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Rode Off-Road (Side) Today...

2284 Views 18 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  TheWall
So I've been riding my Wee for a little over a year now, 8600+ miles so far, and another 1k miles on the CB550SC I learned to ride on two years ago. There's a back route to my house that is perfect for a V-Strom -- twisty, paved section with lots of hairpin turns, and then a fun, rough gravel stretch that winds down a small valley and back up the ridge to where I live. I typically ride that road from the highway to my house just because I'm usually in a hurry when leaving my house, but have time to play on my way home.

This morning, I decided to strap my fishing pole onto the bike, and cruise a little ways down the highway to a couple of hot spots to see if the reds (salmon) were in yet (they weren't). Since time wasn't an issue, I took the back route *down* the mountain. I wasn't trying to push it today -- honest, I wasn't! -- but on the last curve, I found myself at about the 90 degree point of the 180 degree hairpin going, "Oh, :censored: ...I'm going to go wide." My training kicked in, and I brought the bike upright and hit the brakes to try to slow down.

I almost made it :furious:

I ended up dropping the front wheel into a shallow ditch on the side of the road, bike upright, no damage to anything but my pride. I killed the engine as soon as I was stopped and spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to get the bike out of the ditch. At first rocking it didn't seem to do much good...but then I realized I was still in gear. Squeezing the clutch while rocking seemed to help quite a bit :headbang: and after a few minutes, I had the bike on the shoulder and out of the ditch. I'm really thinking that a skidplate is becoming a must-have item...if the ditch had been any deeper, I would have been balancing the bike on the exhaust -- I had *maybe* an inch between the pipes and the ground when I stopped. I don't plan on an encore performance, but ya' know...I never planned on any accidents I was ever in while driving a cage either, but I keep my bike and my car insured, just in case.

Anyway, here's a few photos of the scene of the crime:


Yes, I left skid marks. There's some on the road, too. :mrgreen:


That's where I came to a stop.


Looking uphill of the curve that did me in...


...and downhill.

Lessons learned: I've gotten a bit complacent, perhaps, and since I've been a bit stressed at work lately, I *really* need to be sure I'm not venting my frustrations while riding. I also need to make sure my head is in the game when I'm on the bike. This *could* have been really bad, but fortunately was a non-event. Finally, take it easier than you think you need to when going *down* a mountainside because it's a lot easier to stop or slow down when you are fighting gravity.
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Sooooo, you have been riding for less than 10000 and two years. I think you did alright. I think you have the right attitude, and I think you will probably live to see that this is part of the adventure. The part that you seldom hear about in the adv magazines.:thumbup:
 

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Sounds like a relatively minor incident that you have already learned from.

No harm no foul....days like that is what makes us better riders..
 

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A newbie buddy [F800gs] of mine did a similar thing on one of our first rides together....he'd never been on a road with a S-bend section [MSF classes don't prepare riders for riding over 40mph], and ran wide out of the last curve on the 'S'.....lucky for him, we were in farm country, and there were no culverts or barbed wire fencing to ruin his day. His pride was a little dinged up, but that's it. He learned a valuable lesson that day, and it looks like you got a nice reminder of how important it is to keep your head in the game.

Nuthin' like dodgin' a bullet!
 

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Every day's a school day!

Well done. So many people panic when they realize they've crossed their own envelope of comfort and safety, it's a thumbs up to you for remaining calm and thinking when you needed to most.

Ride Safe! :thumbup:
 

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I do this a lot with my KLR650, but it's very forgiving that way. On the Vee, I follow the rule that's it's fine to go into a corner too slow and come out fast but not the other way around. The weight of the Vee and the damage that can result from a drop, help me follow the rule :mrgreen:
 

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I'm glad there wasn't a 16 year old girl in a Mustang talking on her cell phone behind you when this happened.You came away with more insight and a rideable bike I'd say you did fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm glad there wasn't a 16 year old girl in a Mustang talking on her cell phone behind you when this happened.You came away with more insight and a rideable bike I'd say you did fine.
I didn't even think about that!

Thanks, everyone for the encouragement! I think I'll probably spend some time riding this route in the downhill direction until I'm comfortable with it. There's obviously an opportunity for growth here. And I really like zt0117's suggestion that it's better to enter a curve too slow and exit fast :fineprint:
 

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Yep, a skid plate might be in order for the farkle list here.

Glad to see that the MSF training paid for itself right then and there. You just got your money's worth. Also glad to hear that no injuries occurred. I hear about people entering corners too hot and getting hurt or killed all the time. I have used the in slow out fast style for years (when I am feeling froggy) although nowdays I use the in slow out slow more (the body takes longer to heal the older you get).

Keep working that section of the road there until you have it mastered. Riding School is always in session when you are riding.
 

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I remember what an old trucker said to me once when I was coming down the mountian in a BIG TRUCK with a heavy load and some guys (following)were complaining on the CB that I was going too slow.

Old guy said, "Son, you can go down that hill too slow 100 times, but you can only go down it too fast once!"
 

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My training kicked in, and I brought the bike upright and hit the brakes to try to slow down.
So you were trained to get on the brakes and stand the bike up in response to starting to run wide in a corner? Really? Who teaches that?

I wasn't there and, not all situations are the same but, generally speaking that is NOT the right answer. What would have been wrong with looking where you need to go and countersigning to lean the bike further into the turn?

I'm not trying to pick on you and, I'm glad that you were not hurt. Just want to help you learn the correct lesson from this event.
 

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Old guy said, "Son, you can go down that hill too slow 100 times, but you can only go down it too fast once!"
That's great!
:thumbup:
So you were trained to get on the brakes and stand the bike up in response to starting to run wide in a corner? Really? Who teaches that?
Yeah Marty, I agree.
Wonder what he'da done if there was a guard rail, barbed wire fence, immovable object, or 1000 ft drop off where his pavement ended.
Regardless, I've always rode the corner out even if it required dragging hard parts.
Maybe he made the right decision under the circumstances - just hope he doesn't rely on it in the future.
 

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"I wasn't there and, not all situations are the same but, generally speaking that is NOT the right answer. What would have been wrong with looking where you need to go and countersigning to lean the bike further into the turn?"

This is the answer I would have expected from training - it's sure bailed me out a few times when I was going in a little hot.

Way back when I was young and dinosaurs ruled the earth, I ran wide and ended up in a ditch too. I remember being too scared to lean the bike farther and just take the turn. Did it twice. Once was no harm, no foul, like this experience. The other time I went off the edge in a semi-nasty place. Got hurt. Hurt the bike too. We both came back from our injuries. I got smarter about riding during that get-off, 25+ years ago, likely closer to 30 years ago.

Pitching the bike over harder, and taking the turn, will normally get the job done just fine. This assumes of course that we're not already riding at 95%...

Good on the OP for saving his bike, and himself, but I have to admit, I don't like that approach of standing the bike up and putting on the brakes...

Regards, Guy
 

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Standing the bike up and hitting the brakes is what they teach in the motorcycle safety classes. It assumes you recognize your speed is to great for the curve or the obstruction (and you are NOT going to make it) a few seconds before you loose it. I most cases, sanding the bike up is the safest tactic. It gives you the most maneuverability and breaking power.
 

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I seem to remember learning both methods, buts it's been a while since I took my course. I thought the stand up and brake hard was if there was something in the road you didn't want to hit and lean that sucker over was when you were going wide in a turn. I think I'd lean some more since I am not usually pushing it to the max and should have traction to spare. Any instructors here?
 

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What he said. Sometimes it takes big cojones to do this though.
I agee but

I'd rather ride it into the ground than hit something on the side of the road.
Push till it drags and then push some more. (on the handle bar)

Even if you crash you only fall a few inches and the bike will be out in front of you.

For most riders (me included) the bike will do than the rider will.
But, having said all that, whatever works in one situation may not work in another. He obviously did the right thing here as he did not damage the bike or himself.
 

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I seem to remember learning both methods, buts it's been a while since I took my course. I thought the stand up and brake hard was if there was something in the road you didn't want to hit and lean that sucker over was when you were going wide in a turn. I think I'd lean some more since I am not usually pushing it to the max and should have traction to spare. Any instructors here?
I think the key here is the fact that if you make the turn or maneuver around the obstruction, there was no need to stand the bike up and brake. If you are not going to make the turn, stand it up and brake to scrub as much speed as possible before you go off the road or hit the obstruction. It is a matter of judgment. Personally, I know my limits and have a good idea of the bikes limits so if I'm not going to make the turn, I'd rather go off road or hit something at 20mph rather than 50mph.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Wonder what he'da done if there was a guard rail, barbed wire fence, immovable object, or 1000 ft drop off where his pavement ended.
Regardless, I've always rode the corner out even if it required dragging hard parts.
Maybe he made the right decision under the circumstances - just hope he doesn't rely on it in the future.
Quite honestly, I'm a bit of chicken :mrgreen: Had there been a 1000 foot drop off or barbed wire fence, I probably would have been going somewhat slower (and honestly, I really should have been in this case, too). In another couple of weeks, I'll be on a road that *does* have drop offs like you describe, and I'll be heavier too, since I'll be loaded for a camping trip. You can bet I'll be riding quite a bit more conservatively on that trip.

In this particular case, I started the curve hotter than I intended, pushed more into the turn until reaching about the 90 degree point and realized that I was still going to be wide. In Google Maps, it looks like this is a downhill, decreasing radius turn in the direction I was riding:



I don't have a lot of experience with decreasing radius turns, so although I thought I had a suitable margin of safety entering the turn...well, obviously I was wrong. Could I have pushed a little harder into the turn? Maybe...but I don't think so. In previous trips (uphill) on this road, I've dragged my toes in the turns a couple of times, so I'm pretty confident that I was almost at that point this time. Also, if you look at the view looking downhill, there's a guardrail just a little past where I exited the road, and there's a boatload of gravel on the shoulders (that's very common where I live). Had I tried to push harder and failed, I would almost certainly have driven off the road into the guardrail or lowsided when I hit the gravel.

:shrug: I screwed up, no mistake about it. I pushed harder than my skill level would allow, and fortunately, I didn't get bitten in the butt too hard. I don't know that standing the bike up and braking was the best option, but it seemed like it at the time.

In any case, please keep the suggestions and analysis coming! As I said earlier, this is an opportunity for growth. This incident has shown me an area where my skills can improve (whether it was the judgment that lead me to take the turn too hot or the motor skills that didn't allow me to negotiate the turn...most likely, both). Regardless, I appreciate all of the input!
 
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