Riding a 'Street Line'

Windy Hill Rd.

I am not an instructor, and more to the point, I do not consider myself to be a great rider.  I love to ride, but I fully understand that there remains so much more to know than what I do.  Because of this, I spend alot of time reading and trying to learn more.  Sometimes though, things that I do come more from experience than what I have learned in classes and online.  

Riding what I call a "Street Line" is one of them.  Many of the folks I ride with chide me about the line I take through twisty roads, but that's fine with me.  These are the same folks that have alot more time on the bike than I do, so I listen, but I take what is said with a grain of salt.  Usually, the line chosen by these folks is one that is straight and fast.

The difference is where I am riding.  When riding on a track, the straightest line is usually the best one.  The problem, is that we are not on the track.  So rather than take the straightest and fastest line, I choose to ride a line that maximizes visibility and escapability.  So while the fastest line is usually closest to the inside line of a turn, I am usually in the middle/outside of the the same turn.  The reason is simple, if there is a problem ahead of me I get an extra millisecond of reaction time, and I leave myself an inside line to escape too.

What this means is that in that chicane, I am exaggerating the turns, while they are straightening them.

At no time in my time riding has the difference between the line been made more clear than it was last night.  I ran out to do a couple of errands and on the way home I elected to take a more circuitous route.  I was riding my normal line on a road I am quite familiar with, ( Pictured above, courtesy of Google Maps ) when  another rider came around me going into the section of road.  He wasn't overly aggressive on the pass, and honestly, seemed to have a good handle on the bike, so I did not really think about it.  In the above picture, we came into this section from the top.  He took the first left very tight to the double yellow in the middle, and set up for the second right quickly and accurately, very close the white line.   As you can see from the trees, visibility is poor around that corner, and set up inside, you won't see the exit clearly until very late.

As he came around the turn, he couldn't see the deer entering the road until he was 10 feet from it.  I was 150 feet back but set up wide, so I not only saw the deer before he did, I was traveling a slow enough that I could slow rather than have to make a panic move.  I got to watch the whole thing.  The other rider got lucky.  He had enough grip that he stood the bike up to slide left about 18 inches, cleared the animal, but was now sitting with too much speed and a bad line to enter the last left in his lane, so he crossed the double yellow into the oncoming lane, before nailing the gas and disappearing into the distance.  I would imagine with soiled leathers.   Fortunately, no one go hurt, but it worked as a learning experience for me.  It served to reinforce that though my approach is not text book, it does have some advantages. 

FWIW, the speed limit on that road is 35, I was running probably 40, and I would estimate his rate of speed at closer to 50, so while he was traveling quickly, I would not say it was beyond reason, considering that I know for a fact that a SMART car can run the same stretch of road at 55+ without slipping or straining the traction.  Given that, I have doubts that a CBR600 is going to have traction problems there.

Content by dru_satori, edited on a Mac using SandVox (because I'm lazy)