This past weekend, I visited some of my girlfriend’s family in northern Georgia. Anyone who has visited this part of the country is, at least, somewhat familiar with its challenging roads.
As we climbed up and down the side of the mountains, I noticed that I felt increasingly uneasy in the passenger seat of our little rental car. This was, mostly, because of the inability to see through each turn, and the uncertainty of not being able to fully see the road shape beyond a steep incline that we headed up time and again.
It occurred to me that I’ve spent my entire driving career in central Florida, and that my experience on truly challenging roads is limited to a couple of track days and one trip to Deal’s Gap.
If you want to go story-for-story on dodging tourists bent on changing 4 lanes at 20 mph under the speed limit in a single maniacal maneuver, then I can go all day. But if we’re talking real riding on actual hard-core challenging roads, I’ve got little to offer.
Not to say that my riding experiences haven’t prepared me to be a safe, and conscious rider. In fact, I might argue that the experiences I’ve had force me to ride more safely than most! But the obvious gap in my riding-life really got me thinking about getting out there (being track days, or Dragon visits, or just wide-open riding) and being a “good” rider.
I think what I’m really talking about here is:
- How much confidence can you place in the road ahead, even when you can’t see it?
- How much trust can you give your tires to hold the line when entering a corner, knowing that the terrain or shape of the road might change at any second?
- How much confidence do you have in your own ability to “just lean harder” if that corner suddenly transforms into a decreasing radius?
It’s easy to think that you’re a tough-guy rider until you’re faced with these situations, and you find that you’re backing off of the throttle without even thinking it.
I think I need to read “A Twist of the Wrist” again, and book that track day in October.