Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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Self Reprimanding

Blog Date 13 Jun 2019

I make mistakes. I set off home from mother's the other day as I have countless times before. I got home successfully without incident. I went to retrieve some sandals from the top box to find the top box open. I hadn't shut it properly.

Oh heck. I've been lucky that's all. If I'd hit a bump wrong my top box could have opened and tossed out all the contents. It's bad enough throwing my sandals and waterproofs and puncture kit all over the highway, imagine then if another rider had been behind me and crashed as they slithered over my waterproofs.

A top box full of sandals and many other things
Equipment not suitable for spreading across the Queen's highways.

I reproach myself. My actions have consequences you know, and these consequences may extend beyond my own realm and affect others too. Idiot. Fool. I mean it's not exactly hard to blooming well check the lid is shut properly. It takes barely a moment, it's there, right next to you as you're getting on the bike. Stupid boy.

Oddly I hope everyone reading this has at some point experienced something similar. I hope you've all severely reprimanded yourselves.

You see I suspect there are people out there for whom self reproaching is not a thing. There are people who make genuine honest mistakes while driving or riding (or many other situations) but then simply shrug them off with a "meh, whatever, I'm only human". There are also those who seem incapable of taking responsibility too, "it's XXX's fault because " then insert irrational excuse here.

Ren looks out of place and ridiculous on a sports bike
There are some hooligans out on the roads.

Without self reproaching it would be all too easy to not check the top box is closed. If I didn't hate myself for my own failings I'd have no motivation to try and do better and check the top box is closed. I am only human, I do make mistakes, but I wish to make efforts to limit these as best I can. 

Then there is the other side. 

Sharon makes mistakes too. And she's hard on herself. Really hard. To the point where  there are times she thinks she's the worst rider ever and ought to just give it all up and throw in the towel. It has been a long and arduous journey for her to reach the point where she has enough self belief to simply kick herself rather than want to give it all up because she thinks she's useless.

If we self reproach too much we can lose any confidence and self esteem we have. 

As Sharon and I are both finding, age brings a modicum of wisdom. Self reproach is about finding a healthy balance. We must take responsibility for our actions and berate ourselves for our failings otherwise there is no motive, no reason for self improvement. Equally we must treat ourselves well, accept we are just ordinary people that make mistakes and accept our imperfections.

Sharon and Ren sat on a Ducati at a bike Show. Ren is on the back and looks scared
Sharon's riding is just fine, you can see it written all over my face.

Sharon's recent slide shook her, as it would myself I know from experience. It is good that she desperately wants to know WHAT went wrong and what she can learn from it. I do want her confidence to be shaken but only just enough to cause her to think, to slow down and to be wary. What I do not want is for her to be terrified and tense and to start hating being on her bike.

I think there is a fine line between a healthy respect with a hint of fear and then crossing into being too fearful to enjoy the ride. 

Here is a thought to ponder. We all must accept that in spite of our best efforts to ride well, protect ourselves and keep our speeds to sensible levels, motorcycling carries a lot of risks. Imagine then a new technological suit, it matters not how it works, let us imagine it just does work. This suit absolutely guarantees that no matter how bad the crash you will be entirely safe and unharmed.  

How would you feel about motorcycling then?

Share your motorcycling thoughts - click here.

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Interesting thought experiment. Everyone here will know about the idea of risk compensation - that the lower the perceived risk then the more hazardous one's behaviour becomes - or can do. I choose not to dress up in "protective" gear and still use an open faced helmet - and I'm still here, however I wouldn't ride without gloves, helmet, a jacket and boots - not on the road anyway. And i believe I'm as risk averse as the next person.

The problem with your magic suit is that it won't protect other road users. The type of person that would go for it would probably be the type who took you and Pocketpete out. Careless of anyone's safety but their own. We all know about the various self driving car discussions, and the interesting hypothetical "trolley" scenarios and this idea seems to fall into the same philosophical area.

With respect to being too scared to go out, I have noticed that as I get older I'm even more aware of risks and I'm sure I'm less inclined to take them - whic is probably a good thing as I'm also aware that my reactions and ability to switch attention are also deteriorating. A lifetime of engineering (both "real" and software) have also trained me to always think about what can go wrong in any scenario and what actions I can take to minimise bad results.

Weather better today in la Belle France........
13/6/2019 6:28:46 PM UTC
Snod said :-
Sod the suit, does my bike still get bent if I chuck it in a ditch? Some of this stuff is expensive you know, literally tens of pounds.
13/6/2019 10:36:31 PM UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Mmmm, I doubt if your hosting server has enough storage for me to start enumerating all the stupid things I've done in my life Ren. The thing is, I know I'm very absent minded so my coping mechanism is to do everything the same way every time. I always have my keys in a specific pocket, I always put my wallet in the same place when I get home, and I'm by far the tidiest person in our house. I have to be, otherwise I'd never ever find anything! I still do make the occasional slip though and when working in the garage spend far more time looking for misplaced tools and fasteners than doing the job.

As for more serious mistakes such as when riding and driving, I always try to analyse what I did wrong and look for ways not to fall into the same trap again.

We all make mistakes, the secret is to try and alter your behaviour so you don't make the same mistake twice!
14/6/2019 7:37:35 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I still prefer a good level of protection for myself Ian though I accept the risk compensation aspect. Sharon had all her kit on when she took her spill on the gravel and I've no doubt the kit did it's job and did it well. If nothing else we'd have been pulling gravel out of her thigh without it. It is still perfectly reasonable to consider - would she have been going much slower which would have allowed her to avoid the gravel if she'd been wearing jeans and a Barbour jacket? The great what ifs.

Yes the magic suit might make motorcycling perfectly safe for the rider but this won't protect the pedestrian from the 190kg lump of metal and plastic hurtling towards them because the rider can afford to see if corner X can be negotiated at speed Y without injury. Snod - you and I being as tight as the lug nuts on an 18 wheeler - we wouldn't carry out such experiments but there are plenty with enough cash that would.

Tens of pounds Snod? Such frippery, such excess! Calm yourself man and save the pennies for a rainy day.

I'm the tidiest person in my house too CrazyFrog. That's because I'm the only person in my house. The worst part about living along is when the place is a poop tip and I can't find something I only have myself to blame. I have shouting matches with myself, and just like being married I still lose the argument.

I could fill the server with mistakes I've made... made twice.
14/6/2019 9:25:14 AM UTC
said :-
24/6/2019 12:36:23 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
25/6/2019 9:04:15 AM UTC

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