I was recently speaking to two friends separately, both of which have been riding since the early to mid nineties. They had ridden on and off (far more off than on) and both owned a good few bikes over that period. Within the last, say six months, both of them had quite nasty accidents and had decided to give up riding, based on the reasoning that although they were doing nothing wrong, were not riding aggressively, or impatiently and were sticking to the Law, they had someone pull out from a junction and t-bone them. They described their accidents in detail and both stated that they’d never ride again, given that they did precisely nothing wrong, yet still had a nasty off and were put off it, effectively for life.
You’ll all relate to people telling you that speed kills and that motorcycling is dangerous; “it’s not you, it’s other people” and so on. First off, speed doesn’t kill; improper use of speed kills. If you’re going too quickly for any given situation, you’re effectively writing a cheque that your ability cannot cash and you significantly increase the chances of having a spill. Secondly though, whilst we can all put ourselves in potentially harmful situations, there’s a lot we can do on a bike to mitigate against accidents. Yes, it’s easy to say that you’ve been riding for 20+years (as the majority of us have) and that you’ve had many different bikes and toured, done track days and scratched. Yes, all this helps the concept of not coming off, but as the old adage goes; “if you’ve always done what you always did, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because I recently had somewhat of an epiphany. I say recently, I mean over the last, say 6 years, or so. This is because, given that I’m the world’s most average rider, it doesn’t matter that I’ve been riding for 30 years, or that I fit into the above description of rider, it matters that I’m now choosing to constantly question my ability, in line with experience, age, confidence and mindset. I don’t want to have a spill and give up. I don’t want to see a sunny day and drive a car (or start driving to work, which I don’t really at the moment) and I don’t want to forget how much I love motorcycling.
Now look, I’m not saying that I’ve developed an immunity to having an accident; that would make me the richest man in the world; I’m just saying that by questioning everything I do on a bike, given that although I ride pretty-much all year round, riding is very much a perishable skill and needs constant practice. By doing it a bit differently so as to enhance my safety, I’m perhaps doing my bit to ward off too high a chance of it happening. In short, I’m advocating the embracement of change.
Hope this isn’t too much of a deviation from my normal blog and if it is, I apologise, but I really care about motorcycling continuing in the UK and most importantly, for all our safety.