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TOPIC: The Silent Killer in us

The Silent Killer in us 22 May 2018 04:06 #44509

  • Richard H
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I have always been an advocate of sharing experiences with others as a way of spreading wisdom. The subject I wish to raise now is one that many have probably not considered, but should – FATIGUE.

Recently I experienced the effects of fatigue while riding. I was most fortunate not the suffer the possible permanent effects and I lived to tell this tale. Returning from the GS Trophy, I was riding my trusted 1200GS at around the legal speed limit near Klerksdorp. Having started off from Vanderkloof Dam at sunrise, we had planned to stop at Potchefstroom to have brunch. My eyelids were getting heavy and I looked forward to the meal stop.

I choose to ride without music. Suddenly I heard a change in the sounds in my helmet. The road rumble had gone. I realised I had experienced a micro-sleep at speed. I was no longer on the road!

I was riding on the left shoulder, rapidly approaching a large road sign on three poles. My adrenaline charged awareness told me I was not going to fit under it. I would have to ride around it. One word ran through my mind… GENTLY! My off-road rider training kicked in automatically. I stood up and applied brakes front and rear. I gently used counter steering to avoid the road sign and rode between it and the fence on its left. I saw an access road in front of me and knew that I had to ride up the embankment and I reduced speed even further. I stopped on the access road and put the side-stand out, killing the engine. I put both hands on my tank bag and lowered my head.


Some minutes later, my riding companions caught up to me. I just said: “I have to stop and rest!” We proceeded into Klerksdorp and I rested over brunch. We continued home without further incident.

I am writing this not to discuss or to dwell on what COULD have happened. Anyone can do so by themselves. I am appealing to all who ride to realise that fatigue catches you QUICKLY. It could have only been a few seconds of lost attention, but I now know what death looks like.

If you feel your attention even just wandering slightly, STOP IMMEDIATELY!

At the first safe place along the road, pull off and break your ride! Break the routine that is creating the fatigue. Walk around the bike. Drink some water. Eat some biltong, dry sausage, nuts or dry fruit. Avoid sugar – it causes blood sugar level spikes and troughs that affect your alertness. Close your eyes while you do to rest the optical nerves. Breathe deeply and deliberately.

DON’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT TOWN! You may not reach it alive!

The experience has changed me and how I ride. I have identified possible health causes that I will act upon. I have resolved not to ride such long distances without breaks anymore. I will stop every hour to rest, increasing the rest duration every time. I will use fuel stops to really rest and to close my eyes – even take a short nap.
Learn from my mistake. You may not survive a similar experience.
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The Silent Killer in us 22 May 2018 08:29 #44510

  • Beancounter
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Hi Richard

Glad you kept your cool.Well done.

Alex van der Horst
2010 F800GS
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The Silent Killer in us 22 May 2018 10:42 #44512

  • sandras
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Wow Richard - Glad you are OK.

Yes - I am all for stopping and stretching after a while but abilities might get misjudged when the drive to get home gets bigger and bigger!
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The Silent Killer in us 24 May 2018 14:45 #44518

  • B2R
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A good story and lesson for all Richard. Glad you are alive to tell the tale.
Going slowly and resting makes a trip so much more enjoyable.
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The Silent Killer in us 24 May 2018 19:45 #44520

  • JohnGSA
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Thanks Richard - food for thought for all of us.
Fatigue happens slowly... then suddenly.
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The Silent Killer in us 12 Jun 2018 10:59 #44563

  • Nunrob
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Thank you for sharing your story Richard....
a LOT of food for Thought!
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