Buying a bike was one of the most awaited moments for me. Finally I have bought one. It had to be Pulsar 150cc. I do not have a personality that might make me look like a biker, forget the pro-biker. I am more sort of a public transport traveler. My decision to buy a bike was much criticized (like politicians decisions that are criticized from all sections of society my decision was criticized from all sections of my family).
Advantages of having a bike are that you can pass through easily from the crowded roads and it gives you a lot of freedom in terms of mobility. But there are many disadvantages of a bike compared to any other vehicle type. Like other vehicles say a boat or an aero plane, bikes do not have their own area. They share the road with 4 wheelers and other vehicles including human beings. A biker when riding has to act smarter than everyone else. Just because he has more freedom to sneak in his bike from narrow passages he has to be more responsible in judgment.
Bike on its own never moves. It needs to be continuously controlled, just the way Helicopter is supposed to be controlled. There are several forces that are constantly acting against a biker. Leaving aside the corrupt cops, it’s the gravitational force that plays a major role. Rider has to constantly balance himself to ensure that the bike doesn’t fall. Once he gets it right it’s for the spinal cord to co-ordinate and not for a brain. Handling curves is another aspect that is more handled by brain. For most of the beginners it is the brain that calculates on what speed should we approach a curve and how much to bend a bike, for experienced riders it again gets controlled by spine.
All these skills get acquired through neural programming. Initially in every crucial decision that biker makes it is the brain that plays a larger part. Should I overtake or not? how much to slow down at a junction ? Exactly when do I look into mirror? Should I overtake from left? These are the tiny questions that are first answered by your brain and with practice they are learnt by the body co-ordination mechanism. Hence it is very important that when we ride a bike as a beginner we give maximum importance to safety and least importance to anything that is fancy.
My principle while riding a bike is that “when in doubt leave it out”. It means whenever you are in doubt to the thing that has least risk. This law is extremely helpful while overtaking and at junctions where you are likely to be in double mind. When you follow this rule meticulously you are reducing the probability of accident drastically. Further improving these decisions is to understand the mindset of other people driving around you. As one progresses one learns through experience whether the car at junction will allow you to pass or not. But one has to remember that the rule “when is doubt leaving it out” holds the key to safety. Once this rule gets firmly programmed in your neural network you certainly become a good biker.
Driving or Riding is a social activity. Even though it might be my bike, it can possible affect others in many ways. Hence it is imperative that we follow rules that are meant for everyone. Breaking signal, zooming away while others are moving at constant pace, the cuts, overtaking from left are all example of how we convert a possibly optimal system into chaos. In such a system one man who breaks the rule gets benefited sometimes but others are penalized unnecessarily.
Say no to assumptions. Assumption that no car will come from around the curve, assumption that there is no car passing across on the junction are dangerous. In country like India probability that these assumptions go wrong might be extremely high. Hence as a corollary to my previous rule, take the approach that assumes your safety.
Learn from Mistakes. There are only two types of bikers. Those who has a fall and those who will. Making mistakes might be fine elsewhere but in biking it can cost you your life or limb. Hence take a serious note of every tiny mistake you make and tell yourself that such a mistake should never be repeated by you. Also do not forget to remember the times when you avoided a possible mistake. Do not get deterred by mistakes, face them and overcome them. I was particularly scared of riding in extreme traffic and taking a right on junctions. My problems were more compounded by irresponsible bicycle riders and Rickshaws, however initially I use to stop take my own time to take a right, today I do it very easily. I know exactly when to show an indicator, how to keep cycles and Ricks at bay and how to take a right with complete safety.
People who have extreme experience in biking might find my approach not so practical or it can be criticized as a theoretical approach to biking. However they all all are good bikers because they followed these sort of rules probably not knowing their formulations but they were lucky that they behaved that way.
My last adivse might be considered as offensive but while riding extra care needs to be take while there are Ricks, Cycles, Dogs and women on the road, driving or walking.