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New England



Riding Safety:
Paying attention to your state of mind


By Bob Fesmire



I have this thing I do when I get on the bike.  I stop and take an inventory of how I am feeling Ėam I OK to ride, is my mind in the present?  Then I remind myself that I am on a bike - that I need to focus on riding.  It may take several seconds but itís a safety habit Iíve developed.


This morning I did this little routine.  My mind was racing though Ė thinking about NER, work, business travel and how long it would be before I had to cut the grass again.  I was asking myself how I felt but not paying attention to the answer.  I made my mind focus for a moment on riding but it was racing again within five feet of forward motion.


And why does this all matter?


They repaved my road a week ago.  The rains came; they didnít finish the job, and so there is a three-inch ridge from my driveway to the roadway.  No big deal, just take it at 90 degrees, get the back wheel over the ridge then lay the bike over and make the turn on this country road.  No big deal, right?


As my mind was filled with other stuff I didnít notice the thin mud track my neighbor laid on the road when he left his unpaved driveway this morning.  Nor did I stop to think that the new pavement might still be giving off some oils.  Or maybe there was some debris I didnít notice because my mind was busy thinking about things other than riding.


That was a mistake.


I pulled out as always, and leaned the bike way over andÖ I donít know what happened Ė oil, mud, debris Ė I donít know, as I wasnít paying attention.  I went down fast.  Actually, it was more like I was thrown to the ground landing on the right side of my hip with the rest of me following and the helmet making a little clunk sound as the force of the fall whipped my head.  Nothing hard mind you, but I was immediately thankful I had a helmet on.  


I stood up, looked for cars coming, took an inventory (all was OK except my side hurt a little).  I realized I had not been looking for hazards on the road. Then it dawned on me that I hadnít been paying attention when I went through my little routine that morning.  At some level I knew I wasnít in the right frame of mind to ride to work, but it just didnít break through the clutter.


A bike looks so sad when it is lying on its side.  It just looks like it hurts to be there.  The engine guards did what they are there for so there wasnít a scratched. 


I righted the bike, turned it around and road it back down my driveway and put it in the garage. I walked out to survey the roadway looking for clues to my fall.  I saw the mud, debris and new pavement and realized it was my state of mind that was at fault.  I took the car to work.


Other than being just a little sore, I am fine and the bike is fine.  Thankfully, I had a ďno costĒ reminder to pay attention to my state of mind before riding.  Iím sure I WILL pay attention the next time I sit on the saddle.