Close to home. Be wise.

It might be you’re on the way home from a long drive or ride. We’ve all done it at some point, we relax; we’re nearly home. That lovely cup of tea you’ve been gagging for is so close. I wish I could train the cat to turn the kettle on. That’s when it’s dangerous. Our concentration isn’t what it should be. Accidents close to home are very common indeed.

It’s a holiday weekend and the curtain forecast (that’s the one that you see when you look out the window) is low cloud and a slight drizzle. Looking north, cloud. Looking south, cloud. It was only a drizzle though. I have the day off and I’ve wakened early – well, early by my standards; some folk, like Andy & Ellen, have already been living the dream and have made / served breakfast to their B&B guests at Glengarry House before I have even tipped myself out of bed. Best B&B in the area by the way!

I knew though that it was the right time to head out for a wee spin on Smoggy before the traffic levels got silly. It was a holiday weekend, so timing was crucial to get a decent run. I headed out on my favourite route for breakfast. Smashing. 10 degrees, low clouds and a slight drizzle. It’s ok though, for that there’s my faithful Visorcat. If you don’t have one, you should. A wee sponge held within a cunningly clever visor wiper. Just remember when you get your first splat of the dreaded midge this year, to have your Visorcat suitably charged up with cleaning fluid. If it’s not, it’s a bit gooey.

Where was I? Oh yes, Glencoe. Lovely, just lovely. So often I ride and drive through this fabulously atmospheric glen and wish for a helmet cam. It’s not about stunning blue sky and dry roads, just like the picture at the top of my blog. It’s about low cloud, the mountains crying with the rain water flowing out of mini waterfalls which, at other times, are invisible. It’s at that moment, which happened to Andy recently, you come round a corner and there’s a bus stopped in the middle of the road, decanting passengers to take pictures of the stunning, noisy waterfall in Glencoe. Luckily, today I had the road to myself. It was superb. I wish I had had company.

You have to take care though. What can you see? What can’t you see? What can you reasonably expect to happen? Campervan > tourists > traffic mounting up behind it > move to a safe position to see and be seen.

Pretty much all the way through Glencoe I had the road to myself. All the way to Café Stalker. They’ve changed the name for some reason, however, I will continue to call it that. The View & Co is it’s new name. I had a lovely breakfast, gluten free toast, black pudding and scrambled eggs. Yum.

Castle Stalker Café

Onwards, the traffic was picking up and the drizzle was gathering momentum. I was however working the brain hard. I was not taking the route for granted, it’s too easy to get lazy, just because you know a road and it’s every pothole, lump, bump and hazard, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat it with respect. I worked on my road craft, reading the limit point of vision and asking myself on a regular basis, could I really stop in the distance I can see to be clear? I wish some of the ‘heads down; arse up’ weekend warriors up this way, would consider this more often when they ride at silly speeds on the straights and then have to throw an anchor out in (non)anticipation of the impending corner. Sadly, many have pocket rockets and think it’s cool to whoosh past people, so fast they can’t possibly have time to think of the consequences, consider road signs or think about ‘what if?’

So, why was I ‘thinking’ so much? You need to practice. As much as we, as Advanced Riders or drivers, may have reached the unconscious competence level of our learning, where things aren’t ‘clunky’ any more, our moves are smooth, deliberate, safe, systematic, whilst being progressive. Sometimes we just need to go out and talk through our ride. We are going to have to use radios for observed runs soon, so going out and doing a commentary is a good thing. We are expected to do demo rides with commentary on occasions, so be prepared to need lots of water after a run like this!

Have you had many instinctive moments? When you see a possible overtake, but the wee voice in your head says, “Nope, there’s a car coming.” I would say 99% of the time my instinct is correct. Follow your instinct. If you think it may not be safe, the chances are, it’s not. For that matter, if you hesitate, it could cost you. Most importantly, think about your riding. It’s not what you know, in particular, on familiar roads; it’s about what you can see. Take in the information, then take appropriate action. Think. Don’t be a victim on your own doorstep.

It was a lovely ride. The weather wasn’t great, but that’s what practice is all about. The traffic to home was heavy from Dalmally, I still made reasonable progress though. It made me realise that it had been a good plan to get out early. By 1pm I had a good couple of quality hours on Smoggy. Power washed, tucked up in the garage. Time for lunch and the feet up. Lovely.

One comment on “Close to home. Be wise.”

  1. Jill Boulton says:

    Thanks for the mention Fiona! And you’re right about instinct. Managed to avoid a lorry on a blind bend today because of t!

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