Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lane-Crossing On the Dragon: Don't Go There

My fellow kn-nig-its (thanks, John Cleese and Monty Python) and I are donning our armor for the Spring Slayings.  When you've done the Dragon a time or two, you know the drill pretty well.  Pace yourself.  Keep a margin of safety in hand for two-way traffic and deceptive corners.  Darryl Cannon had useful Tips For Riders And Drivers on his old website: don't brake or shift too much, slow down at the ends to cool your brakes.  His cockpit video "Jay Multistrada" remains the best Dragon tutorial I've seen:

We use pulloffs to clear for faster traffic and hope slower traffic will do the same for us.  We watch for the rare oncoming 18-wheeler and stop before the corner he's approaching.  (I've not seen an 18-wheeler yet in my five trips to the Dragon.)  We back it down for oncoming vehicles bigger than a pickup because they may use part of our lane to get through the bend.  You can run hard and have fun if you're alert and keep a margin in hand.

We watch out for the very occasional lane-crossers.  Which was why the picture below gave me pause.  Most lane-crossers, most of the time, do it when they think they can see through a bend.  (Which is not enough: you need to be able to see past the bend.)  But even if you think you can see, lane-crossing is counter-productive.  Most of the Dragon's turns are banked.  Not scientifically, but banked just the same.  If you go in hot, lane-crossing, the suspension will unload as the banking returns to normal road crown: an invitation to loss of traction in a rear wheel drive car.  That is, if you haven't already blown the line by apexing too early: an invitation to understeering into the oncoming lane.

But it's really dumb to lane-cross entering a blind bend.  Anyone who's made a few Dragon passes knows that he may encounter very capable oncoming cars and sportbikes, running way faster than "normal."  They flash past.  If you're in their lane they'll flash into your hood.

Oncoming sportbikers might say "Semi's?  Semi's?!?!?  We don't need no steekin' semi's!!!  We got this guy!!"
The only reason this driver didn't collect a fast-moving biker and ruin at least two people's day was... luck.

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