Please help me with an attitude check

FB400

Super Member
Hey all -
quick summary of my experience leading me this far
. in my 7th season, ~36,000 miles of riding experience, two 10+day trips and one shorter trip (camping 3 days) under my belt.
. I commute very occasionally but since I must travel from Long Island through 2 of the 5 NYC boroughs. It's a bad idea but I do this 2 to 5 times a year anyway. sometimes it is find but there are reminders of how dangerous it is almost each time.
. My riding style - I tend to ride a little fast - I am talking under 70 with bursts above that with conviction to motor away from cars. to just keep up with traffic often times means 70+mph. when ever possible I utilize the HOV lane for safety of a law prohibiting lane changes into or out of it except in designated sections.
. I kind of hate driving my car in this metro area and have lived here my whole life. Motorists are seldom nice and driving is often a very rude experience. I tend to drive slower and stay the hell out of people's way. I only drive in the left lane when I am willing to drive a bit faster. Motorists here will tailgate me no matter what lane I am in and I tend to just let it roll right off and I maintain a polite distance to the car in front me. besides they are so impatient and act like lab rats with predictable results in that they wouldn't stay behind me more than a few seconds if that.

-> Anyhow, I have started to slow it down on the bike. I figure it is time to get back to basics and if I could find the advanced MSF course being given I would sign up for it but I have inquired at least twice and there is never enough demand for it.

-> I went for my favorite ride last evening from the North Shore of Long Island down to Jones Beach on the south shore. I have done this ride 100+ times in 7 years, no exaggeration. I rode last night like my life depended on every move, essentially with the caution of a newbie but with the skill of an advanced rider.

A few observations and a story
1. when not moving the usual pace - faster than cars, motorists will come up along side you to get a look at you. I am made extremely uncomfortable by this. Thankfully it was a fiat and not a large SUV or pickup truck.
2. On the way home after I had made a safe journey of 50+ miles and was ~6 miles from home. I had planned a stop at Dunkin Donuts along the way for a snack and coffee before heading home to my wife. I kept the speed very moderate and even kept out of the left lane (a tertiary road where the speed limit is 55).
3. At one point along comes chugging along pretty fast a Jeep Wrangler or similar with is brights on in the right lane. No biggie I thought he is going to pass.. but he didn't he just stops and paces me for a few seconds and this scares the **** out of me. i stay calm and do not look over, apply throttle and get the hell out of there. there is not chase or anything but I am like WTF just happened and why now.. never before in 7 seasons...

He went ahead and that was fine, I was glad to have him where I could see him and not have to wonder what he was contemplating behind me. I was pretty pissed and couldn't resist giving him about a 10 second immersion HID high beams! we came to a light 20 seconds later where there would be a merge to 1 lane about 1000 feet away. when the light turned green we both accelerated slowly for a good bit when the light turned green and after 5 seconds I moved ahead and there was no contest. there was no further incident but like the snakebite where the venom stays after the bite means I have been replaying this event in my mind over and over since last night

-> I can only surmise that motorists generally cannot get close enough to look at motorcycles while in operation, or at least not a sport or near sport bike. so some cannot resist the opportunity to get a look at a bike not moving fast. I have a couple things that could attract attention front and back, namely the Hyperlites and also the HID projector headlights (aimed politely by the way)

-> I intend here to solicit advice from you all. I don't believe you ever have too much experience to stop learning

Sorry about the long post and for those that got all the way here thanks!! I don't post much but this one feels very important

Thank you
Tom
 
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kenh

Ride Like Your Invisible!
Premium Member
I am not sure there is anything wrong with the way you are perceiving these traffic situations. The Northeast has been plagued by groups of riders on motorcycles and atv's that have little respect for law enforcement - even when they travelling next to them. I wish I understood why they can't seem to get a handle on these folks. When watching them stunting I always think it is just a matter of time before they hurt themselves or someone else. They are seldom wearing any gear and I'm unsure of their level of insurance coverage. In your region of the country, it may be that motorists want to see if you are one of these outlaws and maybe you would wheelie or something, but I think people in general usually look over if there is a motorcycle next to them. I know that I do.
My normal riding style is not too dissimilar to yours. I usually obey posted speed limits and then nail once in while for fun. Above all, you must remain alert while riding and never lose sight of your vulnerability on the road. I generally try to avoid riding next to any vehicle for any period of time as I have had people move over on me. I took the advanced MSF course a couple of years ago and found it very worthwhile, it's a shame it is not offered in your area. The bottom line is we ride for the enjoyment of the riding experience, so relax and enjoy it! But don't forget to check your mirrors. :thumbup:
 

FB400

Super Member
yes, it is true those F'ing dickweeds from NYC are all over the news.. they run rampant like ****roaches and are a problem to everyone and people are afraid of them with good reason.

I am talking North Shore Long Island here. A very high per capita income and a higher level of middle class living than other locales in NY.

I am not trying to totally solve this in my head but what I would like is some pointers on how to deal with this or a similiar situation while on the bike. '

Thanks!
 

ShoopCE

Elite Member
Site Supporter
Tom,

First, keep trying to get into the ARC. For me it took several attempts over almost three years. Then last month I was in a session that maxed out at the 12 rider limit. I think most centers will run one if they have 6. I found it to be very good practice for stops and swerves, etc. The ARC is not about going faster but about being more safe. I think the best parts are the chin over wrist (COW) technique and emphasis on looking ahead and seeking a path out of danger, but I've heard and read about those before, probably largely on here from MSF coaches. Another good concept was about increasing both skills and perception of risk. The result is you can operate farther away from the 'barely able to control' situations, by seeing a possible bad situation and slowing down or changing paths, or just leaning harder. Just keep trying and some day you'll get in a session.

On the situation with the Jeep, I agree that NYC drivers are pretty intensely aggressive. Worst I've seen. (I haven't driven or ridden in Boston, but I hear it might be worse there.) I suspect You're right that the Jeep driver was mostly curious and maybe a bit of a jerk. But he didn't get flat out aggressive and he didn't escalate things.

I rode for 13 years then stopped for 25 years (kids, job, etc.) and then got my FZ6 almost three years ago. I feel that most of the rust is off now and I'm pretty comfortable.

I think your approach of using speed when necessary and of riding defensively in general is a good one and is pretty common amongst capable riders (I did not say mature). But you must mistrust cars and trucks. Too often they really don't see you or you don't register. But when they obviously do see you, and they act weird, well you just have to be careful. I live in WV and about one in ten pickup trucks will make a point of revving their engines to show me how loud their mufflers are. Wow...

So, my advice is to add that one to the list of things that you've seen, and keep learning. Stay very aware of your surroundings and don't contribute to escalation - though it can be tough.

Sometime you must visit San Diego. I drove and rode there last fall. The drivers, especially in traffic, are generally nice and will make space for you if you have to merge over. Honest! I'm sure they have some jerks there too, but the general attitude is the opposite of aggressive. Ask Motogiro.

Good luck Buddy, but ride smart!

Chris
 

TownsendsFJR1300

2007 FZ6
Site Supporter
I'm from LI many moons ago and dealt with that traffic WAY back then.

Down here, its busy as heck, not quite as rude as up there, but a bunch of road rage.

I try to ride just under 10 over the speed limit most of the time, (and try to stay ahead of traffic if possible).
If I can do so in the slow lane (right), I do so and will move over if its clear.. 10 and under, the Police
won't bother you.

For the left lane, I consider that the "passing lane". Some folks down here will be the "speed police" and barely
do the speed limit in that lane just to slow everyone down. That pisses most everyone off (including myself).

If someone comes flying up behind me, I'll simply get out of their way. The further away they get the better.

Now if their staying on your butt (being an a$$hat), its not difficult to loose them with some throttle and lane changes...

Keep in mind, the cage will win if contact happens AND more importantly, with all the wacko's out there, you don't
know who's carrying a gun, and their mental condition/sober/high, etc...
 

VEGASRIDER

100K Mile Member
Elite Member
Site Supporter
The fact that you've now been riding for almost 7 seasons in Long Island speaks for itself. LI, and the New York Burroughs and the entire NE region is a very challenging area to ride. So congested and the surface conditions are not the best. You might consider filming your rides. I recently started myself, I purchased a Mobius HD Camera for 75 bucks, set it on loop recording on 5 minute clips.
 

terry_b

New Member
I try to ride just under 10 over the speed limit most of the time, (and try to stay ahead of traffic if possible).
If I can do so in the slow lane (right), I do so and will move over if its clear.. 10 and under, the Police
won't bother you.

For the left lane, I consider that the "passing lane". Some folks down here will be the "speed police" and barely
do the speed limit in that lane just to slow everyone down. That pisses most everyone off (including myself)

...
This is exactly how I ride - and drive for that matter.

I drive in what some would call an "aggressive" manner - being that I drive a high performance vehicle and operate under the +10 rule. In reality, I know I'm 10x more alert and engaged than 95% of the other drivers I encounter, and I know when I have the right-of-way and when I don't, and I drive with purpose if that makes sense. Basically I don't treat my commute as another part of my boring cubicle life (I don't actually work in a cubicle) and just sort of passively get where I'm going - I take an active role in what I'm doing and I make an effort to get where I'm going... with a little added fun, if my surroundings are acceptable. I drive a cool car and I actually enjoy the act of driving - if time/money allowed, I would be at live at the track. Most people just zone out in their cars and nothing scares me more on the bike than that zombie driving face.

On the bike, I ride similarly, but much more guarded. I still use the +10 rule, and actively pass slow people. I still know when I have the right-of-way but I definitely don't trust the other guy to know so I don't push it like I would in a car. As my wife can attest, I'm very lax with stop signs and actually stopping - I tend to perform the old "california stop" rather than stop completely if I have good visibility. Some would say this is risky, but it keeps me moving and if I'm moving I'm in control. I've been rear-ended before, and that feeling of seeing the approaching bumper in your mirror knowing it's too late is pretty awful. I would love to take the ARC, being that I never had a proper MSF course in the first place (I bought my first CBR at 16 and learned the hard way, then passed the skills assessment), it most certainly would help. I've been riding 10+ years now but I know I could certainly use improvement.

I'm also of the "A great rider anticipates and avoids, an OK rider reacts" school of thought. I simply assume at each intersection/lane change/traffic circle/merge lane that every driver wants to kill me and try to put myself in the safest place I can. I have definitely noticed that commuting regularly and longer distances does give me a bit more awareness than my friends who are weekend riders only. To me, awareness is the single best skill one can have, on and off the bike.

I also notice a lot of people checking me out on the bike... I imagine it's curiousity, and admittedly I give bikers a glance going by in the car as well. Usually I'm contemplating how that Harley guy can be so angry at the road, or how far that adventure rider has traveled. I just shake my head at the GSXR guys in T-shirts and sunglasses as they fly by.

I've been road raged at before - de-escalation and GTFO are my go-to strategies for handling that. Also a good chance to stop to stretch and grab some coffee to calm nerves. You really don't know someone else's state of mind so I just get away from it completely.

I'm curious. is the Northeast really a more challenging area to ride in? I avoid the major cities like the plague but I do enjoy the back roads here.
 

gbose

New Member
FB400,

I've been guilty of driving beside a motorcycle to check it out. I remember the first time I saw a Honda Valkyrie -- I drove next to him for at least 5 minutes! I didn't intend to be threatening, just admiring the monster bike:D. I do usually wave to the rider or give them a thumbs-up if it's a specially nice bike.

So thanks for alerting us to this -- hadn't realized my behavior could cause discomfort.

GB
 

FB400

Super Member
Hey all - thanks all for the very helpful responses. I have had some time to think about this short sequence of events and have returned to a normal baseline. When analyzing how that sequence of events went down there wasn't anything inherently super scary about the outcome so that is good. At the core of it - to come charging up on a motorcycle while driving a Jeep Wrangler - btw this is a car that should be on a motorcyclist watch list as one that can and often is notoriously driven in maverick style by young people.. folks not good!! And then to not pass the motorcyclist and pace him while on a dark road.. was quite unnerving. was I really pissed off as I stated..not quite so much but yeah.. let's put that at a 3 or 4 on a 1 to 10 scale. Cooler heads prevailed on both ends. I think I know now the driver meant no harm.. but he was a total numbskull in terms of appropriate behavior behind the wheel and how his actions could affect the guy riding the bike he sped up to check out. and what the hell is there to see in the dark on a road with very little light?

[MENTION=11499]kenh[/MENTION] - you cannot classify all of the Northeast the way you have or I guess I could put it you have and you really shouldn't. there are gorgeous roads and routes and beautiful places all up and down the Northeast corridor. sounds like it is spoken from someone who has never been here. it's not fair the way you described it whether you intended it that way or not. but I do want to thank you just the same for responding. My only trip to Michigan was for a short business trip to Detroit. I happen to know the highways are nice and people were friendly to me and yes some horrendous areas to stay far away from, as is with any urban center. I wouldn't project anything about lesser Detroit to the entire state much less the entire midwest region. it's a tiny microcosm of the state and therefore would be shortsighted to form a false conclusion on the sample size I had.

[MENTION=24625]ShoopCE[/MENTION] - For sure the ARC is on my list of to-do's and has been for several years. I have grown frustrated asking Trama's Auto School (the only local chapter doing the MSF classes here) and finding out no demand for the course. Not Trama's fault but just sayin... they could advertise and generate interest but I haven't seen anything. On NYC drivers.. when we ride as a group with 3 or 4 no issues. we have passed through Manhattan on the way going places and really no issue. it's the asshats making the news that has really dinged sport riders reputation in this metro area and there are those here that deserve to be shoehorned into that dubious classification. And yeah those guys in pickup trucks with something stupid to prove.. I will reserve further comment!

[MENTION=3182]Scott[/MENTION] - yes, I remember messages from you about having lived on LI until a certain age. Weren't you a Suffolk LEO? Anyhow those same "speed police" here would get run off the road. I am all in favor of keeping the speed moderate but for Christ's sake choose the appropriate lane and traffic conditions to act like a boy scout behind the wheel of your vehicle!

[MENTION=9368]vegas[/MENTION] - you are the guy I have known the longest on the forum much in part due to you being an MSF instructor. indeed for sure surface conditions are challenging but we are all pretty used to it. there are times in early spring the smart money is on not riding at all until at least some of the potholes left from the winter are repaired. I was trying to get away from the need to film my ride but this is good advice and I will consider doing just that

[MENTION=26885]terry_b[/MENTION] - there's no room for aggressive riding per se but I think probably what you are describing is good keen instinct for a biker to have - I have your point. "Aggressive" just rings a negative tone especially in these parts with those NYC clowns getting headlines. I agree with what you're saying about techniques for avoidance of problems - this is very high quality input. thank you

[MENTION=27741]gbose[/MENTION] you feel guilty? try and limit the use of that word and save it for when you actually did something wrong, hurt somebody or the like . about checking out a bike in your car? stop it dude!! we've all done it. It's part of the reason we all wanted a motorcycle in the first place!
it's just the manner of how it is done... broad daylight? good? other cars around like on a busy highway? good? At a stoplight? like Duh of course! good. while driving your car responsibly? also good, etc
 
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kenh

Ride Like Your Invisible!
Premium Member
FWIW, I have taken a trip or two out east and I love that part of the country. I wasn't intending to generalize at all. In most cases it's the 2 or 3% that give cities a bad rep. I am glad to hear that you sorted things out.

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
 

TownsendsFJR1300

2007 FZ6
Site Supporter
Hey all - thanks all for the very helpful responses. I have had some time to think about this short sequence of events and have returned to a normal baseline. When analyzing how that sequence of events went down there wasn't anything inherently super scary about the outcome so that is good. At the core of it - to come charging up on a motorcycle while driving a Jeep Wrangler - btw this is a car that should be on a motorcyclist watch list as one that can and often is notoriously driven in maverick style by young people.. folks not good!! And then to not pass the motorcyclist and pace him while on a dark road.. was quite unnerving. was I really pissed off as I stated..not quite so much but yeah.. let's put that at a 3 or 4 on a 1 to 10 scale. Cooler heads prevailed on both ends. I think I know now the driver meant no harm.. but he was a total numbskull in terms of appropriate behavior behind the wheel and how his actions could affect the guy riding the bike he sped up to check out. and what the hell is there to see in the dark on a road with very little light?


[MENTION=3182]Scott[/MENTION] - yes, I remember messages from you about having lived on LI until a certain age. Weren't you a Suffolk LEO? Anyhow those same "speed police" here would get run off the road. I am all in favor of keeping the speed moderate but for Christ's sake choose the appropriate lane and traffic conditions to act like a boy scout behind the wheel of your vehicle!
I'm from Brentwood in Suffolk County and moved down here when I was 19 yoa, 57 now...

I did have a really bad MC wreck in 1977 up there and almost died from a driver turning left in front of me.

My 25 years of being a Police Officer was down here in Ft Myers (city).. I worked MANY wrecks including
motorcycles, deaths and can safely say I've seen it all.

Somewhat related, in one case, a car and (as I re-call a G0ldwing) bike got into a road rage and both pulled over to meet.
I forgot who started it, but the driver of the car ended up knocking the bike over (while parked). So there was never
a wreck, now we have a criminal mischief.. Bottom line, two hot heads meet, instead of one person acting the adult
and just avoiding the situation..
 
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payneib

Member
I appreciate I have no experience of your local area, but I have put 40,000 miles in in three years, so have seen some fairly wierd behaviour from people on the roads.

I think my most important point has already been covered, but when you can, keep moving. Especially on mulitlane traffic. Keep your head on a swivel, and look for bad situations. Think to yourself: "Am I in a blind spot?" "Has that guy been husseling through traffic?" "How distracted is that driver?" "What's going on with the lane weaving!" And just move accordingly. Speed up, slow down. Change lanes. Weave. Just avoid the bad situations. Your bike is more nimble, and gives you a better view of what's around you than any car. Use it.

As for people having a look, or seeming to. Be nice. Wave. Give them a little nod maybe. Then get on with playing your own game. Keep a look out. Do all the stuff that I mentioned above. Just relax and enjoy your ride.

My only criticism could possibly be that you need to ride more. You've done a lot of years, but actual days in the saddle seems spaced out, infrequent. More time on the bike will help normalise the riding habits. It'll also help normalise the reactions of others around you, especially on the commute where people tend to see the same vehicles on the road day in day out. This is where "being nice" comes in really handy. People will remember the bike that waved to say thank you. That backed off slightly so they could change lanes. That waited with an indicator on to make sure they didn't pull out on them. And after a few weeks of seeing you do that every day, they start returning the favour.

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dschult2

Junior Member
When in doubt, throttle out! I probably wouldn't of put my high beams on him either, that's not going to fix anything and just piss him off. Just get yourself out of the situation asap.
 

Monica A

Junior Member
When in doubt, throttle out! I probably wouldn't of put my high beams on him either, that's not going to fix anything and just piss him off. Just get yourself out of the situation asap.
Good advice. No point in trying to be right. Irate car driver vs. irate bike rider - the car will win. Don't even try it. The rider wins when he/she arrives to their destination safely.

I had a road rage incident in my car once. The feelings of rage were overwhelming. I don't normally get angry when people are stupid. I don't know what got me so angry this time (maybe not enough coffee that morning). I did a brake check on the chick behind me and she backed off. It took me an hour to calm down. I probably wasn't a very happy, friendly teacher that day. lol I don't want to experience that again - ever.
 
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