This morning on my way into work I had my first very eye opening moment on my motorcycle. I want to write down what happened so that maybe in writing it down I can piece together exactly what happened, and also so I and others may learn from some of the mistakes I made this morning.
I left for work at about 6:30 in the morning like I usually do. Last night it hadn’t really rained but the cold overnight air resulted in some noticeable condensation on the roads in places. Being a fairly new rider (just about 800 miles under me so far) I am not 100% comfortable riding at speed with only the headlight to light the road for me. As a result of these two factors, I found myself riding the country highways into work at between 5 and 10 miles per hour under the speed limit trying to be safe and avoid any surprises.
Being a courteous rider when I noticed that a line of cars had caught up to me I pulled off into the shoulder to allow them to safely pass as the next several miles were twisty and going to be no passing zones. I’d rather have the cars in front of me, than impatient and behind me. When I pulled off into the shoulder, I realized rather abruptly that the shoulder wasn’t hard packed dirt and gravel, but was instead mud the consistency of high temperature bearing grease.
After the cars had passed me I turned the wheel to the left, and applied what I believed to be a little throttle, and started to let the clutch out to get back onto the street. Before I knew what was happening The rear end of the bike was swinging around to the right, and the front of the bike was slowly creeping across the road. If I were in car I would be doing the most epic rear wheel half donut ever. The first half of the road, as I crossed my lane of traffic the only two things I could get to register in my head were “Why is this happening?” and “I’m going to drop the bike.” And twice I came very close to dropping the bike on it’s left side.
As the rear wheel was passing the center lines my brain finally caught up with what was going on and I remember thinking to myself quite clearly “What controls do I have in my hands?” and “What can I do with them that will stop this.” It was at that moment that I both slowly started to close the throttle, and slowly applied the clutch, which once fully engaged, helped me realize at least one of the mistakes I had made. Specifically I must have grabbed the throttle with my hand much higher than normal, because once the clutch was fully disengaged, and the throttle was where I expect “closed” to be, the bike still revved itself up to 4000 or so RPM.
So here are the mistakes I know I made.
- First I pulled all the way off the road surface into an unknown, which could have lead to me dropping the bike right there in the mud.
- Second in my cold weather gloves I when addressing the throttle to get back onto the road, applied a lot more than expected. (Coupled with a good helmet, and custom molded earplugs I didn’t hear it…)
- Third I must have released the clutch too quickly, or coupled with the lack of traction in the mud I didn’t realize the state the bike was in.
I managed not to drop the bike at any point. I didn’t run any part of myself over, or burn any part of myself on the bike. I have no injuries what so ever from this event other than a healthy respect for what can go wrong when you least expect it. And finally I was wearing all of my safety gear (boots, gloves, jacket, pants, helmet)