Prestidigitation enthusiasts, you know how much fun it is making something appear from nothing. Magicians routinely use slight of hand and visual distraction in this manner. They also make things seemingly to disappear, that “s” word being the operative term. It’s a visual illusion, truth be told.
The asphalt magic show is kinda the same thing except there is no magician moving the show along. But, there are distractions, visual illusions and things appearing and disappearing all the time.
When riding on two-wheels, riders must be extremely aware of this magic show. Things pop out in front of them all the time, in the form of a chunk of wood, a wheel cover, muffler part or retreaded tire section. The appear, like magic, because the rider hasn’t put enough distance between themselves and the car or truck in front of them. Then, things disappear just as the vehicle in front of you clips what you thought you saw and moves it — you guessed it — right in your path.
Take this case that just popped up on the radar. A couple, minding their own business riding behind a truck gets an errant hatchet partially through their windshield. The driver of the car probably should have taken note that there were potential missiles in front of them.
This is where we motorcyclists generally excel, recognizing a potential hazard. How many times have you been riding down the road and see a work truck or a flat-bed — with loose equipment on the back — and think to yourself, “that’s a possible road hazard” if it falls off? Have you? If not, you need to step it up. A vehicle with anything that even remotely appears loose, or if something might fall off the back, that’s a hazard. Sure, it’s easy if you’re in direct visual contact with this landscape truck or delivery flatbed. The magic act occurs when there is another vehicle between you and that bomb-dropping nimrod. Then stuff appears out of nowhere, right in your path.
Think grandma in front of you will send up a warning flare by swerving or braking? Think again. A small object might not get much attention from the car you’re tailing but if you’re too close, that piece of 2 x 4 you just hit can easily upset your balance causing a crash.
This is where drilling emergency maneuvers can help. On a straight section of primary road with light traffic, I’ll follow a car, perhaps 35 to 45 mph (speed limit) and watch as the manhole covers suddenly appear from underneath their vehicle. I’ll use these as the target to evade, practicing my emergency counter-steering moves. Do not do this if the road is wet, or oily, or in very heavy traffic. Do not do this on faster moving roadways. Save that for the real deal. It’s the practice of muscle and brain memory that will help prepare you for that actual swerve emergency.
This is only a suggestion, perform this at your own risk.
Another is to take the MSF Advanced Rider Course (formerly, the Experienced Rider Course) where they teach you how to do this drill and practice it regularly.
Nobody wants axes flying at them at great velocity, or other unwanted magic occurring on the roadways. Remember to keep your distance so the magician can’t fool you. Learn how to swerve safely and evade suddenly appearing asphalt fodder.
Magic shows are fun, but lets keep them on the stage where they belong.