to riding bikes, it’s perhaps one of the most important, straightforward and self-evident rules of the game.

Of course, gazing fixedly at the patch of tarmac just ahead of your front wheel, or at the rear end of the vehicle in front of you, isn’t good enough. You’ve got to look as far ahead as is humanly possible. Naturally, you have also to cast your mind forwards along with your gaze, so that you can read, analyse and act upon any situation that you identify in the middle distance. Is that car five or six vehicles up the road from you braking? Cover your brakes and get ready to slow down or stop. In corners, follow that vanishing point: it can tell you so much about the turn – if it’s tightening up, staying constant-radius or opening out – allowing you to adapt your speed and road position to negotiate the bend cleanly and be perfectly prepared for the following straight and the next corner. And of course, the further you look along the road, the earlier you identify any problems that may arise.

The video above shows precisely what can happen if you overlook this basic premise of riding motorcycles (and of driving any motor vehicle, really). The police motorcyclist was obviously not paying enough attention and not looking far up enough the road, otherwise he would have noticed the speed bump in the road, slowed down accordingly in order to negotiate it and also inform the riders behind him to slow down in turn. In my humble opinion the policeman was lucky to get away relatively unscathed from the crash (in a longer cut of the video one can see that the bike suffered extensive damage) – he could so easily have been very seriously injured, or worse. He committed a stupid error that is difficult enough to forgive coming from a common-or-garden motorcyclist, but that is absolutely unacceptable from a police motorcyclist.

So next time you’re out on a ride, remember: keep your eyes  - and mind – on the road, the rubber side down and Enjoy the Ride!

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