As the sun makes its tentative appearance, motorcycle riders are peeling back the moss and cracking open those soggy garage doors so that their two-wheelers can see the light of day.
To begin the season, here are two safety tactics you can apply to increase your safety and riding pleasure.
The single most important safety strategy is to ensure you have an expansive safety zone before you. Your most immediate danger comes from what you are riding towards, not from what you have left behind.
The standard rule of thumb once was to have a two-second buffer between you and the vehicle in front of you. In adverse riding conditions, ICBC now recommends a three-second following distance.
“Adverse” means anything less-than-ideal. Maybe the roads are wet, maybe you’re stuck behind a lumbering Winnebago, or maybe you have an obnoxious tailgater on your behind because they need to get ketchup from the store for their insufferable picky-eating child.
For the obnoxious tailgater, pull over and let them pass — when and where it is safe to do so. And until that is possible, ride strong and dominant (another column, another day), and occasionally flash your rear brakes to let them know to back off.
This brake-flashing strategy works. Except for the exception, most drivers are obtuse, not intentionally mean.
Hand-in-hand with this tactic is the second strategy: letting go.
Motorcycling is a source of tremendous pleasure. To keep it that way, you need to assume everyone else is an idiot, and in the very same moment, you need to forgive them for their stupidity.
Hanging on to rage will ruin your ride.
Accept that you are the one responsible for your safety, and ride accordingly.
When you do that, biking will bring you tremendous joy; when you don’t, you will come home angry. And that defeats the purpose of throttle therapy.
Knowing that, it makes sense to slow down and expand the space between you and the car ahead of you to three seconds, and to make the moment last by not belabouring the idiots on the road but enjoying this moment that you are in.
Ride to stay alive. It’s funner that way.
Britt Santowski has been riding since she was 25, and served as a Chief Instructor with the Vancouver Island Safety Council, where she taught for nine years.