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I’ve seen a couple of things lately (one of them a recent post here) talking about preparing for the unexpected, while riding. Along the lines of “imagine what you would do if…”

 

Do you, while you are out on a ride, imagine emergency or danger scenarios, and think about how you would avoid them? Is that an effective technique, does it make a difference in your riding?

 

I've tried it but it seems like it just makes me nervous! :unsure:

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I wouldn't say I'm always imagining the worst scenario, but I do tend to find myself thinking of possible escape routes, if I see a hazard developing ahead of me, I'll start to think, can I pull over into the other lane without colliding with someone, or could I get past down the side of that car if necessary?

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This is something I do quite often when I ride. Not to the point of preoccupation, but as Steve described above. I think it helps me stay aware of potentially bad situations. I also ride like I am invisible (I didn't know the BMW would come with a stealth mode :ph34r: ) and I know this has saved my bacon more than once.

 

Last fall I was turning left from a stoplight with two left turn lanes. I was in the outside lane and a box truck was in the inside lane. We were tuning onto a narrow overpass with no emergency lane and I had the thought "what do I do if he crosses from the inside to the outside lane" even though there was quite a bit of traffic and I thought the odds of it were low. Turns out the odds don't always tell the story and when the light turned he came across like I wasn't there (but I had left myself the "out" from my mental drill) when he saw me he jerked back almost into oncoming traffic.

 

I know you can't predict the future but I do believe thinking about potential issues (in a healthy no panic inducing manner) helps me stay focused.

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I do it, and it's helped. I saw something on the news, where a rider was killed when a truck pulled into the HOV lane from almost stand-still traffic. I researched it a little, and found it is a big issue. I started thinking about what to do if something like that happened, and I decided that going onto the fog line was the best option. I did it for a number of reasons.

 

Here's how I broke it down:

 

1. Target fixation. I can ride down the road and look behind me at traffic speed, it's not a problem. But something changes when a car is coming into you: panic. I wanted to give myself something that I could actually fixate on, so I could not only take that out of the equation of danger, but I could turn it to my advantage.

2. Splitting lanes. You can ride on a strip and pass cars. I'd be safe, or at the most, get nudged by the car or truck. I can live with that.

3. If I went off the road, or into another lane (I found out later), there could be dangers, like a car coming, or debris, like tire shrapnel.

 

I practiced it a couple of times, and have, on occasion, thought about it, especially when I'm in the type of traffic, where it would help me.

 

It's helped me twice. Once was in that exact instance. I was coming onto the 101, and always accelerate to get through this cluster of cars that forms in that area. I got out to the HOV doing about 80 mph (yes, it's speeding), and a car, going approximately 50, pulled right in front of me in a place you're not supposed to cross into the HOV. I sat up, knees into the tank (that training came right back), started braking, and got on the fog line. Problem averted. I don't think I would have hit him, but if I was on the verge of doing so, I would have avoided a collision.

 

I was riding home one night, after work, and some hillbilly didn't appreciate me passing him. I was doing the speed limit, and he was going slower, so I went past him on the highway, and he gunned it, pulled in front of me, and slammed the brakes. He didn't brake-check me, he nailed the brakes. Again, I sat up, knees in the tank, HARD braking, and stared at the striped line. I got along side him and a car shot to the side of me, and I don't know how I didn't get sideswiped, but going into the other lane would have gotten me whacked, and staying in my lane would have rammed the back of his car. I took his rear-view mirror off, then gunned it, but being prepared saved me some serious injury.

 

You CAN'T possibly be prepared for everything, but the more things you're ready for, the better off you'll be.

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Do you, while you are out on a ride, imagine emergency or danger scenarios, and think about how you would avoid them? Is that an effective technique, does it make a difference in your riding?

 

I've tried it but it seems like it just makes me nervous! :unsure:

 

I don't think of the scenarios as emergencies, but I do take note of my environment (fellow motorists, the street, trees and whatnot) and try to plan defensively and accordingly. For example, if I come up to an entry/exit which is obscured (say, by a tall hedge) I move within my lane to give myself more time to react and avoid anything that come out of there. Coming up to a blind turn, I make sure I don't cross the middle line with my body or tires and my speed leaves me room to maneuver within my lane. Coming up behind cars on the highway, I will look for head movements or slow drifting of the car towards my lane - sure signs that will tell me they are would like to switch lanes in a iffy. But can I always stop within my viewing distance? probably not.

 

I consider it to be defensive riding, without being paranoid*. It's a matter of adapting your riding to the street and deciding that riding on the street is about something else than riding on a racetrack. To me it's often about riding with a couple of buddies, visiting old (or new!) curvy roads, enjoying nature. It's not about "who can go fastest" and "who's the biggest squid". If I ride with new riders, I will often ride in front of them to guide then through the turns (if so needed).

 

If I had to be thinking worst-case scenario all the time, I wouldn't be riding. Worst case scenario would not being killed, but almost killed so I'm a burden and pain to my dear ones and myself, without being able to enjoy much of life in the future. I don't subscribe to use this as my starting point in life - that would cut out far too many wonderful things out of fear of plane crashes, STDs, traffic accidents, whatnot.

 

*) On the other hand, just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you!

 

(I hope I'm not getting #### here for naughty words)

 

Kai

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...*) On the other hand, just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you!

 

Leave it to Kai to lighten the mood :lol: .

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STDs!. Good clean fun.

 

Right there w Carey So when on (info) superhighway I now assume I have no privacy. On I-95 I assume invisibility when dancing w cars.

 

I don't wonder as much as scan. Similar to the cues from Tw1, ie a driver turns head before changing lanes. Like poker tells.

 

At risk of offending, Camry drivers are the absolute worst :0). Much worse than minivans. At least those soccer moms have the decency to do their driving offensively in pure red mist rage!

 

Ago

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Ok, very interesting responses! So to narrow this down... it seems to me that if you see a car in the oncoming lane with his blinker on, you are OBSERVING an actual situation, and predicting what might happen, and making a plan. To me, that is not imagining danger scenarios, that is seeing what is happening in your environment and reacting to it, a necessary part of riding.

 

I guess I understood the "expect the unexpected" advice to mean imagining situations that are NOT based on something that is observably changing. I was thinking completely imagined scenarios - like "what would I do if my tire blew out" or "what if a tree suddenly fell over and blocked the road" or "what would happen if I panicked and pulled the front brake in the middle of the next turn?"

 

So, if you were cruising down a lovely back road and there was no traffic and everything was going great, would you spend any of that riding time imagining danger scenarios, to prepare for the unexpected?

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In traffic, I anticipate the actions of what's around me and plan my moves to stay out of trouble and also have alternatives planned should the need arise. Which virtually never happen. Out on little used backroads, however, I consider the risks - and ignore them :D Do I ever think "What happens if I have a puncture now?" Lots of times. The answer is "I will crash". Do I think "What if a truck has stopped around this blind corner?" Absolutely. Same answer. Last season was better, however, and I actually gave myself reasonable margins for stuff like that. I hope the trend continues. Crashing bikes and smashing bones have lost some of its allure.

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I try to keep a positive attitude, but I keep hearing thevoice of a salty old Marine Gunny I worked with yelling "Expect the worst,hope for the best". I know I don't have the track skills anywherenear anyone else on this forum, but I do think I am a smart rider and know the odds are against me on the street. I try not to wade into the shallow end of the gene pool and put myself in compromising situations where there is no escape route. One of my biggest SR's is fear of cars. I don't trust the driver's ability or judgment and I let that consume my $10 worth of attention. Riding up in the North Georgia Mountains can be stressful because of all the drivers crossing over the center line in corners and weaving because they are sightseeing.There is a scene from the Twist 2 DVD where a truck crosses over the center line just as the rider is heading into a turn. I caught myself all tensed up just watching the video! I typically stay away from the center line at alltimes, but I know people who will push it hard on public roads and get right on the center line in turns. Not me!

 

 

I've had my fair share of drivers who either pull out in front of me or nearly do it, as I'm sure any rider with more than a couple months of riding experience has. I think it is smart to try and visualize escape and recovery, but don't burn your attention on it. I think in most cases you will be presented with a scenario you didn't expect or it will happen too fast, at least with cars involved. Riding at dusk here in Georgia can be an issue because of deer. Hard to strategize a what if scenario going 70mph on the interstate and a 190lb deer darts in your path out of the woods. Same for a blown tire in a high speed turn, probably not going to end well. For those types of scenarios, I don't dwell on it because there isn't a whole lot I can do about it, apart from expect the worst and hope for the best. It does keep your awareness level up.

 

OUT

 

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Since becoming a father, I have given up road riding. My CBR is in permanent track mode now. I may get another road bike at some point in the future, but it won't be a sports bike.

 

The reason is prettty much given in all the above posts. It's too much fun going round corners and when you get caught up in that loop you stop thinking about the tractor/oncoming lorry combination that may be round the next bend. As my riding has progressed, so has my corner exit speed. I know that it's unlikely that I will be faced with a worst case scenario, but the nature of UK roads is that they are very twisty/hedge lined, relatively narrow and quite often have tractors / lorries on them! So as time goes on the percentages suggest that I will experience that worst case scenario at some point. I have a lot to consider now, and I'm not prepared to disadvantage my daughter and wife when it is avoidable. Yes it is low to medium risk, but I don't want to take that risk anymore.

 

If I knew I could keep myself in acceptable limits, I would ride on the road. But unless I restricted it to commuting (on a non sport bike) I know I would not hold back enough. With regard to bad drivers.... I am ok with putting myself in this unpredictable world as I believe I can foresee most bad behaviour: expect that they will do the stupidest thing when presented with the opportunity and you will not go far wrong. But that requires a lot of attention!

Bottom line is, outside the commuting environment, I don't trust myself to hone it back to account for the worst case. So, a track rider I will be for now. Ah well, never mind :P

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So, if you were cruising down a lovely back road and there was no traffic and everything was going great, would you spend any of that riding time imagining danger scenarios, to prepare for the unexpected?

 

I see your distinction and I can say I don't spend time thinking about a tire blowing out or other catastrophic failures. I would describe what I do as trying to review possible outcomes that might be less than probable from the current predictors :blink: - ok maybe I should just call it trying to heighten my situational awareness. If you see a car with its signal on it's probable it might change lanes (or they are just clueless :P ) but what about the one not signaling? In your example of a lovely back road I would be enjoying the ride, but if I saw a deer along side the road or a precariously positioned limb it would make me think "what if".

 

I spent years working in a high risk industry and accident analysis was a big part of staying safe. I developed my "what if" exercise as part of a safety consciousness and I apply it to other areas of my life as well.

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It's not that you always have to be working on ways to avoid problems, but the BEST time to start learning evasive techniques is when you don't need to do it. On the track, it's always been a reactive process. Going off the track, coming in too hot, oversteering. You can't just practice. On the street you can. The things I've learned, are from other peoples mistakes. I'm an "offensive" driver. I sometimes appear wreckless when I ride. I ride wide. People in their cages are probably saying " would you look at that idiot." It's organized chaos. They've seen me. Mission accomplished.

 

 

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It's not that you always have to be working on ways to avoid problems, but the BEST time to start learning evasive techniques is when you don't need to do it. On the track, it's always been a reactive process. Going off the track, coming in too hot, oversteering. You can't just practice. On the street you can. The things I've learned, are from other peoples mistakes. I'm an "offensive" driver. I sometimes appear wreckless when I ride. I ride wide. People in their cages are probably saying " would you look at that idiot." It's organized chaos. They've seen me. Mission accomplished.

 

I've heard another mention something like this: if one moves around, maybe wiggle the bike a little, could get attention.

 

Street riding I typically just assume they can't see me and am just pleasantly surprised when they do.

 

CF

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I've heard another mention something like this: if one moves around, maybe wiggle the bike a little, could get attention.

 

Street riding I typically just assume they can't see me and am just pleasantly surprised when they do.

 

CF

Ride wide, Cobie. When I'm in a situation where I'm not moving around and in control of where I'm going, or how fast or where I'm at when someone is coming up on me, I'm nervous. But then again, I have the advantage of PTSD. I'm hyper-alert, so I'm always paying attention.

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I asked Keith the same question that I orignally posted at the beginning of this thread. He sent me a response, and it answered my question so well that I asked him if it was OK to post here, I thought others might like to read it. It makes ALL KINDS of sense to me! Here it is:

 

>>

That question you sent me about "What Ifs" is nicely covered here by a researcher I think has done his homework, Marc Green.

 

[At this juncture, I'm sure that someone will be thinking that people and especially drivers should "expect the unexpected." It's a nonsensical statement since it is a classic oxymoron. You cannot literally expect the unexpected. Moreover, the number of "unexpected" events is infinite. No one can expect them all. It also runs directly contrary to the inherent satisficing nature of human behavior and thought, e. g., confirmation bias. Since unexpected events are not part of any internalized schema, they cannot be accessed by automatic mental processes. The person must consciously and continuously think about them, which both creates stress and fatigue and consumes attention away from more likely and important high probability events. Remember, attention is not free. It is a zero-sum game. The more attention allocated to the unlikely event, the less that is available for the likely event. Lastly, the lower the probability of the event, the more evidence required to accept it is true. This slows response because the person needs to collect lots of information to overcome the natural confirmation bias.]

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It's not that you always have to be working on ways to avoid problems, but the BEST time to start learning evasive techniques is when you don't need to do it. On the track, it's always been a reactive process. Going off the track, coming in too hot, oversteering. You can't just practice. On the street you can. The things I've learned, are from other peoples mistakes. I'm an "offensive" driver. I sometimes appear wreckless when I ride. I ride wide. People in their cages are probably saying " would you look at that idiot." It's organized chaos. They've seen me. Mission accomplished.

 

I've heard another mention something like this: if one moves around, maybe wiggle the bike a little, could get attention.

 

Street riding I typically just assume they can't see me and am just pleasantly surprised when they do.

 

CF

 

 

 

 

People in my area (baH, mostly brainless scooter riders who ONLY use the rear brake and thinks disc brakes in front are out to kill them...)

 

 

gets scared sh!tless when i do the quick flip.

 

I also use this trap line mentality to make wannabe racers run super wide and scare themselves / E.brake when trying to be funny behind me...

 

 

 

 

feinting the brake lights works wonders too XD

 

 

 

 

 

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I asked Keith the same question that I orignally posted at the beginning of this thread. He sent me a response, and it answered my question so well that I asked him if it was OK to post here, I thought others might like to read it. It makes ALL KINDS of sense to me! Here it is:

 

>>

That question you sent me about "What Ifs" is nicely covered here by a researcher I think has done his homework, Marc Green.

 

[At this juncture, I'm sure that someone will be thinking that people and especially drivers should "expect the unexpected." It's a nonsensical statement since it is a classic oxymoron. You cannot literally expect the unexpected. Moreover, the number of "unexpected" events is infinite. No one can expect them all. It also runs directly contrary to the inherent satisficing nature of human behavior and thought, e. g., confirmation bias. Since unexpected events are not part of any internalized schema, they cannot be accessed by automatic mental processes. The person must consciously and continuously think about them, which both creates stress and fatigue and consumes attention away from more likely and important high probability events. Remember, attention is not free. It is a zero-sum game. The more attention allocated to the unlikely event, the less that is available for the likely event. Lastly, the lower the probability of the event, the more evidence required to accept it is true. This slows response because the person needs to collect lots of information to overcome the natural confirmation bias.]

 

 

Excellent post Hotfoot! Thanks for asking Keith if you could share it.

 

I have thought about the concept that you are "spending" some of your $10 on this however I've always approached it as using the situational "spare change" on possible "what ifs". I think I should re-evaluate this and make sure I'm spending it wisely.

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Excellent post Hotfoot! Thanks for asking Keith if you could share it.

 

I have thought about the concept that you are "spending" some of your $10 on this however I've always approached it as using the situational "spare change" on possible "what ifs". I think I should re-evaluate this and make sure I'm spending it wisely.

 

Yeah, it totally answered it for me - I can see the value of making a plan to handle "high probability events" but found that trying to "expect the unexpected" was distracting and stressful and had a negative impact on my riding; mostly it made me nervous, overreactive, and slow. I had to look up "satisficing", though, that was a new one for me!

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This is quite an interesting topic. I have drifted away for a while and just saw this thread a couple days ago. Yesterday I gave it more serious thought as I was out for a jog. First, I don't imagine horrible things happening and I can't see how it would be beneficial to do so. I frequently read mishap reports of Marines (or other service members) in terrible (frequently self-inflicted) motorcycle crashes or collisions and at this point I don't want to imagine anything new. Second, I do make some contingency plans in certain situations - this is the "expect the unexpected" concept in my opinion. Last, I do not continuously dwell on all the bad possibilities (errant drivers, hazards in the road, etc.); as with my first point, I just can't see it being beneficial and I can see it being unnecessarily distracting (jumping at shadows so to speak).

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I may be daft, but Keith's explanation in this instant wasn't all that revealing to me other than saying that you shouldn't sit in tense anticipation of something bad to happen. Which may have been the ghist of it, of course ;)

 

If you are to ride for 300 miles and somebody tells you an Elk will jump out in front of you sometime during that ride, chances are you will start out tense and over-alert. And when the big elk finally jumps out in front of you, you're deflated from gallons of adrenalin and over-awareness having taken its toll on your own system. Clearly, sitting in a state of nearly panic isn't the best way.

 

OTOH, riding as usual and hoping your reflextes will save you may not be the best way either. In my experience, dense city traffic require a different attitude than how one attack deserted country roads. Expecting the unexpected may not be the best way the phrase it. Perhaps alertness is better? Or reading the traffic and expecting what will and can unfold?

 

With experience, you can anticipate when a driver will change lane without indicating or when a driver will cut in front of you. You can do this early enough to take the required steps so that no situation arise. It's about where you place yourself, the room you create around you, the speed you keep, the time you slow or accelerate. You can split lanes and move rapidly with, through or past traffic without experiencing any drama, staying relaxed and focused. Or you can go slow - or fast - and end up with several near-misses every day if you do not pay attention at the important bits.

 

If you have frequent episodes when riding in traffic, you are doing something poorly. It doesn't have to be your fault by the law, but you're still the one getting hurt. So staying out of trouble makes sense. I consider it a skill. Just like going around a race track fast and safely require skills, so does moving safely through city traffic. And just like any skill, you can work on it and become better at it.

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I may be daft, but Keith's explanation in this instant wasn't all that revealing to me other than saying that you shouldn't sit in tense anticipation of something bad to happen. Which may have been the ghist of it, of course ;)

 

Just to be clear, the explanation I posted was written by a researcher named Marc Green, not by Keith - everything in my post that is in brackets [ ] is a quote from Marc Green.

 

And yes, I took that to be the gist of it, as well. It sounds sorta obvious when you state it so simply (good job with that, by the way), but I have heard enough "advice" to "always be on your guard" or "prepare for the worst" or "expect the unexpected" that it seemed a question worth exploring. :)

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I recall some years ago talking with Keith about what do you do "if" something happens?

 

Eddie Lawson had had the breaks fail on his bike at Laguna, a mechanic error and this promted me to think about what I would have done. I don't use the rear brake for much of anything, so going for the rear when the front failed wouldn't have been a quick response in my case at that time.

 

Keith asked me (paraphrasing it), "Do you suppose Eddie had a plan?" (when the brakes failed, for darn sure he didn't freeze on the bike, he reacted). This got me thinking--would having a plan be better than no plan at all? I certainly thought so. Then training so one does the correct thing when/if something does happen. One can train some of the visual skills used in Level 2 IN THE CAR TAKING ONE'S DAUGHTER TO SCHOOL!

 

Having a plan, training ones skills...will this help? More to this for sure, but is this a start?

 

CF

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... Marc Green ... You cannot literally expect the unexpected.

... "unexpected" events is infinite

... confirmation bias

... must consciously and continuously think about them, which both creates stress and fatigue ... It is a zero-sum game ...

 

I hope this doesn't seem non-sequitorial on this topic, but someone around here wrote:

 

"it's easier to make something happen than to keep something from happening"

 

Jasonzilla's injunction to Ride Wide comes to mind for me in this regard.

 

Ago

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