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Girl racer’s guide to safer riding… Jill Boulton gives Biker47 her personal experiences…
Have you ever approached a junction where there’s a car waiting to emerge, thinking “if that car pulls out, there is nothing I can do – I’ll be ‘dead meat’ ”?
I used to think that.
Imagine the scene. Late 1990’s, sunny North Yorkshire; Little ol’ me on my equally tiny (but lively) grey import Honda GB250 Clubman; having fun on the twisty back roads, attracting attention only because I was a young female riding a cool and very rare bike. No dayglo for me, only black leather, and the bike was silver.
But I lived to tell the tale. I was/am a bit of a girl racer. First it was cars (e.g. Nova GTE, Cavalier Sri130, yes I am that old) and then bikes.
Some years later, I bought a Kawasaki GPZ500, a dog of a machine that looked like it was wearing a white, blue and pink shell suit. I once approached a right-hand bend at excessive speed and in the wrong gear, messed it up totally, braked on the corner, and thought I was going to crash and die … somehow I wrestled the bike around the corner (a quick lesson in counter steering?) and lived to tell this tale, too.
No surprise to me, then, that bends and junctions are the places you’re most likely to come a cropper on your bike.
Fast forward a few more years, having thought I had left motorcycling behind, I was riding a Suzuki SV650, a superb bike on which I passed my advanced riding test. And what a revelation advanced riding* was – if I had continued to ride without it, I would probably be another statistic by now.
So, let’s rewind a few years and tell my younger self how to approach that junction:
1. Increase your visibility to the car driver by riding with your headlight on. If you have an older machine, you’ll have to remember to switch it on, of course. And you can wear dayglo.
2. Positioning. Where you place your bike on the road increases its visibility massively. So, when approaching said junction with a car waiting to pull out, move nearer to the middle of the road unless there is oncoming traffic. The general rule is, move away from the hazard (ie the emerging car).
3. Scrub off a bit of speed on your approach. Slow down, and you’re giving yourself and the driver a bit more time to react if the worst happens. Cover your brakes.
4. As with everything it’s not quite as simple as this, so get some advanced training too.
And the righthander? Well, there’s lots of information everywhere about confident cornering, but in a nutshell:
1. Plan ahead: assess the bend on approach.
2. Get your positioning right, e.g. as far left as you can safely go for a righthander
3. Scrub off some speed and select the correct gear
4. Maintain a steady speed through the bend
5. Get some advanced training so that you crave every corner.
There’s an old adage that goes: “The trouble with experience is that you get the lesson first and the training afterwards” – please don’t be afraid to look to Advanced riders for tips and advice! There are even Training companies that run women-only sessions since it’s established that we have a different methodology in learning to men.
For the next four months (until July 2016), the IAM in the UK is offering FREE advanced riding taster sessions in your area to coincide with the start of the riding season. Sign up here:
◊ With many thanks to Jill Boulton.
Jill is the Managing Director of Visorcat; the coolest way to keep your visor clean on the move.