My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

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My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

Postby WFox93 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:21 am

Not sure if since I didn't actually crash this might be better suited for the "riding skills" section but anyway, here goes...

Well I came the closest I've ever come to wiping out, on the street that is. I was riding around the city the other day and decided to duck into a seemingly abandoned county park. It had some decent roads so naturally I started riding a bit more aggressively, nothing too crazy though.

I was only moving between 30 and 40 MPH after all I was in a county park, But I wasn't slowing down much for turns as I didn't really feel the need to and didn't need to until it was too late I guess. Like I said the roads were solid, superb actually considering the normal state of the parks around me. So anyway I cam into a decent 90 degree left hander at around 30-35 mph maybe even less but I did have some decent lean angle when out of no where, the middle of the turn turned into a spider web of tar snakes, trying not to panic I stayed smooth on the throttle, no roll on and no roll off. Next thing I know the front end of my bike brakes loose, something I have never experienced before. I'm not sure what I was thinking or if I was, all I know is that I pulled my inside (left) foot off the peg, sort of stomped the road trying to stand the bike back up with my foot and leg strength (almost like you see in motocross now that I think about it) at the same time I did the foot stomp I turned the handle bars into the turn. I guess between my foot on the ground and turning into the turn did the trick because I was able to exit the turn rubber side down and keep riding like nothing happened. Aside from my heart pounding and my questionably clean under garments.

Now I know I lucked out that I didn't stand the bike back up too soon in the turn and run off but I would like to know maybe what I could have done to prevent the issue in the first place (aside from the obvious: less speed) and also how I could have handled the situation better (if I could have).

Thanks ahead of time for any comments to this situation.
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Re: My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

Postby MadYZF » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:45 am

During a skills training a couple of weekends ago, we were talking about road furniture and surface conditions. Someone brought up the tar snakes and how he lost control of his HD just by cruising over them on a slight turn. The takeaway was that tar snakes are among the slipperiest factors a motorcyclist can encounter. I don't have first-hand observations to add and, frankly, I hadn't given tar snakes a second thought until that brief discussion.

As to your riding, its all about traction management. On the street, especially unfamiliar routes, anything can show up in your path. Leave plenty of margin for error so that you may adjust to the little surprises. Second, smoothness in your inputs is everything, specially when one must adjust to the unexpected. Light trail braking and and a linear maintenance throttle input do wonders. As to the flat track or motocross skills that bailed you out, I'm no expert so no comment.

Btw, glad you missed undue drama.
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Re: My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

Postby WFox93 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:03 am

Thanks for the input, I think I will definitely exercise a bit more caution on those unfamiliar routes from here on out.

And in all honesty those Flat track/motocross "skills" ... I would really consider blind luck / maybe half way decent reflexes. I've only ever ridden one "dirt bike" and it was a street legal super moto spec electric bike from Zero. So absolutely no dirt experience to speak of lol.
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Re: My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

Postby SilverRider » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:11 pm

yes, tar snakes suck for a multitude of reasons.

its stupid hiway engineers and road repair teams that do that crap. I have one section on my daily travel that is 50% covered with that crap, it would have been cheaper to repave the whole road it has so many cracks, that screams to me they laid the wrong composition down to start with.
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Re: My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

Postby Reserector » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:51 pm

The fact that you shared this here shows that you have the good sense to analyze a near-miss. Kudos to you.

Here's my take on the situation. First, you went into a strange corner too hot. I understand how it happened because you got comfortable and did not expect tar snakes.

You say you maintained steady input, but your front started to wash. That tells me that you let off the throttle, even if you didn't chop it. Normal reaction to an OMG situation.

Putting the foot down was also a natural reaction, but a very dangerous one that could have caused you injury. Putting your foot down forced your weight onto the seat, when it would have been better on the pegs, down low.

I have many years of off-road experience that comes in handy in moments like this. I apply those skills by second nature. It's the sport bike skills that I am still developing. :p I'm not boasting, I am just giving you some background before I tell you what I think you could have done better.

You saw the snakes and reacted. Keep your feet on the pegs and lift your weight off the seat. Shifting your weight from the seat to the pegs will lower the CG and allow the bike to squirm under you without tossing you around. That makes it easier for you to let the bike drift (both tires). That can only happen for a brief amount of time before it goes out from under you, but often, a moment is enough.
In situations like yours, you will find that the less input you give, the better off you are.

I think that overall, you did well enough to save your bacon. That's a good thing. Going forward, you might try weighting the pegs through turns. Especially rough ones. See how it feels. I make it a habit because I feel more in control that way. It can get tiring, though, on a long curvy road.
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Re: My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

Postby WFox93 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:06 am

Res,

Thank you for the input. I appreciate the time taken to break down the situation there. I will DEFINITELY be practicing weighting the pegs from here on out. While again, trying not to get too comfortable on strange roads (I think that's my biggest take-away).

Any tips on practicing? Or is it simply a matter of lifting off the seat slightly through turns? Or am I completely misunderstanding what you meant?
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Re: My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

Postby Reserector » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:08 am

Correct. Just "unweight" the seat. No need to stand up. Just lift enough weight off your butt to allow the seat to move under you if it has to. It's also a good strategy if you come up on a bump that catches you off guard, such as a bridge joint, because it also has the effect of additional suspension travel.

I almost hit a small animal this morning. Beaver, or racoon. It was dark. There was a car a couple seconds behind me, so I didn't brake hard. It looked like I might hit him, so I lifted my but, gripped the tank with my knees, and was ready to destroy that critter. Go lucky though. But it's the same strategy. I'm thankful that it is a natural reaction for me.
As I reflect on that situation, though, I realize that I was looking at the animal, and not at a clear path for me to take instead. (Object fixation) :doh
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Re: My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

Postby Riceburner » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:27 pm

and don't panic if the bike moves around under you a bit. I've rolled over gravel in a turn, the tires roll over them and catch again on the asphalt. A little wiggle and you keep going. No death grip on anything, just firm pressure.
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Re: My (Almost) Crash Report - Tar Snakes Almost Got Me

Postby tuning-forks » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:52 pm

Riceburner wrote:and don't panic if the bike moves around under you a bit. I've rolled over gravel in a turn, the tires roll over them and catch again on the asphalt. A little wiggle and you keep going. No death grip on anything, just firm pressure.


Some good practice for this is riding on those open grid metal deck type bridges. The bike will squirm around but you just go with it. Just make sure the first time you do it the bridge isn't wet! :eek
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