Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

About Whatchathinkin'

Backroads’ fairer half, Shira Kamil, has an interesting perspective on the day-to-day things riders run into which, is both extremely well written and informative. She adds a new polish to the editorial team here at Backroads - we think you’ll agree.

Name: Shira Kamil

Current Rides: Honda 919, BMW F650GS (it's an 800, dammit!)

Favorite quote:

If it all falls down, falls down, falls down; If they solve my life, if they find me out; Never thought to keep all I have found; I have had my fun, if it all falls down.

- Jimmy Buffett • If It All Falls Down - Floridays

Six Degrees of Separation

Don’t ride so, don’t ride so, don’t ride so close to me.

The Police (sort of)

We’ve preached on this topic many times in these pages; the need for distance between riders, whether there are two or twelve in a group. There are figures and graphs and charts that illustrate the consequences, but this time I’m being selfish.

During our Fall Rally in West Virginia, Brian and I decided to go our separate ways on the free day in Elkins. When some folks heard, they asked, several times, if I would join them in their day’s ride. I had it in my mind that I would go solo, exploring and riding at my own pace. During our Spring Rally in Lake Placid, I had taken lead on a ride with some of these folks behind me and, in all honesty, I was not comfortable with them behind me. I felt that, although I thought I was keeping a good and spirited pace, they were riding much too close to me and to each other. So, when asked to ride with them, I kindly declined.

WhatchathinkinNewThat’s the beauty of motorcycling; it’s really a solo adventure. Even though you may have other riders with you, your ride is your very own. You decide what pace fits your mood and the road you’re on and the line you’ll take. That’s why I like to take tail position when put in a group-riding situation. If you let other riders with you influence or alter your idea of safety or comfortability, your adventure is compromised. I have fallen prey to this a couple of times and, after the last one, I hope to not let it happen to me again. As the saying goes, ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.’

Finding others who you can share a riding experience with can be difficult. Over the years, I have been fortunate to find a few who have the same time schedule,

pace and riding needs as I do. Getting up and out early, stopping for those out-of-the-ordinary oddities or beautiful vistas, finding the off-the-beaten-track eateries and, mostly, riding at a good pace with a more-than-adequate space cushion. Brian and I have a good riding simpatico, although I know that every once in a while I’ll ride up a bit too close to his rear. In the rare instances that he rides behind me, I sometimes think I’ve lost him, as he can hang back a good quarter-mile. The beauty of bike-to-bike communications.

Recently, we were out for a ride with some folks, heading back in the later afternoon after a great day’s ride. When we set out at the beginning of the day, we had more riders than we had anticipated, so we broke into two groups. I reluctantly took lead on the second group, and kept an eye on whoever was directly behind me to make sure they were keeping their distance. We had a wonderful ride without any incidents.

On the return ride, there were just four of us, with Brian and I swapping lead, depending on how our GPS’ were acting, and our two companions filling in behind. At one particular stop sign where we were to make a right, with Brian at the helm, he stopped momentarily, dabbing his left foot down and looked to his left (as one should) before continuing on. I, being behind him, followed his motions but was startled to see the rider who was behind me come up abruptly on my left. Feeling that I would knock into him if I put my left foot down, I went to use my right only to find that there was nothing there and over I went. There was no real harm done (that’s what hand and engine guards are for, right?) but I wondered why he had stopped so suddenly and closely.

Separation is the key word here. While he had been riding at a decent distance, he either hadn’t paid attention to my stopping or anticipated that I’d roll through the stop sign with just a head-check. If he had given himself, and me, a bigger space cushion, even if I did something that he hadn’t anticipated, he would have had enough room, and time, to alter his path and not come up on me so closely.

The next time we meet, and you ask if I’d like to ride with you, please don’t be offended if I politely turn you down or accept with the caveat that I ride behind. It’s not that I don’t want to share your riding adventure, it’s just that I like my six degrees of separation. I will buy you an ice cream at our destination.