by Liz Jansen
Knowing how to maintain traction, even when the road delivers unexpected conditions is a survival skill for motorcyclists. At best,losing traction scares the pants off you. At worst, it results in a crash.
It works the same in life. In fact, the same things that cause you to lose traction on your motorcycle, cause you to lose traction on your life’s road.
7 Ways to Maintain Traction
- Stay focused. Lesson 1 of the Basic Rider Course teaches students that your eyes steer the bike – i.e. you go where you look. Get distracted and focus on something other than where you want to go and you’ll find yourself somewhere that you hadn’t planned on being. That could be off the road. At work or home, focus somewhere that’s out of scope for where you want to be and it will pull you off course, drawing you away from your destination.
- Be proactive rather than reactive. Be prepared. Motorcycles like things to go smoothly. You can accomplish more in a shorter period of time when life goes smoothly. In either case, use your judgment to assess the situation and make sure you have the skills required to navigate the situation you’re headed for. A reactive response usually means a snap decision and sudden movement, both of which can cause an upset.
- Make your own decisions. You alone control your motorcycle — and life — by the choices you make. No one else is in your shoes and any advice, comes through their own filters. It’s dangerous to follow the advice—or path—of others when it doesn’t feel right for you.
- Remain objective. Basing important decisions on emotions can be dangerous. Road rage is a major contributor of automobile accidents. It’s because your emotions take over and you react irrationally. While the consequences of losing your cool at home or work may differ, it’s still going to affect your effectiveness. Things can happen that upset you but giving your emotions power distorts reality and leads to less than ideal choices.
- Avoid impulsive decisions. Applying the brakes suddenly can cause a rear wheel skid or send you over the handlebars, depending on which brake you hammer on. There are times when you must come to a quick stop but they shouldn’t happen often if you’re paying attention. Likewise in life. Sure things happen that are outside of your control, but being forced to stop abruptly on a regular basis is disruptive, energy-draining and slows your progress.
- Accelerate smoothly. Pinning the throttle on take-off sets you up for trouble. While you may get away with it, you may not have time to react when the unexpected pops out in front of you. Going faster than your resources or skills support will eventually land you in trouble, on your bike or in life.
- Monitor your tread Worn out tires won’t grab the road, especially if the surface is already slick. The only solution if you wish to continue is to have them replaced. The same applies to you. Everyone needs a break and time for a recharge to remain effective and reach their destination.
Losing traction can have significant consequences whether you’re riding your motorcycle or motoring through life. Learn to be more effective by first developing the skills you need, then making appropriate choices which keep you from skidding out of control.
What other actions cause loss of traction?