SAFE ZONE Speed kills… and so does slow
As a motorcycle riding instructor, I follow the curriculum and never advocate speeding. As a street renegade rider and a realist, I realize that if you don’t speed at times, a vehicle is likely to run over your butt and your bike.
In my dreams, I imagine a small town (with a name like Gooberville) where a biker can ride without feeling like he’s the last target at a gun range. But I live in South Florida, number one in road rage for the third consecutive year, where I count acceleration as one of the most important actions I can make to stay alive.
Please don’t misinterpret my theory. I define acceleration as having enough bike power, whenever necessary, to get your hiney out of harm’s way. Acceleration and speeding differ in that you can increase your speed to make a cool maneuver to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, or create a safer place in which to ride. Riding at an insane speed is what some bikers do to rev up their Adrenalin and feel alive. They should have more sex to mellow out.
Suicide bikers on crotch rockets running at balls-out speed do it for the thrill. They feel immortal as I did when I was that age. Most crotch dudes are young (well, relative to my age, they are infants) and I admire their skills. Nevertheless, when they blow by me at 100-plus mph, I say a Hail Mary and hope they don’t crash and I won’t have to pull over and pick up body parts.
I rarely see riders of big motorcycle gobbling up the asphalt on an interstate as if they were rushing to an important appointment. Real bikers never have appointments because they restrict freedom. (I’ll be there when I get there.)
Many newbies that I teach say they first want to get a small bike for practice. That’s cool. I tell them they should ride their wussie bikes in parking lots to improve their skills and raise their confidence, and then get a more powerful motorcycle for the streets.
People, who ride less powerful bikes, and scooter dudes, don’t have the motor power to get out-of-the-way or adjust their position when traffic gets clustered. Slow riders and slow drivers are major factors in clogging traffic, which causes accidents when some impatient idiots chance major injuries or dying to get to their destination sooner. (Mellow out, dudes.)
I have a wealthy friend who wouldn’t buy his lovely girlfriend the Harley V-Rod she wanted. He said it was too fast for her. (My motto: Bikes don’s speed, people speed on bikes) However, he bought her a super-duper Honda that will go up to 120 mph. Logic is absent. She is an excellent, safe rider and when we cruise together, I let her lead. She’s that good…and I love to look at her mighty fine fanny. (It’s a perk.)
Whenever I teach a riding class, there’s always one dude (it’s always a dude; dudettes are smarter) who begins riding faster as his skills increase. It seems that some beginners erroneously equate speeding to skill, although I always tell my classes that any fool can ride fast and straight.
Non-riders, beginners, and unskilled riders don’t have the knowledge and experience to evaluate riding skills. I recall testing a man for a motorcycle endorsement on his driver’s license but he failed twice. His wife kept insisting that he could ride and chastised me for failing him. Just because he didn’t fall over, did not mean he had the required skills. I just told his mouthy wife, “A good rider should be able to pass this easy skills test.” (I’m such a nice guy at times.) One of the toughest things I have to do when teaching is build up a newbie’s skills to eliminate the fear factor. People who have never ridden want to ride really slow. If a rider goes too slowly, he or she could have a fall-over (it’s not a crash) and I would have to pick up the bike. I don’t workout at a gym; I stay in shape by up-righting motorcycles. At least a hundred during my career.
If a rider goes too slowly, he or she can’t corner properly. They can’t make a decent 90-degree turn, or rack on the speed to get out of a hairy situation, such as when some inconsiderate fool is kissing your bike’s butt with his front bumper. Speed is your bud if you apply it properly, like when passing seniors (no offense to me) in Lincoln Town Cars, boat-size Cadillacs, and big-ass trucks. Giving your bike a handful of throttle will allow you to zip by and get you out of a potentially harmful situation.
I finished a successful class yesterday, meaning all twelve students passed and no one died. I related everything in the curriculum and passed along all the biker realism I could recall. I was proud of my students and, all modesty aside, I was pleased with the job I had done. (I was so freaking good!)
As I was leaving, a student who had ridden his own Ninja bike to class, revved it up and did a couple amazing wheelies across the lot. He had skills I didn’t teach and I don’t think he shared my philosophy on speeding.
Keep it upright.
By Dude Clark