Sep 23, 2009

no longer riding…

as a result of the bikesafe nc assessment i talked about in my previous post, i no longer ride my bike…

i now drive my bike.

before i go further, let me talk about the day… the morning started off with an introduction to the bikesafe program. then led into risk taking, risk awareness and risk mitigation. we’re told what we’re going to learn that day isn’t necessarily the right way or the only way to drive, but are tools and techniques to make us safer on the road.

as i recall, sgt. mark brown made the comment that the bikesafe program in london has seen a twenty-five percent drop in motorcycle fatalities as a result of their bikesafe program. i commented that it’s amazing realize that what we learn in an afternoon can decrease our chances of a fatal crash by twenty-five percent.

after the morning classroom session, we given a route to drive. a police officer follows, making assessments of our driving behavior. after the drive, we’re given our assessments.

generally, everyone eats lunch at the highway patrol cafeteria. as sgt. mark brown likes to point out, it’s “fish on fridays!!!” this is a great opportunity to chat more with the officers.

the afternoon starts with an introduction to “the system.”  so much information is presented, i could probably take it again and learn just as much. we’re taught about controlling the bike better, reading the road, strategies to make us safer on the road.

after the discussion, back out to the road for an afternoon assessment. the afternoon assessment takes us out for a longer ride, covering a lot of different driving scenarios – two lane roads, highways, heavily congested areas, etc. the idea is to put into practice what we learned earlier.

looking back on the say, i can easily say this was well worth the time; a must-have for everyone. it’s amazing how small things can make a big difference. i’ve put into practice some of the things i’ve learned and driving is so much more enjoyable. if you have a chance, take it.

below are some take-aways from the day – definitely not an exhaustive list:

  • driving a bike is a matter of attitude. people like mat mladin, valentino rossi, nicky hayden don’t ride their bikes around the track – they drive them. while we might not be out on the road to win a race, we should still have the right attitude when we’re out there. i now choose to drive my bike…
  • drive with a purpose. as sgt. mark brown says, “the purpose of riding is to get from point a to point b without damage to machine or injury to human.” when you think about it, when we make that happen, the drive between is so enjoyable.
  • always, always always have an escape route. always know where you’re going to go if or when you have to bail. this isn’t something you have the luxury of thinking about when the knucklehead behind you locks up their tires.
  • use your mirrors – check all around you all the time. i thought i did a good job of checking my mirrors. not as good as i could have been doing… now i focus on identifying the color, make and model of the car behind me. i’ll also try to identify if it’s a male or female driver and any other identifying factors – just in case said knucklehead decides to occupy the same space i’m currently using.
  • read the road signs. not only the ones posted by dot. it’s amazing how much the terrain can tell you if you know what to look for.

of course there was a lot more that i can’t think of right now… it’ll come back to me when i’m out driving…

in closing, i need to thank sgt. mark brown for his dedication and effort in bringing the bikesafe program to north carolina. if you ever meet him, you’ll quickly know he’s got a passion for motorcycling. he’s a pretty funny guy too.

thanks to all the police officers to help make the program successful. the officers come from different departments. we had state troopers, raleigh police, cary police and apex police. a lot of these officers do this on their day off. and they don’t get paid for this. because they believe in the program and believe it’s the right thing to do. after doing this during the day, some of the guys have to work at night.

a special thanks to trooper adams for sharing his knowledge with me during the day. i can only hope, and have no reason to believe otherwise, the other officers were as good as trooper adams.

if you get a chance, sign up for bikesafe. if the above isn’t enough, think about how cool it is to be blasting down the highway with a trooper behind you – without his lights on!!!