Some thoughts from the afternoon ride
May 10, 2010 at 4:02 am #3943
This afternoon, I went out for a nice easy ride around a loop of road that I haven’t been on since last fall. Some of it is twisty, some of it is straight. All of it is back road with little traffic. A nice ride for a sunny Sunday afternoon.
I’m still not really comfortable on the curves. I really didn’t ride enough last summer to get comfortable with them, so that isn’t a big surprise. But I am seeing alot more easily this year how and where and why to choose the lines through the curve and why where the Apex is is important. I am also a lot more comfortable with taking my time on run that road. Where last year, I felt like everyone who saw me was thinking “new rider- get outta my way” this year, I am pretty much in the f’em camp.
What really surprised me though is just how different a road feels when you are traveling it in the reverse of the direction you normally go. When I’m riding, I usually have a route in mind rather than a destination, so I tend to ride in circles. This means that I frequently ride roads only going in one direction. You get used to the feel of the road and know how to take the curves and where the bumps and dips are, but when you go the other way, it a whole new road to get familiar with.
At one point, I was in the middle of one curve and had to consciously tell myself not to look down, that I wasn’t about to run off the road, keep on the line with my eye on the exit. Sometimes it is hard to trust myself that I’m doing the right thing. The weird thing about this is that it is a corner that I take everytime I ride- just going the other way. What is even stranger is that on my bike I’m more comfortable going through it the opposite direction from what I prefer in my car. Go figure.
Speaking of directions in which you normally ride, I realized today why I always turn right going out of my neighborhood for my afternoon ride instead of left. This probably sounds strange, but for me, going one direction means that I have to do something- go to work, go workout, get groceries, etc. Going the other way means that I am just doing something I want to be doing- I’m out for a good time, and don’t have any commitments. Yes, sometimes my rides will take me back along that direction that represents obligation, but by then, I’m already focused into the joy of the ride.
Hope you all had gorgeous weather for riding also!
OwlieMay 10, 2010 at 9:15 am #26316eternal05Participant
Reverse a road and you get a whole new road. You have to tackle all the same problems all over again: scouting, picking a line, figuring out where to turn-in, where to brake. Take this to the extreme and you get reversible racetracks. Oregon Raceway Park is one such track. It’s run clockwise and counter-clockwise, while most tracks are run in a predetermined direction every time (e.g., Laguna Seca: counter-clockwise, Le Mans: clockwise). Riding it one way doesn’t prepare you much if at all for riding it the other way. It’s a whole new experience.
Glad you’re out and about again. Post up some pictures of your ice-free stomping grounds when you have the timeMay 11, 2010 at 2:17 am #26333
Will do. I have the end of this week off to play, and the green just started popping out around us last week. It is gorgeous up here.
Of course, the weekend before last, we had flurries…May 11, 2010 at 2:56 pm #26346
Would like to make a small suggestion that might help you out. I have a buddy at work is learning how to ride and he had something of the same thoughts you did. His worry was about picking lines. So I rode with him and watched what he did. It may not be the same for you but just try it out and see if it helps.
Watching him I noticed that he was working hard to “stick to a line” , which was as MSF teaches you ….Outside, inside, outside. However for him it meant Near yellow line to white line back out to yellow line. I asked him if he realized how much lane he had to put our narrow motorcycles down was. He wasn’t sure what I meant, so when we back out , just before I told him to follow me and do what I did on the straights. Soon as wee got one I started slowing down a touch and started weaving back and forth. Watched him do the same and then pulled over and asked this time instead of doing what I did, watch my positioning and compare it to his sitting in the middle of the lane (which is where I told him to stay) . It hit him that our bikes aren’t as wide as cars and that you didn’t have to rail ride the turns. That the bikes took up all of about 3 feet in any given point (depending on your handle bar width) and had more then enough room to play with in turns.
After that realization we went back out and I noticed his turns were not only smoother but the ones that should have been a breeze for any rider to make with a small gesture wasn’t the scary knee draggin’ experience for him.
The only other thing I had him try out was something I am not sure only cruisers can get away with or not ….so may not apply to all since I have zero sport bike time. However he commented he was not keen on the “push ” to turn idea, said it felt like he was going to “fall ” into it rather then be in control……like someone knocking a bar rail out from under him. So I told him to try and pull with the opposite hand. Like driving a skid steer tractor or dozer. That gave him a much better feel for the bike then pushing did. I still do that at times….great thing is that once my brain grabbed what was going on on the very sharp, faster turns my brain kicks in the skid steer tractor idea and I both push and pull , giving me much more control on a harsh turn. May work for you ….may not.
Some times riding is just a mental game and you need to find safe alternatives to get your brain to re adjust. Is why after year 2 of riding I had started working on looking around while riding instead of straight lining my sight. Get to see so much more scenery that way :^) . Got to be a huge help to for hard banked exit ramps….especially here where the run out of your lane is extremely short and you either go, or go shoulder.May 11, 2010 at 3:52 pm #26350IBA270Participant
One of the reasons we teach “press” or “push” instead of pull is that pressing will focus the head, shoulders and hands moving in the direction of the turn. Pulling tends to focus the same energy to the OUTSIDE and may (*MAY*) subconciously let the rider be uncomfortable executing the turn.
This doesn’t mean that everyone thinks this way, it’s just one of the reason why we teach it this way. Just for grins, as you read this at your desk, imagine your bars and place your hands on the imaginary grips. Try “pulling the bars” and stop. Notice where your eyes and upper body is.
Now try pressing. Notice how you are leaning into the turn now?
There’s nothing wrong with helping a rider get passed mentally what they are doing physically though.
FWIW, the pressing concept seems to be the most difficult thing to get people to grasp, even though a great deal of the class is dedicated to it. In fact, by the time we begin to focus explicitly on it, students are already doing it, but they are unaware they are!May 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm #26351
Definitely not going against what MSF teaches…. I very much am grateful for what you guys do! Wouldn’t change a thing about the course.
Just offering a small change up for the very few that need…… an alternative to have that Aha! moment .May 11, 2010 at 4:01 pm #26352eonParticipant
I think riding is something like 10% knowledge/experience and 90% mental. I was leading a small group on Sunday for many hours across some great twisties. Towards the end someone else took the lead and I think the fact I was now following someone messed me up. And that was just turning left from a stand still at a traffic light! Nearly hit the curb on the exit of the corner (and even target fixated on the curb).
Last year I also felt I was such a slow poke, obvious noob. I would go into corners faster than I was comfortable with and scare the crap out of myself, frequently braking mid corner (the fact I could do that safely just confirmed how slow I was). After one scare too many I slowed down and concentrated on my technique and I think got faster as a result. I know I certainly enjoyed myself a whole lot more which is all I really care about. I’ve since watched an instructional video on how to corner (on the street) and that has helped a lot. One of the things I struggled with is late apexing. That’s easy if you can see through the corner but on most country roads round here you cannot. How can you late apex if you don’t know where the apex is exactly? This video helped me with that. Oh, and I now feel I corner at something like 80% of my ability. I rarely go as fast as I think I can, my speed is mostly determined by how far I can see.
Recently I’ve started moving my body around a lot more for corners. It’s not the easiest thing to do on a scooter and I’m not sure it’s the best thing to be doing. When I try and change things around though I frequently mess up. I guess I will be learning how to corner for a long time to come.
Munch: On my scooter forum a few folks were amazed at how quickly you can turn by both pushing and pulling at the same time. I tried it but didn’t like it. I would worry about applying too much force and snapping the wheel free of traction. It just felt like I had less finesse in how much force to apply. As far as push versus pull, I *think* pushing gives you finer control but I guess whatever works for you. As you say, it is a mental thing. Maybe Allen could explain why pushing is what is taught. (EDIT: I see he already has!). These days I don’t even think off it as pushing. To me I just lean into the corner. The other thing that helps me is the “kiss the mirrors” mantra. Not sure if that works on cruisers but it certainly helped me look through and lean into the corner.
We had some great weather here over the weekend. I went on a 350 mile ride over the mountains on Saturday (will post a video from that over in the video section). I think I did close to 1000 miles over 4 days here. Good timesMay 11, 2010 at 4:06 pm #26353
IT’s a definite what works for you kind of thing.
For him I only showed him or recommended it for him due to either his brain, or comfort level not allowing him to grasp just the push.May 11, 2010 at 6:44 pm #26360IBA270Participant
Oh, I know you are Munch…no worries! Everyone learns a little differently or relates a little differently. If pulling gets them around a turn safely when pressing won’t, then theres the answer!May 11, 2010 at 8:53 pm #26364SantaCruzRiderParticipant
I had the hang of pushing to counter steer (which as mentioned put my head, eyes and body in the proper turning position) when it dawned on my that pulling would provide essentially the same steering input. Once I’d started using both in concert, I found that it put me even more in tune with the turn. It’s now my prefered method in the twisties.
Having the ability to turn with either a push or pull also makes it easier to remain in control should you ever need to remove on hand from the bars, like when you need to adjust a visor, zip up a vent or check your text messagesMay 11, 2010 at 9:31 pm #26367
Okay, so here’s my thoughts on this on. I tend to pull rather than push. Eventually I figure this will even out to equal pressure on either side, but here’s how it evolved for me.
Basically starting with the MSF course, I had alot of trouble with the idea of “pushing the direction you want to go” to make the bike turn. I don’t know why- maybe because I haven’t ridden a bicycle in 15 years? I really struggled with getting the turns done during the class. Once I got my bike and started riding regularly, this still haunted me. The first month or so, I didn’t spend any time on any thing twisty even though there were a couple near my house. The very short distances that I would travel on the local twisty (about 1/2 a mile) were so slow that somehow it didn’t matter.
Then one day, I ended up on a twistier portion of Trunk Road with more traffic than I had anticipated and voila! I was suddenly riding beyond my comfort level- too twisty and too fast. And suddenly I couldn’t turn the bike. Something- let’s call it panic – clicked in my brain and I started pulling the bike AWAY from the centerline instead of pushing the bike into the turn. Since then I think about it as pulling the bike away from where I don’t want to be instead of pushing it to where it should be.
I realize that this isn’t the ideal way to think about it (yes, it is basically like using target fixation as a way to avoid whatever you are targeting on), but it works for me. I just continue to work on looking through the turn and figure that with experience I won’t need this neumonic.May 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm #26368
Thank you for the suggestions.
I’m going to have to think about your lane positioning suggestion (and probably ride it) because I’m still missing my Aha! moment. It is tickling at my mind with another thought/question that I have been having that is not yet fully formed – something that bothering me for big sweeper curves, but I’m not sure how. Playing around with what your suggestion might give me both.
That is a great suggestion for dealing with the push in curves- and I like how you think about it. Different than I do, but we each connect to different ideas.
OwlieMay 11, 2010 at 9:55 pm #26370SantaCruzRiderParticipant
Wow, that approach scares me just reading about it. But it’s probably just how you explain it.
Ever since I ran over my first object that I was seeking to avoid, I’ve practiced avoidance by furiously focusing on the clear path.May 11, 2010 at 11:01 pm #26372
Sorry, sometimes my analogies only make sense to me.
I don’t think about most things that way, only my steering input (ie wether to push the bars or pull them). With my head and eyes, I look where I want to be, not where I’m going. My biggest struggle there is remembering that on turns where I want to be is at the exit to the turn, not 10′ in front of wherever I am now…May 13, 2010 at 11:45 pm #26420eternal05Participant
I’m not going to argue that it should be taught to beginners, but I use pulling ALL the time. Coming out of a turn, for instance, I almost always pull on the inside bar rather than push on the outside bar to straighten the bike back up. The reason I do this is that, because I will have shifted my body inwards of the bike, my outside arm will be outstretched and will not be able to exert much pushing force. This is made harder if the outside arm is the right arm, because you then also have to worry about precise throttle control. It’s a mental thing for me, and I’ve found it works really well. It may not work for everybody.
Knowing that you CAN pull on the opposite bar, regardless of what you normally do in a turn, can also come in handy. I find that, especially in a weird chicane (and I’m not talking about the track here), a bumpy road, or an otherwise awkward situation, the forces on my upper body might make it hard for me to push on a handlebar without unbalancing myself, perhaps making me tighten my arms and/or cling to the bars. In this case, as in the one above, it can be useful to pull on the opposite bar to keep everything settled.
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