The other day I was riding and found myself in a road paving project area. This was a project on a 4-lane road with 1/2 of the two lanes on my side paved… and the other 1/2 getting prepared for paving to continue. The problem is that the 1/2 that was paved was the left lane and this caused a height difference “ridge” of approximately 1 – 2 inches of asphalt between the two lanes (of course I was in the right “low-side” lane).
This wouldn’t have been a problem if I could have stayed in the lane I was in… but once into the paving area all cars had to merge from the right to the left lane. Speeds on this road were about 40 miles per hour and on a normal motorcycle this would have been scary enough! On a chopper (let alone a wide rear tire) it was one of the scariest things I have had to do. In the moment before the transition I tried to slow down as much as I could in the “bumper to bumper” traffic, gripped the handlebars firmly, and then once there was an opening in the traffic to move over I tried to make the “cut” at as sharp of an angle as was possible Autel MaxiSys MS908.
Let me just say that “I made it” but it was really an unstable situation for a few seconds. It made me remember why Driver Education schools teach you that “if your tire goes off the road… stay off the road and slow way down… and then sharply turn back on when there is a safe margin to do so” and that is in a 4-wheel CAR!
I think that was the closest I have come to “going down” on a bike in over 20 years… so, I am writing this down so I don’t forget. When you have to cross over and onto a ridge that is running parallel to your path of travel:
Slow down as much as possible (I didn’t do this enough).
Get a large safety margin between other traffic (Wait for a large opening).
Get a firm grip on the handlebars.
Try to cross-over the ridge at a strong angle (don’t try to ease up on the ridge).
I didn’t do any of these things very well and it almost ended in a crash. For me, my biggest mistake was #1… so next time I am faced with this I will be sure to slow down much more and get a better angle on the ridge.
Ride safe! Ron
Ron Gallagher operates his web-based development business and writes a blog OBD Tool. Writing articles about riding and choppers has allowed my blog to become a FAQ on tips, tricks, and ideas on how to make owning and riding a chopper more fun!