For a heart stopping moment, a crash seemed inevitable...
I was on a confidence riding lesson today, which brought us from the East to the West side of the island. The (what I thought initially) exciting part of the whole trip was to be our first debut on the highway. To get us started on long distance traveling, we were to travel non-stop from Bedok (where the circuit is) to the West Coast.
The excitement was palatable in my group as our bikes approached the filter lane leading towards the PIE (The Pan-Island Expressway). I believed that some of the more excitable ones were essentially hopping up and down in their seats at the sight of the long stretch of the road in front of them.
I approached the road with gusto, gunning the throttle to a comfortable 55 km/hr behind a van. All seemed well, until a taxi cut, without any prior indication of the driver's intention, into my lane, and with such abruptness, I was forced to reach for the brakes. A rude awakening, perhaps.
About halfway into the journey, I noticed Complacency sneaking around some of the more accomplished riders. They were basically ignoring the mirrors, and were intent on the road ahead of them. They might have been waiting for the runway to clear before taking off for all the care in the world! Thank goodness, a sharp horn by the instructor snapped them out of their spell.
As for me, I was too busy checking all possible danger points that I wasn't able to enjoy the blooming trees planted neatly along the side of the highway. Nor was I able to marvel at the culture-rich colonial buildings strewn in the distance...
32 km and after a really sore backside, we finally pulled up inside an industrial estate car park. Which was a relief, because I was really exhausted by all the mind-wrangling on the highway.
In case you were wondering how this fits in with the topic of this blog, here's the bridge: I nearly up-ended myself into a pick-up on my way back to the driving circuit.
I was too busy checking the sides for drivers with an interest in running me off the road that I neglected to catch up with the vehicle in front of me, and allowed a pick-up truck to cut in (illegally! What's new!) to my lane. I gave no thought to his inconsiderate behaviour, and believing that he was going straight, I paid him no further attention. That was when he decided to slow down, and turn into a small road on the left. He braked with such suddenness, I was caught by surprise. Reaching for my brakes again, I was resisting a natural tendency to jam the lever. Praying hard, I managed to apply enough force to avoid a collision. I ended up so close that I could read the part number on the pick-up's tail guard.
Heart thumping, I reluctantly opened my throttle (I couldn't have just stopped there, right?), and proceeded with even more caution than usual. I was so shaken that I didn't dare stay anywhere within 50 metres of any vehicle in front of me for the rest of the trip back.
I guess today was a shock introduction to the World of Driving on a Highway. Even now, horror images of my near miss are replaying in my mind. I won't be forgetting this in a hurry, I'll bet!
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All the about Pkchukiss's life in the Singapore Armed Forces
Thursday, June 03, 2004
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