So, what’s up? I don’t know about you, but the last weekend was pretty awesome for me. That CS Santosh article went viral, and at one point I was kinda concerned the site will crash because of the traffic. A lot of people thought I had finally turned the page and become a “good” person, someone who doesn’t use “bad” language and writes nice and sweet and cute and cuddly articles.
Anyway, now that the dust is settled, it’s time to get back on the horse and piss on everyone again. RiderZone has and will always be my personal space. In more than one ways, I’m writing all of this shit only for myself. Not even ONE single automotive website in India produces ANY interesting content.
Autocar has this ability to convert even the most interesting topics into words that’ll put you to sleep, forever. Motorbeam knows of only 2 things, pointless rumors, and useless wheelies, I mean seriously, they just can’t review ANYTHING with 2 wheels without throwing at least one into the air, because that’s obviously the most important job of any motorcycle. Don’t even get me started on BikeAdvice, their idea of “important” news is new color scheme on a scooty. Overdrive, Zigwheels, Drivespark, IndianCarsBikes, Motoroids, all are just news factories that vomit pre-packaged crap onto the internet on a daily basis.
But I digress. Today’s article is about surviving the catastrophe that we call our roads. What can you do to make sure that there’s a slight chance you’ll return back home in one piece every time you swing a leg over a bike? Here are the 6 things that I think you should do to NOT DIE on Indian roads:
1. Ride fast, do everything else slow:
I’m sure plenty of people are going to froth out their mouths and get all Rambo on my ass, but the good thing is that I’ve completely lost my ability to give a fuck. I would like to clarify that riding “fast” does not mean riding like an asshole by any standard.
Riding fast means riding at a reasonably good pace that is somewhere near to the speeds that other people on that road are doing.
I don’t care for speed limits, definitely not for our country where they are nothing more than arbitrary numbers on a rusty board that no one cares about. Speed limits in India have not been able to keep up with the road infrastructure, and they hold no importance whatsoever to our practical riding conditions.
I would like you to read about the Solomon Curve, and then ask yourself if you believe that is true. Have you felt that terror of riding too fast and not being sure what monsters are waiting for you at the next corner? Have you felt the panic of riding too slow and not being sure what demon will ram you from behind? If you have, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, carry on. I have always found it to be more comfortable, safe, and enjoyable to ride at speeds slightly higher than what cars are doing on that stretch, and that’s what I’ll continue to do in the future.
Which brings us to the second part, DO EVERYTHING ELSE SLOW. There’s something very important that you have to understand about us, something that’ll make sense of why we behave on the road the way we do.
If there’s a chance that you’ll crash and there’s something an Indian can do to help, he’ll not do it. If there’s a chance that an Indian will crash INTO YOU and scratch HIS car, he’ll move hell and earth to stop it from happening.
Human life holds no value on Indian roads, inanimate objects do. There are far too many of us, and it doesn’t really matter if a few million out of 1.25 billion perish while trying to get somewhere. What does matter is paint, dents, scratches, bumpers, and lights and metal and plastic and fiber. And this is where doing everything else slow comes into the picture.
Imagine you are riding at 120, on the left side of the road, minding your own business. There’s a rash driver following up on you, doing 140-150 and overtaking everyone like it’s Formula 1. Suddenly, you see a giant speed breaker in front of you, and you are too fast to not panic brake. There are 2 possible scenarios here:
- You slow down suddenly, the rash driver doesn’t have the time to react and he smashes into your butt.
- You slow down gradually, and then jump off the bump because you couldn’t decelerate enough. The driver notices you, then notices the bump, slows down and doesn’t crash into you.
In the first case, the driver wanted to stop, not because he cares about you, but because his car will get damaged. However, because you decelerated too quick, he couldn’t do it. In the second scenario you slowed down slower, giving him a chance to duck and save his car, and as an inconsequential byproduct your life.
If you want to change lanes, do it slow. If you want to accelerate or decelerate, do it slow. If there’s a pothole in the middle of the road, it might be a better idea to just jump through it and have the possibility of staying with your bike, rather than change direction too quickly to avoid it and hitting some random vehicle overtaking you. Speed is OK, sudden moments are not.
2. Don’t race, don’t follow:
The first part should be pretty obvious, don’t race! Public roads are not controlled environments like a track, not to mention the fact that winning a red light to red light race doesn’t prove anything apart from letting everyone know how small your dick really is. I know it’s easier said than done, especially with the insane people you find on our roads, but you have to believe it’s in your control.
You have to understand that no matter what the other person does, he can’t really race you until you let him.
Carrying a GoPro in such situations is really awesome. Imagine there’s a douche on an Activa, going up and down and side to side all around you, enticing you to race. Just start recording, and then share it with the whole world to see! If you are even slightly lucky, that dickhead will most likely crash and die, at which point you’ll have a viral video in your hands. Good family fun.
The second part isn’t all that obvious. I, for a very long time, believed that following another slightly faster vehicle was safer and faster than riding on your own. I used to follow cars, thinking they would assist me to cover distances faster, while helping me in overtaking and avoiding potholes. While there is some merit in this approach, the fact is rather simple to understand.
Following anyone is NEVER safer than riding on your own.
And the reason for that is rather obvious. When you follow someone, you are depending 100% on their judgement and skills. You are placing your life in their hands. When is that ever a good idea? On top of that, following anyone perfectly over a long distance is impossible. You have to completely shadow their tire line, which means you’ll sometimes have to do dangerous maneuvers just to keep up with them. You have no idea what’s going on in front of them, so if there’s an emergency situation you’ll only know when you become a part of it. The most important reason why it’s unsafe to follow anyone is because you can get hit by stuff!
A high speed car or bike can catch stones or debris in their rear wheel and then launch it at you, I’m sure most of you must have faced such a situation. All the person in front of you has to do is lift it up slightly over the road, and you’ll catch it at speed. I have been hit by numerous stones, a water bottle, and once a tree in this fashion. Will tell you the tree story some other time. Don’t follow anyone, it’s not worth it.
3. Don’t ride at night:
Just don’t. I don’t need to say anything, you don’t need to hear anything. Just for fun, here’s what a foreigner has to say about riding at night in India.
4. Use your horn, use your 6th sense:
Indians either abuse the horn, or just don’t use it at all, but it’s a really important tool to prevent SMIDSY accidents. SMIDSY translates to “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You” situations where a car just rams into you because he didn’t expect you to be there. If you don’t want to be blamed for every crash that you are a part of, a skill that we are Ninjas of, you have to make sure you do everything possible from your side to let others know what you are doing. Here are some ways that help:
- Wear bright helmet and clothing, and preferably get a non-black motorcycle. People can’t avoid what they can’t see.
- Always keep your headlights switched on while doing highways, and pilot lamp in city, it REALLY helps others notice you better.
- Whenever possible, use your indicators to tell others what your future plans are. Hand signals are awesome too.
- Always blow horn before overtaking someone, or at an intersection, or any other place where your brain tells you to.
Even after you do everything humanly possible to tell others of your presence, you still should never trust them completely. Always keep a backup plan, anticipate, use your 6th sense to predict the future. If you see a truck parked on the left of the road, and a car going from the right lane, be careful while overtaking from the right, since there’s a distinct possibility the truck will pull onto the road, pushing the car into your path.
Everyone knows their limits, it’s a natural survival instinct. When you are under the limit, everything is rosy and calm, you feel confident and safe. When you are over it, you know the fear, the tension, the risk. The brain will always tell you what’s right, but it’s your choice to follow it or not. You can foresee the future, you can change it, you can create it. All you have to do is listen, and develop your 6th sense over the years, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been saved by mine.
5. Get ABS:
Just get it. Many people will tell you “Oh ABS is for pussies” or “You don’t need ABS if you are careful” or “I love sucking cocks because it helps me connect with my feminine side even though I am a dude”. Fuck all of them.
ABS is a life saver, ABS is the most important invention since the wheel. ABS should be mandatory.
I know the government has said ABS will be made compulsory in the next few years, but you know you can’t trust their bullshit. In any case, you shouldn’t need a bunch of soulless retards to tell you how to save your own life. Unfortunately there are still a very few number of bikes in India that come with ABS, but fortunately they are spread over a wide array of price and power ranges.
If you want to commute, go for the TVS Apache 180 ABS. If you want to tour, go for the CBR250R ABS. If you want to do everything, go for the Duke 390 ABS. In superbikes ABS starts from the Z800. There’s no possible excuse in the world that can justify not having ABS on your machine, and there’s no possible scenario (except hardcore off-roading) where not having ABS can result in a better crash outcome.
Just get it. There is no worse feeling than riding with fear, and if you are not confident enough on our roads, everybody will just walk all over you, quite literally.
6. Get riding gear:
If all else goes to shit, if you are just an unlucky SOB, if you somehow do end up in a situation where nothing can stop a crash, your riding gear will save you from death, unless of course if you are just too stupid. A good quality helmet, jacket, pant, boots and gloves can do wonders. Ever seen a MotoGP rider wipe out at 300 kmph and then get up and kick the bike? Yeah, try doing that when you’re dead.
All The Gear All The Time. ATGATT is a very simple concept which brings so much more peace and comfort in your riding. All you have to do is be fully geared no matter how short the distance you are traveling. I understand it may not be possible to follow it 100% of the time, all I expect of you is to try.
In a country where even a helmet is a rarity, it may look like asking for too much to expect everyone to follow ATGATT. Well, I do it, I know a lot of other who do, and this is my fucking article, so I can expect whatever the hell I want to expect. In the end, it’s your life, your limbs, your intestines, your brain, your scrotum. I would hate to see your insides spilled on the road, but you always have the free will to make that happen.
Feels good to get back to the old ways again! A lot of people tell me to write nice stuff and not use bad words, and I sometimes take them too seriously. Everyone talks the way I write, everyone hides it when they write themselves. I don’t understand why, but that’s OK. I don’t understand a lot of things. What I do understand is surviving the weird things that happen to Indian bikers, and that’s what this article is about. If you have something to add, fire away.