Weighing the Risks

This past Friday, October 18, was what we call a “pet day” here in Newfoundland. After almost 24 hours of continuous rain, the skies broke and the sun came out, and by 3pm the temperature went to an unseasonably warm 17 degrees C (63 degrees F).

Many would consider this a great evening for a ride, especially for someone like me who gets home from work around 4pm, with hours of daylight to spare. As I drove home from work that evening I was looking forward to jumping on the bike, but I also weighed the risks.

Risk 1: Rush Hour

Everyone drives more aggressively on Friday evenings, that’s a fact. On this particular evening everyone was in even more of a hurry to get home and enjoy the last little bit of summer, knowing that we won’t see 17 degrees again for another six or seven months. If I left my house on the bike at shortly after 4pm, it meant that I would be defending my space on the road against thousands of commuters in a mad tear.

Risk 2: The October Sun

Friday evening was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, the sun beaming down unobstructed. The sun is so low in the sky this time of year that it is actually blinding to drive towards it in the evening. Even if you’re heading east, you have to realize that drivers coming towards you may not see you because the sun is in their eyes.

long shadows

Fall means intense sunlight and long shadows. This is the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Risk 3: Wet Leaves

I discovered the effects of wet leaves years ago while rollerblading in Edmonton; I ended up with a sprained hamstring and road rash (now that I think on it, that’s also how I learned about tar snakes). Wet leaves are just like ice, no exaggeration. When riding in the fall, you ALWAYS have to be cautious of leaves, especially after a good rain.

leaves

Areas like Circular Road are beautiful, but when those leaves start to gather on the pavement it gets a bit slippery!

Risk 4: Gravel

Besides soaking leaves, rain also washes gravel onto the roads. It’s not so much of a concern in the city, but very common in outlying areas where many people have unpaved driveways that slope down towards the main road.

 

By the time I got home from work, I had my mind made up. I felt it was just too risky to get on the bike. I put on shorts and sneakers instead, and went for an incredibly enjoyable run to the top of Signal Hill. When I checked the news that evening, I read that there had been five accidents in St. John’s between 4pm and 6pm, including a motorcycle accident.

fall night

Beautiful October evening, full moon over Signal Hill

As much as I love to ride, there are times when I just choose NOT to ride, for safety reasons. As motorcyclists, we have to be fully aware of ALL risks every single time we get on the bike. This includes internal risks (am I tired? Hungover? Angry? Stressed?) and also the external factors that I’ve listed above. If I feel that the risks are stacked against me, I don’t get on the bike. It’s as simple as that.

Ride safe everyone.

 

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Posted on October 20, 2013, in Behind the Visor and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Excellent words of advice!!!!

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