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Victim of Circumstances

While taking a comfort stop at a wayside during a day long putt, I met a guy admiring my ride. “I used to ride,” he said. “But one day I found myself between two semis and asked ‘What the hell am I doing here?’”

He asked the right question - what was he doing there? His view of the situation, however, was that of the victim. He felt powerless between those two big rigs. I would probably feel powerless in that situation, too.

"We are much too vulnerable on a motorcycle to leave our safety to chance."

But he didn’t get there without his permission. He had a choice in the matter whether he realized it or not. He wasn’t the poor victim in a world beyond his control.

We are much too vulnerable on a motorcycle to leave our safety to chance. We simply can’t afford to ride with a poor victim’s attitude. We must take control of our destiny when we ride.

We can’t control the situation other vehicles place us in, but we can - and must - control our response to that situation. Riding with control means accepting responsibility for our own safety and keeping a handle on the situation.

What could my new friend have done to avoid placing himself in jeopardy between these two trucks? How could he have managed the road better to increase his margin of safety?

Obviously he was on a three (or more) lane road. Clearly he had no control over when the truck on his left was going to pass him. But he could control where he was when it passed him. He didn’t have to be passing the truck on his right when the one on his left overtook him.

By slowing down until the faster truck passed him, he would have had an out to his right if needed. By passing the truck on his right after being passed, he would have maintained an out on his left while passing the slower truck. This timing would provide a “cushion of space” on at least one side for an emergency.

If he was being passed by both trucks at the same time, maybe he didn’t belong in the middle lane. In most states, slower traffic should be in the right lane. Maybe he didn’t see the truck approaching on his right. But then was he watching his mirrors? Regardless of the circumstances, he apparently chose to give up his margin of safety.

We can’t control when we are passed on the highway, but we can control where we are. If we are in the left lane, we may want to wait to pass that vehicle until we are past that narrow overpass with no shoulder. If we’re in the right lane, we may want to slow down to let that approaching vehicle pass us before we get to that narrow overpass.

Maintaining a space cushion gives us an out. This “safety valve” can make all the difference in the world. We may not be able to control the situation, but we can control how we handle it. The choice is ours.

Everyone else may be in a hurry, but aren’t we out there to enjoy the ride? If it takes a little longer for us to get to where we’re going, that just means we get more ride time.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!