Greg Murphy: Attitude is everything
Everyone is built differently and we all have varying degrees of learning, understanding and attitudes towards the things we do. Some things come more naturally or easy to us than other things and this definitely includes riding motorbikes.
I think that too many people “switch off” once they get the little piece of plastic that says “Full Licence”. It seems to be a trigger point that subliminally means there is no more to learn, that the “box has been ticked”, now move onto the next challenge.
Driving a car or riding a motorbike is something we do where we never stop learning or improving our skills and awareness and our attitude is such a key decider on how we develop – or not! The importance of this isn’t promoted anywhere near enough.
I can honestly say that during my whole racing career I never stopped learning things about driving better or more efficiently or adapting to new technology or a new car. If you stood still, you got left behind. I wish I had paid more attention to some of the information that was available during certain periods.
There are always people with differing views, ideas and ways of doing things and my advice is – you should always be open minded when there is new information to consider. Bad habits are really easy things to obtain, but really difficult to get rid of. How do you know it’s a bad habit though? This is why retraining or a course like Ride Forever is so important to check your habits and adjust your riding accordingly which may just be the thing that changes a future outcome.
Making sure your attitude is in the right place before you even get on your bike is so important. The dictionary defines “Attitude” as a settled mode of thinking. As we know, the statistics around Motorcycle crashes in NZ isn’t that great and riders attitudes are contributing factors in many of these statistics.
Thinking about your riding should start before you even buy your bike. Think about your skill level and your knowledge of riding and if you should be looking to get some proper professional training? A certain amount of confidence is an important part of being a good safe rider, but over confidence or overestimating your ability is a recipe for potential disaster. Know your limits and be honest about your level of competence.
No one expects or plans on having a crash when out riding, but obviously it still happens. You should never expect the other road users are going to always do the rights things or not make poor decisions, because people do.
Having the right attitude means creating or maintaining space between you and other road users and continuously scanning your environment for potential hazards and being prepared to react. Stay alert 100% of the time.
The Laws of Physics don’t discriminate. Understanding stopping distances and how different road conditions change them is paramount. Understanding the contact patch your tyres make with the road and how critical your tyre condition and tyre pressures are is something that should not be ignored. Just backing off the throttle slightly when you see a car pull up to a Give Way sign might make the difference between a trip in an Ambulance or not. Don’t assume they have seen you – “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you“ doesn’t make up for a broken leg and a destroyed bike.
It doesn’t matter if I am driving or riding, I am continuously scanning my environment looking for anything that could easily become a potential hazard. I know we are told and taught this when learning to drive or ride, but this is one of those things that slowly dissipates as we become complacent, more so with car drivers as they have more distractions such as mobile phones that are causing havoc on a daily basis – more reason to be extra diligent. Your attitude will define the type of rider you are and likely have a bearing on whether you add to the statistics or not. Let’s all work to reduce those numbers.