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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few years ago, I took the MSF Intermediate Course. Glad I did.
That long day in a parking lot broke me of some bad habits and instilled some good ones. I'm convinced that one of the skills taught that day saved me from a crash on the way home yesterday.

One of the last turns on my twenty-six mile commute into little Vail, Arizona, starts with going up and over a steep railroad crossing, with an immediate right hander onto the road leading into my neighborhood.

The turn is really a blind corner, with lots of sand or rocks or other yuck that has washed into the street from the curbless mound supporting the tracks.
Tighter than a 90, the road cuts back a bit, well past 120 degrees. Second gear is too fast - first gear is to low, it's a funky turn.

As I started my lean, I noticed a surprising lack of sand piles prior to the apex. Hmph, I thought. Someone must have cleaned that up. Then, YIKES!
Mid-turn and right in my line was a few broken sections of a wooden beam. What is that, a four by four?

So picture, forward speed about 15 mph, bike leaned hard right, second gear with clutch out and revs about 2500 rpm. And a freakin' beam snearing up at me through the windshield.

Prior to taking the MSF course, I would have likely either grabbed the brakes in a panic or stood the bike up and rolled wide into the oncoming lane.
Without a thought, I relaxed, unweighted the seat, and spotting a gap of about six inches between the broken chunks of wood, I rowed the bars alternately, walking the tires through the gap. Instinctively picking a new exit line out of the turn, I accellerated through rest of the mess.

Wow, I thought. That was just like what the instructors taught me.
I remembered their coaching and critical observations..."Too tight on the bars; do it again!", "You touched the brakes; do it again!", "That was terrific; do it again!"

And without thinking, I saved my own @ss by doing it again.

Motorcycle Safety Foundation
 

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Some trail experience would probably have helped, too. You get accustomed to picking a path that avoids the largest obstacles.
 

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Pretty slick how plan "B" can rare it head so fast...its even better when it works in a pinch. Be sure to exersise those newfound talents from time to time in an empty parking lot...rust never sleeps!
 

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Some trail experience would probably have helped, too. You get accustomed to picking a path that avoids the largest obstacles.
I use to take this for granted. The more I read of others' experiences, the more I realize how true it is. Experienced dirt riders seem to have a huge advantage when it comes to obstacle avoidance, and more. There's no telling how many times it's made the difference in going down, or going on.

Kudos to the OP.
 

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Great job, Mo
Without a thought, I relaxed, unweighted the seat, and spotting a gap of about six inches between the broken chunks of wood....
The RIGHT move--look at the gap, not the problem. I don't think this is the first time you've done such a thing, although this might be the tightest circumstances. Doing this the first few times requires thought, and that takes time. Doing this "without a thought" as a routine practice lets the movements come from a different part of the brain which is much faster. Unweighting the seat decouples the rider weight from the bike weight and may allow quicker movements of a slow bike--is that what you were thinking?

In December there are Lee Parks' Total Control riding clinics in Gilbert. I've taken the course and I recommend it very highly. The MSF covers good stuff but doesn't go far enough. Total Control and some other training covers the next steps. I'm considering taking an intermediate dirt riding course next year as well (the local school's beginner dirt course begins, "this is a throttle, this is a brake, etc.")
Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic
 

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Good job. Practice is important. Take the turn in first in the future though. 2500rpm in second is about 4000 in first and a better count. 2500 is the minimum rpm you want in a straight line with unlimited vision. Anything else and over 3000 is much better, even well over if need be. 7000 is better than 2000.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I use to take this for granted. The more I read of others' experiences, the more I realize how true it is. Experienced dirt riders seem to have a huge advantage when it comes to obstacle avoidance, and more. There's no telling how many times it's made the difference in going down, or going on.
You are right about dirt experience helping to teach the brain to ride without thinking.

I was fourteen years old when someone handled me the reigns to a Yamaha MX 360.
Rode that thing up and down the trails and dry riverbeds of Arizona for three years.
What a beast that thing was!

100 mph? No problem.
Stopping? Turning? Jumping?
Oh Lord that bike nearly killed me.

 

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Although this may not apply to the OP's situation, when encountering a slow speed turn (less than 20-25 mph), there's nothing to say you can't use your clutch mid corner without gearing down. I know it's not for everyone, and may not be appropriate to even mention it for other than first gear, but I do it quite a bit for more fluid control during those "inbetween gear" circumstances.
 

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Oh I agree that the MSF course is a good start, and that was a good quick reaction. The past couple of weeks around here the corners have been filled with something (salt/gravel from the early snow storm.. or droppings from the dump trucks at the quarry.. Unknown fluids from the trucks.. leaves) so going into a corner I'm always looking for the proper path. Never look at the problem, but for a way out of it.

While you were not going that fast, remember if you cannot see around a corner adjust your speed for your now limited line of sight. That will help keep you out of trouble & give you some time to react if needed.

Now that winter is here, the bike tucked away.. I'm going to settle down and read Proficient Motorcycling and get ready for spring.
 
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