Target fixation around blind curve led to low-side
March 22, 2010 at 6:31 am #3778
Yesterday I was riding my SV650. Around 6:30 pm, about 4-1/2 hr into the ride, I was on a steep and very twisty road that I hadn’t been on before. I came around a left-hand blind corner in the one-lane, two-way traffic section, going around 20 mph, mindful of the potential of an oncoming car cutting to my side, so I was hugging the right shoulder through out the turn. I almost made it through, already saw the corner exit and started to accelerate, but my eyes got drawn to a section of broken/missing pavement on the right edge, and my bike went straight toward that broken/missing pavement. Instead of peeling my eyes away and looking thru the turn, I gave up on the corner, stood the bike up and braked hard (front only). The bike entered the soft dirt, right where that missing pavement was (amazing!), and low-sided on the left side before I could think. I only vaguely remember impacting the pavement on my left elbow, but when I got up my left boot was pinned under the bike and I had to pull to get it out. After a few moment of disbelief and some cussing, I picked up the bike, being careful in the soft dirt for not wanting to dump the bike over the right edge of the road and down the hillside, and fired it right up. I pulled away from the curve and parked the bike about 30 ft up the road in a straight section to assess the damage:
– To my amazement and great relief, there were no damages to the tank or any body pieces.
– The mirrors got knocked out of position.
– The left bar end, left front turn signal lens, and the clutch tip got scraped.
– The left frame slider saved the day. Yeah!
I then checked my gears:
– Looked like I touched down on my left palm; got a sprained left pinky.
– There were some small scratches from the left elbow to the left shoulder on the leather jacket, which is from Helimot in San Jose, with absurdly huge and thick race-quality padding in the arm/elbow/shoulder area, so no injuries there.
– Not a scratch on the overpants – I still don’t get this. How is it possible for the elbow/shoulder to hit the ground, without the pants hitting the ground?
– Left side of the helmet had a pea-sized chip on the paint.
I walked back to check the crash site. There was about 3 feet of black tire mark before the front tire entered the dirt shoulder. My guess is by the time I went down I was going maybe just over 10 mph.
I have ridden in the twisties for a couple of hundred hours over the last year and gotten pretty good at looking where I wanted to go, been accident free for the last 10 months, 11k miles, but still committed a rookie mistake like this. Big sigh…
My failure analysis:
– Needless to say, look thru the turn, don’t stare and target fix at the trouble spots. (This is very basic stuff, but sometimes I go caught looking at the wrong places on very tight roads that’s debris strewn.)
– I think speed was the biggest factor. I was probably riding too close to my limit, speed-wise, for that condition, and got no cushion left. Speed was certainly a factor. If I was 5 mph slower around that blind corner, I would have been able to deal with surprises and momentary target fixation better.
– I had been out for about 5 hours by then and my concentration and riding got a little sloppy, and I was thinking about the next road to hit.
– I found doing figure-8s in a parking lot a great exercise to gain muscle memory for making tight turns, and I haven’t done that for a while.March 22, 2010 at 3:46 pm #25049eonParticipant
Sorry to hear about your spill but glad to hear it wasn’t serious and that you almost escaped without incident. I think what happened to you is one of the harder things on taking a corner correctly. When something unexpected happens mid corner it is HARD to ignore and steer away from it. Takes plenty of practice I think but as most corners are incident free, that probably leads you to going faster than you really should.
I recently watched an instructional video from a UK Police Instructor that seemed to focus a lot on cornering. It’s a cheesey one man band effort but it was cheap and it had some good advice in it. I’ve since altered how I ride because of it (which was actually quite hard to do) and I think I am now a safer rider. I’ve also got a full days training course on cornering coming up in June (Advanced Street Skills from Puget Sound Training). Can’t wait to take that course as it’s on Eternal’s favorite race track.
Link to cheesey video
http://www.mikewaite.co.uk/video/free-video-extracts/bends-high/March 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm #25050IBA270Participant
Sorry you went down, but I’m glad the damage was minimal…and it sounds like you learned from the experience. I think your analysis is right on…let me share a quick example of what happened to me on the track on Friday… very much in line with what you experienced.
We were running a track in the clockwise configuration, which is REALLY challenging as it adds two blind turns, but require braking AFTER the crest of the hill, which is very tough (for me anyway). At any rate, the harder of the two has the rider approaching the turn at around 100, still gently turning right, and requires braking BEFORE you’re fully upright. Then, the turn becomes visible. Everytime I failed to search for AND FIND the apex with my eyes, I applied even more brakes, standing the bike upright, and at the end of my last session, I simple drove off the end of the track.
Two things seem to occur when riders become target fixated; They stop turning (they have too…they are going where they are looking) and they apply brakes without much touch or modulation. Kinda of a shit hits the fan scenario with everything happening at once quickly…that’s what happened to me on Friday and sounds like what happened to you as well.
One suggestion, beyond your observation, that may help; Set up your turn outside, like what you’re doing, but still plan for an outside/inside/outside path of travel. This will do several things for you. First, you’ll get a better view of the turn and you can start looking for the apex and scanning for obstacles and debris. Secondly, you’ll spend LESS time healed over, and travel a shorter distance. Additionally, you’ll have more real estate to work with; you have more room to the outside, and can stand the bike up and brake if you need to. Lastly, if someone DOES run wide and begin to encroach on your lane, it’s easy to adjust your turn to go a little wider. If you’re on the outside part of the lane, the only course of action you have is to TIGHTEN your turn by pushing harder on the inside bar AND looking FARTHER through the turn. Although I have no scientific evidence, I have never seen a circumstance where someone target fixated on something INSIDE of a turn, and rode into it, or even that direction. This is because the bike wants to STAND UP and needs to be STEERED to turn.
Hope that helps…great job though it getting through it safely and learning. It’s unfortunate, but you’re a better rider for it.March 22, 2010 at 7:16 pm #25052
Likewise glad you didn’t get too messed up with that one Gary. “4 1/2 hr into the ride” that’s some serious saddle time, sure you weren’t a little fatigued there ?
In Trials we never get to practice a section, but we do get to walk it before riding. Back when I first advanced from Junior to Intermediate level, I developed a very bad habit of planning where I was going to crash, and damned if it didn’t work out that way. Fortunately I figured it out and started concentrating on where I wanted to be, instead of fixating on the danger.March 22, 2010 at 11:14 pm #25060
On Saturdays I typically ride from 5-8 hours in the local hills, depending, until I’m dead tired. Too tired to ride on Sunday morning, but by Sunday afternoon I sometimes get itchy to ride again.March 22, 2010 at 11:26 pm #25062
Thanks for the great feedback, Allen. Although your trouble at the track was at a much higher speed and skills level than mine, I do find similarities in the mental aspect, given our different levels of comfort zone.
When cornering near the limit, aside from the physical skills and techniques, it’s obvious that a lot of it depends on mental focus and confidence level. It’s like walking on a narrow plank. We have no problem walking it at ground level, but raise it up 10 ft it’s a different story, and 20 feet up it’s a different world. When I’m focused, relaxed, and committed to a corner, I tend to be fine. When I loose the focus, tense up and give up, bad things happen.March 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm #25064
We’ve had a great discussion on this topic on barf. Check it out if you’re interested.March 22, 2010 at 11:39 pm #25065
I envy that riding schedule, when do you work on the bike ?March 22, 2010 at 11:42 pm #25066
I’ll check out the video when I get home.
I love nothing better than finding and riding on new roads – more difficult the better. When that minor low-side occured I was having a great time, but also not fully focused because in my head I was planning my route for the next 2-3 hours. In fact I could feel that I was due for a crash – I was getting a llittle over confident and the warning signs were there. I’ve gone thru this cycle a number of time when mountain biking. A crash is always a powerful reminder to turn it down a notch.March 22, 2010 at 11:47 pm #25067
No, no, no, I’m 45 w/ a wife and a 9-year old daughter; far from being single. Somehow I got away with riding on Saturdays, but often I have to start late so I would ride late into the night, as late as mid-night. I wish I could do some of those multi-day adventure riding but I simply can’t get away with THAT.
I’m an idot when it comes to working on the bikes. Other than oil changes, I pay the pros to work on my bikes.March 23, 2010 at 12:17 am #25073
…when was the last time You changed your fork oil ? …or made sure it was done by the cons, oops…I mean pros
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