I’m sure that we have all heard this phrase – “There are two kinds of riders; those who have gone down, and those who will go down.”
I’d like to suggest that we STOP saying this – especially to new riders. Let’s talk about why I feel that way.
#1 – It’s an opinion, not a fact. It can be proven true (but it also can be proven untrue; just find a rider who has never crashed and has recently passed away of natural causes.)
#2 – There are multiple strategies and techniques that arm riders to avoid crashing. You can find them in books, videos, and rider training courses.
#3 – Giving up. This one is probably the least thought of reason, but can have some severe consequences. Let’s picture a new rider who has been told that ‘sooner or later, all riders crash’. When this new rider gets into a situation with crash potential (skidding rear tire, car pulls out in front of them, starting to run wide in a curve, bike starts to fall over at low speed, etc.), they may simply decide that ‘this must be my time to crash’ – in other words, they give up and accept the crash as inevitable. When the human mind holds a thought like this, the motivation to think of solutions and act on them diminishes, and the belief that there simply may not be a solution grows.
The late Ron Shepard (former MSF staffer and director of the Idaho STAR program) was fond of the phrase “Never throw away a perfectly good motorcycle.” What this means is that while crashes do happen, and any given riding situation could end up in a crash – you don’t have to help it get there (don’t lay it down to avoid the crash). Another longtime rider education expert put it this way, “If you’re going to crash, ride it all the way to the ground.” The reasoning being that if you keep riding it (stay on the bike, stay in control, use the controls, look where you want to go, etc.), you stand a good chance of not crashing. In other words, don’t give up.
We want all riders to ride with the belief that what happens to them when they ride is primarily up to them. Yes, crashes happen, and all riders should be aware of and prepared for that possibility (armed with skills and dressed to survive a crash). However, the reality is that crashing is not inevitable. We – as veteran riders – have a responsibility to the new riders. Let’s NOT teach them to give up.
(Stacey “Ax” Axmaker is the Founder and Owner of Be Crash Free)
(This article originally appeared in Go For A Ride Magazine July 2011)