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Thread: The Last Ride

  1. #1
    apriliaforum Member 1bigdawg's Avatar
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    The Last Ride

    Howdy;
    I thought the following was a great article from Sport Rider magazine Dec 2004, the Benchracing section and I wanted to share it with those who might not have seen it.

    The article is by Steve Garets who is the director of TEAM Oregon. I have gotten permission from Steve and SR magazine to allow me to legally put the article on BB's. I have presented the article in approximately the same format (less photos) as in the magazine.

    THE LAST RIDE
    by steve garets

    About once a month a report appears on my desktop courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation. Its formal title is the Updated Motorcycle, Moped and Scooter Fatalities Report. It’s an archive of last rides - sterile and cryptic assessment of al fatal motorcycle crashes year-to-date, each one as witnessed through the eyes of the investigating police officer. I scan the report - date, time of day, location, presence of alcohol, weather conditions, helmet and endorsement. I pause over the description.

    “MC vs. auto; motorcycle doing very
    high-speed wheelie on Stark St.,
    80-yr-old woman pulled out; motorcyclist
    struck auto. Died at scene”

    All states collect fatality data from traffic-related crashes that occur on public roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) complies this data annually in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database. Facts are analyzed, conclusions drawn and reports issued - and every January 1, the process begins anew.

    “Single vehicle- lost control, slid
    across oncoming lane, hit curb and
    retaining wall near tunnel. Borrowed
    bike, 600 Yamaha, DOA. passenger died
    two hours later."

    The 2001 FARS report indicates that 3181 motorcyclists were killed and an additional 60,000 injured in traffic crashes across the country, an increase of 10 percent and four percent respectively, from the previous year. The 40-and-older group accounted for 40 percent of all motorcyclist fatalities. And what were they riding? Look around - big bikes (more than 1001cc) carried almost two-thirds of the fatalities involving riders 40 and over.
    This is not to say that younger riders aren’t involved - the 20- to 29-year-old group has the highest number of fatalities among all age groups, bringing the mean age of motorcyclist killed in ‘01 to 36.3.
    So What’s taking us out? According to the FARS, multiple-vehicle crashes accounted for 54 percent of the deaths in ‘01. Seventy-five percent of those were frontal impacts - only six percent were struck in the rear. This shows that most crashes develop from hazards right in front of us. It pays to be vigilant and watch where we’re going.

    “MC vs auto. Motorcycle rear-ends
    Jeep waiting to turn left. Another
    motorcycle missed Jeep”

    The remaining 46 percent of deaths can be attributed to single-vehicle crashes. In almost half (41 percent) of these crashes the motorcycle operators were intoxicated.

    “Single Vehicle - motorcycle attempted
    to pass semi on right side, went off
    shoulder, hit road sign. Alcohol was a
    factor in this crash”

    Oregon’s portion of the FARS report differs from the national perspective. That is to be expected, since each stat has different rules, regulations, climates, riding populations and urban/rural conditions. Oregon has more rural road crashes, with the majority being single-vehicle crashes. Tragically, most of these occur in corners.

    “Single vehicle-lost control,left
    roadway on curve, hit power pole”

    “Single vehicle-lost control on
    curve, went over embankment.
    Dead at scene”

    “Single vehicle, missed 90-degree
    corner and landed in ditch. Left
    37-ft. skid mark in attempt to stop.
    Helmet came off during crash”

    Exploring Oregon’s statistics further, I’ve discovered corners are a common factor in multivehicle crashes, too.

    “MC vs auto; MC rider cut inside on
    blind corner at speed too fast for
    conditions, hit BMW head-on”

    “MC vs auto; MC crossed centerline on
    corner, struck Ford head-on. MC rider
    and passenger both died at scene”

    “MC vs auto; Rider lost control on curve,
    too much speed, crossed centerline
    approximately five feet over center line
    and hit Dodge head-on.”

    Lacking any other evidence, it is easy to conclude that excessive speed is the cause of these crashes. Very often there is nothing else to explain the unplanned exit-no gouge marks, no signs of traction loss or mechanical failure, no other vehicles involved, no visible roadway defect or animal strike. Follow riders accompanying the victim completed the same corner without incident. So why did these riders leave their lane?
    After coaching thousands of riders, from rank beginners to veteran motor officers, I’m convinced that the answer lies in the eyes. Quite simply, where you look is where you go.
    I believe riders crash in corners because they override sight distance-they ride faster than they can see in time to stop, swerve or safely react when the road tightens or something unexpected appears in their path. Typically, riders make it through the first two-thirds of the corner and then just straighten up the remainder. What rapidly comes into view is a cliff or approaching vehicle. The rider’s attention is distracted at the worst possible moment. His eyes lock on the object and he is drawn in that direction as if guided by wire. I’ve visited crash scenes where there is nothing near the impact area except for a rural mailbox that’s been snapped off at the ground. The rider could have cleared it on the left or right if target fixation hadn’t taken over his guidance system that day.
    Your eyes are your guidance system! They feed your should-mounted supercomputer the critical information necessary to corner safely-speed, slope, radius, path, obstacles, etc. The only thing you have to do to begin collecting the information is face your intended path of travel.
    To avoid crashing in corners, swivel your head and look through the turn. Look as far as you can, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. Position yourself towards the outside of the lane to increase your line of sight through the curve. Limit your speed at the curve’s entrance until you can see the path. Begin your turn only after the clear pathway comes into view, Only then should you begin adding throttle-when you know where the road leads and what hazards exist.


    “Single vehicle-rider came
    around curve, lost control, left
    roadway and hit power pole”

    Single vehicle-motorcycle lost
    control on curve, left roadway
    struck small tree. Found next
    day by pedestrian”

    “Single vehicle-motorcycle
    lost control on blind curve
    passing another motorcycle
    hit guardrail”

    I’ve watched riders attach corners during our track courses. At the beginning, we hold the riders to lower speeds to show them how to link turns smoothly and precisely. But when the speed-up signal appears, their cornering disciplines crumbles. Rather than carving smooth, fluid turns, riders dive into turns too fast while fixating on the entrance (what they see) rather than the exit (what they don’t see). They turn in too soon, acquire their pathway too late and end up staring at the shoulder as they paint a border-to-border line through the turn. It’s ugly. Their turn exits are precariously wide, a condition that is made worse as the subsequent corner rushes into view. A student rider told me the other day that maneuvering his motorcycle was like “stuffing a cow through barbed wire.” It doesn’t have to be. A smoother rider can get through corners with much more precision, fewer disruptions and a much great margin of safety......quicker too.
    Safe and smooth cornering starts with good good information. Put your guidance system to use by reminding your self to look ahead very early in the cornering process. Limit your entry speed. Enter turns at speeds that allow you to stop or escape if the turn tightens or something unexpected blocks your path. Be careful with line selection-stay to the outside of your lane until your pathway comes into view. You can always add more throttle once the pathway is defined. The last-ride archive clearly shows that you can’t take it back.

    end of article.
    Steve Garets can be reached at Steve.Garets@oregonstate.edu

    I think the last paragraph says it all. This same info is stated in different ways by Keith Code, Lee Parks , Freddie Spencer and any other motorcycle instructor or top rider. We need to focus on these aspects of cornering, especially our entrance speed, initation of turn and throttling up.

    Talk about them with others, make them a part of the benchracing tales and keep ourselves and other out of the NHSTA & FARS databases.

    If your interested here is the FARS database info for motorcycles for 2003 for the US. You can change the year at the top right and also look at your state.

    Lets be safe, help others to be safe and ALL make it home after every ride.
    I ride a Red 2003 Falco
    Wife rides a Silver 2003 Falco

  2. #2
    apriliaforum expert orangeokie's Avatar
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    Good stuff Big Dawg . . I agree you go where you look. I know that from experience.

  3. #3
    apriliaforum expert Ricky J's Avatar
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    Sticky Topic

    Let's keep this one up. Thanks BigDawg!

  4. #4
    apriliaforum expert tuono-rider's Avatar
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    From the "CC rider" course...."slow, LOOK, lean, roll"....that is, slow down B4 a turn & look at where you are going to go, then lean into it & "roll" the throttle (accelerate) while coming out....works every time!!
    '04 Tuono Red
    '02 BMW 1150 RT
    Life by the yard is hard, by the inch it's a cinch!

  5. #5
    apriliaforum expert novos's Avatar
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    I commited the bonehead mistake of target fixation early on. It ended up costing me 600 bucks worth of bodywork.

    last time I got in a panic situation, I shifted my eyes through the turn instead of where I was headed and sure enough the bike just sailed on through the turn... *WHEW*


    Is Carl's Jr. the son of Hot Carl?

  6. #6
    apriliaforum expert azmotogirl's Avatar
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    Keith Code's theory is to be read and used. It's not just for the track. Great capital to gain: not just how to physically operate motorcycle, but mostly the mentality and survival of riding. Not just for me, I've heard a lot the same opinion from other riders, The School itself and the theory- both have been a great way to learn safe, technical, clever riding without being deprived with fun of it.
    Solves issues like panic, wrong decision making, where to look and where not, estimate before execute....can't count everything.
    Sure helped me in quite a few serious close encounters.....
    Last edited by azmotogirl; 12-02-2004 at 07:45 PM.

  7. #7
    apriliaforum expert Ricky J's Avatar
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    Making Mistakes

    We all have...or will. Have a survival plan when you ride.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  8. #8
    apriliaforum expert azmotogirl's Avatar
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    Re: Making Mistakes

    Originally posted by Ricky J
    We all have...or will. Have a survival plan when you ride.
    sure hard to digest just looking .......

  9. #9
    apriliaforum expert Tifosi's Avatar
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    Getting on a race track made me a much better street rider. I was able to explore limitations in a little more controlled environment. I was able to find out how/why things could go wrong and what to expect without paying for it with my life. I plan on making my daughters go through a "cage" track school when they are 16. I don't want them finding out what front end push feels like (and not know what to do) just before they hit a tree. A little off track excursion might be healthy for them and gain a little respect for how things can go wrong very quickly. Thanks for the post 1bigdawg.

  10. #10
    apriliaforum expert knfusion24's Avatar
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    Good info Bigdawg, I've been close in my younger years (not that I'm old), still have a ton to learn..

  11. #11
    apriliaforum expert Prilliant03's Avatar
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    Originally posted by knfusion24
    Good info Bigdawg, I've been close in my younger years (not that I'm old), still have a ton to learn..
    At least you've got the right attitude. Speak to any older rider with a lot of experience and they'll tell you they never stop learning. It's the young, arrogant, know-it-alls that need educating in this department.

    The sad thing is that is that too many young riders need to have a big spill before they realise they don't bounce so well. And some of them never bounce back at all.

    As we say here in NI. "Keep 'er between the hedges!"

    Ride safe folks.
    "Life is like a sewer. You only get out of it what you put in."

    Tom Lehrer.

  12. #12
    apriliaforum expert Axecent's Avatar
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    not just the young

    I recently witnessed a beginner's crash by a 55 yr old rider that had just returned to motorcycling after a 20 yr layoff.

    Standard fare. New Ducati. New Ducati 'protective" jacket and gloves. New Monster. I spent 20 minutes before my first ride with him discussing target fixation and the very contents of the article attached, ie, overcoming panic reactions by quickly making the proper response, as described. I had sent him the Code books weeks earlier, lectured him via e-mail numerous times, and had him signed up for a track day with Lone Star. Bottom line? He made it 7 miles before he hit the pavement hard.

    I have restricted my riding to close friends that I am very comfortable with, and among them, many CMRA racers, so this was a departure from my standard ride, and it was the first ride I have been on in over 6 years where someone was injured to the extent that they required an ambulance.

    He is OK, but has been wheelchair bound for the past 4 weeks and is just now getting into water therapy (for the tib-fib). Shattered collar bone, busted ribs, and a ground off finger tip rounded out the injury list....a miserable price to pay for a single wrong reaction to a perceived situation.

    I feel somewhat strongly that there must be a simulator design that can use electroshock to train the BAD reactions out of beginner riders to at least get them through their first few "grab for the brakes, I'm going too fast" corner reactions, instead of 4 months of therapy and loss of work.


  13. #13
    apriliaforum expert tuono-rider's Avatar
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    I am convinced that starting when you are very young on dirt bikes/motocross will have a tremendous benefit laying down "muscle memory" for learning how to corner & brake etc... also if you go down it is less consequential than on the street... that was my experience anyway. I did a lot of trail riding as a kid/early teenager. When it was time to get on a street bike, both the capability & the respect were already in tow.....Even with that history I still took riding classes to 'finish' & even though much of it was common sense & easy, I do not regret what it re-enforced....
    '04 Tuono Red
    '02 BMW 1150 RT
    Life by the yard is hard, by the inch it's a cinch!

  14. #14
    apriliaforum expert azmotogirl's Avatar
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    Absolutely agree about dirt bikes: the best way to learn riding, and never too late. When people ask me what's the best way to learn to ride motorcycle, I usually say: get yourself a dirt bike first,
    ride at least for a season, build up confidence, and then make a transiton toward street riding.


    Here is another version of "last ride".
    Maybe indirectly, but still related to some ideas in this thead:

    Just saw on news: last night Chief Executive Financial Officer for City of PHX pull "car surfing" stunt
    on his Mercedes along Camelback Rd (local Wall Street). He set cruise control on 50 mph,
    climbed out of the sun roof, and stood up on the top of the car roof pretending he was surfing.
    Fell off, got killed. They said he was suffering from some strange mental disease, that does not
    impact daily life, but may hit only once or twice in the lifetime.
    Looks like sport bikes are not on the top of the stunt list, wheelie along Scottsdale Rd is not the
    most horrible show.
    Last edited by azmotogirl; 12-10-2004 at 04:16 PM.

  15. #15
    apriliaforum expert Ricky J's Avatar
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    Rare Diseases

    That one is called Jackass Syndrome. See also: judgement, poor

    JS is contagious, occasionally fatal, and can strike at any age. Frequent symptoms include "I was just thinking..." and "I saw somebody do this once..."; effective cures are counting to ten thousand before acting on the idea or calling someone first.

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