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A Rude Awakening ..

Discussion in 'Your Near Misses - A Place to Vent' started by VCM, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. Sorry .. it's long winded

    After last night, I'm lucky to be sitting here in once piece posting a topic here. And who's fault was it ...... MINE !

    I'm near-sighted. Have been for years. I have glasses for this, but rarely use them apart from long drives at night where I am unfamiliar with the area. This hasn't really been a problem in the past, I couldn't make out street signs, read number plates off vehicles more than 3 car lengths away etc... no biggie. Driving with a GPS helped solved the problem of reading the names of streets etc..

    Riding wasn't too much a problem either .. so I thought!

    Last night, around 6:00pm, I met a few of fellow NR's for a 'twlight' ride. Our destination ..some twisties just north-east of Phillip Island , a 2-3hr round trip. It all started off fairly well, was enjoying the ride. bike was running well .. all was good. As dusk settled upon us, I began having trouble focusing. Overtaking became a more cautious negotiation, oncoming vehicles out of focus were making it difficult to make clear judgements as to when or where to make my move.
    It didn't take long for my fellow riders to dissapear into the distance, but thankfully they had stopped and waited for me before deviating. Finally we hit the twisties. It would be an understatement to admit I do not corner exceptionally well, probably due to the riding I do...I ride daily ... commute to and from work and have not been out on a decent ride since Easter.
    Nothing .. I mean NOTHING prepared me for the RUDE awakening I was about to experience.
    My cornering was ATROCHIOUS !
    My Lines were BAD, my speed ( or lack of ) was pathetic. I felt like I was a 'learner' was again. The rest of the guys were nowhere to be seen as I tried to negotiate my way through what felt like and endless amount of twisties. I didn't know the area, hadn't a clue where I was, nothing but cows, fields and winding roads... darkness was also beginning to suck away at what little light was left. Twice I had to stop and use my mobile in an attempt to contact one of the riders and ask em which way they went.
    I felt like an idiot. At this stage I was STILL dumbfounded as to WHY I rode so poorly. I mean I was worse than I ever had been.
    I finally met up with the small group, feeling inadequate and slightly embarrassed. I felt I was spoling the ride with them having to stop and wait for me to play catch up.
    Ok.. it was time to head back. Again some twisties, but more sweepers this time. Again it didn't take them long to dissapear into the distance. I began to feel bad about not keeping up, and the ride that was meant to be fun had now turned into a not-so-good experience, one which I wanted to end. WHY? .. cause I just realised I was riding BLIND! Everything was out of focus , it was dark, no street lighting, plenty of sweepers and I could barely make out the road let alone up-coming

    corners. I had a few 'FARK' moments but managed to keep on the road.
    Then I saw them up ahead .. 'thank fark' I thought.
    This is where it really HIT me for the first time. There I was riding toward them up ahead when I realised .. ALMOST too late, the road swept off to the LEFT! They had taken a detour OFF the main road through a small gravel section to cut across and meet with the road over the other side. I hit the brakes in time not to make my entrance eventful. However, this meant any vehicle travelling from the opposite direction would have taken me out. This was getting BAD.

    Off we went again, this time one of the guys stuck behind me. I am guessing they had a discussion in my absence and decided it best that someone stick behind me. I was grateful, but again EMBARRASSED. We ended up on a rough stretch of road .. mostly straight so I was feeling better not having to try and GUESS upcoming corners, and focused on the taillamps up ahead.
    I stepped up the pace a little, not wanting to hold them up again, and feeling bad someone had to sit behind me.
    I was doing around 130k, trying to close the gap. THEN .. a POTHOLE...
    I don't know if my firm hold on the grips saved me, but the bike litterally JUMPED and I ended up on the wrong side of the road!!
    I am guessing if I was more relaxed on the grips it may have been worse .... not sure.
    After that incident I backed off.
    Then, as we approached Cranbourne ... 'there was light'. I had never been so happy to see street lighting. What a relief.
    A few kms away from home, the guys made a quick turn into a servo/ cafe .. YEP I missed the turn.
    I should've hung a U turn I guess, but I figured they'd realise being so close to home I'd decided to keep going.
    I've now come to realise the ONLY reason I take SOME corners ok, is the fact that firstly .. I 'know' the corner, secondly .. I almost always take these same corners in daylight.

    When I arrived home, I was SOOO relieved, and even ANGRY. My first thought was dismay at the way I was left by the others in unfamiliar territory .. they way everyone seem to ride like a bat outa hell with no regard for someone who isn't as proficient. This thought quickly dissipated once it hit home that it was ME who was at fault. Riding virtually blind, having to take corners I couldn't see at such a slow pace, trying to make up for lost time in the straights when I still couldn't see shit ( I really should've noticed that huge pothole ).
    Anyway a lesson learned. I'm going to have my eyes re-tested, and see what ( if anything ) can be done about my poor sight at low
    light. I feel bad possibly putting a downer on the ride for the others, but feel even worse putting myself in a situation I may not have come home from. This ride was so BAD for me, I reconsidered my 'riding', and thought perhaps it's time to throw the towel in.
    BUT .. I love to ride, albiet at a relaxed pace, so I guess the H6 is stuck with me for now.
  2. time to update your lights VCM, get some xenon hid's and take the tinted visor off at night :p
  3. Now thats a very scary read.
    I had a mate who told me at night that all the lights merged and he couldnt see any thing.
    I dont ride in his car any more,
    Good to see you are doing some thing about it, Eyes checked. Better glasses.
  4. Hey Vinnie - what you are describing is a very common symptom of myopia, or short-sightedness. You are not at all unusual. In fact, even with corrective lenses my vision at dusk or at night is much, much worse than somebody with normal eyesight. Light from single sources tends to scatter, which means that headlights and streetlights are haloed and street signs become much difficult to read than in daylight.

    The end result is that I am much more careful driving in low light conditions, and even more careful still if I am on a bike. And that is when I am wearing my glasses!

    You definitely don't need to think about packing it in. :) You just need to recognise that you have an optical limitation under certain conditions, and ride with that limitation in mind.
  5. Congratulations Vinnie. You sir need your glasses on when you ride now.

    I have been in the exact situation mate and all your symptoms will be gone when you can see properly. Get your eyes checked. Get some new glasses and ride safer than ever before.
  6. Hi Vinnie. Sorry to hear your side of the story. I was leading the ride. Dave told me that we had 2.5hrs to do it in, and I know I can do that ride in 2hrs non-stop, so I thought we'd be fine.

    I was puzzled as to why you had to stop to ring to ask where we were. No one section was more than fifteen minutes between end to end, and we did stop and wait at each turn-off, as is practise for small group rides. Perhaps I should've made that more clear.

    If your vision is affecting your riding, then you should've said something and we would've accommodated you with someone in front for vision/following, and someone behind for safety.

    With many of the rides I do, everyone just rides at their own pace. In the years I've spent riding, the most accidents occur when people are bunched up in groups and people are trying too hard to keep up with someone else, and are riding outside of their comfort zone. It's for this reason that I break away, to avoid getting hit from behind, and to give anyone following time and space to focus on what they're doing doing, rather than worrying about who's in front or behind them.

    Please, go see an eye specialist and get your vision checked out. Motorcycle riding is ALL about vision.

    Sorry you had a bad time, but you should've said something. We aren't monsters.
  7. Stew .. the fault was with me, no-one else. Yep I should've spoken up earlier but I was trying not to spoil the ride for everyone else or, more importantly, seem like I was making excuses for my poor riding. I really should have realised something some amiss earlier on, when I found it difficult to overtake due to not being able to focus properly on the oncoming traffic.
    I kept saying to myself .. "WTF" ? You ain't good but You can ride better than this! took a while to admit to myself I couldn't see shit, after which my ride only got worse :roll:

    The situation had a good outcome however. It has forced me to face the fact that I have a problem with my vision that MUST be corrected if I am to remain in the land of the living. I may have gotten away with it during the daylight hrs, or even at night in familiar territory, BUT take away familiarity and turn down the lights a tad .. I'm blind as a bat.
    Being able to see clearly and in focus may not automatically make me a great rider, but at least I'd have a fighting chance to improve.
    Anyways, it was good to finally meet you, sorry I didn't take the opportunity to sit and chat with you guys after the ride. Perhaps another day under better circumstances.

    .. what was the other side of the story?
    " Hey.. that Vinnie guy can't ride for shit " :LOL:
  8. Sorry to hear about your ride, but seriously though, it is a road hazard not to wear glasses when you know that it's not safe. That's why it is a "special condition". I too used to have a problem with my eyesight as i did not want to wear glasses, but easily overcame this by wearing contact lenses. I'm assuming near-sighted as in short sighted? Well just wear your glasses everytime you ride, just to be safe.
  9. VCM.....
    You're still here to talk about it, that's what matters most!


  10. lol. Not quite. I was grumbling though, I have to be honest. It certainly redefined my perception of "slow". No offense. Thinking back on it now though, I guess I should've twigged that something was wrong, but even if I had I still don't think I would have asked if something's wrong, for fear that nothing is, and cause offense as a result.

    Still, you're here and you lived through it, and that's the main thing.
  11. Glad to hear you made it out safe the other end. Scarey, well written post. Let us know how you go with the glasses.
  12. i thought there must have been something up, 'cause you're not usually THAT slow, Vinnie!!

    least u made it through and didn't have (or cause) an off. gotta be honest, i was worried when i had 3 missed calls and a voice mail from you, after waiting 5-10min for you to arrive at the first stop.

    all in all, i had a ball. next time, when you have glasses, we'll try it again!

  13. Thanks for the feedback guys. ( and your honesty stew .. I'd be grumbling too ). Your replies have helped me understand a little more about myopia ( Good one Google ! ).

    Dave .. yep I'm a slow rider, and not good at cornering above a passive pace, BUT that was ridiculous. I tried my 10year old prescriptions on this morning, and saw improvement (nothing remarkable however). I'll have my eyes tested next week and see about some new specs.
    At this stage in my life, I doubt very much that I'll ever become any more than a slow-medium paced rider around twisties etc, but I can live with that so long as I never put myself in a situation where I'm riding virtually blind.
    Was a real eye-opener ( pardon the pun ). Thinking back, it was undoubtedly the most foolish, irresponsible and dangerous example of how not to ride I have ever produced... and Yep I was scared shitless.
    You are right stew, I should have opened my mouth and explained what I was experiencing... I guess I was too embarrassed ??? luckily the end result was not physical bruising just a bruised ego and a sense of incompetence.
  14. My hubby absolutely flies through the twisties and for the life of me I just cannot keep up to his speed there. Its best to go at what you feel safe at and ride your own ride, at least you will arrive safely back home again. As for the eyesight, you cant really mess around with poor sight especially when on a bike.......Im sure you will notice a huge improvement if you can see where you are going! (a few weeks ago I had a new visor which fogged up badly during some rain/mist and I could hardly see a thing....so I crawled home but it was a very scary experience, so I know how you felt!)
  15. Well done Vinnie, it takes courage to admit that the something that was wrong was you.
  16. Coupla points about eyes:
    When you get your eyes tested next (soon!) you need to tell the optometrist or ophthalmolgist about this, in detail. Myopia is not the only possible condition that could cause this, and a couple of them can be quite serious. They are usually easily diagnosed if they go to the trouble of doing the simple tests. Treatment is usually effective.

    Also, your night vision is going to deteriorate slowly as you get older. It should not be dramatic (usually), but you will need to adjust your riding to suit. On the plus side, you may possibly become slightly less near-sighted as you get older (after 45).

    If you are myopic, and you get spectacles just for riding, go for a fairly large lens to improve your peripheral vision and reduce distortion.
  17. Great post Vinnie.

    Serious serious topic, but great post.

    Vision is probably one of the most important things in riding. It's the data input you need to get good control outputs. A vision error is usually the last thing before an off.

    Get your eyes checked and corrected, THEN judge your cornering ability.

    You're a thinking rider, I've no doubt that you're cornering skill will correspondingly improve with good vision & time.

  18. First of all Vinnie, I'm glad you arrived home safely and now question the above statement. It astonished me you made that statement. I'm short-sighted (seems to have bottomed out at -2.5 as it has stayed that for the last 5 years) and the last time I was able to drive without wearing glasses was when I was 19 (14 years ago). At that time, I found that without them my judgment of speed was getting worse and it was most certainly much more difficult to make a correct judgment at night time. There is no way I'd contemplate driving/riding without them. Having corrected 20/20 vision with the inconvenience of having to wear specs is much better than putting myself and others in danger.

    Finally, have you considered having laser surgery if you don't want to wear specs? Contact lenses are potentially another option.
  19. Thanks for the advice mate. I probably would not have mentioned this incident and just walked in asking for an eye test and glasses to correct my vision. THANK YOU!

    Could you expand on 'less near-sighted as you get older' ?

    Damn it's awkward enough trying to wear my old glasses under my lid, and they're fairly small lenses. Dave suggested I wear my helmet whilst trying on frames..
  20. I'm hoping my cornering will improve after I have this problem sorted Rob.
    If not, then at least I'll know for sure... I just suck at cornering ](*,)