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On The Main Road

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by PeteClarky, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Hello Netriders,

    I got my bike two days ago and rode for about 3 hours yesterday, the majority of which on a quiet winding road in the bush near my house. However to get back home I had to go on the main road and it was very busy. I lost confidence immediately. A truck tailgated me and I couldn't see around it to change lanes. I tried to head check but found it difficult because I didn't want to run in to the car in front.

    It was my first day riding ever so I can expect these things. But I was hoping that you veterans could give me some advice on riding in heavy traffic that is moving at the speed limit, so not stand still traffic, but when all lanes are taken up but still travelling at 60km/h, 70km/h, whatever the speed limit is. I wish the truck driver saw my L plate and could've given me some room but oh well.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who replies!
  2. As you approach the traffic you have to be assessing it.
    Where looks safe. If you only doing the speed limit then the left lane right wheel track.
    If it's only one lane then right wheel track, 3 second gap.
    This is only advisory and you have to decide at the time which track to be in.
    Also who looks safe. Tradies are not one to follow. Possibly the worst and most dangerous driver on the road. Constantly eating, hung over and on the phone.

    You peripheral vision should be scanning right in front of you.
    Your eyes should be looking for trouble way before you approach it.

    I'm often asked "how far should i look ahead"..... as far as you farken can :)

    You wouldn't have peripheral vision that you trust yet....you will
    Oh and relax, wriggle your elbows. If you cant your grip is too tight...not good. Check your grip all the time when your begining
    • Like Like x 1
  3. #3 thatdarnweasel, Nov 18, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
    It's good advice to avoid heavily trafficked roads while you're still getting the hang of riding, if you can. Theres a lot going on you're still dedicating most of your mind to in the actual operation of the bike, adding in the stress of dealing with trucks is the last thing you need.

    Actually, it's good advice to avoid roads or intersections that aren't entirely comfortable or known to be dangerous at any point in your riding career. Finding a less busy back way to your destination means more time with the one you'll come to love anyway ;)

    But, the good thing is that operating the bike WILL become second nature given time and practice. When you don't have to dedicate a large portion of your foremost mind to it, you can worry about teeping track of every car around you in traffic, constant head checks and mirror gazing.

    Also, worrying about the car in front stopping might mean you were following too close. Hard in traffic where every knob will zoom in to fill a tiny gap, i know.

    And if you're feeling uncomfortable at any point while riding, don't be afraid to find somewhere safe to pull over, take a breather.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. A very common problem (the bit I marked in bold when first venturing out on two wheels and will pass as you become more familiar with your machine and traffic in general. Head checks don't take that long to perform anyway. Regarding the truck (or any tail-gater) - although it may seem counter-intuitive, slow down to increase your buffer to the vehicle in front. This has the benefit of affording a greater stopping distance in case of an emergency so you can manage the threat from behind.

    Finally, the last paragraph of thatdrarnweasel's post is very good advice... take the time out to gather your thoughts/clear your head and reflect on what was making you uncomfortable in the first place.
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Hey Blaise,

    I just noticed your location and guess what, I live in Mona Vale too! To put things in perspective the 'quiet winding road' its McCarrs Creek Rd and the 'main road' was Barrenjoey Rd. Might see you out on the road sometime :)
  6. Cool, I commute to and from Frenches Forest during the week on the bike but am out of the area most weekends (Ol' Pac and the g/friend).

    Careful of wobbly cagers returning from an extended lunch at one of the yacht clubs and the Lycra crowd on McCarrs Creek Road though. Wildlife can be a bit of a worry too... lots of wallabies around albeit the only thing I've clipped was a kamikaze bush turkey a few months ago. That said, I quite enjoy punching in a "spirited" run down that road.
  7. This happened to me the first time I went out on a decent ride after getting my Ls. Middle of the week I went out for a ride and expected to be back mid afternoon, but by the time I got near to home, peak hour had started and I suddenly found myself in the middle of relatively heavy traffic which I had to deal with. Definitely challenging with only a few hours riding under the belt.

    You'd think so, wouldn't you? Unfortunately, some seem to view L plate as a target of sorts. I've had a few make the effort to be nice and give me extra room when I needed it, but I've also had far too many get right up my bum or behave dangerously once they see that black and yellow sign.

    Blaise is on the money though. If you've got a tailgater, slow down a bit and make sure you've got plenty of room for yourself. Try to focus on riding your ride safely and not letting them intimidate you into going faster or doing anything you're not comfortable with; that way lies danger. If you're on a multi-lane road, hopefully the tailgater will overtake you safely and be gone, making way for someone who's not an arse.

    If you're really stressing, there's no harm in just pulling over for a short break.

    All that aside, remember the "three P's" - practice, practice, practice. The more you get out there, the easier it gets and you'll soon be chuckling about this :)
  8. PeteClarky, I live down the other end of Mona Vale Rd and some of my earliest road rides were McCarrs Creek Road and out to West Head in the summer evenings. These were great for getting confidence on the bike without much traffic.

    The other evening road I enjoy is Bobbin Head Rd. Also a national park but I never see anyone at the ticket office of this or West Head after 5.30.
  9. Hey, how's it going! West head is the epitomy of a perfect riding road (in my opinion). Today was a nice sunny Sunday so I rode out to Palm Beach. I did much much better today on Barrenjoey rd. I just took my time, made sure I was diagonal to cars in other lanes so they didn't hit me and most of all kept my head up and enjoyed the ride!

    When we fly past each other out on our awesome roads give us a nod :p
  10. truck drivers up the clacker of a L plater
    reminds me of a USA forum discussing where
    best to keep your firearm on your bike
  11. I am on my Ls too and not much experience. I don't care at all about holding cars up as I am learning, I have a sign to this effect and they can deal with it. Not that some people really care about you being a learner - one woman tried to run me off the road once by overtaking into oncoming traffic even when I was doing the speed limit! Probably just saw my L plate and decided she had to be in front. When I did my Ls in my car I stressed heaps as I found it embarrassing about holding people up but it really helps if you just not think about that. They'll forget about it the moment they get in front anyway so nothing to be embarrassed about.

    For tailgaters I just slow down, like I would in my car so I have more room in front though it is stressful. Actually my boyfriend now goes behind me when we ride so they tailgate him instead so I don't get stressed (though I am fine now that I have ridden a little bit) - do you have an experienced friend who you could go out riding with to follow you around?
  12. #12 robsalvv, Nov 19, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
    IN NSW L platers are limited to 80km/h aren't they? Did that play a role in the tail gating? I'm another +1 for increasing space ahead so that if you need to, there's time and space to manage the event infront and the idiot behind.

    Also you need to leave as much space and time as you need so you can head check to your ability without raising the risk of a crash. If you take one second to do a headcheck and you're only two seconds behind the car infront, then is this enough of a gap?

    A great point was made about being loose through the arms - flap your chicken wings to remind you to loosen up. When you're too stiff a head check will send the bike into a direction change as you unwittingly make an input into the bars. Loosen up. This will come with time in the saddle and getting used to the new environment you're in - but you can give it a head start... flap your wings, loosen up. (You're still holding onto the bars, so you wont fall off!)

    What you're talking about is roadcraft - and on a bike it's your primary safety device. You don't have a crumple zone, SIPS, or air bags (true for 99.5% of bikes), what you have are your riding decisions based on how you read the road and traffic, and the space around you. While you're getting used to riding, keep off the trafficked roads until you can work all controls and make all basic inputs unconsciously. This will leave more brain space for roadcraft.

    Welcome to two wheels.
    • Like Like x 2

  14. if you get tailgated just wind off the gas slowly, they will come round you, people are just too scared to come around because of the speed enforcement, going just below the limit is why everyone is tailgating.
  15. Scotland Island rider here, the Creek is the first road I'm on when I hit the mainland. There's a lot to be said for doing the Creek -West Head loop before a spot of breakfast to get in the groove.

    West Head's got to be one of the best roads for getting your mid speed skills up, no traffic, perfect surface (once through the gates) and an apparent lack of suicidal fauna.
  16. Thanks for all of the replies, it's all really useful and I am applying it to my riding. I rode again today to Palm Beach and West Head so I am getting some really good practice. West Head is the perfect riding road in my opinion :)

    I'm already doing much better in traffic and keeping a lot of distance. Every second I ride on the bike the better I get so I am looking forward to developing my skills further and using them to save my life and also enjoy the ride without any worries.

    Are there any weekly or monthly meets in the Pittwater area? If not there should be!
    • Like Like x 1
  17. I'm getting homesick reading this....
    Use to leave Narra on the parkway, frenches Forrest, cut through the back of StIves and Hornsby, Glaston gorge then down to Wisemans ferry for a beer before coming home again.
    No Boose buses, no radar.........mmmmmmmmm goooooood
  18. PM me if you want someone to run interference for you on the roads. I'm free most days at the moment. I can also introduce you to a couple of the chaps also on here.