Thanks for sharing and glad that you're still with us... Must have got the heart beating for sure...
Glad you had your wits about you SGT. I admire all you guys and gals who ride on multilane freeways in congested areas. As a relative newbie rider I'm a little skittish about putting myself in those situations. It's dangerous enough in a car with all the crazies out there. For now I'll stick to 2 lane roads when I ride, which I know can also be dangerous, but not as crowded as freeways. My hat is off to all you "freeway warriors". Ride safe.
Thanks for sharing and glad that you're still with us... Must have got the heart beating for sure...
Yeah, thanks for sharing. A good reminder to keep as much distance as you can, stay vigilant, and anticipate before you have to react.
I always cringe when I see fellow riders following half a second behind something they can't even see over. You're right about drivers wanting to fill a gap, but I'm pleasantly surprised that I'm usually able to keep a much bigger gap than in a car on LA freeways and surface streets.
Excellent write up. Glad you're ok. I hate LR traffic. Living 150 miles north of you in the rural Ozarks can be nearly as bad. I was on my way to work about three weeks ago about 12 miles into the ride, descending a long ridgeline that has winding "s" curves at the top, long downhill straights in the middle, and downhill 90 degree RH at bottom. I'm always Valentino Rossi in my mind on curves like this. It was a beautiful cool morning. Perfect riding, no humidity. Was just going through the esses at the top. Farms on either side of the road. Tall grass nearly up to the edge of the road. I'm at the apex of one curve preparing to enter the next. Looking ahead I see a calf come charging out of the grass and onto the road. If nothing else motorcycling teaches you to figure angles in your head.
I knew I wasn't going to brake in time but figured if I accelerated as fast as possible and angled across the road - no oncoming traffic - I could beat the little fellow to the point where our paths would cross. I took off, he kept coming and it was going to be close. At the last minute he bailed and tried to put on the brakes. Hooves and pavement don't mix, his *** flew out from under him and I sailed by. I saw him recover and keep going in my rearview mirror.
Another story: Back in 1999 took my mom up to Chicago. I had a new set of tires put on my truck before leaving. On the way home after putting about 800 miles on them disaster struck. Unbeknownst to me, the people at the tire shop didn't torque the lugnuts on my custom wheels tight and the left rear ones gradually worked loose.
We were driving down I-55 around somewhere between Wilmington and Bloomington, IL when the wheel came off. Thought I was in a NASCAR race for a moment. Just happened to be in a road construction area so all of us southbound people were in the inner lane by the median. Northbound lanes were full of people heading back to Chicago. The wheel went shooting off towards the median. I kept the truck under control and drove over into the outside lane that was blocked off and free of traffic. We had been going over a bridge at the time. As I got stopped I looked into the rearview mirror. The wheel had hit the barrier on the median side of the bridge and not gone into the northbound lanes. Instead it bounced back into the southbound lanes, didn't hit any cars, and was now bouncing and rolling directly behind us at highway speed. I thought for sure it was going to bounce right into back of the truck and come through the back glass and kill us both.
Instead it flew past the passenger side of the truck at cab height and continued on up the shoulder. I found it several hundred feet up the road in the tall grass lying in the drainage ditch on the side of the road. We were very blessed that day that nothing worse happened.
Stuff can happen at any moment.
Nice, lots of what I call "intentionally lucky" riders on this forum.... kudos! My most recent experience was coming southbound toward the Vegas strip on I-95; I had left one of my casinos and was heading to another, but about 2 miles into the commute I could smell the faint but unmistakable odor of burning tire. No huge puffs of burnt smoke, in fact I couldn't see any smoke at all, so I knew this wasn't from some jackwagon playing around and burning rubber.... I started seriously casting around for the source as I continued my trip down the 95. The odor got steadily stronger, but there are five lanes in this stretch and I was playing hell finding the source....
I scooted around a delivery truck and there it was, Hyundai's latest attempt at a sports coupe complete w/ ultra low profile tires and a twenty-something bopping along at 75 mph, smoke pouring off his rear right tire. He never even noticed. I, of course, scooted over to the left because I had no desire to test my gear against the weight and velocity of that tire blowing all over creation.
I rolled alongside the drivers window and tried to get his attention, failed. So I dropped back and stayed well to the left and watched the tire not blow at all, it simply peeled itself perfectly off the rim and rolled at perfect speed next to him and his sporty new Hyundai with a slight vector right all the way to the shoulder and the barricade which stopped it dead.
What's kinda funny is that the rim never touched the ground, no sparks, nothing. I continued trying to get his attention for two more miles until he exited and I followed him, waited until he stopped at the sign and then actually had to knock on his window. Still the wheel never hit the ground at that point, and the oblivious nature of this driver was enough to make me wanna scream.
Anyway, eyes, ears, nose, touch....gotta use em all.
I'll use this thread to explain a close call that I've had just 45 minutes ago:
So, I'm on 4 lane road, in left lane heading east. There was light traffic and in the right lane there was a suv that was going below speed limit. I was going exactly the speed limit (35mpH). As I was getting closer to the suv, I've noticed that he will make complete stop and that a full size van will pull on the front of him. As the van started moving I was already on the brakes. Sure enough, van ended up cutting me off as he was crossing my lane as well in order to turn west. This was my immediate reaction:
- squeezed front brake and slammed on the right brake which immediately locked up rear wheel.
- hit the horn and than the clutch.
The van driver had his window open so I guess the horn and screaming rear tire got his attention and he made a full stop.
- So I've immediately released the rear and front brakes and executed emergency maneuver around him, while yelling "Jesus Christ man" (sorry if this offend anyone, I'm bad at badmouthing).
The engine stalled when the wheel locked up, so while moving I've restarted the engine and continued on.
Luckily, I ride motorcycle like I'm invisible on the road. This has probably saved my skin today.
Same thing happened to me many years ago. I absolutely hate it when people who have the right of way yield it to those who don't. It's a recipe for disaster. In my case I was headed home from work on my Honda Shadow. I was on a four lane road in the left lane heading west. The lane was open ahead of me but the right lane had a string of cars all backed up waiting to get on the upcoming freeway onramp. Ahead on my right was a south-facing car on a side street who was trying to turn left (east) onto the road I was on but I was unable to see him at this point due to all the backed up cars waiting to get on the freeway. One of those people let him through and he darted out right in front of me as I was approaching at about 35 mph. I slammed on the brakes and missed him by inches, profanities flying. Pretty sure I had to change my underwear after getting home.
I guess we all have such a tale. Nice that we are still around to tell them. Here's mine.
It was barely daylight as I headed to work on a lightly-trafficked four-lane. I came up on a lumber truck in the right lane going about ten under the speed limit. As I changed to the inside lane to pass, a movement caught my eye. A stack of 4X8 sheets of plywood had come unstrapped. The top one lifted and headed for me, remaining flat, a monster frisbee. There was no time to evade it so I slammed my chest and helmet against the tank/bars and hung on. The plywood hit my back, scuffing my leather jacket, but doing no damage to me or the bike. Ever since, I've been very wary of flat-bed trucks with strapped-down loads on them.
Wow! That was cutting it about as close as you can get.
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Two wheels and keels
I am always glad to hear of close calls where no one got hurt but maybe learned something. I am a trainer for truck drivers and commute 50 miles each way to work in Phoenix, usually on the bike. Unfortunately for us Phoenix riders we seemed to have gotten all the fired civil engineers from LA screwing up our freeways, coupled with a licensing system that allows a teen to get a license and not renew it for 40 years. I am extremely cognizant of the dangers of riding in traffic.
My rules for riding or driving are thus;
1. I always maintain a good following distance. 3 car lengths at 70 mph is far from sufficient (of course I guess it depends on if you are talking Smart car or 1973 Fleetwood). As someone else said, you have no idea what will pop up from under that car or truck in front of you. Maintain at least a 2 second following distance. Yes, I know that people see that as a space they need to fill but just try to be happy that moron is in front of you where you can see him and not tailgating you. And if you think it's tough on a bike try it in a truck where the 2 second rule is not optional. I have had 15 cars jam into the space in front of me and forcing me to slow to a crawl when all anyone had to do was merge like an adult and then pass on the left. The bike will stop quicker than a car but the truck won't and the number of drivers that don't get that is phenomenal.
2. I don't give a flying **** if you tailgate my semi because the worst that will happen to me is that I will get pulled over for leaving the scene because I didn't notice the thump as you smacked into the trailer. But, on the bike I do not put up with tailgaters. This is the most dangerous driver out there. They are committing the felony of aggravated assault and either don't care or are too stupid. When someone is following my bike too close I never 'brake check' them however. Instead I slow down until it's safe, they pass or I have to put on the hazards and start throwing pennies. They usually get the hint, the only ones that will get closer to a bike when it slows need to be followed home and taught a lesson in bullying.
3. Looking ahead 12, 15 or 30 seconds is a good rule of thumb they teach in DD classes but I always take in every single bit of information that I can. If the road curves I look at the road a mile up to see if traffic is moving. I look for brake lights in the other lanes as far up as I can. I watch for cars swerving or (more likely) bouncing over debris. I watch my mirrors for vehicles changes lanes rapidly or without signalling, I know that driver is more likely to do something surprising or stupid. The point is that I am constantly watching everything that I can.
4. I used to be able to spot a drunk driver quickly but they are rare compared to the cell phone driver. These drivers will drive 50 in the passing lane one minute then scream up behind you like you are in their way the next minute. When I see someone playing with their cell phone I remember the car so that if I see it again I know that driver is incredibly stupid and I can stay away from them.
5. I do not ride competitively. Riding competitively is something that is fun for some people and I get it, after all I could see going out for a track day to have some fun. But people that drive or ride competitively in rush hour traffic are asking for trouble. I am not even sure who it is they think they are racing? I am NOT racing you, I just want to get home like all of the other people around you.
6. STAY AWAY FROM TRUCKS. Seriously, the number of bikers that seem to think a truck is the same as a traffic come that marks a chicane on a race course is amazing. I was beginning to think that there was a new game where bikers tried to see if they could whack the fender mirror of trucks with their heads. Some bikers like to get some wear on the side of their tires on straight roads by swerving around the truck like they are water skiing. Seriously, trucks push a lot of wind out of the way, there are wind currents around a truck that cannot be seen. Trucks also move around, tires blow, debris comes out the back and the driver may not even be able to see you. Scaring the driver by appearing 2 feet in front of him suddenly is a disaster in the making. Also, when traveling in a large group DO NOT swerve over in front of the truck the instant the lead bike swerves over (yes, that happens ALL the time).
Mostly what all of this boils down to is maintaining space and predictability. I see other bikers dodging in between cars a trucks simply because they can. I have no idea what kind of person is in the car next to me and from what I've seen out there I don't trust anyone. That person may have PTSD, they may just be nervous, angry, high or they may actually be a serial killer.