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Keith Code

Transcendental

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A philosopher by the name of Immanuel Kant (1726-1804) said that humans have knowledge that precedes and goes beyond their personal experiences. Motorcycle riders prove this to be true because they knew, before ever throwing a leg over a bike, that they’d love it. There is an inclination to try to categorize and define this bond. Shall we call riding an art, a passion, a skill, a compulsion, an instinct, a desire, an ego booster, sheer entertainment or simply a challenge? Celebrating my fiftieth year of riding, I still don’t know which it is and that doesn’t bother me.

 

Why ride? The question has no practical significance, it is a moot point. I knew, from the first moment I considered it, as you probably did too, how it would, could or should feel. Riding fits into an already existing recess in our (riders’) souls, our urge to live, our sense of existence, our core aliveness, our essential being. Deny it at your own risk: enjoy it to your great happiness.

Only one point should concern us: losing our sense of discovery. It’s that open, childlike view we must preserve where everything is fresh paint and dewy grass except you have a set of bars and a throttle in your paws and where each corner becomes an adventure and a world unto itself. I abandoned trying to discover “why I ride” long ago.

 

Defining the qualities of a perfect ride; finding that groove where it all flows, where you are there but detached, where all things are obvious and yet simple keeps my passion alive. A good ride has qualities that transcend the moth-goes-to-flame category of experience. Here is a description of some of them that are on my list.

 

I seek the perfect balance of focused but not too focused. Aware of what I am doing but not pushed into it like with my face pressed against a window. Focused more on a result than on the skills or technique I need to get the result. I have to be willing to crash but not have my attention on crashing.

 

Keep my expectations of how well I'd like to, or think I should, be riding on the backburner. I’ve found there is a fine balance between taking small errors in stride and not feeling stuck with them but not ignoring them either; that’s a trick: I open up my mental riding software program which allows me to maintain enough free attention to identify an error and hit “save” so I can later make some decision on what I can do to correct it. Be willing to make changes but always keep in mind that sometimes a very slight change can make a world of difference. That means don’t be too darn greedy for change. Realize the instant that my focus is broken and either put it back together immediately or reduce my pace. On the track, I have to separate what a practice session is from a go-for-it session. Trying not to feel weird about it when someone quicker passes me is still a battle. I have to be willing to go slower to learn something new.

 

Give any technique a fair chance of success and try it enough times to know if I can or cannot do it. I always accept coaching that I trust. I know that self- coaching is quirky; it’s easy to delude myself and miss what is important. Once I notice some little thing I’m doing I try to discover what it is. I keep in mind that riding is a universe unto itself and being a universe it has limitless opportunities to discover its intricacies and one’s own connection to them. With all of that in place, I have a great ride. What’s on your list?

 

Copyright 2008, Keith Code, all rights reserved except those I cheerfully turn over to very special people called riders.

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That means don’t be too darn greedy for change.

 

I find that erratic changes, with no plan and no process to evaluate the results, are more wasteful and dangerous than too many changes. Or maybe there is a correlation between these two aspects?

I usually find myself to be greedy for change, in my quest to improvement. Mostly because track time is so expensive and I want to get the most out of it.

My questions:

When is there too much change and how should one manage change in riding technique and/or machine setup?

How do the big companies make so many changes to a motorcycle every two years and come up with, usually, a better machine? I don't think they have the time to do one change at a time and look at the results, or we'd still be riding the 1999 models today.

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That means don’t be too darn greedy for change.

 

I find that erratic changes, with no plan and no process to evaluate the results, are more wasteful and dangerous than too many changes. Or maybe there is a correlation between these two aspects?

I usually find myself to be greedy for change, in my quest to improvement. Mostly because track time is so expensive and I want to get the most out of it.

My questions:

When is there too much change and how should one manage change in riding technique and/or machine setup?

How do the big companies make so many changes to a motorcycle every two years and come up with, usually, a better machine? I don't think they have the time to do one change at a time and look at the results, or we'd still be riding the 1999 models today.

Very good Questions.

 

In my line of work we use a term called, "change management".

Here's an article about the subject

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change_management

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That means don’t be too darn greedy for change.

 

I find that erratic changes, with no plan and no process to evaluate the results, are more wasteful and dangerous than too many changes. Or maybe there is a correlation between these two aspects?

I usually find myself to be greedy for change, in my quest to improvement. Mostly because track time is so expensive and I want to get the most out of it.

My questions:

When is there too much change and how should one manage change in riding technique and/or machine setup?

How do the big companies make so many changes to a motorcycle every two years and come up with, usually, a better machine? I don't think they have the time to do one change at a time and look at the results, or we'd still be riding the 1999 models today.

 

I think there would be a difference here in what is a mechanical change to the bike, and what is a rider change. One rider can change bikes, the new bike can be completely different--say going from a modern 600 to a Harley full dresser. That wuold be a pretty big change, one would want to get accustomed to the new machine, no?

 

But how about the rider that tries to change his riding position on the bike, while also trying to learn how to brake and downshift simultaneously? B and D is one of the hardest things we train, the single most complicated action in riding. And body position is one of the biggest issues we see with our riders, and the changes they make often--those can be large changes. Does a body position change affect other things, like your vision?

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I think there would be a difference here in what is a mechanical change to the bike, and what is a rider change. One rider can change bikes, the new bike can be completely different--say going from a modern 600 to a Harley full dresser. That wuold be a pretty big change, one would want to get accustomed to the new machine, no?

 

What I had in mind when I said machine setup were things like suspension adjustments for instance. One day I had one experienced racer and mechanic take my bike out and give me some feedback on it. He said the rear should be higher. I fully raised (10mm) the rear shock and the turning behavior of the bike changed radically. I loved it and it stayed like that to this day. If on top of that I'd decided to be more aggressive with my steering input, perhaps that would've been a bit too much change. Now a Harley... that's blasphemy... :lol:

 

But how about the rider that tries to change his riding position on the bike, while also trying to learn how to brake and downshift simultaneously? B and D is one of the hardest things we train, the single most complicated action in riding. And body position is one of the biggest issues we see with our riders, and the changes they make often--those can be large changes. Does a body position change affect other things, like your vision?

 

Agreed...B&D is a lot to deal with. Now that you made me thinking about it, I cannot say precisely how/what I'm doing with these two maneuvers, which means it's something to work on until I know exactly how to do it. I'll pull out Keith's books to see if there's something on the subject there. I assume B&D is either level III, or IV. I remember the first two levels were done with virtually no braking at all.

I experienced with body position a lot and indeed it changes many things. Vision is only one of them. How you push on the bars is another, or how easy/difficult is to lock your knee on the tank. If you think too much about all aspects involved, you've spent all your $10.

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Very good Questions.

 

In my line of work we use a term called, "change management".

Here's an article about the subject

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change_management

 

I too work with 'change management', in IT. I'm a programmer. We've got tools to detect what effects a change has in the system overall. But I find there are some differences when it comes to riding.

1. In engineering, IT etc. there are objective ways to measure the effect of a change. In riding, an objective measure would be the lap times and consistency. But there's also a subjective measure, which is rider feel. For instance, when my coach at Keith's school pushed me down on the bike to show me the proper riding position, it didn't feel very comfortable. Judging by feel only, I could have concluded it was a bad change and give up trying to get used to it until it felt 'natural'. Still working on it btw.

2. In riding is much harder to have knowledge beforehand about the effects of a change. You need to try it before you know, especially because of the subjective aspect. And sometimes the leathers will show the result. :)

 

The idea of applying the methods of 'change management' from engineering into riding is worth further thinking about if only to filter out obviously bad choices before trying them. Or it may simply be an overkill. I can't say what's the percentage of thinking vs. feel/talent in an accomplished racer. I never had a chance to talk to one.

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I too work with 'change management', in IT. I'm a programmer. We've got tools to detect what effects a change has in the system overall. But I find there are some differences when it comes to riding.

1. In engineering, IT etc. there are objective ways to measure the effect of a change. In riding, an objective measure would be the lap times and consistency. But there's also a subjective measure, which is rider feel. For instance, when my coach at Keith's school pushed me down on the bike to show me the proper riding position, it didn't feel very comfortable. Judging by feel only, I could have concluded it was a bad change and give up trying to get used to it until it felt 'natural'. Still working on it btw.

2. In riding is much harder to have knowledge beforehand about the effects of a change. You need to try it before you know, especially because of the subjective aspect. And sometimes the leathers will show the result. :)

 

The idea of applying the methods of 'change management' from engineering into riding is worth further thinking about if only to filter out obviously bad choices before trying them. Or it may simply be an overkill. I can't say what's the percentage of thinking vs. feel/talent in an accomplished racer. I never had a chance to talk to one.

 

A side comment on one thing you said: getting lower on the bike. I alluded to this before, but a change in position on the bike doesn't just affect teh one thing (body position). The whole view that the rider sees with his eyes is changed. It's part of the reason that we cover the visual skills in level 2, before attacking some of the body issues in level 3. One simple point, one can see less the lower one is on the bike, but for sure there are advantages to it, and obviously the top guys can do it (they are all, with some lower than others, on the bikes these days.

 

C

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I love this article, it completely captures the difference between a wonderful ride and a tedious, frightening, or disappointing ride.

 

For me, the best ride, the perfect ride, is when I can find that joyous excitement, the special thrill of feeling the bike skimming over the pavement, and seeing the track flowing swiftly by. There is a disassociation from concerns about "how I'm riding" or who is behind me or what I should change, it's all sensation and it seems like the controlling of the bike becomes nearly effortless.

 

For me, a really terrific fast turn feels like sledding down a steep snowbank, or swinging too high on the swingset; I've committed to the turn and now I'm just enjoying the ride, and seeing how fast I can go! There's a certain death-defying feeling to it, which makes it thrilling; and a certain perfection, when it all comes together exactly right.

 

When I can capture that feeling, I stop being a bundle of worries, and thoughts, and wasted motions, and start really having a ride.

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