Had a motorcycle accident? Lost your confidence? Terrified of getting back in the saddle? I know, I’ve been there too. Take a look at these tips to try and help the process of getting back on your motorcycle, but whatever you do, please don’t give up! It’s all worth it in the end!
Get Straight Back On Your Motorcycle
EVERYONE knows the saying “get straight back on the horse”. So if you’re not hurt and if your bike is still rideable (or can be fixed roadside), get back on and at least ride it to your final destination. I did exactly that and although every ounce of my body was telling me not to, I did it anyway.
With 20 other bikers enroute to Yorkshire from the midlands, I had done some damage to my bike and myself, but luckily, it was all cosmetic. I didn’t want to make a fuss. I was told by my peers, my bike was ok (no bent forks etc). So I put my helmet on and got on, I cried all the way to our destination and I just couldn’t believe what had just happened. Did it make me get over my fears the following day? Of course not, in fact I steadily declined in confidence over the course of the weekend. Looking back though, it was the start of a long psychological road to recovery and yet I am so glad I did it.
2. Peer Pressure
Subsequently I found that bikers, although on the whole are very friendly and in a practical sense extremely helpful, aren’t very empathetic. From my experience, they are absolute stars at doing all the practical things like, fixing bikes; rallying around for the correct allen key or searching in their panniers for cable ties etc. Though, once I was ‘OK’ physically, I felt like I was expected to get back on the bike and get on with it! No one seemed to understand why I was still riding “so bloody slow”!
For a long time after my motorcycle crash I felt like I was holding everyone up on any motorcycle rides I attended. In my head I was fast (not literally) becoming the rider no-one wanted to be stuck behind.
My advice if you’re feeling like this (and be reminded that everyone in your shoes does), is to imagine those bikers in your position, how would they feel after a crash? Would it really be any different? Probably not. It’s only those who haven’t experienced an accident that don’t understand.
So forget their comments and in the most polite way possible, decline their advice too. Or if you don’t want any confrontation or upset “nod and smile” – something I became good at during those times.
Only take advice from the professionals, the good trainers who will give their time and energy to help you. I was lucky I had a very good trainer who could see how it affected me and how close I was to giving it all up. They told me of their similar experiences. This was a glimmer of light for me as I now felt I wasn’t being a complete wimp! My fears were actually quite rational and with time and energy I could get better at this riding malarkey!
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3. The Blame Game; Take Responsibility
Part of the process and moving on from your motorcycle accident is to establish whether you could have done anything differently to change the outcome. This can be really hard to admit, especially when, for example, it’s all too easy to blame the car driver who didn’t see you. You need to be really honest with yourself and ask, were you speeding? Were you riding defensively? Did you anticipate what the driver was going to do, or the potential hazard around the corner?
Drivers don’t wake up in the morning and think about knocking a motorcyclist off their bike that day – it happens through a few contributing factors; we are smaller and harder to spot, we sometimes ride faster than we should, or don’t ride defensively and we don’t always take responsibility for our actions.
It took me a really long time to admit fault, but once I had been an advanced rider for some years, I realised the error of my ways. I could have done so much more with my planning, my vision and my road position, prior to the incident.
4. Advanced Motorcycle Training
Most riders and drivers have really poor planning and vision, due to lack of training once they’ve passed their test. This is the single most important part to rider safety. I actively promote any rider who has passed their full test to do some advanced, or post test motorcycle training. I started with some basic advanced training prior to my accident but ONE day isn’t really enough. For me, I didn’t start ‘practicing’ and going back for more training until I’d already had my motorcycle accident.
After my accident, I started with ERS (Enhanced Rider Scheme), devised by the DVSA and aimed at those that have recently passed their motorcycle test or had a break from riding. Please see my blog post on ERS training. To start your journey though, I recommend Take Control (or equivalent course); subsided by the Safer Road Partnership, a full training day with a fully qualified instructor that will cost you just £50. This can also contribute to your ERS qualification.
Yes you can go to the IAM or RoSPA and get a programme of observed rides which can be a great way to polish up before an advanced motorcycle test. Purchased at the right time of year, your observed rides and test maybe discounted for membership too.
However, the best way to start your journey is with a fully qualified motorcycle instructor, going through your training route, bespoke to you; this is essential for improving. Everyone has different needs with their training programme and if you find a good instructor, they will be able to tap into your style of thinking and help you understand what you’re doing. Find a local ERS trainer here.
To book your advanced motorcycle training, email me or call 01527 500333.
5. Repetitive Route
My biggest fear after my crash was cornering, or riding with any kind of lean angle. I constantly felt like I was going to fall off, even though I knew that wasn’t likely. To build my confidence and to really start to pick up the information in front of me, I was advised to ride a short route, about 30-40 minutes that had every kind of road; twisties, 30 zones/built up areas, dual carriageways, a few challenging junctions etc.
I now tell all my advanced students to do this. Find a route that is familiar and ride it at the speed limit, or even a little bit slower (in my case, really really slow). Get familiar with what you can see; warning triangles, road markings, junctions, side roads, all the things that we generally ignore. Train your brain to pick them out.
Need some advice? Help or guidance, drop me an email and I will help you.