Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Five Deadly Attitudes

I probably don't need to tell you this, but I'm going to anyway, just in case you've gotten cozy and complacent in your motorcycling habits: riding a motorcycle is risky.  Most bikers will tell you, if they're being honest, that the risk is part of thrill.  But those same bikers, assuming they aren't raging idiots, will also tell you that risk management is a major part of living to become an old biker.

Speaking of attitude...
I've borrowed a bit of wisdom from aviation in the past, since aviation is as much, if not more, about risk management as motorcycling.  In my curiosity, I've come across a bit more wisdom that is just as valid for those of us flying at low altitudes: The Five Deadly Attitudes.

Deadly Attitude Number One: Resignation
"What's the use? I give up," or, "I'd better lay the bike down."  Resignation is giving in like a whiny little jerk.  There's no place for resignation on a motorcycle.  You've got to stay in control, or if you discover you're not in control, get it back.  If you're going to go down, at least go down trying your best not to.  Don't just watch it happen.  

Deadly Attitude Number Two: Anti-Authority
"Why should I listen to you?"  Note that this is not the same thing as questioning authority.  This is refusing to do something just because someone else told you to do it, and vice versa.  Maybe you've been sitting at a red light that won't change for five minutes and you get a bit frustrated, and decide you know what's best, so you take a quick glance to see if anyone is coming and just go.

Deadly Attitude Number Three: Impulsiveness
"Do it now."  This is the belief that doing something is better than doing nothing.  I think this comes along when one has already made a mess of other bad choices.  If you're keeping SIPDE (Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute) in mind, you should rarely if ever have to do anything without a seconds thought.

Deadly Attitude Number Four: Invulnerability
"It won't happen to me."  The belief that only other guys crash when doing an 80 MPH wheelie down the freeway.  Or that you don't need to wear protective gear because you're not going to crash.  It can happen to you, so take care that it doesn't.  Every now and then, you need to take a second and remember that riding a motorcycle is still risky, and stupidity is frequently rewarded with lots of pain.

Deadly Attitude Number Five: Macho
"I can do this!"  For example, declaring you can make it home despite the tornado warning and hard rain reducing the visibility down to twenty feet.  Or that you can ride across Death Valley in the mid-day heat in July, no problem.  Maybe you can.  Maybe it's still stupid to do it.  If you find yourself wanting to prove how tough you are, that should set off a little alarm in your head telling you to think for a minute.

I suspect we've all been guilty of one or two of these.  Sometimes, we've got to step back and ask ourselves if we're sure we're being rational and safe.  It is, after all, possible to ride hard and ride safely at the same time.

What are your thoughts?


RichardM said...

Excellent post. Unfortunately, I can think of times when more than one of those thoughts crossed my mind...

Trobairitz said...

Well said Lucky.

I would be inclined to agree with all five.

Lucky said...

RichardM - I think everyone can. That might be the topic of an upcoming post. At any rate, the trick is to recognize it and make a better decision.

Trobairitz - Thanks!

Greybeard said...

They apply directly to flying, too.
I tell my students, "Fly this sonuvabitch until the wreckage comes to a complete, dead, stop."
So long as you are trying, your input may have an effect on outcome.
Your post is a good reminder.

Noam Sayin' said...

St. Patrick's Day - rare weather for riding in Minnesota. I spent a couple hours cleaning the engine and white-wall tires of my powder blue 08 Stella.

Then I went on nice tour of the tertiary suburbs of Minneapolis. After three hours of uneventful cruising on a beautiful winter day, just a mile from home, a car popped out in front of me.

Brakes. 'Look up - what's coming? Nothing. It's open.

Lean. 'Ease them brakes tighter. Buy yourself room.'

He brakes. 'Crap.'

By this time, I needed to use the scoot as a shield, but even that was too late. Just as I started to dump the bike left, I caught the rear of the car and it dumped me hard on the pavement the other way.

Broke the steering column, bent the frame. Bruised ribs for me. I've been hurt worse in roller derby practice.

Honestly, Lucky. I think, "Ride the bike." was running through my mind.


Lucky said...

Greybeard - Thanks for commenting!

Noam - Sorry to hear about your crash! It's easier to fix bikes than people, glad you weren't hurt too badly.