Tuesday, October 26, 2010


When riding a motorcycle staying alert and aware of your surroundings is extremely important. Constantly scanning and reacting to avoid hazards becomes second nature to those to ride regularly, but it takes vigilant concentration to stay safe.

The ride home tonight was a perfect example of needing to stay alert. It started after I turned onto the one-way near my office and sat waiting at the stop light. I kept one eye on my mirrors for cars approaching too quickly, and the other watching for the light to change. While waiting for the light a car approached from the opposite direction against the one way. Facing a sea of headlights, they finally figured it out and turned quickly as our light went green.

At the next block, I planned on making a left from my one-way to another. My light was green, and I slowed for the turn. Sidecar turn slower than motorcycles because they can’t lean. Even though I had a green, I checked the cross traffic to make sure they were stopped. All lanes were, except for the middle who was flying right through against their red. I tapped my brakes and used my horn. It would have been a painful left-turn for me if I hadn’t looked to my right!

Further up the road a few miles, a car decided to stop for the green light. With my bikes I like to keep 2-3 second gap, with the Ural I like 3-4 seconds. It’s heavy and doesn’t stop nearly as fast as my two-wheelers. I’m glad I kept a gap, because I used it all up stopping. The nice part about a three-wheeler vs. a two is locking the front wheel doesn’t have a nasty penalty.

The road was wet and cold (41F) and the front easily locked up. I released it get it rolling and locked it up again! A three-wheeler can also turn while under heavy braking (as long as the front isn’t sliding), so I aimed myself away from the stopped car. After I stopped a few feet short of a collision, they realized they had a green and started going again.

At this point, I had my fill of the side roads and jumped on the highway. Minnesota is under a wind advisory until tomorrow night. I didn’t pay much attention to it until I got on the highway. Wow! Riding into a 30mph headwind is something. I could barely keep 55mph with the throttle wide open (normally I could easily do 70).

The wind was blowing steady at 30mph and gusting up to 60mph. It was exciting riding home the rest of the way! As I am typing this, the wind is impressively loud outside. I’m curious to see how much damage the area will have in the morning. On the positive side, I have been delaying dealing with the leaves in my yard. When I came home tonight, they were gone. Nice! Thanks wind!

Tonight had to be a record for crazy drivers! One of the more exciting commutes I’ve had in a while.


PS: I took the Ural today, and didn’t take any photos (dark on the way in and on the way home). Here are a couple from the Super9 this weekend.

Como golf course Super9 and fall colors


  1. I think it was windy everywhere yesterday. No commute for me. One more day of vacation. But,I was out and about for a couple of hours and some of the gusts were rather exciting on my wee chariot.

    It is amazing the things drivers do. And, lately it has been riders on my list as well. A couple of weeks ago a scooter did a left turn right in front of me. I barely missed him. And last week a sportbike zipped around me on the right as I was beginning to turn right. I had my signals on. Luckily I was keeping an eye on my mirrors or it would have been a disaster.

    Here's to uneventful commutes!


  2. Keith: It's still very windy here today too. I wish I could take vacation, but I have meetings I need to attend. I'm glad to be on three wheels instead of two.

    Cheers on uneventful commutes!

  3. Chris, your reactions were spot on and due to riding with awareness, space to react and training...good job!

    My wife tends to remark, when I drive the van with her beside me, that I seem to be able to "predict" when someone is going to do something stupid near us....I tell her its "riding aware" and fully expecting the cagers around me to do something stupid.

    For me, it all boils down to this: Ride like they don't see you (in spite of lights, hi-viz riding gear, size of vehicle) and position yourself with an escape route.

    This guy says it all: LINK

    I agree, boring commutes (well as boring as riding a Ural can be at times) are the best.


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  4. Dom: My moto is also "ride like you're invisible" it works pretty well.

    I've also found that riding a bike has make me a better observer of traffic. When I used to drive, I never paid attention like I do now.

    I read that in MMM before, didn't TW Day write that piece? He has an entertaining blog too: Geezer with a Grudge on the right.

  5. Chris,

    MMM is where I first saw it but he was referring to a letter to the editor they received. Then author of the letter was Kent Larson.

  6. Dom: Ah ok, thanks. Perhaps TW had commented on his site too. It's a lot like his style.