Read & learn...be wise.
August 15, 2003
Motorcycle machismo myth can cause accidents
by Master Sgt. Robert J. Coulter Jr.
11th Wing Pentagon Safety Chief
One of our favorite American outdoor leisure activities is motorcycle riding. Some like going it alone on the open road, while others favor riding with other motorcyclists. Whether it's a short spin around the neighborhood or a longer trip to a lake or park, peer pressure can easily tempt you to perform acts that you wouldn't do if riding alone. Speed has become falsely linked with "manhood," and too many riders unwisely risk their lives to show machismo rather than ride safely and be perceived as an unskilled or timid rider.
A hazard of riding in a fast group or trying to keep up with an aggressive lead rider is concentrating solely on catching the taillight of the bike ahead. Focusing too intently on your throttle will lead you to ignore other vital factors of safe riding, such as turning a corner safely.
Maximizing traction and minimizing risk are sacrificed for the sake of "keeping up." Too often, a following rider will conduct a sudden and inadvertent off-road survey while attempting to stay with the leader. Sometimes, trailing riders will pull out onto a busy thoroughfare mindful only of the leader ahead and oblivious to traffic as they spin out of the side road or parking lot. This is sheer insanity, and will eventually lead up to an untimely accident.
The safe maneuver is to back off from the bike ahead. Don't over-concern yourself with your position in the group. Rather, enjoy your own pace. Choose your own speed, your own route, when to brake, when to speed up and when to slow down entering turns. In this way, you don't challenge the rider in front of you. You will find that you can easily back off to a comfortable margin and arrive at the next stop without losing your group or having to take unnecessary risks.
If you discover that your fellow riders can't accept your style, trade them in for some different companions. If you're the one who is always looking for a race, then you should consider the life-extending advantages of organized road racing on a closed track rather than showing off on public roads and injuring or worse, killing yourself or someone else.
Remember, if someone zips past you, cuts in too close or attempts to cajole you into an unsafe act, avoid the temptation to hit the gas and show them how "masculine" you can be. Safe riding based on your personal skill level should never be replaced by bravado and daring.
Life is cool -- tragic deaths are not.