The culminating rally of the season is right around the corner. On Aug. 29, thousands of Harley-Davidson® riders will gather at the Harley-Davidson Museum® for one last roar of the summer. With all the excitement, it’s important to keep in mind some safety tips.
At any rally, crowds are inevitable and part of the fun. But don’t get so caught up in the thrill of it all that you become a lemming, blindly following the rider in front of you, according to Ray Petry, project manager of the Harley-Davidson® Riding Academy, who recently spoke to HOG® Magazine.
“No matter where you ride, always do it within your own comfort zone Ride your own speed and make your own decisions,” said Petry. “Don’t assume the people around you know what they are doing and always stay calm. In short, just ride your own ride.”
Petry offers some simple riding advice when dealing with the crush of a crowd and navigating new roads:
- Traffic jams are inevitable. Time your departure to avoid the mad rush.
- Beware of the unfamiliar when it comes to traversing the terrain in a different town. Take your time and pay heightened attention to road signs. If you unintentionally divert from the course, don’t make any erratic moves. For example, if you miss an exit, calmly go to the next one.
- Ride at a speed that you can easily slow down or stop from and always position yourself to have an escape path.
- Cover your brake and clutch controls to reduce your reaction time, especially when approaching an area with limited visibility or complexity, like an intersection or highway exchange. Search aggressively within the visible sight distance.
- Beware the tip-over. As surprising as it sounds, the slow-speed tip-over accounts for most of the accidents at rallies. Find a parking lot that mimics most roads and practice slow riding before the rally. If a tip-over does happen, don’t let the embarrassment push you to panic. Do the opposite. Take a moment to take it all in—yourself andthe bike. Did you tweak your knee or bust your control levers? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Odds are you’ll be the one offering it like a pro the next time.
- Master the steps of actually parking, especially backing into a spot, and park like you plan to leave in a hurry with the rear wheel on the curbside and the front wheel pointing toward the middle of the road. Use gravity to assist backing into the spot and leave an open pathway forward to pull out. Always park where you can use your Jiffy Stand to help avoid top-over due to soft asphalt.
Rallies are the best part of the summer. The last one is particularly worth relishing. Close out the season in style by practicing some common sense safety tips.