A “good motorcyclist” can possess many skills, such as perfectly controlling the bike at low speed, taking fast and precise turns, avoiding obstacles and braking with near-mechanical precision. The good motorcyclist can also drive without flying on the track and anticipate risks as if he had a sixth sense, avoiding completely (or at least to a large extent) compromising situations and clearly dangerous.
In reality, the definition and capabilities of a “good motorcyclist” can be quite open to debate; however, what is indisputable is that this Motocyclist will be characterized by a strong desire and motivation to reduce the overall risk to which he is exposed by the mere fact of riding on the bike and starting to ride. Constant practice and a positive attitude are of enormous help, but above all, what differentiates the Superior Motorcyclist from the average, from those who don’t wear protective accessories, who walk the helmet wrongly worn, send messages by cell phone and generally being clever, is a strategy carefully designed and bulletproof to avoid problems of any kind.
Ride safe, ride happy
The “it’s not going to happen to me” and the “I’m gambling with it” go against the essence of the Superior Motocyclist, who knows that his ability should never be an excuse to lower his guard because in the past “gambling” made him “yes it did happen” and knows that, even applying the best defensive strategy in driving, it can still happen. In this context, knowing that risk will always be present to a greater or lesser extent, it is always possible to manage and even minimize it.
One of the most effective ways to manage risk is to first be aware of potential problems and then have a specific plan to minimize them. Knowing the risks should lead to thinking about safety margins, which refer to: 1) staying within the limits of our abilities; 2) staying within the limits of our motorcycle, especially those of traction; and 3) staying within the time and space available to cope with risky traffic situations before they become emergencies.
Avoid accidents on the road
Trying to adapt the acronym MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation), SEE (Search, Evaluate, Execute), I propose a similar acronym for my own crop in Spanish: VER (Vigilar, Evaluar, Reaccionar). Behind the SEE strategy we will find a great tool to analyze what is really happening on the road while constantly planning and readjusting the steps to follow. SEE refers to Watching everything that moves (or not) before falling into a compromised situation, Evaluating how different variables on the road can be conjugated to put us there, and reacting to a potential road threat to preserve our safety margins.
The VER Strategy is to act as if we were in charge of a delicate intelligence mission in the best style of the KGB and CIA combined; it is to begin to form ourselves in the constant mental discipline of asking ourselves what will be that forward driver (which seems to be irresponsibly speaking on the cell phone), what if that driver does not see me? What do I do if there is a hole, grit or an oil slick in the bend that I have a few seconds ahead of me, what if the car jumps the Stop or traffic light even though I have the right-of-way at an intersection, what do I do if I get a psycho taxi driver who chases me for several kilometers because I jumped a red light and invaded my lane? These day-to-day motorcycle situations have a common denominator: if you don’t follow a strict and well-planned strategy, you can easily appear in the headlines of La Extra and in the Lucky Notes of La Nación. In short, our survival, in the best Darwinian style, depends on constantly using the SEE Strategy and becoming masters of it.
An excellent opportunity to develop the VER strategy is while we are learning the basic skills of the motorcyclist through parking exercises at BMW Motorrad Costa Rica Driving School, where we will often have several apprentices circulating simultaneously. Striving to always try and maintain an Environmental Consciousness during parking practices will begin to make the transition to the Asphalt Jungle easier (yes, it is full of animals and traps!).
Needless to say, being always prepared for more than less is a matter of responsibility and maturity when it comes to riding the bike and that no matter how much we advance in the goal of becoming that Superior Motorcyclist, this is a process that never ends!