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Safely Passing Cars

The most dangerous thing

"Passing another vehicles puts a rider at risk everytime."

Passing a car is when a motorcyclist puts himself at risk. The reasons are simple.
This all came to mind last week when I put myself at risk. The road although straight had a steep downhill on my side and a steep uphill on the other. Thick, low hanging trees therefore obscured what was for me the uphill side. In front of me was a slow moving pickup truck filled with sand and belching smoke. I approached the pick up from a distance back and decided even before I got to him to flash past even although I could not properly see the oncoming lane for any real distance. I accelerated and had almost committed when I caught sight of an oncoming car coming down the hill on the other side. Touching my brakes I instantly realized that the steep downhill and smooth surface was not going to give me the type of stopping traction I needed. I released the brakes and powered for the shrinking gap between the front of the pickup and the oncoming car. There was a problem however. The exact gap had a road surface thickly covered with loose building stones dropped by a passing truck. The small stones lay about 4 cm thick and were directing in front of my front wheel and in the middle of the quickly narrowing gap. I was committed and the on coming car limited my choices to nothing.

At this point I was very glad that as a rider I am no stranger to loose sand and stones as I do some trail riding throughout the year. Keeping the bike dead upright and heading for the middle of the gap (and the stones) I gently accelerated. I kept my eyes focussed on my escape route and eased my weight forward onto the front wheel. The tyres bit into the stones. I heard them crunch in protest and I kept gently accelerating. The bike barely noticed the stones and then I was through.

The message here is not what a good rider I am. I messed up badly by making rash and poorly considered choices. In the end I was faced with only one option that itself offered no room for error. Panic, indecision or a further bad choice would have seen me on the road surface in front of either one of two moving vehicles.

This all served to remind me. No matter how many vehicles we pass, each and every passing action puts us at risk. Combine this with a few bad decisions and you have a deadly mix.