Overconfidence when riding got me into trouble: How to prevent this?

I made a promise to myself to exercise the utmost level of caution while driving or riding and ensure my safety and the safety of those around me on the road.

BHPian MVM recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Greetings to all the members of the forum.

I was issued my driving license in the month of October 2022 (Both for car as well as motorcycle). I remember vividly before I got my driving licence about how disapproving I was of those riders and drivers who over speed or drive recklessly on public roads. I made a promise to myself that I would always ride/drive at a reasonable speed. I made a promise to myself that I would always adhere to traffic rules and not get instigated by the other commuters on the road.

I made a promise to myself to exercise the utmost level of caution while driving or riding and ensure my safety and the safety of those around me on the road.

But as time has progressed I have gradually started to break these promises. I have also developed a bountiful amount of overconfidence and I have no idea where it arises from. I have begun to drive recklessly at times.

I have been driving for only 4/5 months but for some reason I have the stupid idea that I am a pro when it comes to driving and riding and that I can ride any bike and drive any car at high speeds with utmost control. My father has been driving for the past 40 years and has an unmatchable level of car control, but when I drive with my father I find myself almost always stupidly defending all the mistakes that he points out with my driving just to prevent my ego from being hurt.

Of late this overconfidence has come back to bite me and I realise the dire need to curb it before it lands me up in a horrible situation.

2 events of late made the severity of the issue very evident.

Event 1:

This event occurred on the 17th of February at 6 P.M.

I had never ridden a Royal Enfield Bullet or Classic 350 before. Hence when our driver bought a 2015 RE Classic 350 I always wanted to take a ride on it. He purchased the C350 at around the same time when I got my HF100 but I decided to learn how to ride my bike bike properly before asking for a ride on the C350.

But for the past few weeks I have developed an overconfident attitude which fools me into thinking that I can ride any and every bike on the planet like a professional right from the first ride. The Classic was brought to our house and I took her for a spin. I was riding on familiar roads and all was going well for the first 5-10 minutes. I then decided to head to the road where my grandmother's road is situated since it is a fairly good road with almost no traffic. I had learnt how to ride my bike on that very road and had spent a lot of time playing on this road during my childhood. I felt I knew this road like the back of my hand. I approached the 90 degree left turn which would take me onto the road and leaned into the turn while weaning off the accelerator. Once I had made the turn I immediately got back on the accelerator too fast and too hard. What I didn't / couldn't see was the sand and cement which had spilled onto the road from a nearby construction site. The rear tyre lost grip and the inevitable happened. I walked away from the accident with scrapes on my shoulder, knee and my ego. Since I was wearing proper riding attire I walked away with minor injuries.

The bike suffered a bent engine guard and a bent footpeg. This was the first ever fall that I had on a motorcycle and moreover it wasn't even my bike which made the pain a lot worse. I paid for the damages while profusely apologising to our driver who was more concerned about me than his bike. The C350 was fixed within a day and runs and drives fine but I don't have the guts to ask our driver for another ride. I felt that this would make me learn my lesson and be a more cautious rider but it definitely hasn't.

The very next day I got back on my HF100 and went about running some errands. I rode very cautiously at first but after a few kilometres I began resorting to my old ways of riding. The style of riding I practice is somewhat safe on lower capacity bikes such as my HF since their acceleration is gradual and they have meagre amounts of power. The problem arises because I use the same throttle control when I ride higher capacity bikes like the C350 instead of riding them slowly and getting a feel of the acceleration, braking, suspension etc.

Event 2:

This event occurred on the 20th of February at around 7 P.M.

I had seen the advert posted by an avid biker and Yezdi collector who was selling one of his bikes. I had received his contact earlier through another Yezdi owner and had spoken to him around 2 months back. At that time he very sensibly dissuaded me from buying a Yezdi since I was student. He told me that these bikes require a more than adequate amount time, money and patience all 3 of which are hard to find in student life. I heeded his advice and stopped my search for a Yezdi but I couldn't forget about Yezdis and when I saw his advert I couldn't resist contacting him since I knew it would be in good condition. After contacting him and telling him about my passion for Yezdis he told me to come and have a look at the bike after which we could go ahead. My father and I went to his house at around 7PM. After speaking with him for a while I took the bike for a ride and ended up getting lost in that area which was my fault entirely. I was quite close to the owner's house ( around 400 metres away ) but since I had never been to the area before and since it was dark outside I ended up getting lost. They were able to find me after I sent them my location but once they found me the owner snatched the keys from me and took away the bike. Once we reached his house he was extremely frustrated and told my father that he was not comfortable selling the bike to me since I didn't know how to properly ride or treat the bike and that despite his advice if I am persistent he will give me the keys to the vehicle only after the transfer of ownership is complete. During the test ride I accidentally missed a shift and ended up shifting into neutral before going to the second gear. I also rode the bike at a slightly high speed down a slope both of which deeply offended the owner. I did not cause any damage to the bike but I understand the sentiments of the owner. He told me that I should learn to take care of a bike especially when it isn't mine and that I should know how to treat other people's belongings. I was deeply hurt by this incident so much so that I permanently gave up the idea of owning a Yezdi. I always thought that I had an iota of mechanical empathy but when I heard that the owner was not comfortable with selling the bike to me fearing the damage I would cause to it I decided to stop looking for a Yezdi henceforth and accept that I am not the appropriate rider for one. I have been chasing the bike for the past year almost and the bike has rejected me on multiple occasions so I have decided to move on.

During both these incidents I have committed various mistakes all of which have been caused primarily due to my overconfidence. Hence I am requesting advice on how to curb this insouciant behaviour.

Please share your suggestions. Thank you for your time.

Here's what BHPian Abhyjith K.A had to say on the matter:

Life can sometimes, seem to hang on a loose thread that can break off anytime. Our existence in itself can be fragile and anything can happen to anyone at anytime.

Those who understand this, but still don on that helmet and hit the road are the real riders. Being careful on the road is something that must come from within. Something that must come from experience. Your experience with the C350 will always teach you to take it easy from now onwards, however unpleasant it may have been at that time. Trust me, even I've been there as well. It's embarassing, but enlightening.

I face the same ordeal with my dad while driving as well, but I learnt to always accept his constant advising, however annoying it may have initially been, knowing that all he's trying to do is teach me all that he knows to make sure I turn out to be the best driver I can be. With this arrangement, we've already done multiple trips all the way across Tamil Nadu, Kerala & Andhra with me purely behind the wheel. I guess those trips deserve a thread as well. Will make one for sure!

Love brings humility.

When it comes to ownership of vintage motorcycles and automobiles in general, one can never afford to be easily affected and must learn to develop a thick skin to take on the often harsh beatings we face. If not this one, then you can always find another one. Maybe there's something better in store for you, so don't take things personally. We don't love a certain type of thing or even a person for no reason. We just find factors that we relate to.

And when you do eventually pull the trigger and get yourself a Yezdi, don't be afraid to ride the living daylights out of it. Just not recklessly. Jawas & Yezdis had a fine motorsport pedigree. They were meant to be ridden. If not petrol, even kerosene can keep them going. They're hardy machines. Never feel guilty of mishaps even if they occur. Learn and move on. That's the spirit to always have. It's possible to baby a machine, and ride it properly at the same time. As far as what I can see, the machine is only making you more mature as a rider through those experiences. That's a fantastic thing, if you ask me.

Here's what BHPian aargee had to say on the matter:

What I'm going to say are my own experience, learned through years, so opinions may vary. Most of them might sound philosophical, unfortunately that's my learning from Indian roads:

  • Age has got nothing to do with mishaps, this is why it's called an accident, otherwise it's an incident.
  • I've said this to my children as well & sharing it here - Just don't ride/drive faster than your guardian angel can fly {below picture summarizes what I try to convey}.
  • It's the ability of CONCENTRATION & FOCUS that determines the outcome of anything & everything in life.
  • If you imagine your guardian angel as the ability to focus & concentrate, then DO NOT let your mind wander when you ride/drive
  • If you go through this forum, many a times, our folks have said driving/riding is like meditation. It is this high state of mind {flow} they achieve through concentration & focus that they're able to attain when driving/riding {perhaps what they love doing the most}. Try to love & enjoy being at the moment what you're doing the most - Ride/Drive
  • Ride/drive as if you're going to reach your destination in the next minute & you love being on the saddle/seat & you would like to stay there forever. So naturally you would like to be there forever in that state & you would naturally savor being there every second & want it to last for ever.
  • I wouldn't term it inner peace kind of overwhelming philosophy, but a state of mind that's so focused to driving/riding that everything else don't exist in the mind.
  • Although its a single state of mind, you still need to view the duality: 1. The present state. 2. Anticipate the next move of everyone around you (yes all 360 degrees, if not 720).
  • Remember, if you ride for everyone else {open mind}, even if the other person makes a mistake, through your own thoughts, actions & focus you're shielded.
  • For every ride/drive you undertake, this is the first time you're starting; this will not only make you remain attentive, but also LEARN & where there's continuous learning, there's knowledge being built {for instance, trucks have lots of blind spots, they're the most decent & predictable people on highway; most two-wheelers are menace; highways are most dangerous; stray cattle are unpredictable on curvy highways etc}.
  • All the more - practice, practice & practice {perhaps with a track? or group of responsible riders/drivers} which will help you a lot in improving not just your skills, but also your personality as well. What you've asked here shows a very responsible state of mind as well.
  • Besides practicing, be practical as well; if you don't feel like riding/driving in traffic, simply don't ride/drive! Remember there're other options: Public Transport; if you're running out of time - Uber Moto/Taxi or India's mini ground missiles - The Autorickshaw!!
  • Last but not the least - to ride fast, you need to start with riding slow {as this requires a deeper level explanation, I'm leaving at this point to ponder over}.

Here's what BHPian Chetan_Rao had to say on the matter:

Look around you, are all the reckless riders/drivers young?

It's not about age, it's about respect and training. Respect for your own life & wellbeing, those of others, and your ride. Training plays a crucial part, which unfortunately is a step skipped by the vast majority in our country. We learn on the go, make mistakes and get better. Some never learn, and get worse.

Don't beat yourself up about it, it's a natural phase we all went through while getting out first taste of the freedom an automobile brings. You'll keep learning as you ride/drive, that process is never going to stop. The urge to be reckless will never go away entirely either, you'll just learn to let your sane brain keep control.

Gear up, do your best and if the reckless urge gets too much, take a break to calm down and protect yourself. You'll be fine.

P.S. Resist the urge to 'upgrade' too soon. You might be able to afford to buy it, but ask yourself if you can afford to ride/drive it responsibly.

Here's what BHPian drt_rdr had to say on the matter:

How should you keep the energy of youth in check? Listen to your dad and\or experienced people. Don't ignore his\their experience and knowledge because knowledge of certain things can accelerate your growth at a rapid pace.

They've been through the grind of weeding out the good from the bad. You don't have to go through the same. You don't necessarily have to follow everything people say. Not everything will be agreeable or even applicable to you. But keep those as a template from which you can experiment and arrive at your own conclusions, or branch out on your own.

Also, maybe buy a slightly higher capacity used motorcycle with your own earnings\pocket money and maintain it from own purse as a means towards obtaining a sense of responsibility.

A fairly light, well handling 150-250cc naked might do the trick. This will satisfy your need for speed and control, but also expose you to potential dangers while not being too overwhelming and keeping you relatively safe (but keep in mind, that doesn't exclude the possibility of things going wrong at any time). This will likely instill a practical sense of responsibility in you as you amass experiences, weed out bad habits, and seek out knowledge and more experience to ride better.

You will come to practically understand that riding a motorcycle in Indian conditions is not something to take lightly. Anyone can ride any motorcycle, but riding well and safe and surviving years and decades on our roads invariably takes a lot of awareness, forethought, knowledge, AND FEAR. That usually sits firmly in the head only through experience.

You may eventually even grow out of your desire to ride motorcycles, or atleast ride them with the urgency you feel now.

Good luck.

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