Riding clinic: Become a motorway master

Published: 06 May 2017

Keep your distance

As your speed increases so should the distance between you and other traffic. At 60mph your braking distance is going to be around 70 metres, depending on the bike. If you’re riding in a group of bikes remember to leave big gaps between yourself and the other riders, too.

Be clear on filtering

Do this legally and safely. In congestion you can undertake or filter but do so with extreme caution. You don’t want to be undertaking at speed. Give yourself time to react and make sure everyone can clearly see you and your intended position.

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Joining the traffic

When entering the motorway on the slip road match your speed to the traffic; you shouldn’t blast in at double the speed limit, nor should you slow down to 30mph in a panic. Think smoothly and slot into position, clearly indicating whilst double checking your blind spots over your shoulder.

And relax...

All too often, riders tend to tighten up as the speed increases. Relax; enjoy the speed and the ride. You don’t need to hold on any tighter just because you’re travelling at motorway speeds, and doing so will only serve to make you more fatigued over long distances.

Get properly protected

Don’t dwell on this, but here’s a quick, graphic reminder about why you need to wear proper, protective kit. If you crash at 50mph in bare skin you’ll lose round 1.5cm of tissue –skin, flesh and muscle. At 70mph you can more than double that. Obviously this depends on bodyweight, how you crash, and the road surface. But it goes without saying: 70mph in shorts and T-shirt is just stupid. Not only that, but road debris thrown up at 70mph from other traffic can easily cause nasty cuts and bruises to bare skin.

Stay out of drivers’ blind spots

It’s extremely easy for a bike to fall into a blind spot on the motorway; I’ve lost count of the number of near misses I’ve had when a driver has changed lanes without looking. Before overtaking, ask yourself if the driver has seen you. Are there any signs? Are they likely to move into your lane? Don’t rely on seeing an indicator, some drivers simply don’t bother, or may creep into your lane if they’re distracted by their sat-nav. If in doubt, don’t overtake until you are sure it’s safe to do so.

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