As I ride, I find myself observing other riders with interest. What are they doing that I can learn from? What techniques can I adopt? Will using something her/his riding style improve what I am doing? I realize my questions overlap. They are part of the recurring wave that is echoing in my mind as I work to be a better (safer) rider.
There is a missing element in the process. I am observing, often at speed. There is no conversation, just a glance, perhaps two. I have found myself picking up a technique here and there. Some are useful, many less so.
The art of driving between the lanes is a good example. While it is a legal maneuver, it is also dangerous. I have witness several clipped mirrors, gifts from riders that did not judge the distance correctly. The damaged motorcycle and car parked together on the side of the road was another fresh reminder of what can happen. There is a “yet” in this sentence. Driving between the lanes is one of the upsides of being on a motorcycle in traffic. As I watch, I am learning.
Driving in one lane or another is always easier than driving on the markers that separate the lanes. This is especially true for bikes with fat rear tires!
A heighten awareness of a car’s body language is mandatory. Drivers make moves without looking. Bikers pay the price even if they are in the right.
If in doubt, being patient and waiting for a good opportunity is always the better answer. Pushing the edge is never the only choice.
The final point is one that I am beginning to understand; experience matters. As I see others taking the observations and riding with abandon, disasters strike. It is as if they are following the old pattern set when “some itinerant Jewish exorcists who happened to be in town at the time tried their hand at what they assumed to be Paul’s ‘game.’” (Acts 19.13) The stakes, then and now do not change just because a player is ignorant.