It was the perfect biker's road; smooth surface with a series of flowing 90-degree corners. I was tootling around the bends at about 90kph, enjoying the ride, when suddenly it happened;I was passed around the outside by a Daihatsu Charade! I almost fell off in disgust! "Geez, I must be riding like a grandfather!" I chided myself. Oh yeah, that's right, I am a grandfather!
In my defense, let me tell you a little more about this "perfect biker's road". (It was nothing like the situation pictured at left!). It also happens to be a major multi-lane highway, with dirty great concrete walls down the middle and along each side. Oh yeah, and some of the corners are reverse-camber too. Those factors all make me a little more defensive!
You see, I don't like cars. No, let me re-phrase that; I love cars, almost as much as I love bikes; I just don't like being surrounded by them when I'm riding my bike. Like any sensible old bloke (or sensible young bloke for that matter!) I worry about the consequences of falling off. And I worry most about it when I'm surrounded by cars. Falling off and sliding across the bitumen is one thing; being run over by half a dozen surrounding cars is quite another! Now, I'm a great fan of Valentino Rossi, but put him on a highway with a concrete wall either side of him, surround him with cars, and I'll bet that slows him down a bit! I'll bet you wouldn't see him sliding sideways, laying rubber and smoking the tyres if he had concrete walls and a bunch of family Commodores all around him!
So how fast I was (or wasn't!) riding was a reflection of the perceived dangers I had around me. Which I reckon is how it should be. This point was proven later on my ride when I was riding along a two-lane back-road. The surface was reasonably smooth, but the corners were tighter and not as consistent in radius. But I was doing the same speed, and enjoying it more. No concrete walls, and no cars! For me, that's a much more enjoyable - and safe - riding environment. So how fast you ride can be - and really should be - effected by how safe you feel in the environment in which you are riding.
I'll tell you another thing I noticed, particularly on that day's ride, that effected my speed; how much attention I was paying to the countryside around me. My route took me along the coast, where there were occasional panoramic views over sparkling water; and then inland through rolling hills and beautiful rural vistas. I found that the more attention I paid to the country I was riding through, enjoying the views, the slower I went. Which again, is how it should be. If you're taking your eyes off the road then you should slow down! Conversely, the more I concentrated on the road, enjoying riding it, the faster I went. Now that probably all sounds very obvious, but I found myself asking this question: Should I pay more attention to enjoying the road, and ride faster; or should I enjoy the scenery more, and ride slower? The answer - and I think this is the point to this part - is that, well, I suppose it all depends on why you're out riding on that particular occasion.
You see, this is one of the great things about riding a bike - the freedom to enjoy the ride in whatever way you want to enjoy it! Sometimes it is all about the road; that ribbon of black snaking it's way beneath your wheels as you lean left, then right, accelerate then brake. At other times it can be about just being out on your bike; just you and the countryside you're riding through, taking it easy, breathing the fresh air and appreciating the beauty of the world around you. Cruise along and enjoy the scenery; or fang it along and enjoy the road! Make your choice - and ride acordingly!
So how fast should you ride? Well, as I've said, I reckon it depends on why you're out riding on that particular day. And it also depends on how safe you feel in the environment you're riding through. You don't have to ride fast all the time; just ride and enjoy!
So, take a tip from the old bloke. Next time you're riding along a "perfect biker's road" and get overtaken by some pathetic little tin-top buzz-box, here's what to do; kick it down a cog, grab some throttle and get back past the bugger, because geez it's embarrassing!
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