Met up with Kyle and Steve (coworkers), plus Rick, Tom, and Mike at Robinson Restaurant in Apopka at 0800. The plan was for us to ride our traditional “west loop” starting at the north end of Binion Rd. It was a good plan.
Little did I know that Steve was going to test the off-road capabilities of his Suzuki C50 only a few minutes into the ride.Â At least he picked the perfect spot to do it (right here, going south around this left-hand curve) where there was plenty of tall, wet, soft grass for him and his bike to slide in. Thankfully, Steve ended up with only very minor abrasions – though I am certain he will not come out of the bed like a spring in the morning.
I was riding behind him when this happened which meant I could evaluate the off-road characteristics as an observer. The BIG surprise for me was how well the big Suzuki handled the TWO end-overs – with nowhere near the amount of damage I expected to see! It only took me 30 seconds to have the bike back in “rideable” condition – well enough that he was able to ride it more than an hour back to his dealership for repairs.
Oh yeah – almost forgot – my on-board VIDEO camera was running at the time:
Seriously though, I believe this was a classic case of “Target Fixation“. Once his front tire got into the wet grass, it was done. It could have ended up a million different ways today – most of them much worse than what happened. MORE IMPORTANTLY, this can AND DOES happen all the time – even with very experienced riders – and it’s easy to avoid. NEVER EVER lose track of exactly where the ROAD AHEAD of you is at – as in following the curve with your eyes. Like all the articles ever written about this say, your bike goes where you are looking.
Here’s another way of thinking about it: If you find yourself on a bad trajectory in the middle of a curve (either because you went in too hot or because your attention drifted for a brief moment or because you had to avoid something in the road or any other reason), THERE IS NO TIME to think about whether or not the bike is capable of making the turn. At that point, one of two things WILL happen:
- You will look at the thing you don’t want to crash into (such as the road shoulder or a guard rail or an oncoming vehicle) and you WILL crash into it.
- You will FOCUS on the road ahead all the way through the curve and NOT THINK ABOUT how far leaned over the bike already is and provide enough steering input to force the bike to go where you are LOOKING – at which point, 99.9% of the time, the bike will do what you asked and the tire’s grip on the pavement will not fail you.
I have been riding for more than 30 years and target fixation STILL tries to sneak up on me – and I suspect NO rider is immune to it.
I am 100% certain today’s incident will make Steve (along with the rest of us) a better rider!
After Steve and Kyle headed back toward Kissimmee, the remaining four of us continued the ride and arrived at the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain (the second-highest point of elevation in Florida) for a short break. This is a really nice area of Florida that, like so many others, is being overrun with housing construction. Perhaps the housing market woes will at least slow it down a little bit. Our group rides all over central Florida and beyond nearly every weekend and I am completely at a loss to understand how the magnitude of construction projects we see is being supported.
From the top of the “mountain” it is sometimes possible to see the Orlando skyline out over Lake Apopka (full size image is here) if the atmospheric haze isn’t too thick – as was the case today:
The new video camera mount worked better today, however, I still had one of the dreaded camera freeze-up issues as I was accelerating hard while hitting bumps. Overall, it is working much better than before.
On the way home, I stopped at a little store to put away the camera and came to the conclusion that bad luck is plentiful today. This poor guy’s boating trip evidently didn’t go as planned either.