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A Bad Apple

The evenings are getting cooler as the signs of fall begin to foretell the impending harvest season. The apple trees in the orchards are heavy with their fruit; their branches sagging with deep red orbs. There’s nothing better than biting into the crunchy flesh of one freshly picked although the taste and aroma of a fresh from the oven apple pie might be a worthy challenger.

A firm, crisp apple is a tasty pleasure to eat, but a good apple needs to be fresh and juicy. Yet it’s amazing how quickly a good apple can begin to rot. I picked up a nice looking apple at the store the other day and was surprised to find the back of it was brown and soft. Nobody purposely set it out with a bad spot on it. Nobody planned on it rotting as it sat there waiting for me to pick it up. But it was a bad apple none the less

So it is with our riding skills. They can start to rot just like that apple did and just as quickly. The bad thing is that as our skills deteriorate, we may not even notice it because there may not be any visual indicators to alert us. None of us consciously makes a plan to let our skills decline yet that’s exactly what can happen if we’re not careful. Like the apple, when you’re green you grow, but when you’re not you rot.

Maybe we’ve become so comfortable with our riding that we don’t realize that we’ve started following vehicles more closely than we did before. We know that more room ahead gives us the time we need to respond to situations as they develop in front of us. But we aren’t even a ware that we have slowly reduced our following distance and are now riding closer to other traffic. And a brown spot appears on the apple.

We used to carefully assess curves as we approached them to ensure we entered them at the appropriate speed that gave us a little margin of safety in case something unexpected popped up part way through the turn. We’ve never experienced any such situation and now our entry speeds have increased to the point where we might even feel uncomfortable at times. And a soft spot appears on the apple.

Perhaps we’ve gotten lax in our scanning as we near an intersection. We used to keep our eyes on all the vehicles until we were past them, but now when we believe they’ve stopped we just expect them to stay put. Hopefully they will, but are we ready if they don’t? Maybe we’ve become a bit overconfident with our riding skills and are willing to take more chances than we might be able to handle. And the apple starts to rot.

What about our seldom used skills like swerving and stopping quickly? Hopefully we won’t need these techniques very often, but when we do they need to be sharp and ready for action. We could be in big trouble if they’re not automatic when we need them so purposeful practice of these maneuvers is very important.

By regularly assessing our skills and continuing to make them even better, we can avoid our apples from becoming mushy in spots.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!