Remember, a few weeks ago I installed all new brake pads? Well, they need to be broken in for maximum braking and for maximum consistency. I recently went on that long weekend trip, and got them well broken in on a variety of roads and many braking situations.
Meanwhile, I am still getting a good feel for their stopping ability. One way I do this is by doing maximum-effort stops without skidding a tire. I am not yet certain just how much maximum effort is, but I keep probing to try to define it on my bike.
I was doing that on the way back from my trip on a road with no traffic behind me. I had done four or five practice stops from around 55 miles per hour, and felt as though I was gaining a little bit of that feel for their stopping power.
I had just about decided that I was done with the braking practice for the day, so I could just enjoy the rest of the trip home.
That is when I spotted something.
In the road.
At 10:30 in the morning.
In full daylight.
Standing in the road.
|(Not this deer.)|
I applied my brakes gently for a second, then firmly, as I had been practicing, coming to a stop while edging over to the side of the road in case another vehicle came up behind me and didn't see me or couldn't stop as rapidly.
About that time, another deer came from the embankment on the other side of the road and they both paused for a bit, then bounded off to my right and disappeared into the undergrowth.
David Hough, in his book Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well, recommends that you come to a stop when animals are in or near the road because they are so unpredictable. That seems like good advice to me.
It wasn't a close call, but could have been if I had not aggressively slowed to a stop. I am glad I had been practicing. ...and the brakes were certainly warmed up for that stop!
The lesson: It pays to practice your technique. You never know when an animal of one kind or another might cross your path. This time, I needed to use one of the techniques right after some practice.