Old bikers. Stupid bikers. But no old, stupid bikers
From ZX2 Derek Ducati Addict
So this morning I gave in and commuted on the Ducati. I have stopped commuting, but the bug bit so hard today that I had to itch.
Was on my way to work, and a guy in his late 50s or early 60s from what it appeared was riding a Harley. The guy was riding and just out to have fun. It was warm today, and I figured I'd tag along. So, I rode staggered behind him so that we both had space. He didn't give me any trouble, and I didn't give him any. He just nodded at a light, and I nodded back. As we rode I noticed his habits and skills. He called 3 close calls that I saw, but he caught them immediately, and I took a few more seconds to catch.
For instance: It's 4 lanes (2 oncoming, two ongoing traffic lanes), we're riding staggered, he's towards the outside of the fast lane (hugging the center lane sort of) and I'm on the inside. Suddenly a truck pulls up ahead and tries to merge into our lane (illegal, but people do it all the time here). Before the truck even tries to merge, the guy on the Harley immediately goes in front of me into the same position I was in (we rode single file). I didn't move because I figured what was going on, but the guy reacted on instinct, BIKER instinct.
Low and behold, the truck attempted to merge and would have taken him out. He pulled into the lane, and we both missed the truck. I thought "This guy has to have been riding for a while".
Once again we were riding along. We made a lane change; I made mine early, and he moved on up ahead of the traffic and merged. I thought "Odd...", but there was a big tractor up ahead. A Cat to be exact.... I was behind a minivan and figured "This won't be good" and gave them LOTS of space so that I had time to react and the vehicle behind me would, too. Sure enough... the van wasn't paying attention. Soccer mom didn't realize the Cat was partially in our lane and slammed on her brakes. I got on my brakes; the fast lane was clear and I moved on over. The truck behind me was getting closer to me but had ample time to stop, but I still got out of the lane after checking it was clear because I didn't want to take chances. Sure enough, once again, Mr Harley anticipated something before it happened.
Again, as we finally ended up near each other, he started slowing down slowly as he came to a red, while the traffic way ahead was already stopped, making me slow down with him. Traffic behind us slowed at our rate, rather than trying to stop right behind us. I do this as well and have noticed that cagers noticing something going somewhat slower, but near their speed, are more apt to stop with you or try to go around you in another lane. Either that or slow down with you. This way the traffic already stopped in front of you is giving you a chance to slowly come to a stop and force the cager behind you to slow down at your rate, rather than their own.
I thought "Indeed, this is one of those old but not stupid bikers."
Oddly enough, we ended up at the next light staggered again as traffic broke up. It was interesting to see someone react instinctively like that. I'm still by no means a "veteran" biker, but am working on the mentality of ALWAYS being prepared and am learning new things every day. This guy had clearly been doing it for a while. Just judging by the way he reacted and rode I could tell.
We should all live long enough to be old and smart.