Over the Line

The twisty mountain roads near your home significantly challenge to your cornering skills. You understand that riding fast on these roads is risky, because many of the curves are blind. So, you keep your speed low enough to manage the most likely hazards while maintaining a speed that stimulates excitement.

You approach each corner at a speed that ensures control and allows you to accelerate throughout the turn. You know the importance of cornering lines so you position your motorcycle to the outside of the curve at the turn entry. This helps you to “straighten” the corner and offers the best angle of view.

You get into a rhythm as the turns appear one after another. You exit one tight left hand turn and accelerate toward the next right hand turn. This is a right-hand turn whose exit disappears behind a steep embankment. You slow, position yourself to the left edge of your lane and lean into the curve. But, as soon as you enter the turn you see a minivan coming the other way—halfway in your lane! You force yourself to look away from the hazard as you press hard on the inside handgrip to tighten your line. Thankfully, the van driver swerves and you miss his front bumper by only a few feet. You are shaken by the close call.

Utilizing effective cornering lines is a smart way to maximize traction and sight distance. However, it’s important to understand that conditions don’t always allow you to use the whole width of your lane. By entering the turn at the extreme left you did not account for the possibility of a careless driver crossing into your lane. You must plan for this possibility by maintaining a safe distance away from the centerline. This means that you will not be able to straighten the curve as much as you’d like.

Fortunately, you were able to avoid a collision by looking toward your escape route rather than at the minivan while forcefully countersteering to tighten your line. Next time, be more conservative with your entry speed and lane position when approaching blind turns to avoid a similar situation from happening in the future.

copyright Ken Condon

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