Trust the Basics: Another Round of Firsts

Slick or slippery surfaces (gravel, sand, and debris in the road), wild life (and dogs), and brake lockups are topics that were addressed during the Rider Academy, but these items were not demonstrated for obvious reasons. Today’s ride introduced or presented those exact items. But, since I am actually reporting on what happened, it is safe to say I made it through each one of these situations safely. Needless to say, I don’t what to re-experience them again. However, as Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates….”. With my luck, it’s more like Jeff Foxworthy’s description of changing a diaper as compared to a present from your grandma. I know I’ll run into them again, so let’s just leave them at that.

First experience: rear brake lockup. As we were told in the class, release the brake and the wheel will automatically track back in line. I decided to ride east across to Riceboro, then north to Midway, and again east out to Fort Morris State Park. The ride was very pleasant until I got to where I needed to turn. I knew there was a cutoff to the left, but I passed by that before I realized it. No problem. There’s another left coming up… OH CRAP! I hit the brakes and the rear tire locked up. Trust me folks, that’s a sound you do not want to hear: a wheel squeal. Then the words were there – squeeze and smoosh (thanks Inna). Anyway, luckily there was no one around and I saved my “cool” points. Point here is that I was so into the ride that I had that split-second lapse in concentration that could have gone terribly wrong rather than a safe recovery. Always keep your head in the game!

Second experience: loose debris in the road. I’ve seen that all along the ride out of Midway because of a storm that had gone through earlier this week. Trees were wickedly twisted and torn, and barely clear of the road. Kind of makes more conscience of overhead cover while riding. And we’re expecting more of the same tomorrow.

As I got down towards Fort Morris, I remembered a friend live next door, so I took that right and just followed the road…. until the pavement ran out. No problem. Except it was a 90 degree turn into dirt. Again, no problem. Jus downshift into first and go slow. This really put the basic skills to the test. I was thinking I would need to do a U-turn as we had been taught. Slight problem. My Yamaha has a slightly longer wheel base than the HD500s. Good thing there was a “turn around” at the end, if barely defined. Slow and easy and the bike won’t slip or slide. Didn’t I say there were three?

Wouldn’t you know it, as I came out of the turn, there was not one, but two rather large Mastiffs looking at me like I was the main course. Pretty dogs. Happily, they were very well trained and only wanted to bark. I can only imagine the “what if” and they had not been well trained and really did want me over for dinner. Not good. No kicking at nor speeding up to “entice” them to follow. I just stayed slow and easy and went with my pace.

So far I think I’ve experienced everything we had talked about during the training except rain and other foul weather. I know I will eventually find myself riding in the rain. But I’d like to put that one off for as long as I can. And when I eventually do ride in the rain, you’ll read about it here as another first of firsts.

Jeff Allmond

18 April 2020

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