Dealing WIth Dirt Parking

Just after getting underway from the gas station you realize that you forgot to put in your earplugs. You see a nearby pull off and begin to slow down. As you get nearer, you see that the parking area consists of crushed gravel. You also see that the road edge drops off rather steeply and that the parking area is cambered downhill. This is beginning to look like a bad idea, but you decide to go ahead and pull over anyway.

You glance in your mirror to confirm that nobody is behind, then slow to a crawl and position your motorcycle as perpendicular as possible to the pavement edge to avoid sliding the front tire. You rise slightly off the seat as the front wheel drops off the pavement onto the gravel. Suddenly, you hear a scraping sound as the bike bottoms against the pavement edge. Luckily your motorcycle remains upright as the rear tire rolls over the drop off.

Once onto the gravel, you place your bike onto the sidestand and dismount to assess the damage. The lower fairing and exhaust pipes bear the mostly cosmetic scars of the unexpected pavement contact. You are thankful it wasn’t worse. But, now you have another challenge ahead; getting back over the pavement lip and onto the road without causing further damage.

You put in your earplugs, then assess the best plan of attack. It looks like the transition from gravel to pavement is less severe at the farthest end of the pull off. So, you start your motorcycle and carefully ride toward the planned spot.

You line yourself up for a 90 degree approach, check that there is no traffic, then ease out the clutch and accelerate. Unfortunately, you are a bit too aggressive with the throttle, which causes the rear tire to spin and the motorcycle to fishtail onto its side. You roll harmlessly onto your back and jump up to right the fallen motorcycle. More cosmetic damage occurred, but your frame sliders took most of the impact. Once upright, you attempt to surmount the pavement edge once again. This time, you use the clutch to feed just the right amount of power to the rear wheel and manage to get yourself onto the road and back underway.

To avoid possible pullover pitfalls, be sure to scrutinize a prospective parking area for surface quality and characteristics that can cause ground clearance problems. It’s often better to bypass a questionable parking area for a more motorcycle friendly place to pull over.

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