In installment one of this ridiculous segment here on SW I’ll discuss my take on gear.
But first let me state clearly that this is a compilation of my own opinions based on my life experiences (riding for 30 years, some dirt racing and a career in the automotive safety world). None of which make me an expert in any way shape or form and what I have to say is just that… opinion. You need to learn these lessons for yourself and don’t blindly take my word for it. Given enough time with me in a room you’d quickly come to the same conclusion as my wife… “He’s lucky to have made it this long”.
So gear… the opinions on this are usually strong and divided sharply. I’ll take a little different approach here, or at least I hope to. *Disclaimer: on the street I typically don’t wear a helmet & I loathe leather coats but I do wear jeans and closed toed shoes… just the way I roll you do what you want to do. On the track however, I would recommend always gearing up the environment is much more controlled and the limits are intentionally pushed.
First off let’s put this all in prospective. There are people, some probably reading this, that will call this stuff safety gear. I think out the gate that’s a flaw and misleading, none of this stuff makes you “safe” only you can do that. It's designed with the intention of offering some protection in the event of a crash. Key words: “some” & “in the event”… all that means is you’re trying to change your odds based on believing a crash is likely. Anyone else find that odd? Why the heck would you get on anything where you thought a crash was likely???
What about “safety”? Here’s what Helen Keller had to say about it: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
I know, I know… some of you right now are closing this or saying to your screen “but why play the odds, why tempt fate?!?!” STOP IT!! Getting out of bed is playing the odds, swinging a leg over a bike is playing the odds, putting on that helmet is just changing of the odds at best. I mean in some countries drinking water is playing the odds and I’m willing to bet you have no problem standing in a wet, soap covered shower where a fall is at least as likely as a bike crash….
The most important gear you can have? Your brain!
I won’t get much into what I do because it’s distracting but I will say this, in the US we try to protect people from vehicles as if they were plotting against us… static vehicles are not dangerous at all, it’s only after you add a person they become troublesome. In other countries they train people how to survive and operate vehicles better. So when you ride the best thing you can have is a sharp mind.
- Take the MSF course it’s a great tool.
- Practice! Find a big lot or a local track and work on those skills.
The majority of accidents come from the rider making a series of miscalculations that compound. The initial problem is typically not enough to take you down. It’s how you react, where you focus and the next 2-4 decisions that determine how you come out of it. Remember always think and see big picture. Not only have I seen this a million times, but I’ve been bitten by it... Car cuts you off, you’re angry (I mean this is your life we’re talking about) you focus that anger on telling the driver they suck and BAM something else is in your path, you wasted the seconds needed to react on being angry, showing it and down you go. We all know that car drivers are gonna do things in the name of not seeing you, it’s no surprise but in the end only you can control the outcome.
Gear: I’m not gonna get deep into what’s good and what’s not; there are places that have done it for you, such as Ride Apart. But I will say this... select gear wisely! If you’re gonna wear it get stuff that is comfortable, functional and suited to your style of riding. It needs to keep you warm (or cool), dry as well as offer protection from the elements and in a crash. This is exactly why I don’t care for leather jackets, I can never find one that fits well or functions the way I want. That sort of thing can be VERY distracting and that leads to bigger troubles….
Do some research, try some stuff on and make an informed decision. * Be very leery of “studies” often they are in controlled environments and the “anomalies” are tossed out. If you’ve ridden long then you know our environment is out of control and the anomalies are the only things that really matter.
I guess this is good for now. From here I can move on to the more anecdotal stuff about how I’ve survived and the crazy stuff I’ve seen… I know this is non-typical kind of stuff and there are those “enthusiasts” that would rip me to shreds over it, but I’m trying to capture a common man real deal feel here. I’m confident in my riding skills against most anyone else’s though I know I’m not Michael Dunlop; and spare me the “you can’t hold this opinion and have gone down hard….” You have NO idea…
Next time: haha who am I kidding? I don’t plan that far ahead