It seems simple enough, but wherever you are riding to, make sure your ride is well planned out.
Last Saturday a friend and I were practicing drills on our motorcycles. That day, we had to ride out to Peterson’s Harley Davidson not only for the party that was being held to honor Veteran’s, but also to talk to management at Harley about our charitable the Turkey Ride & Drive.
When we finished practicing, we had to decide how to get to Peterson’s North and I reluctantly agreed to take I-95 northbound; an interstate I avoid at all costs.
We took the express lane which is two lanes divided from the rest of the lanes with plastic poles as dividers. It did not matter how fast we rode, it wasn’t fast enough. I counted five cars that passed us at least 25 mph over the speed limit and of course, when the drivers switched lanes, they did so right on top of us. The cars were so close to me switching lanes I could only see the car headlights through my mirrors.
Whether I ride by myself, with friends or a large group, suffice to say I rarely take the same route that if I were driving in my truck. Deciding which route to take is easy when riding in your hometown but I also factor in the time of day. I always tell my friends I’ll leave my house at 7 p.m. because the reality is with rush hour traffic, there is no point in being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Not to mention during rush hour, drivers tend to be more aggressive. So, I just wait it out.
With group rides, I also try to make sure there are no large events taking place along the way that would lead to unusual heavy traffic on the weekends or road closures. Once riding with another group, we got stuck for hours in southbound traffic on the way to Key West because a marathon was being held that day. That is a quick way to make a great ride frustrating.
By the way, on I-95 about a month ago, on that same route, a driver crossed that barrier and hit two bikers that I had the pleasure to meet after the fact. One biker had a broken ankle, the other had her leg amputated.
One of the motorcycles even flipped over the concrete barrier and landed on the opposite side of I-95 (southbound). Surprisingly, there were no accidents with the cars driving in the opposite direction. The sad part, considering the weak laws nationwide involving car accidents, the driver will receive only a citation for reckless driving while the two bikers will end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
When riding out of town, even though I am not familiar with the roads, I map out the ride and try my best to guess where I will be during rush hour. Will I be in a small town or a large metropolitan city?
In August of this year while riding through St. Louis, MO, I was on the highway at about 4 p.m. The drivers were very aggressive. I simply got off the highway, reset my gps, and took back roads for the next couple of hours. So even if you aren’t familiar with your surroundings, if you don’t feel comfortable with the way the cagers are driving, then take another route.
Finally, when riding with friends, always make clear the destination and the route in case you get separated.