There are a lot of new riders headed out to the highways this year, and I had a chance to talk to a few new riders in our store recently. Their concerns seem to center around the what if's and the how to's of when actually riding on the freeway. The super-slab can be daunting enough in a four wheeler, let alone just on two wheels. At this point as a rider, you already know that a helmet and bright colors offer you a better chance to avoid being a statistic. Some of the advise offered may seem obvious for seasoned riders, but for someone without a lot of experience, any insight will help with building confidence and skill before taking on the interstate.
1. When pulling out onto the highway, get up to highway speed immediately. If for some reason the driver coming up behind you didn't see you pull on to the highway, you will be out of their way. Getting up to speed quickly also gives you more maneuverability with in the merging traffic.
2. Lane positioning is everything. You want to give yourself a nice buffer all the way around you and position yourself where other drivers can see you. The following is my personal choice during my lengthy commute to work. In the slow lane, stay in the left side of the lane. Make sure you can see the driver's mirror of the car in front of you so you are in their view. In the passing lane, I'll ride on the right hand side of the lane for the same reason as before, staying in their view as they check their passenger mirror to merge right.
3. Keep your head on a swivel. Use your mirrors but don't rely on them. Check over your shoulder every time you change lanes. Keep track of where the cars around you are. When passing slower traffic, watch for speeders coming up behind you. You my turn and look and think they are far away but will be on you in an instant if you're not paying attention.
4.Don't follow trucks too close. You may want to tuck in behind one if it's cold or a light rain. But you will never be able to react to road debris or potholes that the truck can simply drive over. By the time you see it, it's too late.
5. Tar snakes are slippery! When the road dept. tars the cracks in the road they can become very slippery on hot days. Try to avoid them if you can. Treat them like you've encountered sand or gravel on the road.
This by far is not the end of the list but is what is commonly discussed at the counter. If you have something to add to this list, drop me an email at email@example.com and I'll share it with the other readers. Ride safe!