Monday, September 21, 2015

Stay On The Game

There's an immutable truth about two wheels - eventually you will go down.

Riding motorcycles involves a higher level of risk than other "ordinary" daily activities, so the level of risk management is also heightened.

After a risk event has occurred, then the task evolves from risk management to event assessment, then short term corrective activity, and eventually long term adjustment.

Hopefully, along these phases, we learn something to a) increase risk management skills and b) improve post event procedures.

Through my 46 years of motorcycling adventure, I've improved my risk management skills considerably, and have also increased my knowledge and understanding of post event procedures.

Alas, I tested those skills and knowledge on Saturday. Fortunately, all 46 years of learning paid off.

For instance, not long ago I recognized that my riding clothes were not suitable for the type of riding I most often engage in (canyon roads in Malibu), so I upgraded to an Alpinestar full leather two piece riding suit. I got a great deal on it, so it passed my wife's value test (sliding scale: the more safety provided the more I can spend, but if I get a "bargain" then it's like an 'Ebay instant buy' approval - no discussion needed!).

It was sunny and clear. In the canyons probably in the mid-90s. The roads weren't busy.

My favorite first run is up Deer Creek Canyon - the views at the ridge top, where it turns to Pacific View Drive, sweep from the Pacific Ocean on the right, to the beautiful red rock of Boney Mountain on the left.

After the ridge the road turns into Cotharin Road, and then intersects Yerba Buena.

Normally I would go north on Yerba Buena towards Boney Mountain. But I knew it would be over 100 at the top, so I decided to stay at the lower elevations and instead of left at Yerba Buena, I turned right to head down to Pacific Coast Highway.

I love Yerba Buena Road. It's tight, twisty, and relatively good pavement on that south-bound leg (going up to Boney Mountain the road is in dire need of repair).

So down Yerba Buena Road I went, pitching The Sewing Machine (2011 Honda CBR250R) left to right and right to left, diving into corners, scrubbing those tires, and having The Time of My Life.

Ah, but a moment of inattention resulted in a test of my risk management skills.

I wasn't riding particularly assertively as I entered a tight right hand drop away 180 degree corner about half way down Yerba Buena (40 miles into my ride) - ... my demise.

It was slow motion. I clearly felt the slide start, and I countered with my best corrective action - a little more counter-steering, a touch more throttle, no brakes - alas, too little too late.

TMS slid out at about 30 MPH - a low-side on the right. I held on, as I have learned over those 46 years, to maintain as much control over machine and man as possible. Clutch in, throttle still in hand - after we stopped sliding, I noted that we had swiveled nearly 120 degrees so the front of the bike was facing up hill.

Dang it!

Post event assessment ensued.

I quickly remounted, engine still running, and throttled out of the roadway, back up a few feet to identify what the heck happened and that's when I noticed that the right footpeg on TSM was missing.

The Alpinestar suit proved an excellent risk management system - no bruises, no cuts, no rash: no insult to my body whatsoever.

The only damage, other than the broken foot peg, was scraps on the tail pipe heat guard, scratches on the right mirror, a bent brake pedal and the scuff marks on the leathers.

Otherwise, very little damage, and if I didn't tell my wife she might not notice...

Inspection of the road didn't reveal anything abnormal. I didn't notice any loose dirt. The asphalt appeared normal. My conclusion was that I was just a hair off my game, and payment was extracted.

But clearly, the "temporary disability" of a missing footpeg meant the balance of my ride (Mulholland Highway, Latigo Canyon Road, Decker Canyon Road, among others) would be cancelled - time to limp home with my right foot using the rear, passenger, footrest for support.

Back home I straightened the brake lever with a wrench, cleaned up the hash marks on the mirror with a file, and ordered up a surplus footpeg on Ebay for $11.00, tax and shipping included.

The Alpinestar leathers are now officially broken in...

The thing about risk management is that one never knows whether the techniques implemented work until a risk event occurs. And then it's too late to make adjustments - you can only learn from that risk event to make adjustments for future possibilities, which of course you won't know whether the adjustments are successful until the following risk event.

And the risks come from all sorts of different angles. In my case there's the risk of falling in the first place, but that is the major, precipitating event to other risk events.

But once a risk event happens, once an injury occurs, once a claim is made, managing the risk is no longer applicable. It's too late. The risk happened!

Risk management in the work place is about ensuring safe practices so a work injury or claim does not occur.

Risk management on the other hand is not about managing the work comp claim because, as I said above, the injury or claim occurred because of the failure in risk management in the first place.

What happens after a risk event, after the claim is made or injury incurred, now becomes claim management - or if we were following the lessons from Monday's teachings, people management.

Injured workers are not a risk anymore, they are real - risk management already failed because there was an injury or illness, or a claim of such. Using risk management techniques on injured workers fails them, fails the employer, fails the system.

The skills and techniques are different.

After the risk event it's time to manage the person, not the risk.

I think its noteworthy that the preeminent organization for risk managers includes in its title, insurance. For not only does the professional risk manager assess and remediate potential risks, but part of the equation is ensuring mitigation of a risk event with insurance coverage.

And once the risk event occurs the risk manager becomes the insurance manager to ensure the folks to whom the risk was transferred do their jobs in the post event setting. The top risk managers recognize that the next stage has occurred and people management becomes paramount.

Medical costs can go up, claim frequency can go down, indemnity severity might go up - at the end of the day, risk management first retards the probability of a risk event, but then moves into managing the claims response.

I said that after a risk event occurs the risk manager learns and makes adjustments.

After nearly 20 years of marriage, I have learned and have made adjustments, particularly in my post risk event people management techniques.

When I returned home I told my wife that I was really happy with my Alpinestar leather suit and that it "worked perfectly."

She was ecstatic at first, but frowned when I told her of my first person testing. She smiled again after I noted that there was no damage to body, or soul, and that TSM had only about $11 worth of damage.

Next weekend I'll be just a little more attentive to my riding, and stay on my game.

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