Interesting conversation with a motorist… - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums
Riding and Survival Skills Tips for improving your riding skills and your survival on the road.

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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-14-2019, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
Minitwins
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Interesting conversation with a motorist…

Had a rare sunny day recently, so went out for the day. 4 or 5 hours later and I take a shortcut over the mountain to get home as it saves 30 miles of commercial and tourist traffic on the main road.

This shortcut goes straight up, along the ridgeline and straight back down the other side with a few hairpin bends for good measure. Most cars, mine included, struggle up and are on the brakes all the way down. I do NOT use this road from autumn (now) to late spring as the risks far outweigh the advantages.

I followed a BMW X3 into the start of this shortcut and, as usual, waited a few moments for it to ‘clear the way’ and allow me to charge up the hill - more fun that way. Up the hill at all the 3s. 3,000rpm in 3rd gear at 33mph which is fast on this road which varies from steep to stupid steep, and is single track with too few passing places and high banks restricting the view ahead. Im on my 1200XC Scrambler, by the way.

Only caught the Beemer up near to the top of this first section and we both turned onto the ridgeline… ye Gods, that Beemer’s quick. The ridgeline is 3 miles of undulating single track with long sightlines - and we’re soon at the turn off for the descent.

Bear with me - I’ll get to the point soon.

Coming down the other side and my appreciation of the driver’s skills are building as that Beemer is being driven at bike speeds and its wing mirrors are brushing the hedges on both sides of the road at the same time in places. Downhill is also all the 3s but on the over-run with the occasional steadying back brake on my part.

As we drop into the village at the bottom, there’s a blind left-hander which is marked with two chevrons on the Ordnance Survey map (1 chevron is 20% and steeper, 2 means 14% and steeper) this immediately widens to a car and a half width and there’s a side road to the left which is fairly level then there’s a blind right hander after which the road is one car wide again but with long sightlines down to the final blind left hander.
In general I approach this on the brakes and way over to the left (BTW, we drive on the left here) to see if its safe to continue.

I’m following the Beemer, remember, and she drives into the corner but stops hard, leaving me a scant bike’s length behind her when I stop.

Don’t you just dread seeing reversing lights in that situation?

Here’s the gist of this little tale.

She indicated that I should reverse up the hill so that she can make room for the car and two vans which are on her front bumper.
I shake my head. I also deny the next 4 requests for me to reverse… at which point she reverses alongside me (car and a half road width and I’m at the left, remember?), winds down the window and our conversation ensues. I point out that there’s no reverse gear on my bike and that I’m not strong enough to push it backwards uphill.
I’ll not report the conversation verbatim but she says that I shouldn’t be on this road if I can’t reverse out of trouble.

She then reverses all the way past me into the side road, the traffic clears and I’m away…

The thing is, that last point has haunted me since.
Did my roadcraft fail me? Should I have stayed even further back and not assumed it was clear just because she had driven through the blind corner? Had I been tricked by her apparent skill at speed on these roads? Was it sheer luck and legendary BMW build quality that has kept her out of the hedge all this time?
And most importantly… should we motorcyclists NOT ride on roads like this unless we are strong enough to push a 216Kg bike backwards uphill, or be able to turn it round at least, which I couldn’t do as I hadn’t left enough room.

I am genuinely perturbed by this encounter. I know her, she’s half my age and the friend of a neighbour - its a small community. We’ve met at dinner parties but she didn’t recognise me in my full face helmet and reactive goggles…

This has genuinely changed my approach to riding my bike - and I’m thankful for the lesson.

Apologies for the lengthy post but I felt I had to get this off my chest and I think it raises serious questions about ‘adventurous’ riding, heavy bikes and being ‘othered’ by motorists who don’t understand us. Would it have been different if I had been wearing my open-face helmet? I don’t know.
Should I go round and talk to her? Probably not… that’s just weird.

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-14-2019, 02:49 PM
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Sounds like maybe the lesson isn't riding on roads that may require some difficult maneuvering, rather staying back when following another vehicle to make sure that you don't have to. I remember riding with a friend on a country road in heavy stopped traffic. My friend on his BMW decided that we should turn around and go another route. The road was heavily crowned in the middle and on my Daytona which is a bit too tall for me, I couldn't make the U turn but had to back peddle the bike. Well, short legs doesn't help and I had to get off the bike to accomplish the task at hand. Had me wondering if I should be riding a bike that better suits my inseam. These things happen. Don't fret about it. By the way, my tall friend on his BMW didn't have enough room either to make the U turn, but he had no trouble back peddling.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-14-2019, 07:09 PM
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Lesson learnt I think . Personally I would not expect anybody to reverse uphill ( car or bike ) if I were the one driving uphill . Unless circumstances dictated otherwise .
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-14-2019, 07:18 PM
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You made a classic mistake of not leaving enough room from the vehicle ahead to escape in case of a car encroaching from behind or in a traffic circumstance as you were in. ALWAYS leave room to turn around or go around.

You haven't mastered the rape, pillage, and burn face that old timers in the states have used time and again to avoid verbal exchanges with unhappy motorists.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 05:01 PM
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No not a problem with backing up. She just didn’t understand and was madd because she had to back up.

Single track roads, from the North of Scotland originally so quite familiar with the concept. driving or riding fast on them is risky you have it right when you stay well to your side. Don’t go so fast you can’t stop in less than half the distance you can see
Do they put dry stone dykes on both sides in North Wales as well so you have no where to go. Or a tight bend just before and after a hump back bridge.

In the end part of life on single tracks, traditionally you give way to the vehicle coming up hill. But if they can’t back up you might as well give way yourself. And give them a friendly wave after. Tourist season they turn up with caravans. Speaking as a driver from single tack roads, rather than a rider. It’s not worth worrying about.

I also used to get a laugh out of riding or driving rather fast and scaring tourists.

I haven’t ridden or driven the North Coast 500 since some bugger gave it a name and wrote about it. Probably to many tourists now.
Course if I go there I am a tourist as well.

Call it life carry on. Don’t worry about it.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-21-2019, 07:47 PM
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I just want to say that no matter how talented you are at motorcycling, a well built car (like a beemer) will always corner better than you. They have four big patches for traction and all four of their brakes work the same all the time. Add independent suspension, and they don't have to be concerned nearly as much about tar snakes, gravel, etc.

Just look at professional motorcyclists racing formula 1 drivers. It is never a contest. They are close in the straight aways, but the car always pulls away in the corners.

As for the backing up thing, that's just ridiculous. In the long run, she had enough room to back up, so what was the problem?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 01:37 PM
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Silly. to hear a driver say that you shouldn't be on the road riding a motorcycle if you can't reverse out of trouble....motorcycles don't reverse up hill, period so don't feel weird or perturbed that you couldn't do it. On the other hand, glad you were able to stop in time (stopping in the middle of a corner is never truly expected!) but perhaps next time leaving more distance between you and the vehicle in front would give you more space and time to react in case of a sudden emergency stop. Did you have trouble stopping in time? Did you skid the front or rear wheels or almost go down? If so, then perhaps some practice with emergency braking and stopping is in order but if not, I think you did just fine!
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 02:28 PM
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I think you did fine. From your description of the conversation it sounds like the driver has difficulty handling adversity.

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