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Playing the Game

In his book Map of Bones James Rollins writes, "When matters of national security were involved, there was no second place, no silver medal, no runner up." Many might extend that concept to the sports world as well. Some coaches have been heard to tell their players that there is no second place. Second place is the first loser.

How many times have you seen this philosophy applied to motorcycling? We've probably all seen riders rushing past us to be first at the next traffic light or darting across lanes to get around other traffic in an attempt to get to their destination first. Perhaps we've watched riders roll on the throttle to ensure they get through an intersection before the light turns red. Beating the light might be a win in their mind, but what was the increased risk to garner that victory?

Please don't misunderstand my thinking here. Winning is important when we're riding. It's just a different kind of win we're looking to achieve. Being the fastest rider to get to the destination doesn't necessarily indicate the winner unless it's a formal competition at a track. It's not about getting somewhere first. It's about survival.

The two kinds of winning do share some commonalities. Coming in first in a race or scoring the most points in a game, requires a good strategy. Racers talk about pit strategies and hitting their marks on the track. Football teams focus on ways to keep the opponents top players from enhancing their statistics. Winning our race requires a solid strategy as well.

Our strategy must include a means of identifying potential problems and quickly prioritizing them so we can focus on the most serious threats to our ride. Then we have to determine what actions we will take to neutralize our adversary and reduce the risks we face. Finally we need to act on our decision by adjusting our speed or changing our position to avoid the problem.

Having a strategy, regardless of how well designed it is, is not enough. Our strategy must be consciously and consistently applied as we engage our rival. We've got to be ready for anything we come across as we share the road with other traffic. We can't control what other drivers do nor do we have power over the condition of the road, but we can have a strategy to deal with whatever hazards we see looming ahead.

If the predicted threat doesn't materialize - BONUS! But if it does, we're better prepared to handle it and minimize its effect on our ride. Maybe we were concerned that car ahead was going to turn left in front of us and we moved to the right to give us more time and space to react and the driver waited for us. Perhaps we truly evaluated the upcoming curve to determine an appropriate entry speed and path of travel. Then we experienced a feeling of comfort as we glided through it with control as we executed our decision.

Taking liberty with Rollins' words, when matters of motorcycle safety are involved, there is no second place, no silver medal, no runner up. It's up to us to have a well defined strategy to deal with the ever changing situations we encounter as we ride and the desire and motivation to utilize the techniques to execute our strategy. Winning is at hand if we're willing to work for it.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!