I know that my statement is not based on a solid study. It’s simply because it’s impossible to run statistics on this because it would require total honesty of the crashed rider, or at least an authority who knows better. Both are an illusion, so let me give it a wild shot here.
Based on my own experience as a pro racer, street rider and coach, who has seen thousands of riders- and analyzing crash scenarios which even include my own back then… I brutally predict that 70% of all incidents on track or street could have been prevented if the rider would have known the shit!!!
Yep, the texting soccer mom in that SUV was the trigger, BUT… was really the point of no return on the brake reached?! Was there an escaping gap you didn’t even see while you’ve been target fixating that right-of-way-taking Prius?! Or let’s say you actually did see the escaping gap- but your “I thought I’d do counter steer technique” is not enough to get you there?! How about that Mercedes Benz lane jumper which causes you to overreact. Yes, it was close, but maybe because of your f’d up reaction time and lack of focus?! And so on and so on and so on…
I’m not even getting started about the triggers which cause lots of cornering crashes, ’cause I could write a book just about that one. In fact, the triggers are there, plenty of triggers- but riders are just not mastering them. Though, it would be presumptuous to claim that one will be ever able to master them all. That would be naive to think because there is a point of no return out there for even the best riders on this planet. That’s for sure, so that’s our 30% right there. You think that’s quite bold to say?… then wait for this one…
Let’s say you’ve earned skill points throughout your riding career. A newbie starts with 1 and a highly experienced- or even racer could score out at a 100. That actually is not possible since there is ALWAYS an extra margin to learn, but let’s just round that circle up for now. Your score depends on where and what you’ve learned: self taught, videos, books, schools, or even from Uncle Joe. All of this certainly defines the score for all those things we gotta do- from the shifting to the trail braking and so on. The skill score.
Now let’s say you’ve learned all of these riding skills–or at least you believe you did… what are all of these worth if panic in an extreme situation takes over?! That’s typically when a skill score pops like a soap bubble. The real quality of your skill score depends on a thing which I call “mind coolness”.
Mind coolness sets you free. Imagine instead of freaking out, that an out-of-the-blue Prius just bounces mentally off from you, like a rock throw against a wall! Just picture how powerful that would be. With mind coolness you’d be able to really recall all the physical skills at the right time- and in the right order. Mind coolness buys you TIME. Time is space. That little bit of space which might make the difference on your way back home!
So this ‘mind coolness’ thing is actually the biggest thing you can possibly learn. Where?! Well, good luck finding a place. I might know of one though!
Headcoach Can Akkaya, Superbike-Coach Corp
Thanks Coach! I went through that this morning. Medium traffic on the freeway, I was taking a long exit ramp and a little car decided to pop into the lane next to me now tailgating the car in front of them. I thought they were going to pop into my lane and me… I hit the brakes somewhat hard, just-in-case they decided to pop one more lane over… but, the didn’t. Weird. I was aware, I was questioning why they moved so close into the near lane so close behind another car when there was plenty of room all around. Stay cool-minded!
Keep scoring George, but never forget the power of the mind
My first serious crash was by a texting mother in a Yukon on the freeway, in a downpour. My mess up was, like you said, not knowing where my escape route was and not reacting properly. As such, I ended up down a small valley off the 120 in Manteca with a broken heel and a totalled bike.
The “Coolness of mind” thought is accurate. Knowing how to react and not hitting the panic button are key factors in staying up and keeping my bike intact.
Thanks for the wisdom, Coach!
Being honest with yourself unlocks big doors son!
Thanks for this article coach. My daily commute is 40 miles on 101 and there’re cars that swerve into my lane daily. Keeping a cool mind helps me not freeze up in that situation and aim the bike towards the nearest exit gap.
Yep, that’s the way. Also try not to get angry. It just distracts you and is also a way ‘out’ of mental coolness.