Two incidents on one day. Forewarned? Coincidence? Or just the usual, reality trying to scare the life out of you?
Incident one. In my housing society, the exit gate leads to a steep downward ramp clad in the slipperiest paver tiles known to man. This leads to the (scruffier, grippier) paver tiled road. I normally stop (as in feet down) at the head of the ramp - to check on traffic - before I head down and left and leave for work or whatever. Today I noticed a Honda City coming up the road slowly - heading in the direction I would once I made my turn. I nodded to the chap as a sort of, "Allow me to go first, please?" And crept down the curve once I saw his head bob downwards like he understood. Halfway down - hard to stop at this point - I realised that the Honda City'd picked up his pace. Whoa.
I quickly accelerated while leaning further to keep my line tight and to get the bike cleanly ahead of the car. In that moment, I looked into the car with a WTF-ish sort of thought. I realised that the man hadn't bobbed a yes, he was merely getting ready to text someone on his freaking cellphone. And now, in the midst of the SMS, he hadn't realised that he'd picked up the speed.
Incident two. This took place at a T-junction. I usually pass the top of the T from right to left. This can usually be done rapidly because no one appears to use the intersection to turn right across my path on to the vertical body of the T (heading downwards, as it were). The rare traffic the vertical part does see is traffic turning left in my direction of travel, and in the evening, traffic turning towards me (up the vertical body and right). Complex. I hope you understand the word imagery - I don't have the time to sit with a graphics software right now, apologies.
Anyway, so I'm crossing this place today and I see an autorickshaw coming up in the opposing lane (top of the T, heading left to right) with his indicator blinking. As is usual, he was drifting into my lane as a pre-cursor to actually turning. So far so good. I flashed him with my R15's twin headlamps to ensure he understood that I was going to go straight past him first. I saw him slow up and continue to inch into my part of the road as auto rickshaws are won't to do. But his slow-ness assured me that I wasn't going to be blocked, so I continued.
As I crossed the rick with about two feet of space between me and his front wheel, I saw a Pulsar hidden behind the rick. Rider and pillion, no lids and no clue. They weren't slowing either. Oh sh*t.
Nothing happened, thankfully. For two very good reasons. First, I was bang in the middle of the powerband as I usually ensure I am when I enter intersections - whether I'm on the throttle or not. In my peripheral vision I noticed two things - the rider's hand was not on the throttle - which meant his speed wouldn't change - it'd be near constant. Second, he was looking over his shoulder as he chatted with his pillion - so he wouldn't do anything - evasive or stupid. What happened next, then, was entirely up to me - not too bad a deal I think.
So I rolled on the throttle hard-hard-hard and the R15's indefatigable engine carried me past without a hitch. But not before my heart-rate accelerated rapidly. And I'm certain the clueless Pulsar-borne duo had their own oh-sh*t moment as well in there.
What did I learn? That I'd just gotten lazy and had two reality checks handed to me. In the first case, I should have waited until I was sure he nodded. Or simply done the ultra-safe thing - just waited for the City-man to pass by. I'd have been past him on the straight within moments anyway. In the second case, I should have remembered something that I read once. that is so obvious that it beggars belief when you think about how you never follow that simple instruction.
We, motorcyclists, scan for hazards constantly, right? The better ones among us smoothly identify and deal with these hazards in the normal course of things in a number of ways. Right? The thing I read somewhere - think it was Art Friedman at MotorcycleCruiser.com, but I'm not sure... The think I read somewhere was that reality never guarantees that a particular moment in time poses only one hazard.
In simple terms, you need to pay attention to the hazard to process and mitigate it. But that doesn't mean another or more hazards do not also exist in the same moment. That you need to learn to keep scanning for hazards even as you deal with one. This is harder than it appears on the face of it by a matter of scales - but it isn't optional.
But you live and learn, eh?