I was riding to work a few weeks back and it was wet. Very wet. I've invested in some good quality Rukka gear, so riding in the rain doesn't bother me so much, in fact it's something a quite enjoy. I'm dry and warm so I'm able to concentrate on what I'm doing. The bike, the FireBlade in this case is also wearing tyres suitable to all weather conditions, so when it is wet, the bike performs in a predictable manner. Anyway, back to my point. I was riding to work as per usual and I came up behind a rider on a 125 little scooter. They did not look comfortable at all. They were all over the lane and were clearly not happy riding in the wet. The 'kit' they had on, certainly didn't match the conditions, so one can assume they were both cold and wet, which was sapping their concentration. This particular route takes in a few mini and proper roundabouts, so there is plenty of direction changes. As we rounded one of the larger ones, the scooter rider, practically stopped, turning what could, and should have been a smooth arch, into something resembling a hexagon. Their speed was inconsistent where at every minor change of direction, the would halve their speed, making following them really difficult. A car driver who wasn't paying attention could have easily run into the back of them for example.
I put this riding down to a real lack of confidence in both the machine and the conditions. When we are nervous, we tend to look down and when riding this means about 15m in front of the bike and therefore, not looking where we are going, which then compounds the situation, making the ride even more nervous and unpredictable.
When it comes to riding in the wet, the best way to build up confidence is to actually ride in the wet. As I mentioned earlier, I quite enjoy riding in conditions that a large percentage of riders wouldn't even consider going out in. I've had some of my favourite rides in poor conditions as I picked off slower vehicles down good biking roads, but it's this level of over confidence that can and does cause problems, often tragic.
Just like my ride how a few days later.
I was riding home from work. It was dry and I was wearing a hi-viz vest as 90% of the route is unlit and on single track, twisty roads. I knew the route well and knew where the passing opportunities were, so when I came up behind slower vehicles, I knew where I would need to position myself to get the best view of the road ahead to pass safely.
I'd just come off a large roundabout onto a single lane national speed limit road, so a 60mph limit. The road bent slowly to the right, but you still see enough of the road ahead to pass slower vehicles. There were two cars ahead with nothing coming the other way. I easily passed the first one and scanning the road ahead and not seeing any lights, started to plan on passing the second in the same movement. It was when I'd committed to the manoeuvre on the second vehicle, that the car with a broken driver side headlight came around the corner. It was being followed by something big and German and its super bright LED headlights were being diffused by the car in front, but also giving a false impression of what I could see. I was in trouble.
As you can tell, I got away with it, but that doesn't make how I approached the situation better. My over confidence nearly got me killed and I'm ashamed to admit that. Bikes are great and you know I love them because I've been running this website for 6 years now. Their manoeuvrability and speed make them addictive, especially if you don't like travelling at the pace of the vehicle in front.
Some people would say that a scare does you good as it reigns you back in, but I really should have known better. In this particular case, it was unnecessary and ultimately foolish. We often lambaste the poor car drivers, distracted by phones, radios, kids or whatever in their car, but we need to take more responsibility for how we ride.
99% of the time, I'm a good rider. Swift, but good. I respect 30mph limits and I took pride in knowing what was going on around me. I achieved the Gold RoSPA standard twice, but this incident shook me and I'm not ashamed to say that. I could have ruined many, many lives in a single instant.
We all ride for different reasons, but I hope my experience makes the question 'Is this overtake' worth it, just sound a little louder in your head.