Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Take the Road


"Take the Road"

by Kaitlyn Wightman

Some choose to follow trails
With destinations preset
Plodding through twists and turns
Until their finish line is met
But in marching upon these paths
They find standard happy endings
And park themselves within acceptance
Leaving their dreams for the bending

But you, you take the road
You thunder your own speed
You improvise your distance
Letting your heart take the lead
The steep hills and wrong turns
They all become your own
But the wind spites you not
For you fear not of the unknown


Here Comes the Rain

Charlie Windmiller, Issue #12

With the rain comes the usual road hazards. Be careful out there, but don’t be afraid. After 21 years riding professionally on city streets you learn a thing or two. One of them is that riding in the wet is a great way to develop your skills. If you can go fast in the wet, you can go even faster in the dry. Street riding in the wet is the same as racing in the wet, smoothness, smoothness and more smoothness is required to do it right. Learn to develop a sense for traction under acceleration, cornering, and particularly under braking. No ham-fisted techniques need apply. Look out for metal on the streets, that includes cable-car tracks, manhole covers, construction street plates. When coming up to stop signs or traffic lights, give yourself plenty of time to stop the bike using progressive and smooth braking applications. Try not to be applying the brakes too hard when you get to the painted surfaces, like the cross walk. Give yourself plenty of room to stop before the painted lines. Be mellow and keep the bike as upright as possible when turning street corners and riding over any painted surfaces, again like cross walks or the big painted letters that often say stop at stop signs. Watch behind you at intersections, because the car behind you might not be able to stop. Sometimes it’s good to put your bike in the crosswalk, that gives you a little more space if the car behind you can’t stop in time. Try not to stay put behind a line of waiting cars, that leaves your rear too vulnerable to getting slammed from behind. Use the waiting cars for protection and go up to the front. If the traffic lights permit and you have enough time, carefully split lanes up to the front of the line when waiting at a light. But watch your timing, don’t get caught splitting lanes to the front when cars are starting to move because sometimes they lose traction and slide to the side a bit and will squeeze you in. If you aren’t experienced splitting lanes up to the front of lights, don’t do it in the rain. Splitting lanes up to the front of lights is an art form and not to be taken lightly just cause the cars are stopped waiting for a light. Light timing is your enemy, opening of car doors are your enemy and so are errant jay walkers who can come out of nowhere. It requires the same or more concentration as splitting lanes in slow moving traffic. On freeways, don’t just drone along, keep a sharp lookout for debris on the road. On the roads and freeways stay away from cars as much as possible, give them space and stay alert for squirrelly cars that might hydroplane. Also, inattentive drivers tend to get in trouble when they try and change lanes, realize a car is there and then over-correct and put themselves into a spin. In the dry, no problem; in the wet these over corrections wreak havoc, on roadways and freeways in particular. A good rule of thumb is give yourself room and more time for everything, including error, for stopping and cornering, to overtaking, splitting lanes, and obstacle and surface irregularity avoidance.

Most importantly, executing your moves smoothly is paramount. However, you don’t have to tiptoe and get scared thinking you’re on ice, motorcycle tires these days are unbelievaby effective at giving efficient grip in the wet. More grip then you think. Just be smooth and be practiced when you take your calculated risks.