Conditions

Conditions change the risk, and when the risk changes, so must you

Conditions are the environment you ride in. They include the weather, the road, the bike and your state. Conditions change the risk, and when the risk changes, so must you. This is common sense. We all see conditions like rain, wind, snow and ice. They are not secrets. Yet many drive in the rain at the same speed they drive in fine weather, because this is their habit.

You cant ride as you normally do, if the world isn’t as it normally is

Heavy rain “causes accidents", but the real cause is people not adapting to the conditions. You cant ride as you normally do, if the world isn’t as it normally is. We are part of the world, so ignoring conditions is not a virtue. If you ride the same in dry and wet, accidents will follow. Conditions change the feedback loop that connects you and the physical world.

The riding feedback loop

Conditions change the rules of riding

On a motorcycle, you act and the world responds accordingly, by the laws of physics. There is a feedback loop between you and the world, and it follows certain rules. As you learn to ride, you learn the rules of this fast feedback loop. You learn the numbers: how far to lean on a corner, how long it takes to stop, how much to swerve, etc. However when conditions change, these numbers also change, sometimes drastically. When conditions change, it is a whole new feedback loop from the one you are used to. Conditions change the rules of riding.

When conditions change, so must you

If it rains, it takes twice as long to stop without skidding. To keep the same risk, when it rains you must double your following distance. Yet many highway drivers in torrential rain follow as close as they normally do. The risk has changed but they haven’t. They want business as usual in unusual conditions. Then when the car ahead stops suddenly, they find they have nowhere to go and nothing to do but crash. Bottom line: when conditions change, so must you.

Adapt to conditions

Adapting to conditions has two aspects:

  1. Recognize the changed conditions.
  2. Change your behavior accordingly.
A fast rider who goes slow in bad conditions is adaptable

The details following help you recognize condition changes, and suggests how you change what you do to compensate. This can be hard if it is a sudden change, as when you hit a patch of oil or ice on a turn. It is hard to quickly change how you are doing things. It requires attention, as well as being adaptable. A fast rider who goes slow in bad conditions is adaptable. Adapting is not just changing what you do, it is changing your whole action framework. This is why it is so hard. It is like playing a game when suddenly all the rules of the game change.