Psychic Motorcyclist

Psychic MotorcyclistAre you a psychic motorcycle rider?

I bet you already are…or can and will be…if you ride enough.

Since the term “psychic” is one of those words in contemporary society that, for some persons, is fraught with opinion, emotion and even fraud, let’s consider a definition as a point of reference. Here’s how the Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines psychic: “having a special mental ability, for example so that you are able to know what will happen in the future or know what people are thinking”.

Although there is no substitute for motorcycle education, training, and especially long-term “experience” to offer continually safe motorcycle adventures and travels, I bet you have had your own traffic events where you could inexplicably perceive when some car or truck was just about to turn into your lane – without adequately checking the path they were moving into – which gave you just enough time to reposition yourself to avert an unplanned meeting. And if you have had this happen, I’d then bet it’s happened more than once.

Or how about pleasantly blasting down a highway for some time, enjoying the day, and then all of a sudden and unaccountably “getting an idea” to slow down, and after heeding the notion, found yourself a moment or so later riding into a speed trap? Or how about the same scenario where you did not heed the “notion” to slow down?

And for those of you who commute in major metro areas and have to contend with heavy traffic, have you ever found yourself unexplainably breezing through a river of slow vehicles (I’m not talking about “jammed” or “stop and go” traffic – merely “heavy”) while traffic holes seem to magically open up in most every direction you point your bike? In other words, without even lane-splitting (which is legal in California), or without recklessly weaving in and out of traffic, you find yourself easily, safely, and effortlessly slipping through the traffic instead of being stuck in it? Stated differently, every instantaneous navigating decision you make results in a riding flow optimal for the circumstances as all the right holes are opening and closing to accommodate your passing. This isn’t just instantly reacting to traffic holes that are opening up; this is apparently “knowing” that a hole will open up as you approach.

Or is this just rider luck? If so, then sometimes I am a very lucky rider, and I bet sometimes you are, too.

On the other hand, whether you have had any or all of these experiences, I would argue that these would also fall into the definition above. And I would prefer to presume you and I may hold some causative influence on these events, rather than just being the effect of lucky happenstance.

Personally, I have had the above events happen enough times where I do not pay them too much mind. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I never get traffic tickets, or that I’ve never had a motorcycle accident, or that I’ve never gotten stuck in traffic. I’ve experienced each of the above more than once. But the fact that “sometimes” this “special mental ability” seems to come into play for myself, and for others that I have spoken with, suggests there is more to riding than just the mechanics of knowing how to accelerate, turn and brake.

I wish you more safe riding – whether by luck or otherwise – and write a comment below about your “Psychic Motorcyclist” experience (or non-psychic experience).

37 thoughts on “Psychic Motorcyclist

  • I had multiple situations in the past where my intuition save my ass. Most of them are when I ride motorcycles in the San Francisco Bay area. One time I came out of the Caldecott tunnel in the East Bay from San Francisco. Exiting the tunnel with a fast downhill right hand turn I distinctly moved the bike to the far right-hand lane and found a head on collision. The accident) for six hours because a lot of calories I was when I called it in exiting to the next stop to call 911.

    The second time, I lost a hard case for my BMW K75s I tried to run after it and almost threw myself off the overpass by accident. I little voice in my head save me. Moral…listen to that little voice!

  • I like to call it the Zen of the motorcycle maneuvering (not to be confused with the classic novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) … or being in-the-zone, whichever you prefer. The Zen is when, without much conscious effort, you are keenly aware of everything around, and ahead of you. When you are in total rhythm with traffic you process conditions, volume, velocity, and general traffic behavior such that you know that the small void in traffic two cars ahead will be filled by the erratic diver in the right lane so you take the appropriate action such as backing off or changing lanes without hesitation or cognitive effort as you casually roll past the hard braking traffic. Or when you intuitively suspect that beyond the sight line of a upcoming rise or hidden behind a tree lined crossing is a distracted driver preparing to endanger your line of travel. Riding in the Zen of the moment is not always attainable but always desirable.

  • Experience is the best teacher; but it doesn’t have to be our own experience. In my H.O.G. Chapter we offer to our members informal seminars to improve safety by imparting consistent group riding practices; sharing lessons learned and sharing experience through riding stories/encounters and discuss what could have been done differently by the rider or the group to improve the situation. As stated by others… cages are out to get you, by default, because of texting and driving, taking their half out of the middle, sharing your lane with you etc., so expect the bad thing to happen, anticipate, and look for indicators like drifting, as soon as a cage driver thinks about lane changing, even before checking mirrors or turning their head, they drift in that direction, so catch their ‘drift’ and you’ll know they’re changing lanes before they do. at least some of the time anyway.

  • I think there is a lot to this. Sometimes I will break out the beast and just feel ‘at one’ with it.
    Everything feels right – the corners are not a problem and the cars around you are a challenge to look forward to. Other times I have thought to myself “self! – you had best get off the bike – this is NOT your day to ride”. Everything feels disjointed and you are not reading roadsigns and it feels dangerous….
    Thankfully the former outnumbers the latter but they do happen…..

  • Question(s)…… Why is it that of all motorcyclist that I have met over the past 20 years HD riders/owners have an attitude about non-HD riders/owners???

    We are all out there on the road to enjoy what riding gives us…. I ride to enjoy the freedom, the weather, the camping, the roads, the folks. I have never ridden with an attitude about other riders.

  • Just purchased a BMW K 1200 LT 05 Model
    it is so top heavy it will tip over very easily upon stopping, any riding tips on controlling this driving problem??

  • In this case psychic is just a fancy way of saying having previous experience. The more experience we have in a specific area of our life the easier it is to make accurate predictions in this same area and choose and execute appropriate responses.

  • Hi everybody: In some old pictures you might see what they use to call “Cyclops”. This beings where big and since they only had one eye on the center of their forehead it was believed they could see the future. Actually this third eye is completely real and we all have it. This “third eye” as is known by Astrologers, psychologist and psychiatrist is a filter about the size of a nail in our brains were our brains choose to acknowledged what is important to us at the time and the rest goes into our sub conscience. It is interesting to see a rider of a motorcycle when riding his or her motorcycle is more aware of its surroundings than when is driving a car. My theory is that when is riding, this person is more aware of his or her ability to comply with any sudden moves or surprises than when is driving a vehicle because then his body is surrounded by steel and feels safer. A motorcycle is a vehicle that you have to have experience and knowledge of the type of vehicle it is and the maneuverability it is capable of and the training to manage it. The majority of the collisions between motorcycles and vehicles are because the driver of the car did not see the motorcycle (not a danger to him) and the rider of the motorcycle thought the driver saw him, and made the mistake of trusting his view. I ask to the riders: How many times you have been driving a car and you came to be aware of the motorcyclist after he passed you? Then you ask yourself where the hell did that motorcycle came from? That is this “Reticular thinking”. If you where to be hypnotized, you would be able to know even the color and brand of the motorcycle, but since at the moment was not dangerous to you then it went to the sub conscience until it passed you. The irony is that is nothing more than paying attention to your surroundings and trusting your instincts, Nothing more and nothing less. When you are aware of your surroundings and paying attention, you can foresee the immediate future and behave accordingly.

  • One’s I had a strange experience about 30 years ago:
    I was driving with high speed 80-90 miles/h (highway) and looked at my sided so I did not noticed that a car in front off me hit a bird and performed a panic brake.
    Suddenly I found myselff hitting the brake’s then I looked in front off me and realized it just saved me !

  • After so many years (64) behind the wheel and aboard a bike, I think it boils down to “experience”. We have been in similar situations so many times that the cause and effect plays in our mind like an old movie, so we slow down or take other measures to mitigate what might have been a bad outcome. And that’s why we’re still here at 80, and hope to be around for a while, yet.

  • Yes, it’s true. I seem to have been able to ‘predict’ the sudden and un-planned (on their part) of the movements of the vehicle next to me on several occasions. That is precisely the reason I don’t allow myself to be put into ‘the box’ when riding in heavy rush hour traffic. I always try to leave an emergency escape route if you will in the event of sudden and unplanned driver movements and/or lane changes. So far so good and I’ve been riding for over 30 years.

  • It should be MANDATORY that anyone applying for a car/truck drivers licence spend at least 50hrs on a motorcycle and 25 hours on a bicycle as part of their drivers ed course . These hours would be logged during “rush hour” periods in city traffic. Their motorbike and bikes would have a large “L” sticker on them . ONLY AFTER these hours have been logged would they be allowed to proceed to the car lic.

  • The thought in the above piece is just the pleasurly feel I have sometimes regarding myself possesing traffic foresight.
    No, not a joke; I think this intuition is purely incremental with more & more years of experience in traffic congested metros (read an old city called Calcutta, where I grew up).
    While still at school, I would be navigating from the rear of my dad on his Enfield through holes opening up within stuck lorry traffic on one of the oldest roads still existing in the world, the Grand Trunk Road of India. A distance of some 20kms home to school would take one and half hours in thick industrial traffic & those were my initial years of learning traffic riding techniques of evasion; whether to overtake from the right or left (it isn’t illegal in my home town), which open gap in a preceeding jam to exploit and which to avoid like plague in order to be the quicker to get out on the other side, I used to be the judge which my dad over time realised to be dependable & so, he would follow the line unquestionably. Over the years I have graduated from my dad’s happy navigator to the motorcycle guy myself but inspite of all the technical knowledge behind riding ( & touring ), I still value pure intuition a very important piece in my motorcycle intelligence.

  • This “psychic” ability has saved my life several times. The last time I was minding my own business on the freeway a Friday night and suddenly got the idea to step on the breaks which I then promptly did and a car full of loud teenagers cut right in right in front of me to exit (they saw the exit a bit late) and they narrowly missed my front wheel with about 1/4th of an inch — hair raising to say the least.

  • my 1300 hoda and i parted ways on the hightway causeymind wanted to go one way and my body wanted to the other way.i found my self rolling down a hihtway on my side and my bike going sideway over and over.when you ride if you stop being awear your dead or worse

  • Maybe its Murphys law… If that car can do something really stupid… HE WILL!!

  • And sometimes intuition and common sense are the two sides of the same coin. A couple of years ago I was riding with a friend who had to turn into oncoming traffic to get to his driveway. He would stop in the middle of the road, put on his indicator, wait for a gap when necessary and then do his right turn.

    Common sense/intuition told me that this was suicidal. I told him I would never do that again, I would park on the shoulder and cross both sides of the road. He was adamant – he said A. it’s too much work and B. having to cross two roads made it twice as dangerous.

    I just KNEW he would get killed one day and unfortunately I was right. He was hit was in the back and pushed into an oncoming …yep. Truck. R.I.P Gregg.

  • I will add my voice to those who know that without a sixth sense you might as park the bike in the garage and haul it out on Sundays to give a nice wax. But there’s one thing I found myself telling a young rider the other day – I told him within reason a biker has never the right of way. If in doubt that the car driver or pedestrian has or has not seen you always, but always assume he or she has not.

    South-African roads are statistically the top three most dangerous roads in the world – more pedestrians are killed on our roads than any place on earth – you ever take it into your head to go just because you have the right of way and you’re lying on the road getting crunched by oncoming traffic – as for road-rage ………………..

  • Ride like your invisible, because you are. When I was a trainer for tour bus drivers, I taught drivers to constantly play the “what if” game and watch for the tell tale clues. The same applies to bikes. Ride often, ride safe.

  • Intuition is real, and not just in motorcycling. Good article and good comments all. Even the comments at cross-purposes are good. Isn’t it interesting how two ideas that pretty much oppose each other can both be true?

  • It is claimed that the most dangerous pilots are those with 100 hrs and those with 1000 hrs of flying time…the reason…complacency. The fine motor skills have been honed to react to flying and so they start to zone out, like most cagers.

    Zoning out on a motorcycle is a death trap and veteran riding are still alive because their sub-conscious mind has been trained to pick up those little things that the conscious mind would be too slow to react to… The truck barreling down from your right will likely not be able to stop in time because there is loose sand and salt still on the road from the last winter; brake lights are coming on ahead which is unusual on a straight ride…radar? The elderly lady’s shoulder is moving in the rear-view mirror, she is about to open the car door right in front of you… All these events are processed quickly by the sub-conscious mind and the well-trained body reacts even before the conscious mind is aware of what is going on! As the saying goes… “Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly…until you learn to do it right! As your riding experiences grow, so will the ability of your body to react to changing situations and recognize potential danger before it becomes a real danger! So trust your gut…it knows something you don’t…

  • WOW, Not much left for me to say looks like everyone has it covered, but yes I do believe to a point. Just thinking of what the other driver may be thinking keeps me on my toes. A collision avoidance course also helps when the other drivers don’t think..

  • I think that potential candidates who wants to be a car driver should go for a ride a motorcycle for a while to understand how much dangerous car drivers can be…

  • As Dakez has already stated “keep your head in the ride”. Pay attention, anticipate what could go wrong and always be prepared to take evasive action. By the way, no alcohol while riding.

  • There is nothing Psychic about it. To call it “luck” is silly. I don’t believe in luck. What I do believe in is riding assertively and keeping your head in the ride.

  • Maybe ‘psychic’ is the wrong word. The human brain is designed to recognize patterns (hunter gatherer and all that). With 30+ years of driving in traffic you start to see potential problems before they happen…That’s why Hough’s book “More Proficient Motorcycling” is an excellent read.

  • If you don’t anticipate stupid behaviour, you don’t ride a motorbike.
    If you notice, we bikers take the habit with us also when we drive sardine cans, ahem, sorry!, … cars. I’ll bet you, if available, statistics would show bikers have less accidents than people who only drive cars, EXACTLY because we are quite aware of our surroundings and learn to read the “tells” that allow us to anticipate other drivers’ behaviour.
    There is nothing misterious about that, it’s just being wide awake and conscious while we ride/drive. The unfortunate part is that if you don’t do it, you don’t last very long as a rider… and sometimes even that is not enough!

  • I agree that there are “tells” that you learn over the years. I was recently in the car with my 18 year old making a right turn and I told him to wait up because the car to the left of us was going to cut in front of us…2 seconds later they did. He asked, how did you know that was going to happen? I responded by indicating I noticed where the other driver was looking, the position of his car and the angle of is tires…it’s almost a sub-conscience thing. Just today I had a car cut in front of me with inches to spare. But I started braking and veered right just a split second before he cut-over (without a glance or signal, just bam). I again noticed him slightly weaving, looking about and riding the car in front of him; his lane change was inevitable and I’m glad I was clear of it.

  • I agree that there are “tells” that you learn over the years. I was recently in the car with my 18 year old making a right turn and I told him to wait up because the car to the left of us was going to cut in front of us…2 seconds later they did. He asked, how did you know that was going to happen? I responded by indicating I noticed where the other driver was looking, the position of his car and the angle of is tires…it’s almost a sub-conscience thing. Just today I had a car cut in front of me with inches to spare. But I started braking and veered right just a split second before he cut-over (without a glance or signal, just bam). I again noticed him slightly weaving, looking about and riding the car in front of him; his lane change was inevitable and I’m glad I was clear of it.

  • I believe short prayer for guidance from our Lord can enhance this so-called “rider’s psychic power”. When we acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in every minute of our ride, it helps to minimize our tendency to become aggressive/offensive drivers. It also opens our heart and mind and becomes sympathetic and considerate with other road users, in short, it takes away our egoistic tendencies when driving and spares us –and most of all, other people– from troubles.
    I’d like to think that the more you become confident at riding, the more unpredictable other road users and pedestrians become.

    Ride safely!


  • someone once told me that if i am to ride a bike, i need to learn how to “read the road”… i guess that is linked to what this article is about

    i agree with daryl. ALWAYS anticipate stupidity… may it be mine or the other driver/rider on the road

    ride safe

  • I don’t know how much divine intervention has to do with it. Seems to me, were that the case, we would have NO accidents. I do believe that we develop a “sense” based on prior experience that is honed the more miles we put on the road. I have personal experience where cars in front of me crashed moments after I sensed they would. I might have passed right between them…but thought better. Keep your eyes moving. Anticipate stupidity…they won’t let you down!

  • I believe ‘Intuitive riding’ evolves as we log time, and miles, on the road and in traffic, which enhances our ability to read our surroundings. My definition of INTUITIVE includes that “GUT FEELING” we hear so much about, and the
    “ANTICIPATION” we use to see, and judge our continually changing environment. These are just a couple of ‘key’ tools from our “SELF PRESERVATION” tool kit we should keep sharp and use daily.
    That’s my $0.02.

  • Hi MC-G:

    You’re the first person ever to have mentioned this. It has happened to me multiple times. The most memorable was about 14 years ago, when I used to commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I enjoyed doing about 70 mph in the 50 mph zone of the Belt Parkway. Because traffic would back up as soon as the Belt merged with the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, traffic cops wouldn’t even start to go after me.

    One summer day, something told me to take it easy, so I drove the speed limit that morning. Parked at various places along the Belt and the ramp onto the BQE were 3 police cruisers and 2 motorcycle units. Apparently they had my name in the sites of their radar guns!

    Thank God for psychic intuition!

    Regards & thanks for your columns,

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