By Mike Robinson
August 29, 1999 is a day that I'll remember and relive for a long, long time. I'm a MSF instructor in northern Nevada who, on that day, proved conclusively that the skills we teach at 15 or 20 mph in the Basic RiderCourse absolutely work at higher speeds, too. I had taken a friend for a day-long ride on that beautiful and very warm day. We had a wonderful ride. When it was time to head for home, the temperature was in the very high 90's, and my saddlebags were full of "stuff", so I carefully rolled up my old leather jacket and secured it to the luggage rack with a 4-hook bungee cord. Theoretically correct, so far, right? Thanks to the cars behind me on the freeway, I now know that one of those hooks broke while I was traveling at 65 mph, letting one jacket sleeve dangle into the rear wheel. The wheel then sucked the whole jacket into the space between the tire and the fender, locking up the rear end completely. Lemme tell you, folks, until you've been nearly 90 degrees to the centerline at 65 mph, on pavement, you haven't really had a thrill. Due to the hundreds, or maybe thousands of hours of training myself and others in the riding skills MSF teaches, I instinctively kept my eyes up and looked well ahead thereby keeping my motorcycle upright and moving more or less straight ahead, even with a passenger. Until, that is, we slowed down to about 25 or 30 miles an hour, at which time the jacket must have shifted and allowed the rear wheel to roll. Guess what came next! Yup, a highside, but at least at a reduced rate of speed that resulted in only minor injuries to myself and my friend and minor cosmetic damage to the motorcycle. Now, if I had just had the presence of mind to step on the rear brake pedal.....
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Every rider has a favorite story about a lesson learned on the road. We'd like to hear yours. Whether you are a new rider or an old hand, tell us your story. What safety tips can you pass on to others? Stories should be limited to about 250-500 words. E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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