Happy New Year Everyone! Welcome to Peggy’s Pointers for 2011.
Last year at this time, I talked about getting fit physically for riding season. This year, I’m going to talk about getting fit mentally. As the joke goes, the most important piece of equipment you own, is the brain between the two handlebars.
Mr. Pat Hahn, author of “RIDE HARD, RIDE SMART” talks about three degrees of separation that protect you from getting hurt. He talks about having the right gear and” riding for the crash”. He discusses having the necessary riding skill level, improved through formal training sessions- MSF courses, track days and your ongoing practice in parking lots- emergency braking, swerving etc. until this is automatic. Finally, most importantly , he talks about have a defensive riding strategy.
The basis of this riding strategy is what we’ve learned in the MSF courses –SEE (SEARCH, EVALUATE AND EXECUTE.) When we are searching, we are trying to improve our situational awareness. It is important to continue to scan your road surface, your mirrors, your sides and well down the road (12 seconds), trying not to fixate on any object. To do this well, you need to be alert and able to pay attention. Ideally, you shouldn’t ride when tired, cold or hungry. You may need to take a few minutes before you start riding to get your head into the game- put aside thoughts of work or emotional upsets. Many accidents occur in the first or last few minutes of a ride. Try to avoid tunnel vision by tuning your peripheral vision. (Pick a point near the centre of the wall and practice seeing what’s at the edges of your visual field without turning your head.) Ride within your comfort zone. If you’re riding too fast, you tend to narrow your gaze.
As you ride play the “What If Game”. What if that left turner makes a left in front of me at that intersection I’m approaching….. What if that child or dog runs out in the road in front of me… By already thinking of possible problems and solutions, you’re improving your reaction times. Always assume that you’re invisible, even if you think you’ve had eye contact. As you approach that dangerous intersection, you are slowing , covering your brakes and positioning yourself in the lane to maximize your buffer zone from all hazards. Your strategy might involve the use of a blocker car(a car in a parallel lane between you and the hazard.)
Some people talk to themselves to improve response times. Again as you approach that dangerous intersection, you may be saying ..emergency brake…emergency brake, as you get closer… swerve…swerve …as you’re very close, possibly…go fast …go fast.
Remember to always plan, give yourself space for an emergency exit. Practice looking where you want to go… that space behind the left turner…don’t fixate on the hazard. Hope you all ride with an excellent defensive strategy and have a wonderful riding season!
To test your knowledge go to, www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca. Click english. Click Online Services Saaqclic. Click Online tests knowledge.
Peg's Pointers for February 2011 - INPUT REQUIRED!!!
Welcome to Peggy’s Pointers for February. Riding season is slowly getting here and most of us are planning exciting travels. Some are going to Grand Rapids for this year’s Motor Maid Convention.
This month I’d like our members to contribute by describing what they ride and how they have modified it from stock to make it safer and more comfortable to ride. How have you modified it for distance travel? What luggage do you carry? What electronics/ electrics?
I (Peggy) ride a Yamaha V-Star 950 Touring model. When I purchased it, I had engine and saddle bag guards, an additional front light bar and a back luggage rack installed. A friend made me a cigarette lighter type power outlet that I can plug in my cell phone. I also have an electrical connector to my battery for a trickle charger (in winter) or for my power pump for inflating flat tires. For my comfort, I ride with a Canada tire cushion on my seat under my sheep skin. My sheep skin keeps my butt cool in summer and warm in the fall. (I put a cover over it when I park to keep it from getting soaked… the downside of sheepskin.) My sister made me vinyl fairings that I clip to my engine guards to protect my lower legs from cold/rain splash. I’ve had 2” risers added to make long distance riding less of a strain on my shoulders. I’ve added to my handlebars a clock and a GPS. With my GPS I can do route planning…most useful as you close on your destination. I can find gas stations/motels close at hand. Also, I like it for showing me my speed in kms or mph… and I can keep my gaze up.
For major trips, the luggage I use is a Motofizz Camping bag (has a lot of pockets and straps) which sits on the passenger seat. Attached to the front of this, I have a detachable bag that has cushions/ maps/covers and acts as a back rest. Also I use a Nelson-Rigg roll bag that sits on my luggage rack. It has a cover that has reflective stripes on it to increase my nighttime visibility. I also use this roll bag for shorter adventures- it can sit on the passenger seat. (Trying to keep my weight central, low and balanced to each side of the bike.) I also use a small map bag that sits on the gas tank. Held to the bike with universal magnets, it can also hold change for tolls. I carry current map, some money, passport, pad and pen, contact numbers. (I store this in my lockable saddlebags when I park.) My lockable saddle bags came with the touring model and carries my emergency gear for my human and motorized friends plus my rain gear and fluorescent vest. Remember to check your owners manual for maximum weight bike will carry (riders+accessories+luggage) and the maximum your bags/rack should carry.
What do the rest of you do? I might get some good ideas for more modifications……
Peg's Pointers for March 2011
In Peggy’s Pointers for March, I would like to continue discussing trip planning- setting the route and getting yourself ready. (In last years March Pointers, I discussed getting your bike ready to ride and Spring riding.) I would like to thank Mr. Dale Coyner and his wonderful book- “The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Travel” for much of this useful information.
When you are first planning a trip, you must answer three questions. Where do you want to go? This can be immediate short trips or somewhere you have just read about and are inspired to go. Second, you must decide how much time do you have and your riding range. And third, how much will it cost- think costs for getting ready, then trip costs-gas, food, lodgings and extras.
With route planning, using internet software such as Map Quest, Google Earth, or Delorme Street Atlas is very helpful. Plot start and end points. Then fill in route based on personal preferences- ex avoiding interstate and toll highways, or adding way points you want to see. Adjust trip planning settings. This includes predicting gas stops, and daily stopping points based on speed travelled on selected route. Adjust for how much sight seeing/ picture taking that is desired. Finally, do a reality check. Are you really going to do 800km back to back days? What if it is raining?
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
1) Six to Twelve Months in Advance. Map out route plan- deciding stopping points and interesting places to see. Make reservations for any popular tourist spots or if travelling in large groups. One can book blocks of rooms, then have individuals sign up for pieces and cancel any extras closer to the travel date.
Review your will. Do you have a medical/ financial power of attorney. What happens if you are seriously hurt?
Do you know how to use your emergency equipment? Review.
Is your Passport up to date?
Visit discussion boards and discuss planned routes. Other riders are great sources of must see routes.
2) Two to Four Months in Advance. Finalize the purchase and installation of any major gear or gadgets. You need a few shake down runs to get use to the new equipment and to fix any teething problems.
Renew any road service or club membership. (CAA PLUS, Motor Maid-need to have current card with you to attend meetings.)
Determine if your travels have any unique insurance or documentation requirements. If travelling outside of Canada/ USA may need Visas, additional insurance for you and your bike. Get medical checkup. Do you need shots? What about travel insurance?
3) Four to Six Weeks in Advance. If your trip is lengthy, arrange to have someone pick up your mail, look after bills, mow lawn etc. to give your property a lived in look.
Look at the mileage on your bike. When is the next service appointment? If soon, get on the dealers schedule. If trip is long, consider booking an appointment now for a dealer site on route and let them know if you need any parts, such as tires. Consider carrying parts that might be needed for emergency repairs.
How are your tires? Consider replacing and get them run in.
Make a list of Important phone numbers and contacts- family/ friends, doctor, insurance agent for motorcycle ,clubs, motels and friends on route, and take a copy and leave a copy at home.
Make a separate list of your credit cards and don’t carry it in your wallet.
Purchase any specialty clothing to test for fit and function.
Put together a Paperwork Kit, including copies of drivers license, bike registration, insurance for you and bike, & passport. Add contact list, with your medical info-health problems, medications and allergies. Add small reserve of cash. Store all in water tight package and store in a safe place on your bike.
Make list of gear your thinking of taking. Clothing , toiletries, music, repair kit, first aid kit. Etc. Bring a spare key.
4) One to Two Weeks in Advance. Pre- treat your gear. If using textiles, scotchgard.
Check your luggage and attachment systems. Ride with your luggage. How does the bike handle? How is your gas mileage?
Consider prepaying bills.
5) Two to Three Days in Advance. Top off all your batteries. Assemble your gear. Make last minute purchases- medications etc. Contact credit card companies to let them know your travel plans. Credit card companies look for change in usage. Let them know you are travelling by bike and may be making small gas purchases. I usually carry a second card, just in case a card company blocks usage. Give your home contact a copy of your paperwork.
6) The Day Before. Check the weather. Do bike pre-ride check (pay attention to fluid levels and tire pressures). Fill your gas tank. Load your bike. Ride around bike to check security of load. Try to get a good night’s sleep.
7) Departure Day! Do last pre-ride check. Review your check list to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Then GO!
Hopefully, this will help you get ready for the wonderful adventures ahead of you! Enjoy!
Peggy's Pointers - April 2011
Hurray! It’s April and time to go riding with your friends. When doing so, a few tips for group riding are in order.
For yourself: 1) Do a personal and bike safety check before riding. Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather and for the “fall”. Check your bike for any mechanical issues- think TCLOCK and top up your gas tank. Try to arrive a little early (with an empty bladder). Remember, drinking alcohol and riding don’t mix.
2) Always ride your own ride. Don’t ride faster than your comfort level. If unable to keep up with the group, notify the ride leaders. You can always arrive at the destination slightly later and still enjoy the social activities.
3) Ride staggered, 2 seconds behind the bike in front. While riding, don’t fixate on the bike in front of you. Always look through the turn or well down the road for hazards.
4) When riding with a group or club, review the organizations group riding instructions and hand signals for communications. These can vary slightly. See the Motor Maid Inc. Safety site for this group’s info.
For the Organizers of a Ride: 1) Organize the ride! Have a meeting before the ride to discuss route & to hand out maps. Determine rest/ food stops- places to wait for the delayed/ slow riders. Exchange cellphone numbers. Review hand signals. Review what will happen if there is a break down or group gets separated.
2) When planning your ride, and the frequency of breaks, factor in the groups riding experience and riding range. Remember time for sightseeing, need for gas stops and that this is supposed to be FUN.
3) When creating your formation, have experienced lead and sweep riders. Ideally, they will be able to communicate on their cells and possibly provide emergency assistance. Consider positioning the least experienced riders behind the leader so the pace may be adjusted for them.
4) Keep the groups manageable ex. 5 to 7 riders. Uneven numbers allow the lead and sweep to be centerline. If a larger group is riding, consider having a buddy system. Trikes and sidecar rigs should be at the back of the formation.
5) Ride leaders should signal single file for rougher roads, tighter curves, & entering/exiting highways.
6) When parking or stopping as a group, try to get the group off the road as quickly as possible. When organizing a ride, doing a pre-ride trip and confirming adequate parking is often a good idea.
7) Finally, remember to have FUN! An excellent video for group riding tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation can be found at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=erpkyD7SMfw
Peg's Pointers for May 2011
May is motorcycle awareness month. It’s a month dedicated to encouraging all road users to drive in a safe responsible manner so all enjoy a beautiful spring and safe riding season. To assist motorcyclists, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has just released its five basic road riding rules. These rules incorporate many of the findings of traffic accident studies. In the 1980’s, the Hurt Study (by Mr. Harry Hurt) was the definitive work re motorcycle accidents and relative risks. More recently there have been further studies. These include : the MAID Report- an indepth study of motorcycle accidents and relative risks in Europe done in 2000, a Rider conspicuity study done in New Zealand in 1996, a US National Statistics study done in 2005 and a Traffic Injury Research Foundation study done in Canada in2008.
1) Get properly trained and licensed. All studies showed that unlicensed riders were much more likely to be injured-1 study showing 24% of fatal motorcycle accidents were unlicensed riders. MSF have basic/Advanced and Street rider course for proper training.
2) Ride within your own skill levels and obey traffic laws. In 37% of accidents, the primary cause of the accident was human error on the part of the motorcycle operator. In single vehicle accidents, the most common problem was failure to negotiate a curve ,often entering with too high a speed. In collisions involving another vehicle, the problem was often making poor or incorrect collision avoidance strategies. In 13% of cases, there were no decisions made to avoid an accident.
3) Wear all protective gear, all the time. The most frequent cause of accidents was failure to be seen, due to lack of auto driver attention, obstructed view or the low visibility of the motorcyclist. Most accidents were urban at relatively low speeds. (90% from in front). Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries. 56% of injuries were to the extremities and were relatively minor, protected fairly well by appropriate riding gear. Drivers wearing any reflective or fluorescent clothing had 37% lower risk of accident. Comparing a black to white or light coloured helmet- a white helmet had a 24% lower risk, &a lightly coloured helmet a 19% lower risk.
4) Ride unimpaired by alcohol or all other drugs. Studies showed that even a small amount of alcohol significantly increased your accident risk- especially at night and with your older riders.
5) Be a life long learner by taking refresher Rider Courses. In Canada, the motor vehicle fatality rate is slowly decreasing, but fatality rate for motorcyclists is increasing. One of the biggest risk groups is the 45 to 54 year olds. This is perhaps because there are more new riders and reentry riders out there.
Enjoy your spring riding. Ride safe!
PEGGY’S POINTERS for JUNE 2011
At this time of year in Atlantic Canada, especially when riding along the coasts we are often dealing with wind, rain and fog. Knowing what to expect and how you can handle these problems will make your rides more enjoyable.
WIND -Wind is a normal part of riding. At speed, rain, stones and bugs can hurt when bouncing off. Wear protective clothing. Always protect the eyes. Consider a neck scarf. (This will also keep stinging insects out of your jacket.) Wind also makes the bike wobble. Most problematic is gusting side winds. This can be anticipated such as passing a big truck or unanticipated such as crossing over a river bridge. In this situation, lower your profile by crouching, slow down and grip your tank with your knees and feet. Try to relax, counterbalance your bike and try not to over react. This can be quite tiring, so take breaks more often.
RAIN When riding in the rain, the rider has to deal with getting wet, loss of traction and reduced visibility. Ideally, one wants to arrive dry and warm. Cover those gaps in your clothing. Wear a scarf to prevent rain running down your neck and back. Make sure your gloves overlap your jacket sleeves and your jacket is long enough to cover your leggings. Leggings should overlap your boots.
Adjust your attitude. You have only half the stopping power. Do everything more cautiously, increase your following distances. Be aware that roads are often more slippery shortly after the rain starts due to lifting dirt and oils. If driving through water, enter more slowly to avoid hydroplaning but keep the revs up and move through steadily without forcing it so the water just moves aside.
Keep your visor and windshield clean. Some people apply anti-fog products such as Rainex or Pledge or even shaving cream. Usually rain will bead up on the surface and rotating your head in wind can blow the drops off. Helmets will also fog up. Open the helmet just slightly and keep the vents open to improve air flow. At traffic lights, lift the visor a notch or two but look down to keep the rain outside the helmet.
FOG In fog, your visibility can be decreased significantly. Slow down but beware the rear ender. Try to find a “sweeper”. A sweeper is a large truck or car with strong headlights, that can blaze a trail for you to follow. Following a sweeper you can travel faster than your lights would allow, as their lights give you a safe distance.
Peggy's Pointers for July 2011
Many of us are travelling this summer. Some of us are on the way to convention- but where ever you go it also seems to be peak time for road construction. Here are a few tips for when you find yourself doing OFFROAD RIDING on dirt, gravel and those scarified road surfaces.
If you have a passenger, remind them not to shift around and trust your abilities to keep the bike upright.
Drive in 1st or 2nd gear so you can use your rear brake and clutch friction zone to precisely control speed.
Do not drive too slowly – this allows the bikes gyroscopics to keep you vertical. Do not drive too fast- this allows you to avoid using the front break which might cause the tire to slide out.
Do not white knuckle your grips. You need a firm grip but must allow the tires to move around on the uneven surfaces.
Do everything smoothly. Consider driving in the right tire track to keep away from oncoming traffic. A recent poll of motorcyclists asked-“WHICH OF THESE HIGHWAY HAZARDS DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST DANGEROUS? The results- Deer/ wildlife- 29%,
Painted road surfaces (slippery when wet)- 18%,
Unsecured loads on Vehicles- 14%,
Edge breaks (2 lanes unequal height)- 12%,
Tire carcasses on road- 7%, Highway barriers- 5%,
Centreline rumble strip- 1% and finally Construction scraping texture- 1%.
Drive Safe but Enjoy Your Ride
Peggy's Pointers - August 2011
Camping anyone? There is much to enjoy- a greater sense of adventure while communing with nature. Meeting new people. Being more self sufficient while saving money. But things can go wrong- anywhere from losing/ forgetting equipment to being cold/soaked and eaten by bugs. Planning ahead is the key.
Here are TEN STEPS TO AN ENJOYABLE TRIP by Mr. James Parks (He writes for RoadRunner magazine).
- Start Out Modestly. On your first trip travel light- buy or borrow enough gear to do a one night outing at a location familiar to you, ideally close to home. Keep it simple, eat at restaurants. This will let you decide if motorcycle camping is for you.
- Plan Carefully. You are back packing on two wheels, so a carefully thought out checklist is essential. Refine your list with experience. What did you need but didn’t bring, what didn’t you really need. Check the weather forecast. If persistent bad weather is forecast reschedule.
- Check Your Gear Before Leaving Home. Familiarize yourself with how everything goes together or works. Inventory all your gear to see if anything is missing.
- Packing. Don’t overload the bike. Try to pack heavier items low and in front of the rear wheel. Pack items in waterproof bags/ zip- lock freezer bags. Pack the bike the day before and take it for a test drive to make sure everything is secure and the bike handles safely.
- Match The Campsite to Your Needs. Know in advance where you plan to stay. Make reservations if possible, especially if you plan to arrive late, as camp grounds tend to fill up early. Beginners should pick campgrounds with running water/ toilets and showers. There are motorcycle friendly campgrounds. Roads in general use campgrounds may be tough to negotiate by bike. Select your site carefully, as far from light and noise as possible. Place your tent on an area as level and smooth as possible away from obvious pests.
- Clothing. Consider what your planned activities are and your range of temperature. Bring shower shoes and a light windbreaker. Synthetic clothes tend to dry more quickly and compress better for packing than cotton. Wear layers. Consider a waterproof hat.
- Don’t Skimp on Shelter. The rule of thumb is to get a tent with a capacity for one more than is expected to sleep in it. You can then store your gear out of the weather. Protect the bottom of your tent with a ground sheet.
- Comfortable Bedding. Get a quality sleep pad such as Therm-a Rest which self inflates or an inflatable mattress. Carry a good down or synthetic mummy bag. Use your ear plugs for restful sleep.
- Meal Planning. Plan ahead what meals you’ll eat at the campsite or go to restaurants for. Bring the necessary cooking equipment and condiments. Consider water-purification tablets.
- Relax, Have Fun. With experience these trips will become more enjoyable. Part of the fun is experiencing the unexpected and telling the adventures afterwards.
PEGGY’S POINTERS FOR SEPTEMBER 2011
Well it’s back to school time. So this month, I’ll review driving rules around school zones and school buses.
According to the NS Drivers Handbook, when children are present in the school zone , it is an offence to drive in excess of 50kph whatever time or day. This means driving at this speed before school starts until after the last student has gone home for the day. It also applies during extracurricular activities such as sporting events or dances. Also be aware there is potential legislation pending to decrease this speed to 30kph.
DRIVERS AND SCHOOL BUSES
During the hours school buses are operating (usually between 7-9am and 2-4pm), drivers should be especially careful watching for children waiting for the bus or getting off the bus.
Observe flashing lights on bus:
- If amber lights flashing, bus is about to stop. Passing is allowed but use extra caution and be alert for red lights.
- If red lights are flashing, bus is stopping to pick up or discharge children. All drivers in front and behind must stop, even on divided boulevards and at a distance of 20 meters.
PEGGY'S POINTERS FOR OCTOBER 2011
Well it’s getting towards the end of another riding season, so this month I would like to focus on “LESSONS LEARNED”. Recently I was riding along Hammonds Plains road, possibly following a truck a little too closely, when it abruptly stopped and THEN put on its left turn signal to turn into a driveway. I had room to stop but the vehicle behind me did not. I heard it lock up its brakes. Fortunately, I remembered to leave room for an exit strategy and drove towards the left side of the truck. I could hear the car trying to stop to my right. No collisions occurred, but I was a little shaken and the car behind was a lot shaken as he continued to follow me with lots and lots of separation. So remember always leave enough room for an exit strategy.
I would like you to tell me about any of your lessons learned, whether it was a riding event or a piece of gear you can’t be without or just a good tip to pass along. Enjoy your riding.