Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A Quick Guide to Advanced Motorcycling.

A few months ago I was scheduled for an OBSERVER TRAINING DAY and so thought that I should read again the "Pass Your Advanced Motorcycling Test Manual" (PYAMTM). This was in preparation for the training and to try to get things gelled into my tiny brain.
On the day, there were three students and the instructor. We met at 10:00 and finished at 17:30; riding about 110 miles, taking it in turns to be an observer. It was agood day and I learnt a lot - again. It just goes to show that even when you are through the test you are always learning and re-learning!
The day's ride illustrated that I needed to keep remembering the salient points in PYAMTM. As I rode home I thought that it might help to jot them down as a Quick Guide.
The idea of advanced motorcycle riding is: quiet efficiency, tolerance and courtesy. If you follow these you can't go far wrong but there are other aspects worth mentioning here:
Reaction times: (roughly) - at 30 mph (48 kph) you need 6.6m thinking distance plus 14m braking distance = 21m total distance; at 50mph (80 kph) you need 11.1m thinking distance plus 38m braking distance = 50m total distance; at 70mph (112 kph) you need 15.5m thinking distance plus 75m braking distance = 90m total distance.
In reality all you need to remember is the 2 second rule. On DRY surfaces do not ride closer than 2 seconds to the vehicle in front and estimate how many seconds you are from any potential threat. E.g. if that car pulls out from that side road - plan an escape path. In the WET double the 2 seconds to FOUR SECONDS.
Braking: (Always in a straight line) - in the dry 75% front and 25% rear. In the wet 50% front and 50% rear. Smooth braking, close throttle, allow engine retardation, then progressively apply brakes for 66% to 75% of the available distance.
IPSGA: Information - Position - Speed - Gear - Acceleration.
Information: ('TUG' = take, use, give).
Position: Signal, look, manoeuvre.
Speed: Look, adjust.
Gear: Correct for speed/manoeuvre.
Acceleration: Straight course, accelerate.
Observation: Lifesaver (over the shoulder glance before turning left or right); shoulder check (rearward glance to check offside or nearside blindspots); mirrors (rearward oservation).
Surfaces: Potholes, gravel, wet tar, mud, oil, dust, rain, snow, ice, cat's eyes, studs, white lines, manhole covers, expansion joints, drains, diesel, horse manure.
Road signs: (Red borders) - 'O' signs for orders, triangle signs for warnings, always read from the top down.
Situation awareness: (Thinking ahead) - what can be seen, what cannot be seen, and what might reasonably be expected to happen?
Gear changing: (Right gear/right time); practise smooth gear changes; select neutral when almost at a standstill when expecting to be at rest for any appreciable time.
Positioning 1: (Keep 1 - 2m from the nearside except when turning right or overtaking) - when safe, change position for the best view of the road and traffic ahead. Move to the crown of the road when approaching a left hand intersection or junction as this provides an earlier view of vehicles approaching the adjoining road, and drivers have a better view of you.
Positioning 2: A position nearer the centre of the road is preferable when passing parked vehicles, to get a better view of hazards such as pedestrian crossings; it allows you to avoid manhole covers, etc and gives you greater control and vision through bends. Be careful to check behind you and also be sure that oncoming drivers can see you from a distance.
Oncoming traffic: Always sacrifice position for safety when facing oncoming traffic.
Confidence: At junctions with STOP signs, traffic lights, filter lights or lanes marked for taking a left turn or right turn you should take up a position in the CENTRE of the appropriate lane well in advance. This helps motorists notice you and means that they are less likely to force you out of the lane by pulling close alongside. A motorcycle which appears to be ridden confidently, well into the road, is more noticeable and seems more important. A driver is more likely to nip out ahead of a motorcycle if it is being ridden timidly and close to the kerb.
Bends: The advanced rider stands out from the novice in the ability to select the best position through bends. The ideal line for a right-hand bend is the one which an advanced rider would take if the road was empty. Keep to the left on approach for a wider view through the bend; move to the centre through the bend to 'straighten' it, and then edge back to the left for the earliest view up the straight stretch which follows. Straightening the bend in this way gives a safer, shallower arc through the turn, and leaves you in a good position if there is an opportunity to overtake. Left-hand bends should also be taken on a line that maximises the view ahead. Move towards the centre on the approach so that you can see further into the bend. Hold this course until the view opens up.
Motorways: For your own safety ride in the centre of your lane so that other motorists are not tempted to pass you in the same lane with inches to spare.
Keep reading the 'PYAMTM' and the 'Highway Code' and 'Not the Blue Book'. The above bullet points are not a substitute. ENJOY YOUR MOTORBIKE!

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