Sanger de Cristo HOG very committed to “Riding Safe and Having Fun”, and safety has been, and continues to be, an important part of Chapter rides. Whether you ride alone, with friends, or in a group of fellow Chapter members, safe riding is something that you should practice every time you ride. Our Road Captains can help by providing safe riding tips and information on rider education. Group riding requires additional safety skills that our Head Road Captain will help you develop throughout the year.
A Safety Attitude – A habit of safe riding begins with each and every rider, and we try to instill and reinforce an attitude of saftety in all of our rides. From the Director through the officers to all the members, riding safely means that we can all have more fun. And that’s what it is really about, riding and having fun.
We’ve just added a “Riding Safely” forum topic in the forums. If you have any questions that are safety related, post them there and see if we can answer your question. Riding Safely
Riding in Gravel
By Tricia Szulewski, MSF RiderCoach
At some point in your street motorcycling life you’ll find yourself faced with riding in gravel. Roadside pullouts that are not paved and road construction are the two most common scenarios where you’ll encounter loose rocks and/or dirt and sand.
Another common gravel scenario (one where you could kick yourself for not asking about ahead of time) happens when you’ve arrived at that cute B&B or lodge where you had planned to stay only to be faced with a long, deep gravel driveway.
Gravel happens. Street motorcyclists rarely choose to ride in gravel. You can choose to turn around, but that’s not always an option. You need to be able to get through it in one piece. (Experienced rider tip: when making lodging reservations, always ask if there is any gravel on which you must travel to get there.) Whether it’s gravel, dirt, sand, grass, or any slick surface, the same rules apply. You want to minimize the motorcycle’s lean and abstain from any sudden input such as braking, accelerating, or swerving.
When we lose traction, defined as the “grip of a tire on a road,” it’s easy to lose control of the motorcycle. But don’t lose your head.
If your motorcycle is already in motion and you come up to a patch of gravel in the road, don’t panic. It’s best to maintain the momentum the motorcycle already has and slow down gradually, with very light use of both brakes. Your tires will slide easily, even on a light gravel surface, so if you brake too hard too fast you’ll likely produce a skid, lose control of the motorcycle and you may go down.
When the road ahead promises miles of gravel, you can turn around and find another route, or you can use these techniques to get through it.
•Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed, and steer the bike without fighting against it.
•Use a gradual throttle roll-on to accelerate and maintain a steady speed, which will most likely be a reduced speed. Try not to stop, but if you have to, start out again by using very light, gradual acceleration, so your tires don’t spin out.
•Keep the motorcycle as straight up as possible, that is minimize lean, which may mean taking wide turns and using most of the road.
•Keep as much distance between you and other vehicles as possible to allow yourself a lot of extra room to gradually slow down to a stop.
•Remember the rule that you you go where you’re looking, so avoid looking down. Stay focused on where you want to ride to, but continually scanning near and far, checking the road surface conditions so you’re aware of any big rocks or potholes to avoid. Looking far ahead will keep you heading in the right direction.
•Tell yourself you will get through this.
•Listen to your inner voice. If you’re feeling confident then go for it. If the voice in your head says to turn around and you can, then listen to it.
•Don’t allow any negative thoughts to invade your brain like how bad it is to ride through gravel or that you will fall. If you employ the above techniques, you’re likely to power right through and be celebrating that you did so before you know it.
Seasoned street motorcycle riders know riding in gravel is inevitable. If you ride any long distances at all, you’ll likely hit upon road construction where fresh gravel has been laid for future pavement. It’s not a matter of avoidance, but a matter of learning to ride through it.
Thanks to Jeanne Brooks for bringing this to my attention!