Technique: Artful Dodging

It's a painful rule of physics: Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Still, various bits and pieces of life's detritus have a habit of periodically materializing right where you're planning to be in the next few seconds. On the mean streets of Boss Angeles, we've dodged some wild stuff: charcoal briquettes, innumerable mashed pets, a leather couch and even one very misguided canoe, sans canoeist. With maybe a second and a half to decide what to do and no second chance, you need to get it right the first time.

Before you do anything rash, rewind to the start of the ride. Make sure your mind's right before leaving the garage. The chances of steering around trouble are much better if you're thinking about the road ahead instead of what's for dinner. And never assume anything is what it seems. (Ask us about the innocent-looking sack full of roofing nails sometime.) If you're not sure, make sure there's room and then swerve; essentially two very tidy turns in rapid succession. The fundamentals are simple, but circumstances can play out into millions of different scenarios. For the purposes of this exercise, assume there's enough room to flick left around that canoe.

The bike follows your eyes, so look at the escape route, not the canoe. Map a clean line around the left of the blockade in your mind. Now for a little countersteering demonstration: Push the handlebar forward with your left hand, shift your weight to the left and bingo!--you turn left. After clearing the unexpected inconvenience, push right, lean right and turn right, theoretically ending up back on your original trajectory. Meanwhile, go easy on the brakes and throttle. Your brain and tires are very busy, and it's easy to overwhelm either or both.

Artful dodging requires quickness, precision and practice. The dodge needs to become almost a reflex. So find a safe place to rehearse--maybe a deserted parking lot with a dearth of oil spots next Saturday morning--until you've got it down cold. You never know where that canoe is going to show up again.