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Thread: Help for a Nervous Rider

  1. #1
    Registered User ExGMan's Avatar
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    Help for a Nervous Rider

    I have a friend with whom I ride occasionally. We wander around two-lane roads in our area. Some of these trips get to 150 miles round-trip. At times we run into some significant congestion and could speed up our trips a lot by just taking an interstate (slab) highway or something similar for a few miles around the congestion.

    He has expressed strong nervousness about venturing out on such roads. I haven't been able to get him to talk about what bothers him. I'm wondering if anyone has encountered a similar attitude on the part of a rider, and what techniques might have worked to overcome the rider's nervousness.

    TIA - John
    John Gamel - BMW MOA Consumer Liaison 2018-Present
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  2. #2
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    Might want to let them know that most highways are considered “controlled access”. This limits things like a ball rolling into the road, people backing out of their driveways, people turning on red and the like.
    Highways do have their own problems but with more space to maneuver, the risks are more easily planed for.
    OM
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  3. #3
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    As OM stated above, interstates are statistically safer roads than most others. However, your friend's behavior may not be related to anything logical or sensible. I had a riding buddy that displayed similar riding styles and it was really annoying to ride with him. I tried every single thing i could think of, explained all the ways we could be safe and comfortable in heavier traffic ... nothing worked with him. In the end, I just quit riding with him.

    Good luck.
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  4. #4
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    Can't help with a suggestion. But I definitely feel safer riding on highways than in my urban neighborhoods. Fewer variables to contend with.

    What sort of bike is he riding? Same as you, or something that may not seem as highway-capable to him?

  5. #5
    I hate Interstate highways but do recognize that they are occasionally useful. One recent summer we rode over 10,000 touring miles of which 7 or 8 miles was on an Interstate. I ride almost exclusively west of the Mississippi River, and mostly in the Great Plains or Mountain West so don't really know the dynamics of traffic where you live/ride. That said, my suggestion would be to think about when a local Interstate highway might have minimal traffic and less chaos. Then pick a short stretch to get on and get off just for practice.

    I do have to tell a tale of a trip I was on. We had been at an RA rally in West Virginia (I think) and were headed to Dave Swisher's house near Bowling Green, Virginia to borrow his lift and some tools to work on Voni's bike. We got on I-95 well south of DC, intending to go about 30 miles and then get off and ride east to Dave's house. Traffic was 3 or 4 lanes wide, bumper to bumper, brake lights continuously flashing as tailgaters had to back off, all running between 75 and 80 mph. My nerve lasted exactly 2 miles to the next exit. I got out of that mess and took lovely two-lane roads in a south and east weave and bob to Dave's house.
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  6. #6
    Registered User ExGMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vark View Post
    Can't help with a suggestion. But I definitely feel safer riding on highways than in my urban neighborhoods. Fewer variables to contend with.

    What sort of bike is he riding? Same as you, or something that may not seem as highway-capable to him?
    Thanks to all for reading the post and offering suggestions. My friend is a guy who decided to get a H-D Road King, and has about 3 years riding it now. I have taken him on smaller, twisty roads, and he's nervous there too. I have ridden behind him and he's on the brakes a lot, so perhaps he's just generally nervous.

    I've suggested that he and I take a Ken Condon one-day on-road training course. Having taken one of these with Ken a few years ago, I'm ready for a re-fresh and perhaps it could up my pal's confidence level.
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  7. #7
    New_AlaBeemer HSVPhil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExGMan View Post
    I've suggested that he and I take a Ken Condon one-day on-road training course. Having taken one of these with Ken a few years ago, I'm ready for a re-fresh and perhaps it could up my pal's confidence level.
    We've also done Ken's parking lot skills course. It was slow, inside a business' lot, and well-coached (by Ken & has experienced daughter). This is where your nervous HD chum needs to start!!! He needs to learn how to master his Big Hunk of American Iron before getting Ken's coaching advice through an earpiece. Do Not Let him say No! He's a hazard to himself and to the rest of the community!

    Just my 2 cents; worth every penny!
    Ciao! HSV-Phil.

  8. #8
    Sometimes, the bike people choose is just too damned big for them to ride with mediocre skills. Confidence in his riding ability and handling of that heavy machine is holding him back.
    The lion does not even bother to turn his head when he hears the small dog barking.

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  9. #9
    Training and experience... you know the answer.
    (Meaningful repetition)
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  10. #10
    Registered User ExGMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HSVPhil View Post
    We've also done Ken's parking lot skills course. It was slow, inside a business' lot, and well-coached (by Ken & has experienced daughter). This is where your nervous HD chum needs to start!!! He needs to learn how to master his Big Hunk of American Iron before getting Ken's coaching advice through an earpiece. Do Not Let him say No! He's a hazard to himself and to the rest of the community!

    Just my 2 cents; worth every penny!
    Ciao! HSV-Phil.
    I did the one-day course with Ken. We had a small piece in a parking lot, but then spent most of the day in the little roads out in his area of MA, including the summit road to Mt. Greylock. The lane-positioning work and the discipline of looking ahead were priceless.
    John Gamel - BMW MOA Consumer Liaison 2018-Present
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  11. #11
    I’ve heard it said once (maybe more than once by now) that the best farckle you can buy for your bike that will enhance your riding pleasure is training. Your friend’s trepidation in certain riding situations lends itself to this axiom.
    R. Reece Mullins Ebony R1200RT (Gretchen)
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  12. #12
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Fear of interstates isn't that unusual. A lot of people don't like the proximity to large trucks and the speed.

    Relative to the rider in question, what kind of bikes did he have before the Road King? In my area, I see lots of cruisers that struggle to negotiate a curve or turn. I've also seen (many) new riders come to the BRC after buying a small HD starter bike like an Iron 883. It's great they bought a "small" bike, but it's 20-lbs heavier than my R1200RS.
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  13. #13
    I am a pretty new rider who has recently gained confidence on the interstate after being pretty scared at first. It turned out that my cheap helmet and too-short windscreen were the things making the higher speeds scary.

    The windscreen was causing all kinds of buffeting and I couldn't turn my head to do a lane change without feeling like my head was going to get ripped off my neck.

    I took off the windscreen and replaced my cheap helmet with a Shoei GT-Air. Now, riding the higher speeds of the interstate feels pretty much the same as the slower two lane blacktops.

    I still like the scenery better on the smaller roads, but the speed and convenience of the interstates is hard to beat.

  14. #14
    IBA# 5819 61996's Avatar
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    @ExGMan: Your friend probably shouldn't be riding a motorcycle.
    Just sayin...

    Joe
    “Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You cannot withstand the storm.'
    The warrior whispers back, 'I am the storm.'

  15. #15
    Registered User ExGMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    Fear of interstates isn't that unusual. A lot of people don't like the proximity to large trucks and the speed.

    Relative to the rider in question, what kind of bikes did he have before the Road King? In my area, I see lots of cruisers that struggle to negotiate a curve or turn. I've also seen (many) new riders come to the BRC after buying a small HD starter bike like an Iron 883. It's great they bought a "small" bike, but it's 20-lbs heavier than my R1200RS.
    I think the Road King is his first motorcycle.
    John Gamel - BMW MOA Consumer Liaison 2018-Present
    2015 Ebony Metallic R1200RT
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