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Letting the Cat Out

An old farmer's piece of wisdom says "Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in." Anyone who has ever tried to put a cat anywhere may well appreciate this witticism. Even if the bag is a pet carrier, getting some cats into it can be challenging without a lot of hissing, scratching and fighting.

We may have figuratively let the cat out of the bag by sharing something that wasn't meant to be heard by others. We most likely found very quickly that it was impossible to stop the story from spreading. Maybe something came out of our mouth that revealed our true feelings when we really didn't intend to let them be known and we couldn't suck the words back in no matter how hard we tried. The damage was already done and we had to work extra hard to make amends and repair the relationship.'

So what do cats have to do with riding a motorcycle? As the farmer's advice implies, it's easier to deal with the cat if it stays in the bag. Things get much tougher once the cat is loose. So it is with riding. It's a whole lot easier to stay out of trouble than it is to get out of trouble.

We all realize that riding a motorcycle has inherent risks because we have more vulnerability, less stability and less visibility than other vehicles. If we can mitigate the risks we face while tooling down the road, we might be able to avoid getting caught up in a nerve wracking close call or a ride-ending crash. Recognizing that our bag has some holes, our goal is still to keep as many risks wrapped up in it as possible.

A strong mental riding strategy that allows us to focus as far ahead as possible is a good starting point. Seeing things develop early allows us to change our speed and position to minimize the potential threat to our ride. We still need to keep our eyes moving to get the overall big picture because we can't afford to ignore what's behind us or to our sides either. The sooner we can see a problem, the easier it will be to make sure it doesn't affect us.

Adopting a riding position that allows us to see more clearly and to be seen more easily by others will further our efforts to keep those cats in the bag. Where that location is on the road will vary depending on the current conditions, but our thought should always be on what we can see and how we appear to others. Thinking about what other drivers might see as they look toward us can help us place ourselves for maximum visibility for both them and us.

Accepting a larger share of the responsibility for our safety on the road can go a long way in helping us avoid trouble and the problems others may cause for us. Riding within the limits of our environment, the limits of our bike and the limits of our own capabilities can help us further contain those cats. We just need to remember that, like not letting the cat out of the bag, avoiding trouble is a whole lot easier than dealing with a problem once we're caught up in it.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!