My Thoughts On Riding Alone

by Belinda
(Cape Girardeau, MO)

I agree with most things that I read here but, I do have to say that I disagree with advising a new rider to ride alone. I do agree with riding alone in plain sight and with your cell phone zipped inside your pocket. I started out riding alone out in the country on rural roads. When I first began riding I was stopped at a intersection and had moved my bike to the very edge of the road in order to allow traffic to pull out of the intersection in front of me. This intersection had enough room for 2 full size 18 wheelers to make a complete U-Turn and my bike was sitting within a foot of the edge of the road and well out of the way. Me being a new rider and not feeling that I had good cornering control was not moving until all traffic had moved on. Everyone had moved through the intersection and I was waiting for the last vehicle to pull through when the older man in a SUV started honking his horn and waving his hands at me. I did not move and continued to wait when he jumped out of his truck and started yelling at me to either get off the road or move on. I told him again I was a new rider and I would wait until the intersection was empty at which he started yelling and began to move toward me. Luckily, what he had not noticed was my neighbor sitting behind him in his truck watching the whole thing. My neighbor came out of his truck and told the guy to get back in his SUV and head it on down the road which the guy was more than happy to do when he seen the baseball bat in my neighbor's hand. I have not seen this man again but, the realization that there is people in this world who are just not good people made me change my riding habits and after this I began riding in town in the church parking lot, grocery store, school parking lot and generally around town I ride in places that people know that it's me on that bike. They also know it's a gal (very handy) and not a short, chubby guy (no offense guys) who has dropped her bike.

Another thing to think about is if you are riding in rural areas where the grass beside the roads is not mowed and manicured and what if you have the misfortune of sliding off the road and being hidden from other motorists and what if your hurt what can you do to make someone aware of you? If your lucky you have your cell phone in your pocket and you’re lucky enough to get a signal in order to call for help. Are you close enough to throw your jacket or anything that you can up onto the road or at passing vehicles and keep doing that until someone stops. Did you let someone know you were riding, how long you would be gone and your approximate route? These are all things to think about if and when you decide to ride alone. I've been down, April 17,2010 I've been hurt (broken leg, bruised knee, ruptured spleen, hole in my lung and 6 broken ribs) and I was lucky because I ride with a wonderful group (GWRRA Chapter I Jackson, Missouri), who is very well educated in safe riding and extremely practiced in both riding and the correct way to give assistance to a downed biker. I was wearing full safety gear from head to toe. This crash happened because I panicked coming around a curve with pea size gravel scattered across it. I seen the gravel and did the first thing we are taught not to do (I fixed on that gravel and that is right where my bike went). I hit the asphalt as my bike left the road. This crash was only at about 4 miles an hour down from about 20 miles an hour. There was no skid marks and I did not lock the brake....I just went right where I was looking. The Missouri State Trooper who was dispatched to the accident was amazed to see that my helmet had NOT been removed and told the group that they really know their stuff and he came into the ambulance to let me know that he was glad to see that I was wearing full safety gear because he said that a lot of the time bike down crashes do not have a happy ending like this one did. Ride Safe

Comments for My Thoughts On Riding Alone

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Jun 10, 2012
Leaving Bike In Gear At Intersections.
by: Alberta rider.

Canada Safety Council courses teach DO NOT leave the bike in gear at an intersection.

If the clutch cable lets go suddenly, the bike can lurch forward into passing/turning traffic.

Keeping the bike in neutral while waiting at intersection is easily learned and dropping the shifter into low gear is done without even thinking about it.

Something to consider.

Aug 07, 2010
Learning experiences...
by: Sandra

So glad to hear you are recovering and that you will be saddled up again soon! A nasty accident can end the joy of the ride for many - understandable - but sad!

As for the "jerk"...I think you were even more lucky in that situation to have your neighbor in the right place at the right time. Your "jerk" sounds seriously unstable and "off his meds". You can never predict the "crazies" in this world, and some emergencies just cannot be planned for.

Always keep your bike in gear when stopped so that if you see a hazard coming at you, usually an inattentive driver from behind?, you can immediately get your bike rolling and escape the bigger threat. In your case, without the back-up, your only recourse may have been to speed away, rather than argue with a deranged person.

In any case, SO glad you are such a great rider with such a great support group - your riding club sounds REALLY pulled together!

Aug 07, 2010
Thank you.
by: Anonymous

Thanks for sharing more details about the accident. Sounds like you ride with a wonderful group, and you all responded ideally when the accident occurred. I wish I had a group to ride with like that. Okay, so when the jerk was yelling at you, you were a beginner, but when the accident occurred you had significant hours riding time. Accidents can happen to anyone. I have just over 100 miles on my bike, and I just finished the MSF class July 11th. I am always interested in other people's stories, because it helps me become a safer rider. I will be vigilant in turns, especially so when gravel or other hazard is present because of what you have shared. I appreciate your good advice, and I will ride with a partner whenever possible, and take precautions otherwise. Take care!

Aug 06, 2010
Answers and Thoughts Part 2
by: Belinda

Because in some ways it was a best case scenario and yet on the other hand it was a worst case scenario for an accident. It began with Bike Down! Bike Down! the Tail-gunner which is a fully dressed Gold Wing Trike made a U-turn and centered in the roadway with all lights flashing and both rider and co-rider pulling on safety yellow and reflective tops began stopping traffic. The Lead bike stopped and let his co-rider off with her safety yellow on and she began stopping traffic while he turned back with the safety kit. The one person who had trained as a first responder did not feel like she could run up on a rider down that was a friend or a part of our group in other words someone that she knew and felt that she would panic was off the bike and beside me before I had turned over from my stomach too my back and she knew exactly what to do. No cell signal off went two bikes immediately to find a cell signal in order too call 911. First ambulance too the scene just happen to have the local Fire Chief/EMT who just happened to be working but was also a member of our riding group. He was the one who assessed my injuries and made sure that I was not moved nor was my helmet removed. He also was the one who found that my ribs were broken. Everyone one learned something that day and I know I am so blessed too be a member of this group. I plan on getting back in the saddle this week and I will be taking it very slow but, I am determined to learned the skills and techniques to become a good rider. Good luck ladies, be safe and just be aware!

Aug 06, 2010
Answers and Thoughts Part 1
by: Belinda

Actually taking the Motorcycle Basic Safety Course was the first thing I did. No, actually the bike did not come down on top of me nor did it touch me in anyway. I think that when the tire hit the gravel which was just a little bigger than sand that it flipped the bike way up because it did break the peg on the left side of the bike and it just flung me down hard on the low left of the bike. The first incident with the jerk in the SUV happened last summer just about 2 weeks after I began riding and I was still very nervous around traffic. The wreck happened on April 17, 2010. I had put about 1500 miles on my bike practicing that month alone. I know it sounds weird but since I was a small child I have gotten these little gut feelings that something was going to happen or go wrong which is what happened just as we turned on that road (I know I sound like a nut) but, I just got spooked and had a feeling I should pull off and stop. I remember thinking about this as I laid in the ER that I should have listened too my gut and I will if I ever get that feeling again. One more thing that I would do over or will change when riding in a group will be to wear a headset because I could have heard the other bikers as we were riding and they could have heard me. This group does keep a lot of communication going from front riders too the tail-gunner about road conditions, how everyone is doing etc. I know that if I would have been wearing a headset all I would have had too do was say can we slow down a little or I am seeing gravel along the sides then we would have changed positions or slowed down. I can honestly say that I learned a lot because of this accident but, I also have to say that as a group we learned more than you could ever imagine.

Aug 06, 2010
Good Advice
by: Connie

Thank you for your story, Belinda. I am a new rider, and you've given me a little more to think about and watch for! I took and passed the MSF course and it was wonderful experience. I have only ridden on my neighborhood back roads (with my husband always knowing where I am), and I am gaining confidence. The only problem is it becomes rote and I know I need to keep venturing a little further. I'm still learning, but I'm lovin' it!

Aug 06, 2010
Riding Alone
by: Cathy Marion,OH

I had a similar accident last summer, only I hit that soupy mix they throw on the road in August when it is already 95 degrees! I was making a right turn, my speed was slow, and I slipped right under the guard rail. My husband was ahead of me, and never saw me go down. I ALWAYS ride with my cell phone. I am like you, I try to ride where I know there will be other traffic. I also let someone know where I am headed, and when to expect me back when I ride alone. I now take what my husband calls confidence rides on my new bike. I totaled the one last year :( I ride routes that are very familiar to me, and then add a modification in every time to expand my confidence in my riding skills. I did take the BRC last summer that the state offers, and I highly recommend this to any new rider. As for what happened at that intersection to you while you were waiting? Shame on that other driver. What a JERK!

Aug 06, 2010
Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
by: Anonymous

It dumbfounds me that some think yelling as loud as they can will actually solve anything. I guess some folks will never learn.

Loose gravel in turns can obviously be very dangerous. It scares me as a beginning rider to think that you were hurt so seriously only going 4 mph. Wow. Did the bike come down on top of you?

My husband rides his motorcycle in front of me, and that makes me more comfortable. People see him turning, and then they see my turn signal indicating that I'm going the same direction as he did, so they seem to give me a little time to get going. I have long hair, so I'm sure they can see I'm a girl, and where I live, men will usually be a little more patient for a girl, if she happens to take a little longer getting started, accelerating, etc. I go ahead and turn at intersections when it is my turn, though it is a bit scary. Are you comfortable turning in the parking lots? Does it just scare you when there is other traffic or when there is a hazard like the gravel? I was thinking if one of your friends is an experienced rider, they might be willing to give you private instruction on negotiating turns. I have found repetition to be the best way of gaining confidence and conquering my fears. I was afraid of turning left when I first got my bike, so I made my self turn left over and over again in my back yard until I wasn't afraid anymore. Maybe that would work for you and maybe not. Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own way. I assume you have already taken an MSF riding course, like the beginner's riding course? I hope you are able to get back out there and ride again soon.

Ride safe and often, and I sure hope you heal quickly!

Aug 05, 2010
Riding Alone
by: Belinda

Thank you Melissa and you are right I have been through a lot but, I still have to say that I love riding as much as ever. Have a great rest of the summer and be safe.

Aug 05, 2010
Take Care!
by: Melissa

Sounds like you been through a lot already, glad your ok and getting better! Yea it's a scary thing for females riding alone that's why I most always ride with my husband or others, pays to be safe!

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