Thursday, March 12, 2009

Secret Moto-Knowledge

We sickle-bums tend to become repositories of all sorts of arcane knowledge. If you want to know how to do whatever, find a biker. Actually, that would be a fun topic to cover in more depth sometime. But not today.

Today I'm going to talk about one specific bit of motorcyclist wisdom - knowing which lane to be in at a specific time.

Unlike your average cage driving, mouth breathing, cellphone yapping moron, motorcycle commuters pay attention to traffic conditions. Patterns become obvious. Pretty soon, the commute is a finely choreographed event.

Here's how it goes for me: Merge on the freeway and get into the left lane immediately. No more than one mile later, get into the middle lane and stay there until just before the HOV lane opens. The middle lane is always the fastest, but I can't figure out why.

Once I'm in the HOV lane I'm good for several miles until the freeway curves to the right (and starts going slightly up hill). This spot seems to be where I catch the slowbies in the HOV lane, so this is the place to get into the next lane to the right and roll on the gas when I'm feeling saucy. I have to get back into the HOV lane within a half mile, however, because traffic comes to a screeching halt just past the end of the next curve.

For the next couple miles I'm trapped in the HOV lane (with no breakdown lane as a safety buffer), so I slow down a bit since a 60+ mph speed difference is a little scary given the likeliness of a zombie driver pulling into the HOV lane at any moment. I've been cut off too many times in this area to be comfortable going fast.

After that it's an easy cruise to the exit, though I have to check my speed once because of the speed cameras. Here begins the only part of my commute that really changes frequently, due to the insanity of roadwork in Phoenix. I haven't taken the same route to work from the off ramp once in the last week.

So, here's my tip for with-it cagers: if you want the smoothest commute you can get, pay attention to the motorcycle commuters you see everyday. They know the roads really, really well.