I had a mild wakeup call on my way to work this morning. Two blocks from my house, there is an intersection with a traffic light with a very short yellow. As I approached the light, I saw the light changing. Knowing it is a short yellow and seeing a car ready to run left and another car stopped on the right I decided not to run the yellow and stop. I was going less than 35MPH but I had a very short reaction time so I hit the brakes knowing it was going to be a harder than usual stop. Next, the rear tire locked and the bike starts drifting right, instantly instinct took over
I point the front tire in the direction of the drift; release the front break, kept pressure on the rear break and counter balance the bike to avoid a slide. I finally stopped past the crosswalk with the bike straight up, almost parallel to the direction of travel and some smoke and the smell of burned rubber around me. I took a couple of steps back to make sure I am not in the middle of the intersection, looked around to see what caused the lock and the slide. Seeing nothing, I continued on my way to work once the light changes.
While on the way I started congratulating myself for a textbook recover off a rear locked and slide when suddenly I realized I made a very basic mistake. I hit the rear break hard before the front locking the rear tire. I asked myself why I did such a stupid thing. Now I realize that I was in a very familiar non-threatening surroundings and MY HAND WAS OFF THE BREAK WHEN APPROACHING THE INTERSECTION.
Lesson learned: Comfortable surroundings are not an excuse for using basic accident prevention techniques. While in heavy traffic keep the hand covering the breaks add to that while approaching ALL intersections or any other circumstances when a clean stop can save you from using your emergency recovery techniques.
MSF teaches you that, if the rear tire locks up, DO NOT let up on the brake. If you do, the rear tire could start fishtailing and then you have a high-side fall. The correct thing is to stay on the brake and let up on the front and steer with the slide. Now if the front locks up, you let off....
Thanks folks for the positive feedback. Never been congratulated before for making a mistake. MSF is correct about staying on the rear break and let go on the front. I remember as a kid riding a bmx bike on dirt that is how to avoid a high side fall. Learned the hard way about it. In dirt you let go of the rear break and the rear tire will follow the front straightening the bike. On pavement letting go off the rear break will cause the wheels to rotate at different speeds and at different directions causing the entire bike to rotate on its longitudinal axel. Long for a high side fall. I rather stay with the rubber side down. However if you are going to fall, the low side is the place to go.
Did not think about tire temp. That day the temp was rather cool for Colorado summer morning. We can get as cool as upper 50s f at night and climb to the 90's f during the day. It take a few miles to get the tires to the right temp up here. Not a problem when touring and riding the twities since most of the good roads, with one exception, are over 40 miles away.