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Monday, November 14, 2011

Okay....gearing up. Time to be serious.

You have to be mentally tough to ride any sort of powered two wheeled machine.

Your exposed to the elements, you know that the concrete will not give not if...but when, you go down.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately.   A close encounter with a deer the other night is why, it froze in my headlights, a quick serve to the left and I went around him...but the heart didn't stop pounding for 20 minutes.

Okay...cute but not acceptable!
In Florida, the only thing that the law requires you to wear when riding is eye protection.  I've seen riders in shorts, flip flops, shirtless, without helmets and yes, more than a few with no eye protection.   Where as I seem to be going the other way and wearing more and more protection.

I have always worn a helmet when riding.   Even a short jaunt to the local market gets a helmet (although I will admit to wearing the shorts and tee-shirt - not any more however).   My body will recover hopefully if I go down.  The brain might not so I invested in a full face helmet.

I've a bright yellow jacket I wear.  It's not really a motorcycle jacket but it's visible and warm.  At night I through a reflective work style vest over it to make me even a bit more visible.  When I first started to ride I didn't always wear the jacket, enjoying the cool air blowing around me.   Now even if I'm just running to the store a half a mile away it goes on.  I am actively looking for a good motorcycle jacket, one with the armor to protect the elbows and back, and I am to poor not to have quality.

My job requires dress shoes but I've been wearing my waterproof and oil resistant sole boots when I ride now.  I've not always done that in the past.  I can't do much about the dress pants I have to wear.

Yep, me in gear - a big canary.
My attitude is changing.   I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of the ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) philosophy.  Not that safety was always important to me, but I find myself becoming more and more serious about it.  I'm seeing morons text, talk on the phone, slam on the brakes, cut in front of cars and such without a look.

Frankly it scares the hell out of me at times.

I then have a choice.  To not ride or to ride.   I enjoy riding, I love the physicality of riding...feeling the sun on my face and the wind across my body as I ride.  My fear is manageable.  I watch, I try to make myself as visible as possible.  The best way to avoid an accident is to be ready for it.  Keeping it upright is better than going down any day of the week.

Every mile under my belt is another mile of experience.

1 comment:

Dar said...

ATGATT is the only way to ride. I learned that the hard way on my first time out on a scooter test drive. Yup the test drive. I was fortunate that I had a full face helmet on, a borrowed motorcycle jacket from the shop (it had armor), motorcycle gloves. Where I was lacking was riding pants and motorcycle boots. I was wearing jeans and loafers. I wiped out doing 40km/h and hit the pavement directly on my right hip and quad muscle & knee. I felt my hip joint flex and thought holy crap, I am done. My elbow smashed into the pavement and it would have shattered had it not been for the armored coat. That was within the first 45 minutes of my riding journey. I stupidly got up (in shock) and convinced myself I was ok and actually finished the test drive. A few hours later my leg was swollen and purple from my hip to below my knee - front and back. I could hardly walk and was in shock. I was too afraid to tell my hub what I had done and thought I could tough it out, that was until I almost passed out 5 times on my kid. Then I called him and had him take me to a doctor. I was a mess. I had xrays of my hip, pelvis and femur, I was lucky no broken bones. However I had a 14 cm long X 10cm wide haematoma on my quadriceps muscle. I couldn't walk right for a few weeks and have had 3 ultrasounds and a bone scan. The haematoma never fully reabsorbed and has since hardened and 'turned to bone'. That was 11 months ago and I am still dealing with pain, joint stiffness and muscle weakness.

In a nut shell what I have learned is that EVERY time I get on my bike or scooter, even in 90 degree heat I wear full gear head to toe, including gloves. Pavement hurts when you hit it and there is no forgiveness when you go down. You can lessen it by wearing armored coat and pants. I would recommend wearing motorcycle boots because of the plating in the ankle, if your Burgie falls on you it is the only thing that is saving your ankle from breaking.

I commute every day to work and I wear jeans unders my riding pants and change into suitable work attire when I get to my office. It is a hassle, but honestly I gladly put up with it.

When I took my motorcycle Novice course & Traffic Safety course there was myself and another girl who where full ATGATT. My instructors were impressed because they knew I was serious and they knew I understood what was at stake. I did my motorcycle endorsement 10 months after my scooter crash. *I bought a scooter 2 days after my accident and haven't looked back since. I take every precaution available to me that gives me any sort of edge when I am dealing with the 3,000 lbs of rolling car death that shares the roads with me. I know this sounds preachy but if I can save anyone the misery I endured from my fall and lack of gear I gladly share it.

I hope you found great gear and good for you for being visible! You may need more than one set of gear one for colder weather and one for hot weather.

check out TourMaster gear by Cortech, their Men's Flex pants are awesome, they are 3 season and are waterprTourMaster Men's Epic jacket is awesome looking with lots of great features. I wear ladies TourMaster gear and am so happy with it. I had another lower end gear before this and it was terrible, it didn't breathe, it leaked and it was falling apart. Hope you find what you are looking for!