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Keith Code

The Paved Planet

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Keith Code    16

The Paved Planet

 

Whether by instinct, schooling or coaching, once a rider can isolate, understand and focus on specific aspects of riding, achieving confidence is just a matter of drilling those points to gain familiarity and control over them. It's common knowledge that track riding is a less distracting and more accommodating environment to improve riding skill but let's put that in perspective.

Imagine yourself riding on a paved planet. A perfectly smooth, limitless expanse of flat asphalt and there is no one else there. Many of our ordinary riding concerns would simply evaporate.

 

Full-on, straight line speed; leaned over speed; running wide; braking distances; correct lines; decreasing radius turns; camber changes; surface; traffic and obstacles, all would become less intimidating or vanish entirely from your concerns.

On the paved planet, with the majority of our worries eliminated, a rider's ability to focus would be enormously enhanced. For example, if the amount of attention consumed by monitoring the road's surface for danger was reallocated to feeling tire grip, throttle control, steering pressure and cornering forces, it would shortcut those processes enormously—any uncertainties with them could quickly and easily be addressed and improved.

 

On Earth, our visual skill set monitors where we are and where we are going and is the single most important part of riding. Location dominates everything we do on or with a motorcycle. On the paved planet and with your attention free of that concern, the isolating and focusing process would be simplified in the extreme. You could literally be leaned over at a speed and corner radius of your choosing all day long.

 

Just as too much of a good thing can become boring and ordinary, so it would go with riding on the paved planet. To make it interesting the only thing left, even though a chilling prospect on Earth, would be to ride blindfolded. Imagine how sensitive and accurate a rider could become without the ever-present visual demands we suffer now.

 

Knowing enough about the bike and being able to isolate its needs is a large component of improvement that is often impeded by what we see. Getting a feel for the bike's suspension while blindfolded would become vastly easier—riding would be 100% by feel, exactly what is needed for sensitivity in making handling adjustments. Just as the blind develop extraordinary hearing and touch, riders could determine those adjustments precisely without the distraction of visual influences. Experience with different types of turns adds depth to any rider's confidence profile. On the paved planet, all types of turns would be possible—think limitless, obstacle free, twisties on demand.

 

Even that would eventually bottom out a rider's interest. Time to add some features and create a more interesting space. Placing one traffic cone anywhere on the surface would instantly become a fascinating new toy to accelerate towards, away from, brake to and ride around. That would hold you till lunch time. Two cones, placed in a variety of positions, would seem like Christmas, exponentially increasing the number of games that could be dreamed up. Precision in your speed and direction changes would enter into it. The beauty of it would be that all limits, aside from the bike's, would be self imposed depending on how you placed them.

 

Back on Earth, the next best thing to a paved planet is track riding. Track schools and track days provide the opportunity to learn and advance skills in a less hostile, more focused, environment than any road riding can possibly provide.

 

© 2013, Keith Code.

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rchase    5

Keith,

 

Great article. A paved planet would certainly be a wonderful thing. Only one enhancement. A foam rubber paved planet. That way you could easily go well beyond the limits of traction and develop the feel of what happens when you get it wrong. I'm afraid I would have to schedule a lot of vacations there and spend it at maximum lean angle flicking from side to side and intentionally crashing myself just to build that "feel" for when I went back to the non paved planet. :)

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Shakespear    0

You seem very excited about this article Keith and when I finally get on a track I think I'll understand more fully why. Thanks for giving me that desire.

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Hansi    0

Last year, the instructors of the swedish riding school actually did play around a bit riding blindfolded.

 

Every year at spring time, after a long winter with little or no bike riding for several months, we arrange one day for ourselves, and a few other days for local riders to come to a large space such as a big parking lot, old airfield runway or even the big purpose built training facility used for the mandatory low-friction riding skill day that is included when you train for your your car driving license in sweden.

 

On those days, we practice braking at different speeds as well as low and medium speed manouvering. Just to get the feeling of the bike back after all those months of not riding.

 

Well, the last time one of the senior instructors talked about why vision skill is important, and I joked about that he should try the cone track blindfolded. Well, long story short, we ended up with him blindfolded and with a mobile phone stuck in the helmet to receive instructions on which way to turn to negotiate the cones. And after he tried it, several other instructors had to try it too. No crashes and a lot of laughter!

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Jaybird180    30

 

Well, the last time one of the senior instructors talked about why vision skill is important, and I joked about that he should try the cone track blindfolded. Well, long story short, we ended up with him blindfolded and with a mobile phone stuck in the helmet to receive instructions on which way to turn to negotiate the cones. And after he tried it, several other instructors had to try it too. No crashes and a lot of laughter!

Video of that would be very revealing. Let me know when you post it please.

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