Motorcycle Riding on the Razor Edge of Life and Death

Motorcycle Life DeathEVERY MOTORCYCLE RIDERS HAS HAD CLOSE CALLS. Which of yours were so close that you were in disbelief that a tragedy simply failed to materialize when it should have? (Write your experience below).

The events that have really been on the edge of life and death for me, are some of my most vivid recollections.

Yesterday I was riding home from some meetings in Los Angeles and got cut off on the highway. Of course this happens regularly to motorcycle riders. It’s happened to me so many times over the years that I don’t consider them worthy of comment. (If you ride every day – stuff happens).

Very few of these past experiences have been remarkably close calls – the ones I consider truly life threatening. At least for me, an event that requires a slight swerve, or minor unplanned braking, is typically not close enough to have really been life threatening. These are the kind of incidents where simple alertness prevented the majority of potential mishaps from ever becoming anything more than an inconvenience.

Much rarer still is biting the pavement, which I’ve done a few times, too, resulting in motorcycles crashed beyond repair and various personal (and painful) injuries. Although, in two of my street-riding crashes, they were not a result of someone cutting me off: they were classic rider errors on my part – more than 20 years apart – which were the kinds of experiences I needed to really establish a much greater respect for very defensive, safe-riding practices. (In my view, off-road minor mishaps are another matter altogether and simply part of the adventure).

BUT SOME CLOSE CALLS ARE DIFFERENT

But yesterday afternoon was one of those experiences that was so unique, that I felt inspired to mark the occasion with a few words and to see if others might have similar experiences.

To be as brief as possible, I was riding home on an 8-lane divided highway that has rain grooves, which are common in California. The temperature was mild in the late afternoon. The sky was overcast, so there was no bright sun in anyone’s eyes. Traffic was moving along at 65 mph, which was as fast as anyone could go, since the quantity of vehicles filled all lanes. Hence, I had cars relatively close on my left, right, behind me and in front of me.

The car on my left jumped into my lane so fast that it was only a result of some instinctive reaction that had me jam on the front and rear brakes so hard that I was partially launched out of my seat.

Traffic was moderately congested. The lane I was in was moving a little faster than the lane on my immediate left, and the guy did a sharp swerve into my lane to get in front of the car behind me. Unfortunately, I was in that same spot, and he did not see me. I was instantly aware that I was in his blindspot as he jumped into my lane without recognizing that he was going to sideswipe my motorcycle and turn me into a hood ornament for the car that was just behind me, on my right.

Instinctively, I swerved as far right in my lane as possible, without actually crossing into the next lane, but I could see there was not enough space to avoid getting hit.

Furthermore, as I was mid-launched off my seat with the heavy braking force, and with the right-rear-fender of the encroaching car actually underneath my fairing, while my front tire was tucked within his wheel well, my handlebars started shaking violently as I was simultaneously attempting to mentally plan my personal trajectory in hopes of controlling the ensuing damage right there in the middle of the highway. Amidst everything that was flashing through my mind as supersonic speed, oddly enough, the violent shaking of the handlebars seemed to capture my imagination as the most unusual element in this situation, while I muscled the bars to maintain some semblance of cooperation. But with all that happening instantly, there was no collision. In another split second my braking force allowed the offending vehicle to pull in front of me and I let off the brakes to avoid getting run over by the car behind me and the handlebars returned to their normal steady position. I pulled back into the center of the lane to give myself more space away from the car I was dangerously close to, on my right.

Realize that it takes longer to read these words than it did for this event to unfold from an immediate crisis to a mere “close call.”

SOME CLOSE CALLS ARE REMARKABLE

Part of what was remarkable about the event, for me, was how I was able to manage the moment with acute clarity and control, without any sense of panic. Heck, I’ve gotten more perturbed at folks who cut me off and made me swerve, but knowing that it was simply an inconvenience. In other words, in most cases I’m so confident about what is unfolding that I don’t even recognize a real threat, any emotion is simply a result of being irritated.

In this case I was quite aware that I had just survived something – something impressive – at least to me.

The uniqueness of this close call was such that I was left incredulous that a crash did not happen.

I did not have a sense of annoyance that sometimes might accompany my reaction to something that I was confident would not have turned bad. In this case, I had no such confidence. From my perspective, the crash appeared as a foregone conclusion and the real question was “Would I survive?”

In fact, I felt no frustration. Conversely, I felt a renewed regard for simply being alive. I was not pleased with this guy’s action, but I held no ill will towards him. Don’t get me wrong, my thinking towards such drivers is not always so high-spirited!

RIDING ON THE RAZOR EDGE OF LIFE AND DEATH

The point of all this, is that it appeared to me I was riding on the very razor edge of life and death, and I came away from it more respectful of life and living, rather than harboring an annoyance at the offending driver. That is what marks the occasion, to me, as something notable.

Traffic all around me continued on its way, and I don’t believe the vehicle that nearly toppled me had any awareness of what he just caused.

I just continued as if nothing happened and passed him a few seconds later.

Anytime some potential motorcycle mishap occurs, I mentally take stock of the moment and derive some lesson that often boils down to “What could I do in the future to avoid such a circumstance again?” And usually I come up with a plausible mental note for myself and chalk it up as gaining more rider experience.

In this case, there was not much of anything different I could say I’d do if this were to repeat. Obviously, we all do our best to stay out of the blindspots of other vehicles. However, when a rider is surrounded by this amount of traffic, one is likely to be moving through someone’s blind spot, on the left and/or right, at any time.

LESSONS LEARNED – HOW ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES?

Hence, my takeaway lesson from the experience was the recognition that periodically practicing emergency braking was what saved the day. In other words, the instinctive and instantaneous reaction to this life-threatening situation was a result of some years of preparing for the moment something this close might occur.

In all probability, you are likely to have had a number of close calls, too. But have you had any that were so close that you were in disbelief that a tragedy simply failed to materialize when it should have? Leave your comment below.

MCg

MCg

"Wandering Around" is my motto: Up and down the California Coastal Ranges; the Rockies; the Appalachians; the beaches of both North American coasts; and everywhere in between. Any two wheels with a motor and a full gas tank will make me happy.
MCg

97 thoughts on “Motorcycle Riding on the Razor Edge of Life and Death

  • Christopher, what was the circumstances which caught you dealing with that kind of non bike friendly weather? Coming back from work, vacationing? Both my close calls were vacationing in Colorado and both times curves and speed and fatigue were the main factors. Likewise, I too shiver thinking how bad it could’ve been. We love to ride. Be sober and rested and NEVER be in a hurry! The expensive long stay in the hospital or worse is not worth the “rush”. You had a guardian angel that day!

  • well the only time i have ever had a truly life threatening close call was in February on the interstate in the deep south during some very unusual weather it was sleeting heavily and the roads were iceing up. so needless to say not the best of riding conditions.

    well here i am moving at roughly 65-70mph on a 1981 gl1100i trying to get home before the weather got worse. wile approaching a lane closure a remarkably stupid/insane big rig driver decides he is going to speed ahead of me in order to merge lanes in front of me. well during the lane change he winds up jack knifing right in front of me. i was forced to lay the bike down in icy conditions and wound up sliding right under the trailer. even now i still get pins and needles in my hands and feet when i remember that night.

  • About 14 hours into an Iron Butt ride (BB1500) I was looking for gas in central Illinois. The last 2 exits proved to be dry holes, so I was tentative coming down the ramp. I quickly checked traffic to the right (none) then concentrated on the town, to the left, where any potential gas might be. After a moment of study, I pulled slowly into a left turn at the bottom of the ramp. A loud honking near my right side revealed a pick up truck and trailer within inches of my fender. I was astounded that there could possibly be any traffic there. I had checked to the right, but waited another minute or so before pulling out. I always check twice now.

  • I think you are right too, Mr. Arsenault. On two lane mountain roads especially, I tend not to crowd that center line because you never know what it about to come around the next (blind) bend. I also ride to the far right of the lane typically when entering a left, and vice-versa on rights, to provide the longest potential sight lines up the road if blind.

    Unfortunately, this also exposes one to the other guy clipping the apex coming down the hill, so no rule is hard and fast. Depends on the traffic conditions that day as much as anything.

  • I usually ride in the left groove except when I have approaching traffic. I agree with the high incidence of lane crossing, especially on the twisties…
    I hop into the center or right groove then. It depends on whether or not there is a paved shoulder. My father taught me to ride 40 years ago. His advice was to always keep the same amount of road on both sides of my tires. I was stopped by a cop. He thought I was weaving. I explained it to him. He nodded his head and thanked me for today’s lesson in motorcycle riding……

  • This is probably a realistic way to ride. Being fixed in formation, as in riding in large herds, tends to make this less easy to do, but solo I think you are correct.

    You had also mentioned your loud pipes as something that helps drivers notice you before they see you. While this may be the case, I do think that eventually we will see more dumb laws that limit or prohibit this sort of thing. For me, I have noticed that wearing bright colors rather than basic black tends to get you more noticed in ALL traffic and weather conditions just as well, without potentially startling car drivers or creating an image issue for all bikers, but that’s just my opinion.

  • I’ve only been riding 5 years but I’ve learned that there is no fixed rule for lane position. I am always changing my position depending on the traffic and the parked cars. I generally do not like to be in the left part of the lane b/c I fear cars drifing into my side of the road…which happened 2 times on Route 60 last week! So I seldom ride that close to oncoming cars.

    I tend to go middle of the road. All those warnings about oil being in the middle of the road are much ado about nothing. There has never been enough oil in the road to make me go down and if I see it, of course I avoid it.

    If the road is very narrow, I stay to the right, however.. Years ago I was almost taken out by a truck on a rural road. We were both approaching each other at a blind curve and he was half in my lane. Closest call I’ve ever had! Whew!

  • I ride a Harley. Like most, they’re pretty noisy. Mine is LOUD (though not as loud as some). Anyhow, I KNOW the sound of my bike alerts drivers to my presence nearby. Then they LOOK to see where I am. I can’t depend on this, of course, but I think it’s just one more strategy for staying safe. I have had people tell me they HEARD me before they SAW me. In one case it kept the lady from backing out right into me. I happened to know this lady and discussed it with her afterwards.

  • I was on a scooter and a person backed out of a diagonal space and didn’t see me, and apparently I didn’t see her backup lights. I just clipped her bumper. The bike stopped, I did a flip in midair and landed on my feet. I was so stoked about NOT getting injured that I was jumping up and down with my hands in the air, yelling “I’m ok! I’m ok!”

    She did, however, get to buy me a new scoot.

  • Thank you Ted! I like the idea of the white gloves. I know that being conspicuous helps…my bike is white. I do avoid night driving but can’t avoid riding in traffic since I use my bike for just about eveything. I do like your suggestion of staying to the right, if possible, so I can get out of the way more quickly or get off the road. Well, I’ll just be aware and stay alert…and hope those around me are also paying attention. It’s the drunks, young kids, women (I’ve found my sex to be the WORST drivers!) and old people I worry about! THAT’S most of the population! LOL

  • I worry about being “rear ended” by a 5,000 pound tank (many cars) all the time!
    Cell phones make me concerned. Wear one of those inexpensive bright orange or chartreuse vests which has reflective striping also for night riding. Place reflective strips on your helmet too. In a previous note I made, I try to stay in the right lane and if the car behind you is approaching fast maybe I can dart out on the right shoulder of the road. It’s just a theory I haven’t had to use yet and would be difficult due to split second decision making. Frankly, I don’t do it as much as I suggest to others, but I am VERY OFTEN watching my rear view especially when stopped. I wear white leather gloves and move them around when stopped so the car behind me approaching has and added visual aid to make it sink in his mind. One young man in his car gently hit me from behind while I was at a red light at night. He was using a cell phone and let the automatic transmission “creep” and hit me. Bike and self – no damage. I let him off the hook and asked him to be more careful.
    BE SEEN as much as possible, don’t ride after 10 pm on weekend nights – folks drinking.
    Heavy traffic, rush hours are bad too. Motorcycling is inherently more dangerous but I ride often but try to avoid bad weather and use Accuweather. The more you ride under various conditions with your style bike, the more confident you will be and actions will become second nature and instinctive.
    Just some thoughts from a guy who’s been riding for 40 years on and off.
    Please, God, help protect this nice lady.

  • Thank you Paul and Dave! I’ll take your advice and try it all out and see what makes sense to me. I know it has to be pretty automatic. Thanks again.

  • Hi Christine, My father taught me to ride 40 years ago. One of the things he taught me was to NEVER ride in the right side of the lane. If a car comes up behind you, you can assume he is going to try to pass you. If you are in the left part of the lane, he will not be able to pass you without going all the way into the passing / oncoming lane. If an oncoming car gets closer than he is comfortable with or if he assumes he has passed you he will come right back over and push you to the right. If you are in the right side of your lane, he will only pull out far enough to get around you. Half in your lane, half in the passing / oncoming lane. When he comes back fully into your lane, he will push you to the right. In the first scenario, you have space to your right and a fraction of time to combine braking and swerving into the right side of your lane. In the second scenario, you have the ditch/ curb. There certainly are times to utilize the right side of the road. EX: Oncoming traffic in a rural area. Stick to the left. When you have oncoming traffic, move to the right until they are past you. Cars cross the line frequently on rural roads.
    But the general rule is to always give yourself an escape route on both side of your bike

  • Dear Christine, I think what you propose is a decent response. If anything, I’d rather be at the very front of the traffic line between the lanes, but barring that, locating myself adjacent to a driveway where you can simply “leave.”

    Obviously, this can’t work with cars, but it can on a bike. Being situationally aware means as close to 360 horizon scans at all times, but just leaving oneself an “out” works better than any other thing. Cars can take hits, bikes and human bodies, not so much.

    Spent most of my riding in L.A. area for first 23 years of my experience, that maelstrom trains one well. Hopefully, your environs are calmer but take nothing for granted. I’m not sure that being in the “right third” provides that, because rear-enders can go very bad if you are in the path whether you get hit directly or not. Space is your friend.

    Feel free to contact me directly at ddtt2@yahoo. Ride safe. Here in Oregon, more rain coming, no riding for me!

  • Thanks you David. So, when I come to a stop, I should be constantly checking my rearview mirror, right? And once a car has safely stopped behind me, I can stop looking b/c then I just have to hope that no one rearends HIM!

    When, however, you are in any lane, does it help to be in the right third of that lane so that you can more easily get out of the way, or not? I have a feeling that if you’re going to be rearended, there’s not much you can do. Scary thought! 🙁

    I guess the only thing I can do is stay my bike’s length away from the car in front of me to give me more room to maneuver and also to stay over to the right of my lane. Seems like there’s not a heck of a lot any of us can do.

  • Dear Christine, after five years of hopefully great experience, you are correct in being ever mindful of “your six.” Unfortunately however, as you mentioned, looking at your rearview mirrors only indicates something nearly too late to take action. I once was rear-ended by a drunk driver at a stop light, with a clear lane to my left he could have blown through. Saw him coming by my usual mirror scan, and simply warned my friend “hang on!!!,” before impact. NO time to rev and dump the clutch, and my Porsche 911 was totaled but took the impact well.

    Your emergency response if you have the space to execute it, must be nearly automatic. I’d probably split lanes immediately to put space between you and the car who will simply hit someone else instead of you. Doesn’t matter that you may be breaking the law to do so. California, in one of its rare cases of vehicle code lucidity, allows the practice, but nearly all others do not. Being right to insist on right of way might mean being dead wrong, so I would never sit at a stoplight or in stopped traffic in neutral on a bike, but hands on the clutch in first ready to jump into at least impulse, if not warp drive, as a ready stance.

  • I’m on my 5th year of riding. By the very fact that I’m a woman rider with a long thick blonde braid down past my hips. I attract attention. I want people to notice me! I figure the more they really SEE me, the less likely they are to rear-end me. And yet I STILL worry. Looking in my rearview mirror is all fine and good…but I can’t judge, by looking in my mirror in a millisecond, if some car is going too fast and won’t be able to stop in time, or if the driver is drunk and not really seeing me. Does anyone have any tips on how to avoid a rearend collision?? Does it help to stay way over to the right? Any tips would be much appreciated.

  • Many of us make foolish mistakes when we’re young. After all, we were immortal and expected to live to a ripe old age, right? Dad used to say, “Do something (bad) once and you’re likely to get away with it. But making it a habit will most assuredly cost you dearly.” Do we learn from our wrong decisions?
    Thanks for sharing your close call.

  • At 19 years of age…. Yeah that says a lot. Went for an evening ride in early spring. Felt good when we left, not so good when the sun went down. Was pushing the 78 Honda SS. Had my 5 month pregnant wife on the back and started speed wobbling… First sign of smooth wobble triggered me to glance down at speedometer,,,, 120+.. My first instinct was to pull in the clutch and let off gas. Then I remembered an older friend that told me about speed wobbles the first day I purchased the bike. He said to either give it gas, if possible to speed out if the wobble, or slightly start letting of the accelerator to stop the wobble. At 120+, more gas was not an option for me. I started slowly releasing accelerator, then the motorcycle start wobbling worse. After a good 10 seconds of side to side, the back tire jumped of the road for a split second. As soon as the tire touched back to the road, the wobble was gone completely. I then had to pull over into a gravel parking lot, get off the bike, and walk around trying to process what just about happened…. Not only did my friend save my life, he saved 2 that day. So glad God puts people in our paths to tell us exactly what we need to know!

  • Once, on a charity ride from the Bristol Virginia speedway to Spartanburg, SC.,I was riding about 1/2 way in a pack of about 120 bikes rolling into the Biltmore for our appointed lunch.In spite of our escorts at the intersection holding traffic, I noticed a young man driving in what appeared to be his own little world, oblivious to traffic crossing his path. I signaled to the rider to my right and shouted to”Hold up! ” and pointed to the car. We broke the line of bikes, thereby, I can only assume, thwarting a serious catastrophe.

  • I was turning left off from a 2 lane highway. The oncoming traffic was backed up but they had left an opening to access the side road as I turned here comes a car up the shoulder turning on the same road as me. I was able to veer off but oh to close

  • Going under speed limit when noticed a big doe running alongside me… I slowed even more….she sped up and jumped across my lane right in front of me barely missing the front of my bike.. Glad I was not going fast and just enjoying the beautiful scenery between Utopia and Leakey, Texas that 8 am spring morning or else two animals would’ve been seriously hurt, me and a beautiful but stupid damn deer. A towns person told me that I was lucky it wasn’t a herd of exotic animals which cross all at the same time!

  • Closest call I’ve ever had is when I was heading south on CA Highway 1 from Monterey to Big Sur, at night. Deer are present there.

    My usual technique is not the one recommended by MSF instructors, in that when I ride, I ALWAYS cover my front brake lever with my index and middle fingers. Generally speaking, if you have powerful brakes up front, they will allow you to get on them quicker than the reaction time of having to take all your fingers off the throttle and place them on the lever.

    Anyhow, about an hour after sunset, doing somewhat less than the speed limit on this straight stretch of road, I see two pairs of eyes reflected from my headlights on the ’93 Honda CBR-900RR I was riding at the time, about 300 yards ahead on the right shoulder.

    I immediately downshifted and knocked off my speed all the way down to 35, still covering the brake as I approached. Of course, the darn deer wasn’t impressed by my riding prowess, so he decided to cross the road when I came to within 15 feet of him! At that point, I was using all five fingers because my speed had already dropped to about 20mph but still would have been ugly.

    Somehow, said deer got off the middle of my single southbound lane right as I passed his position doing about 10mph.

    What could I have done differently? Probably slowed down to a crawl even sooner, honked my horn, flashed my lights, or simply come to a complete stop when within say 50-75 yards of their position.

    Since I “graduated” eventually to a 2002 BMW R1100S with the infamous electric assisted, no-feel power brakes with ABS, I suspect I could really have wailed on the binders and not trusted only my skill to get it stopped even faster and with less drama, though I am normally no fan of this braking system in everyday usage.

    So, just a few words of warning. Know the terrain you are in, whether or not large wildlife inhabits it, watch for the reflection of eyeballs on the road or shoulder, drop a cog or three and cover that brake lever!

  • Last June I went into a s curve at a speed of about 35 mph, when a rider came at me on my side, I hit my brake & he did a near hit on my RIGHTSIDE!! he then went into the ditch. After we had a TALK (no one was hurt) It was his 3rd time on a bike! He said he would go to M/C class. I hope so.

  • Ride everyday to work (62 miles round trip) Most of the ride is interstate @ rush hour. I’ve had MANY close calls & what I’ve learned to be MOST IMPORTANT (for me anyways) is while riding, ALWAYS scope out an escape route, especially in congested interstate traffic. It’s easy to get boxed in and at times harder to devise an escape route, should things go south but It’s something to focus on. Another thing I make sure I do, is to cover the front brake with my throttle hand. I found that using a “throttle rocker” allows me to rest my right palm and cover the front brake lever easier. I adjusted the brake lever on my Dyna so it’s angled at an easier reach. I also keep my foot resting on the rear brake lever. It only takes one “panic stop” to realize that 1/10 of a second can make a difference in an extreme situation.

    I usually ride closer to the inside of the lane. I tend to get a better view of traffic on up ahead & what’s going on (brake lights, cars nose-diving, swerving, smoke, etc) That way I can sometimes get a better view on what’s ahead and not relying on the car ahead to be paying attention.

  • BLESSING-MIRACLE-? WAS WORKING ON A RAINY NIGHT AS I RODE SOUTH ON I 85 FROM SPARTANBURG, S.C. TOWARDS THE GA. LINE. AS ANY RIDER KNOWS TRUCKERS OWN THE INTERSTATES AT NIGHT & RAIN ONLY SLOWS THEM A LITTLE. THEY’RE PROFESSIONALS & HAVE THE SAFETY RECORD TO PROVE IT. THIS RAINY NIGHT WAS NO DIFFERENT & THE PACK WAS RUNNING 65 + MPH. WEARING MY SAFETY RAIN GEAR & ALL THE EXTRA LIGHTS (F&R) WERE GOOD, KNEW THE ROAD SO I RAN SANDWICHED W/THE TRUCKERS AT THEIR SPEED FOR APPROX 1 HR 45 MIN. NEXT WKND I WAS DOING MY PRECHECK BEFORE HEADING OUT. FRT TIRE GOOD–REAR TIRE GOOD…BETTER DOUBLE CHECK (REAR IS ALWAYS A LITTLE HARDER TO CHK W/SADDLEBAGS)..YEP..GOOD. ” STILL DON’T KNOW WHY ” BUT I ROLLED IT A “THIRD TIME” & CHKD AGAIN…..I SHIVERED, MY HEART SPEEDED UP THE MORE I LOOKED. THREAD, THREAD AND MORE THREAD. SOME WERE EVEN BROKEN. BUT I’M A SAFETY NUT H-O-W! TIRE SAYS–LOOK DUMMY HERE I AM. CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?? I IMMEDIATELY CHGD THE TIRE, CUT OUT THE THREADED SECTION & MOUNTED IT. AND THINK OFTEN HOW THANKFUL I AM THAT GOD & THE ANGELS LET ME LIVE ON A RAINY NIGHT WHILE I SPEEDED W/THE TRUCKERS ON A HALF BALD TIRE. OTHERWISE, YOU MAY NEVER HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT A THIRD CHECK & CERTAINLY WOULDN’T HAVE READ THIS STORY.

  • I was a motor officer in the 80s so I’ve been thru some pretty intensive training on how to maneuver in traffic and avoid distracted (or just stupid) drivers. I had a number of close calls while responding to incidents but only had one collision; While stopped at a red light a drunk driver rear ended my KZ1000. He didn’t do much damage, but he took off when he realized a very POed cop was headed for him. After a six mile chase he wrecked and was arrested. Now that I’m retired I don’t drive police bikes anymore, but I ride my Harley Ultra Classic everywhere. I’ve had very few close calls, probably because of situational awareness, but I still remind myself every time I straddle the bike that someone out there may kill me if I don’t watch out. That mind set helps keep me alert and alive. Ride safe, ya’ll.

  • Only been riding two years but have had a few close calls already. I’ve learned three things from them. Assume no one sees you; ride like your life depends on it; and it does very little good trying to make idiot cage drivers understand when they do something stupid. Ride safe but keep riding.

  • theres fools and show offs on bikes too…with no cell phone excuse ….everyone says you need to watch for cages when the same type of people ride bikes to ,do not think because they ride a bike then are good riders, happy nice people, brothers of the road etc-etc, wave to you .. they are still able to kill you…..

  • I’m a new rider on a Yamaha 250 this summer and was stopped at a stop sign to turn left. I noticed another bike on the opposite street but he was not “actively” at his stop sign. Looked to me he was pulled over and not waiting to proceed. So, I go about my way and start down a two lane road. Maybe 2 minutes later, this guy passed me on my right. I didn’t hear or see him until he was half way passed because of his speed. If I would have slightly moved to my right, both of us would have gone down. Last account I had…you’re suppose to pass on the left, not on the right and in the same lane! Just because you ride a big bike, doesn’t give you the right to intimidate and ride dangerously.

  • I don’t know about Karma and I appreciate everyone’s “close call” experiences. I’m 64 years old and love riding and know there is little protection. Our mental alertness, learning from our experiences and reading about accidents may save somebody’s life or becoming injured for a long time impacting not just us but our family & friends who care for us. Cell phones, rainy slick roads, low visibility, getting boxed in by cars, fatigued, bad tires, doing wheelies, riding “buzzed”, speeding – we can’t avoid any and all potential threats BUT we can certainly try to increase our chances but using a whole lot of common sense!
    My latest close call was a van with a young man with a lady (Mom?) pulling out of a Wal-Mart parking lot and was progressing as if I was invisible! Bike lights on (always) and driving slow in this known bad area for folks coming in and out helped a lot in anticitipating someone doing what actually happened.

    Am now super aware of other bikers passing me on my right in my same (slow) lane. If I had swerved ever so slightly to my right in my own lane, it would have been BAD! Adjusted mirrows out some not just to see mainly behind but to see jerks passing me within a few feet on my right just to scare the crap out of me and laughing about it.
    Sometimes I wonder why all the skulls and death pics are on black shirts, helmets, bikes, etc. and then I think it’s a good thing if it often reminds the rider that death on that bike is an ever real, clear & present danger. Maybe it’ll slow us down alittle when we think about it.

  • My wife & I were going to turn right into a CVS and we both had on the bright yellow t-shirts on and I had turned on my turn signal. As I started my turn, here comes this car just inches from us passing on the right side of us. I had missed seeing this idiot comming up behind us and hit the brakes so quickly that I stalled the motor. The guy in the car did not even acknowlege that he had almost hit us.

  • I don’t agree that it’s bad karma to speak about near death experiences on our bikes. For me it’s very instructive. The more you know about what can happen, the more aware you are to watch for those things. Sharing these stories and tips may just save a life or two.

    When I just started learning to ride, a car turning left in front of me cut the corner short and came way too close to me while I was waiting for the light to change. I wonder if he/she even saw me!

    Now at small two-lane intersections, I position myself a bit closer to the right to create a bigger margin for would-be ‘corner cutters’.

  • If anyone would like close calls every weekend of the summer season, try taking part in Irish Road Racing. For those of you in other climes, try you tube for clips. The most exciting thing I’ve ever done. And I can recommend that everyone should do a track day at least once.

  • Once on a rainy day. I was travelling to work when all of a sudden it started to rain strongly. I barely had enough time to pull over under a by pass bridge. I was alone and I proceeded to take my rain gear out, when I look on the direction I have just travel through, I decided to bring the motorcycle on the side walk where it was drier and I could put my rain gear comfortably out of the road. This was a part of the road with a decline and it was wet. As I put the stand and started walking around to the other side of the motorcycle, I heard a screeching sound and when I look astonished I saw when this car out of control was sliding out of control and passed exactly where I had stop my motorcycle before. If I had left the bike where I stopped originally, I would have lost it and probably gotten hurt. I definitively have an angel that watches me.

  • I’ve had many but my most memorable was my own fault. When I was first practicing wheelies I got tired of the front wheel coming off the ground by only a foot or so. So losing patience I cracked the throttle open much harder knowing “now it’s gotta come up”. Well it came up and 190 heart beats per minute after I hit the rear brake so hard the front wheel slammed the ground and then my throttle hand went back and opened the throttle coming up on a curve. One good thing that came from this was my wheelies are sweet now after one close call.

  • Washington beltway, single cylinder Bultaco, 60-65 mph, hot day; engine siezed, instant banked looooong skid to right, to just off road. Just sat there shaking until the engine cooled down enough to restart. Lesson- do not let engine overheat/ it will sieze and you will skid (or go down).

  • REALLY?? We ride motorcycles. We have just two wheels, an extremely fast machine that demands a high learning curve, and (if you’re smart) just a bit of leather between our skin and the pavement. The roads are crowded with a broad variety of cagers and driving skills (or lack thereof ) we riders are at a disadvantage… just count the lug nuts the one with the most usually wins. Without apology I find this blog solipsistic. If you ride you are at a greater risk of death or injury no matter if you ride within speed limits, on warm asphalt, and fully leathered in flourescent colors or balls out. I’ve been riding since I was 14 and I am currently 47 yrs. If you ride you may die, if you eat too much McDonalds you may die.. ride safe and you still may die. One thing is for sure NO ONE gets out alive.
    Get in some track school time, learn practice learn practice ad infinitum…
    So enjoy your ride and may your riding skills be speedily attained… no pun intended.

  • I too have had many a near miss since beginning riding (legally) in ’73. Blind spots are a problem for us all and I occassionaly miss things in my blindspots too. None of us are perfect after all. I find that something which helps to get me noticed is having my headlamps adjusted slightly high. Not like main beam searing laser-like into other drivers retina, more like just maladjusted enough to be slightly irritating to other drivers. My reasoning is that if they are slightly miffed at my lights, then at least it proves they can see me. Not foolproof, but it helps.

  • 100RT BMW in Tellluride, Colorado in October and caught in late snow. I had been riding for about 12 years at the time and about 50 yrs. old.
    Ice and motorcycles dont’ mix no matter how slow and up and straight you are. Down I went – no injury. Left bike on mountain pass out of Ridgeway, Co. Snowing stopped and plows cleared the roads. Once out of the snow, I RELAXED MY GUARD and I WAS TIRED. I was making a normal curve in the road (beautiful twisties – Wiley Coyote country) and I found my bike and myself going off the curve onto the gravel shoulder and a huge red rock face to slam into going about 60 mph! Instinct took over not to front brake and I gradually made it back onto the road after my bike was swerving from the gravel on a turn! I finally got back on the road and my heart was pounding out of my chest. I think I overdosed on my lifetime allowance of adrenaline in that 5 seconds! I thanked God for not being seriously hurt slamming into that big red rock going about 55 mph and being alone. It was in a rather desolate part of the country heading west out of Dove Creek, Co.
    LESSON: Don’t ride super tired. Pull of the road and sleep anywhere. Don’t get overly relaxed just because you are out of “danger” (snow, in my case). Listen to the fellow on a Honda Silverwing 500 from Las Vegas who advised I get out of the mountain passes because snow was predicted in the new few days. Hind sight is 20/20.

  • The road I was riding on came to a T intersection, where I was fully stopped, signalling to turn left. As I waited for an opening in traffic, a car coming from my right started to make a left turn, but he was coming fast and cutting the turn short. He was coming straight at me at about 35 mph and I was sitting there watching him. There was no time to move and nowhere I could go anyway. He saw me at the last possible microsecond, swerved and almost lost control. But he missed me (barely) and managed to make the turn. I just sat there pissed off and regaining my composure when I noticed he had turned around and was pulling up behind me. I was pretty steamed, but I have to give him credit for apologizing. It really sucks to be on a Hayabusa and still be in a situation where you can’t move fast enough to get out of harm’s way!!

  • Talking about crashing and dying and being hurt on this site is a bad idea and no fun. It’s bad Karma and you all should stop. Car drivers don’t do that.

  • I have had a couple of close calls in the past couple of years involving “distracted” drivers., on cell phones. One was a classic. Three women in the front seat of a pick-up and all three were talking on cell phones.

    I was riding on a 2 lane paved road doing the posted speed limit of 55 mph and it had just started raining making for a very slick surface. It was daylight and my lights were on, high beam. There was a restaunt on my left and as I approached I saw the truck pulling toward the driveway. The truck didn’t slow or stop when it got to the road, they just pulled right out in front of me. When I hit the brakes the bike started sliding and I knew I was going to go down under the truck. I let off the brakes and recovered enough to go by them on the right shoulder. I let them pass and they looked at me like I was an idiot, all three had a phone up to their ear. I followed them for about a mile till they stopped at a light and pulled up beside them and forgot I was a gentleman, I think I got their attention.

    I am so glad the fereral government has finally started the wheels turning to ban cell phones while driving. I truly beleive they are as dangerous as drunk drivers.

  • This was my own negligence, I was on my way through Germany, and it had been raining most of the way from Calais . I was soaked and tired I know now it was the start of hyperthermia, I was on a twisty road riding through the mountains and rain clouds , visibility was really bad, I was shivering but must push on. At a curve I went straight on , the quick thinking mercedes driver stopped thank god, and I squeezed between him and the embankment on the wrong side of the road . It realy shook me up, when I found a hotel for the night in the middle of nowhere, it took me a long time to warm up in the shower , I slept in my sleeping bag in the hotel bed . I don’t want that again.

  • Side stand Down. I like my Suzuki that shuts off the moter when you let out the clutch with the stand down.

  • I wsas travelling through some twisties leading up to the mountain pass, exellerating to pass a truck with an SUV behind it. When I got close the SUV decides to pass the truck as well, not noticing me behind him. Due to oncoming traffic I could not go right and had to do some emergency braking, pulling to the left of the SUV but right behind the truck. The front wheel of the Busa went beneath the truck before my speed was low enough and the gap between me and the truck increased. This should have been sufficient warning that something bad is on the way. I passed the SUV and urther down the mountain some cars before a right hand turn. I had to exellerate hard in order to pass the all as there was not enough distance between them for me to fit in. I know my speed was too high and applied brakes but there was not much slowing down. Had to really throw the bike into the right hand corner not to go over the barrier and down the side of the mountain.
    Lesson learned: Normal brake pipes does not handle heat well and tend to expand thus pushing less breakfluid to the calipers.
    Actions taken: Installed waved racing discs and braided brake hoses.
    It is twice that I should have gone down within 10 minutes from each other. I will attribute this to my Gardion Angel and not to riding skills.
    I am now more aware not to allow the heat to build up to much and rather slow down if I have to hard breaking often.

  • This was of course my own fault. I was on my 1200 Goldwing and had pulled off the road to fix something. I fixed it, jumped back on the bike and hit the road. When I had stopped, I was positioned at about 45 * angle facing the edge of the blacktop. It was about a 3 inch jump back onto the road. I started the bike, put it in gear, drove onto the pavement and leaned to the right to head down the road. The road curved to the right and it wasn’t until I was going about 60 mph before the road curved to the left. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I forgot to raise the kickstand. When I leaned to the left, for the curve, the sidestand dug into the blacktop. The rear of the bike jumped about 6 inches off the ground and came back down about 18 inches to the right of its original track. I instinctively (turn into the skid?) turned the handlebars to the right and when the bike came back down, the handlebars wrenched back to the left to keep me going down the road. It amazes me to this day that I did NOT go down.

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