Focus & Fatigue
By John Rodgers
I'm one of those guys that started riding in my pre-teen years and have been at it for about 39 years. I've had my share of lumps and road rash, but learned early on that it's the continued focus and concentration that makes the difference.
My wife and I left Carson City, Nevada early one summer morning, with plans to ride about 350 very indirect miles north to Klamath Falls, Oregon. No particular reason, except to escape the High Desert heat on what was supposed to be a 100 plus day. A nice, cool evening in Southern Oregon, dinner and a modest hotel for the night was the plan.
Our route took us through the Northern Sierras, approaching Mt. Shasta from the southeast, around to the western side, then toward the north, en route to Klamath Falls. All of the selected roads for the day were good, two-lane, mountain-type, 60-mph, touring with phenomenal scenery.
As my experience had taught, two-lane mountain roads can present unique hazards. One of my more serious concerns has always been approaching oncoming, large, slow-up-the-hills, RV's and trucks. I have developed a habit of riding to the right side of my lane in these situations. It increases my field of view behind the oncoming vehicle and exposes me to any vehicle hiding behind the big guys a little sooner. The further out you are when they can see you, the less likely they are to pull out to pass right in your face.
Well, after reaching Klamath Falls, we made an on-the-fly decision to continue our ride and head back to Carson City that evening. The more direct route is only about 290 miles, but the roads and scenery are just like what we had ridden all day.
So, off we go. Three hours later, and ten hours from the morning start, I'm still fresh and focused‚ﬦ. I thought! You guessed it; I lost track. My focus had faded with the hours and miles. Rolling down a hill, I was riding near the broken centerline with an RV coming up the hill. At the very instant I realized that I couldn't see around the RV, or anything behind him, the fellow pulled out to pass!
Many years of riding can come in handy in avoiding the certain-to-hurt-bad head-on crashes, but nothing can stop the shakes you get when you realize what could have been.
No one had done anything wrong. I wasn't speeding; the fellow who pulled out to pass had done so in the right spot; the RV was doing the best he could to pull the hill.
Wrong wasn't the issue. Focus and Fatigue were the elements that could have killed.
I can't say I'll never get tired again, or that I'll never lose my focus. Those things are certain to happen. I only hope that when they do, I'll recognize the signs a little sooner.
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