- Written by Carole Nash Editor
- Created: 12 March 2008
Travelling the back roads in the countryside is one of the basic reasons why we all ride motorcycles. Less traffic, twisty bends, ever-changing scenery, the British countryside can offer all kinds of biking fun on a Sunday. But as the accident figures show, the countryside is where many a biker comes a cropper and it often isn’t the `Sorry I didn’t see you’ type collision you suffer in town, but a range of other probable causes.
The hardest thing to do when rural riding is to `read’ the road correctly. By this I mean, carrying out a risk assessment as you go along, watching which way the hedges run, looking for gaps where farm vehicles may emerge, guessing how much time/space you might need to dodge gravel lurking around the next corner.
Talk of corners leads us nicely onto gauging the correct speed for any given bend on a typical country road.
So many bikers fall off because they cannot match a speed which they feel comfortable with, to one of the many blind corners that lie ahead. The thing is, each of us operates inside a `comfort zone’ and once we are suddenly pushed beyond it, by a tightening corner, slipping on a patch of diesel etc, it is extremely easy to either `freeze,’ or grab the brakes whilst the bike is leaned over. The result in either case is that we crash. Not good.
So consider this; a modern sportbike can accelerate from 40mph-90mph in under five seconds, but your brain almost certainly cannot process the necessary information to accurately guess – and it is a guess – the maximum speed which you can take the next corner. No matter what you have read in your favourite bike magazine, this level of skill is possessed by a handful of top racers and 90% of us will never – that’s never – reach that level, no matter how many track days we attend.
It is better to follow the old `slow in, fast out’ maxim on country roads, maximise your field of vision by positioning the bike on a `wide’ line entering corners and don’t work the bike too hard. Country roads can have some nasty bumps, pot-holes and poor repairs which upset any sportsbike’s equilibrium.
Ride with a safety margin, well inside your own ‘comfort zone’ and you’ll enjoy back roads biking much more. You might even glance at the scenery occasionally…