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My first commute to the city (and Edna's first drop)

Discussion in 'Your Near Misses - A Place to Vent' started by evilsnoofy, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. So I decided to ride to work today for the first time (Beaconsfield to Docklands up the Monash).

    I should have realised when my alarm failed to go off at 5.55am that it was setting the tone for the day, but I really wanted to do it, so I got ready and off I went.

    Stalled it getting out of the garage… great. Turn the first corner out of our street and a yapper off its leash runs out at me. Fantastic.

    Things were not boding well! But I was determined. It felt ace to be on the bike, albeit it a little nerve-wracking being my first commute. It was a nice day, crisp morning, not windy. Awesome.

    People on the freeway were generally pretty good. Had the obligatory idiot tailgater (WKS-133 silver Falcon wagon I’m looking in your direction), but mostly drivers gave me some space which was nice.

    Someone rode up alongside me at one stage just after Heatherton Road on a white sportsbike (didn’t see what it was exactly.. looked kinda Firebladish and very nice!) and gave me a nod and looked at the bike for a while, then got in front and looked back at the bike. This was a bit unsettling – I wasn’t sure if he was looking at me because I was doing something stupid or something was hanging off my bike or whether he’d not seen a Gladius before and was doing the whole “wtf is that thing!?”.

    Anyhoo, got into the city by about 7.30am. Traffic wasn’t the usual Monash carpark, but was still slow in parts. I didn’t feel confident enough to split, so when the traffic did stop, I just stayed in my lane.

    I get 100metres from the office, left hand turn on the corner of Batmans Hill Drive and Docklands Highway into the little service lane thingy (McCrae street). I get the green, no pedestrians coming so I start to make my turn, then I catch a cyclist out the corner of my eye coming at speed from the left. I stop and he rides across in front of me. I start to go again, the bike stalls, lurches forward a bit and I dunno what happened – I think I had the front wheel turned in too far / not enough juice / combination of both. Bike started to tip and I couldn’t hold it. It was all over in a second.

    So technically I dropped it, but it was more that Edna “had a little lie down” and I stepped off her. It annoys me that I’m not quite sure how I managed to do it. I’ve been going over it in my mind and I can’t figure out exactly what I did.

    Ironically the cyclist that I stopped for came over and helped me pick it up.

    Damage was limited to a teensy scuff on the end of my clutch lever and the hero blob looking stick thing under the left peg snapped off. Peg was still intact. Gear lever was bent slightly. The left hand mirror was a bit loose, so I tightened it back up (I want to replace the mirrors anyway).

    Annoyed at myself for doing something stupid, I went around the block and came back and made the turn again, with no problems this time. I did note that exactly where I turned there was one of those big square old shiny metal plates covering the road and the road dropped away slightly to either side of it. Was that a contributing factor? I dunno. I just put it down to me being crap!

    So I found a good parking spot near work, surveyed the lack of damage (god bless naked bikes) and breathed a sigh of relief. Rang husband and told him what had happened. Am I ok? Yes. Bike ok? Yes. Helmet? Fine.

    I start walking towards my office talking on the phone, walking up the stairs beside where I’d parked Edna carrying my backpack, helmet with gloves inside in my right hand and holding the phone in my left. Halfway up the stairs I managed to step on a strap from the bag, which yoinked my arm back and my helmet out of my hand and my helmet bounced down a few stairs before I could grab it. Iridium visor scratched to hell, dints and scratchs over the helmet. *le sigh*

    I trudged up to my office, really annoyed at myself by this stage. Luckily I only had a couple of meetings today - I wasn't feeling altogether chirpy.

    The home trip was relatively event-free. The Monash was more like a car park I remembered and I was nearly asphyxiated in the tunnel. I forgot how hot it gets when you're stationary on a bike on a hot day in peak hour traffic. The constant stop/start on the Monash outbound was freaking annoying and I don't think I'll be commuting again any time soon.

    On the way home through Berwick I saw a bike approaching in my mirror. I moved across in case he wanted to stop next to me. He did, we gave each other the nod and then he flipped his visor and we commented on the heat (he looked as hot as I felt!). Lights changed and he was on his way (he was game to split, I wasn't).

    I made it home in one piece, but in need of a shower and a huge drink of water.

    Things I learned from today:

    1. Riding into the city from the south east as the sun is rising = hard to see traffic in your mirrors without being blinded by the sun (even with an iridium visor).
    2. Holding my head against the wind for 50km at 100km/hr on a nekkid bike makes my neck sore after a while.
    3. My seat is quite comfy (helped by the ample padding that my sizeable arse provides).
    4. Don’t try and carry helmet and backpack and talk on phone while traversing stairs.
    5. Riding in peak hour traffic in the heat SUCKS.
    6. My Falco Zoon boots completely rock my socks. I wore them all day at work and they were so incredibly comfy.
    7. Dropping your bike sucks.
    8. Dropping your helmet after you've just dropped your bike... sucks doubly.
  2. well done on giving it a go. persevere. =D>

    so you were undertaken by a cyclist? I know it doesn't help but it sounds like he was in the wrong. glad it wasn't worse
  3. I think its a positive to drop your helmet "lightly" for the first time. From now on you won't take care of it like a baby and your life will have less stress in it!

    Well, thats what my experience felt like anyway :p
  4. Reading through that made me glad I stick to country roads! Always wanted to use my bike for local commuting though but never been game enough to give it a try. Dropping your helmet when you are walking upstairs and not on the bike? Thats the kind of thing I usually do!
  5. I started commuting the same week I got my bike, and haven't stopped since. Once you get more proficient at handling the bike at slow speeds, you'll find you'll enjoy yourself a lot more.

    1. Riding into the city from the south east as the sun is rising = hard to see traffic in your mirrors without being blinded by the sun (even with an iridium visor).

    I'm in sydney, so I have it in my eyes. It still sucks. I deal with it by getting to the front of the traffic and staying there.

    2. Holding my head against the wind for 50km at 100km/hr on a nekkid bike makes my neck sore after a while.

    Relax, grip the tank with your legs, lean a little more over the tank until the wind is holding you up. It gets tricky when getting buffeted by crosswinds.

    3. My seat is quite comfy (helped by the ample padding that my sizeable arse provides).

    See how you go after a week of commuting :)

    4. Don’t try and carry helmet and backpack and talk on phone while traversing stairs.

    I don't remove my backpack until I'm actually at my desk. You always need a free hand, and the other will need to be holding onto your helmet & gloves securely. But you know, everyone has their own system.

    5. Riding in peak hour traffic in the heat SUCKS.

    Yeah, it does. But it's better than sitting on a bus next to a guy who is sitting in his own urine.

    I also tend to filter a lot now (after nearly 9 months of commuting) and so I can usually arrange it so I rarely actually stop. I'm usually moving at least at a walking pace, if the traffic is stopped, so I get some airflow. Makes a huge difference.

    I do wish I had not bought all black gear. The jacket I had no choice but the helmet and pants, could have been a different colour.

    6. My Falco Zoon boots completely rock my socks. I wore them all day at work and they were so incredibly comfy.

    Considering how expensive motorcycle boots are, I prefer to wear out a pair of shoes that I change into when I get to work

    7. Dropping your bike sucks.

    Yes it does.

    I dropped my 650FU about a week after I got it. Smashed an indicator. The remaining scuffs on one side of the bike (barely noticeable) are a reminder to me to always keep the clutch in a little and the revs up when riding slowly. My slow riding is a lot better than it was 8 months ago.

    Stick with it. Commuting on a bike can be harrowing for the first month or so, but once you become a little more proficient with handling the bike itself, you'll have a lot more time to watch what is going on around you, and will be automatically adjusting your riding style and road position depending on the threats that you can see.

    When I first started commuting, I thought everyone was out to kill me, I'd have 5-6 close call incidents every day, and it stressed me out. But I stuck with it, understanding I am just a noob and need to learn from my mistakes (hopefully without killing myself in the process), and after a while the number of close calls went down as I gained proficiency with the bike, and started to pre-empt situations and take control of things before something became a close call.

    Its all about recognising the hazards before they become a hazard and then doing something proactively that will negate that hazard completely. That takes time.

    Good luck :)
  6. im glad i saw this... thought i was alone when i first commuting in syd traffic.... wasn't game enough to filter so sat in the traffic jams.... one thing i learnt about myself was... i hate stop and starting :-( it's such a pain... esp just to go 1 or 2 m.
  7. Learn to filter. Keep moving in traffic if at all possible.
    Stay away from the front brake when riding slowly, keep the revs up, and feather the clutch. Loss of power in a corner, or touching the front brake at low speed with the handlebar turned will result in a bike on the ground.
    Think about what you are doing when carrying gear, and what the risks are, whether you are on or off the bike. A lose strap could do much worse than cause you to drop your helmet. What if it got caught in the chain? Surviving as a motorcyclist requires improved situational awareness. Don't turn it off when you get off the bike. And get a hands free headset if you want to talk while walking!

    Finally, some days your mojo will be good, and other days it will be bad. If it is bad, be more careful, or take a moment to shed the bad feeling and get your mind into the right place for riding. It makes a difference.
  8. Perhaps this serves as a cautionary tale to know your route, had you done the ride to work not in peak traffic? Could that have given you a bit more confidence and relaxed you a little more on the first work ride?
    Of course i'm probs not making you any feel any better making suggestions when it's too late. Reminds me of the day i wheeled my bike onto the grass to wash it, washed, waxed, polished, only to come out ten minutes later and find the bike on its side in the mud after the ground got too wet for the stand.
    Cheer up, may your bike remain upright and your helmet uncompromised. :)
  9. With the benefit of hindsight (wish I had a dollar for every time I've said that over the last day or so), yep you're absolutely right. The sensible thing to do would have been ride the route on a Sunday or something when there was bugger all traffic (relatively speaking). I was a bit rattled after the drop and that stuck with me the whole day. The thought of riding home made me feel queasy most of the day.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one that does silly things that could have been totally avoided if I'd thought about it commonsensically (woot I made a new word) before hand.

    Cheers for the advice.
  10. I thought dame ednas dropped yonks ago?
  11. I started my commute into the city via Burwood Highway or High Street Road and a little bit of Freeway from Toorak Road on. I found that this gave me a bit of a breather at the traffic lights, time to think about what I was doing, adjust things, scratch nose etc. I also got used to throttle/gears/brakes at all different speeds, got used to tram tracks, hill starts, started to filter. At first only past a few cars, and would slip into gaps. I found I got blown about much less in the back streets than on the freeway.
  12. The only time I've ever dropped a bike was this exact reason, stalled & down I go! I can't think of anything more embarrassing, but you get over it.

    On point 2, try relaxing your arms & upper body, this might help.

    I was very tentative about splitting when I first started commuting, but it really is the way to go. I can get to work in 3 minutes on the bike, average time in the car is 15-30mins. That's all legal speeds too.

    Even if you don't filter while moving, splitting to the front at the traffic lights is also very effective & not too dangerous.
  13. *claps* BRAVO! At least you got it all out of your system on the first day of commuting!

    Your story is very similar to my first commute, without the good fortune of having a friendly bystander to help me pick up my 150kg dry bike. Boy, that was a chuckle!

    It won't take long for you to become used to it, a couple of weeks should see you pinging through all sorts of traffic and amber lights.

    One thing I'll say - don't feel like you have to lane split. Just because MOST people do it, doesn't mean that you HAVE to. Staying in your spot is more than acceptable. In fact, I can't count the amount of times I've seen people zoom past me lane splitting, only to find that halfway down the road they're stuck in bad traffic, or in a wrong lane. *wave*

    Keep the shiny side up!
  14. Absolutely.

    It might be nice to crawl past 50m of stationery traffic and get to the front of the light - but sometime you see a gap ahead that doesnt look comfortable - or theres a bus, a truck etc ahead that you really dont want to be stuck directly beside when the traffic starts moving.

    There are plenty of occassions when I stop my splitting and pull in because 'the vibe' doesnt feel right.

    If you ARE going to split, do it one car at a time - if you have any doubt the gap between the cars infront is big enough then just pull in front of the car you just passed - wait for some other riding hero to 'test' the gap!

    Get used to commuting - once you're more comfortable you'll realise its absolutely the BEST way to get to and from work and I can guarantee it gets easier (2 years of commuting by bike now for me and I HATE it when I'm forced to take the car now - even in the rain)
  15. I had a funny incident on my morning commute where I was behind cars waiting for the lights and the car infront of me starts waving at me to split my way thru. I happily accepted.
  16. Thanks for all the words of advice.

    I've decided that before I do any more commuting I'm going to:

    a) do a HART Road Refresher course
    b) get some ride fitness (50km out the back of Pakenham on a weekend is MUCHOS less mentally/physically taxing than 50km of peak hour shenanigans from Beaconsfield to Docklands).
    c) do a stack more weekend riding till I get my mojo back

    I think attempting a peak hour commute after only a couple of short outings since returning to bikes after 9 years was a little ambitious.

    Call it self-preservation :)
  17. But why did you call her 'Edna'?