Learn to handle curves

How to learn to ride curves

Handling life’s curves or how to ride a motorcycle in curving roads in the mountains.

       A bike or a car or your life will go where you are looking. If all you can see is a guard rail in the curve, you’ll probably drive right into it. If you see failure ahead in your life, you’ll probably hit it.

       I’ll never forget buying my first Harley and riding it home 50 miles on a curving 2 lane highway. Holy mackerel, there’s a curve in the road ahead. I had to slow down to make it. I don’t know how I did it, but I’m here today to prove that I did.

         There is a story of a man who always dreamed of owning a Harley. He saved his money and bought his dream bike. The sad part is that he was killed in a crash on the way home from the dealer. Many will say, “well, at least he died doing what he always wanted to do”.

         No, he died screaming in terror as he stared at the deep ditch on the far side of the curve in the road. He apparently never took the basic rider class to learn how to take a curve. I was given this riding tip by a motorcycle cop I met at the Harley Dealer when we were both waiting for our bikes to be serviced.

        He told me that if a car pulls out in front of me, never stare at the car. Instead, be looking where I need to go to avoid the car. The bike will go where you look. If you don’t look through the curve, you won’t get through the curve.  This has taken me many thousands of miles to finally master. You have to look about 2 seconds ahead of your travel to navigate the curve. Whether you’re riding a bike, driving a car or a bus, you have to be looking 2 seconds ahead.

        My driver ed instructor told us to center the car on the road by looking down the road, not by trying to line up the fenders with the edge of the road. That caused you to look down. The best way to teach a rider to do this is to follow 2 seconds behind an expert rider through curves. When the rider ahead passes the dead possum, count 2 seconds before you pass the critter. As you work on this, build your confidence by riding the same stretch of curves. Work up to the speed limit, then work on NOT slowing down before the curve. Gain the confidence in your abilities to look through the curve as you ride.

       As you begin to master this, next work on maintaining your line in the lane. There is the left side, the right side and the center of the lane when on a bike. Don’t be swerving all over the lane. Stay on the  left, center or right. This is the next step in mastering curves or riding in a group. Again, find an expert to follow. It’s best if you can stay on the same section of roadway to help you build confidence. Understanding the difference between confidence and competence is important. Being competent to ride a curve does you no good if you don’t have the confidence to do it. This is the reason to stay on the same stretch of road,

        How does this apply to life?  You have to look past obstacles that might be in your way and see how to work around them. Have the confidence that you can get past them. Believe in yourself and see the way forward. Some people see difficulties in the path they want to take as barriers preventing them from doing so. Successful people see those same barriers as a simple inconvenience.

         Becoming an advanced level motorcycle rider has made me a far better driver of a car. I see things I didn’t see before because I’m looking far down the road and to either side. I expect traffic on side streets to pull in front of me.  I expect oncoming drivers to turn left in front of me. It’s great when they don’t, but I’m ready for an escape route if they do.

3 thoughts on “Learn to handle curves

  1. Thanks Becky, I usually keep up with your blog, but haven’t read it in sometime, I actually had time today….so I rooted thru some of your blogs and relaxed today…thanks….they are helpful!
    Sometimes folks have to re-learn some of the older stuff that they have forgotten. Love your reads!!!

  2. Becky, I have a fear of curvy, mountainous roads. We have a group of FAITH Riders that goes to BBBQ every year. Last year I was terrified of riding those curves and hills. No mind you I’ve been riding for about 20+ years but I’ve never gotten over that fear. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Thanks for the great question Sandra. There are two keys to riding curves. The FIRST is to look ahead at the road. The bike will go where you look, which is why you must look at the road. Human nature dictates that we notice things that might be a threat, such as a guard rail or, worse yet, no guard rail and a steep cliff. Too many riders stare at the road right in front of the bike. Try to visualize where the far distance of your headlights would hit. This will be about 2 seconds ahead of you and the perfect place on which to focus your attention. The SECOND thing on which to work is called “counter steering”. Push forward on the handlebars on the side to which you want to turn. To turn right, push forward on the right side. Yes, this sounds crazy but it works very well. The bike will instantly lean to the right and the bike will effortlessly go right. So, focus on the road 2 seconds ahead and push the handlebars. Works like magic. Practice and report back please.

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