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Embrace Risk | Code Break

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rchase    5

EPIC article! Keith dared state what a lot of people have been thinking about the "romantic" view of risk. He even pinned the concept beyond the term romantic that I used which I think is 110% accurate.

 

I suppose if I think about it for a moment the logical side of my mind goes to the track because it's a "safer" environment but another part of my mind is attracted to the speed and the risk involved. At the track when I first get there my mind tends to focus on taking it easy and not crashing. After a few laps there's not a thought of the risk at all and I find myself pushing my personal limits and being completely intoxicated by the sound of the bike and then sensation when I pitch it into the corners faster and faster. I consider myself a rather conservative and safe rider.

 

The reality is many of us seek the ability to live life with actual consequences which is so darn rare in modern society. On a bike that risk is about as intense as you can get. My quest for "risk" took me from cars to aircraft and now to bikes. Even when I'm pushing a sports car in the mountains well past it's limits with the rear end sliding the sense of risk is not as intense as it is riding a bike. All that crash protection softens the consequences. A crash in most modern cars in the mountains is usually an insurance claim and an inconvenience rather than the real risk of death. Even aerobatic maneuvers in a plane don't have have the same level of thrill. If you make a mistake it's probably going to be a few seconds with the ability to recover as you plummet from the sky. A bike responds instantly and crashes instantly with a huge consequence if you get it wrong.

 

Risk makes us feel alive because it reminds us of the finite nature of our existence. There's some untapped parts of our minds that absolutely loves that.

 

Keith. Thank you for writing this article. The more I learn about riding the more I learn about myself and what makes me tick. A very wise man once said "many are the paths to enlightenment".

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faffi    12

I don't enjoy risk, I love control. This has often been an issue because more often than not, I know there is a lot of risk involved, but I don't feel the danger. Like blasting through blind corners at full chat, knowing perfectly well I will crash if there is a hindrance or fall down if there is an oil slick or big sand patch, but still feeling happily in control. Despite having several crashes under such conditions.

 

Still, I never willingly go into my discomfort zone - even if it is safe from a logical point of view.

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YellowDuck    0

Interesting discussion. I think I am a little more with Eirik than rchase on this one. For me, I love the feeling of having it all under control. I guess the fact that, on a motorcycle, not having it all under control brings with it big consequences, makes it more satisfying to do it right? Maybe that is the desire to "live life with actual consequences" that rchase describes.

 

But those rare moments of spiking adrenaline when things don't go as planned and I am momentarily not sure if I really do have it all under control - I don't like those. They don't add to the excitement in a good way, they are scary and proof of my failure to do what I wanted to do, and make me feel reckless. In all of my track riding I seek to minimize those experiences. I am actually curious to see if that will still be possible when I make the switch from track days to racing this season. If it isn't, I doubt I will enjoy it.

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rchase    5

Just some clarification as now that I have re-read my comment it sounds like I'm some crazed thrill seeker riding at the bleeding edge of traction which is not the case. :)

 

I ride well within my 75% comfort zone even when the risk is no longer in my immediate thoughts. While recognizing the true reason I'm out there on the track is for the "thrill" there's good and bad risk. Being barely in control of the bike is not enjoyable for me either.

 

I found Keith's article quite interesting because it exposed to me the underlying reason "why" I enjoy riding on the track so much. Some people take this concept to the extreme and ride way over their head but that honestly does not appeal to me much.

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mugget    3

Well this is an interesting topic... so far we have 1 for risk, and 3 for control!!

 

Count me as another one who identifies with the "control" aspect of riding. If someone asked me if I enjoyed the risk in riding I would probably say "no" and follow it up with "what risk??" Obviously there's the potential for risk, but I'm generally a risk-averse kinda guy. The way I see it is that when I'm riding a bike, I'm in control and I just don't do things that are risky. I don't see it as an inherently risky activity. After attending CSS I'm riding way faster than I ever have, but at the same time safer. My record of zero on-track crashes remains.

 

I will also put my hand up for the wanting to go faster part of it. But again, I don't see it as speed = risk. For me it's more about developing my skills and gaining even more control. If I can go faster and faster, all while being in control - that's what I really enjoy. If there was a sketchy situation that I was unsure of and I thought there was a 50/50 chance I'd make it, I wouldn't go for it. Being as risk-averse as I am, my judgement of a situation like that would probably be on the conservative side and chances are that I would actually make it, but I prefer to avoid the risk and build up to it methodically.

 

Maybe it has something to do with going fast, succeeding, remaining in control and conquering the risk?

 

It's also interesting that the majority (if not all?) successful racers are not the same kind of risk-taking yahoos who might enjoy things like base jumping or Russian roulette! Those racers are fairly calm and sedate when they're off the bike (and probably still fairly calm when they're on the bike) - you wouldn't think that MotoGP World Champion and fishing would go together, but there you have it in Casey Stoner!

 

Or maybe my brain is cross-wired and I'm actually a secret risk-manic adrenalin-junkie who has the concepts of risk and control completely reversed! :blink:

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rchase    5

Ok. A question for you "control freaks". What appeals to you about a motorcycle? You can gain the same level of "control" in a car. There are lots of cars out there that provide similar speed. If control is the only thing you want you would have a lot more control with 4 wheels vs 2. I'm really interested in understanding other riders appeal for bikes as it often times helps me understand my own appeal. If you remove the emotional appeal the logical argument often is not as compelling when you consider performance car vs motorcycle.

 

I think many of you will discover when you think about it that it's the risk that makes motorcycles more appealing. That consequence for not getting it right that drives us to to survive somehow. I think it's hard wired into the way we operate. That's one of the things that I really liked about Keith's article as if you had asked me the same question before I read it I would have responded exactly like you guys did because I am a cautious rider. Or perhaps was a cautious rider. Now that I understand the real reasons I am out there I might just do what the article suggests and embrace the risk. In a careful and sane way of course. :)

 

Every time I start my bike and head to the start finish line at a track I am aware of the risk I am taking just by being there. Someone could take an aggressive high speed inside pass and loose it and take me out. Someone could dump oil all over the track. My bike could catastrophically fail. In fact it has. I think my awareness of these risks is the reason I was able to get my bike safely off the race line and into the grass without crashing.

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YellowDuck    0

Honestly if I could afford to race cars I probably would. A lot more expensive getting geared up to do that though. Motorcycles offer truly awesome performance at bargain-basement prices compared to cars. The costs of buying, maintaining, storing and transporting a track car put it out of reach for most of us in the 99%. I can race a bike for not much more than $5000 per year.

 

Same goes for street riding. I remember being a teenager with very little money, buying my first bike (used 1982 GS850G for $1400), riding it all over and on camping trips. I remember thinking "wow, if I was never any richer than I am now, if I could still afford to do this, that would be just fine". Here in Canada the insurance industry has pretty much made that impossible for today's teenager...but they haven't been able to ruin track riding for us...yet.

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rchase    5

Honestly if I could afford to race cars I probably would. A lot more expensive getting geared up to do that though. Motorcycles offer truly awesome performance at bargain-basement prices compared to cars. The costs of buying, maintaining, storing and transporting a track car put it out of reach for most of us in the 99%. I can race a bike for not much more than $5000 per year.

 

Same goes for street riding. I remember being a teenager with very little money, buying my first bike (used 1982 GS850G for $1400), riding it all over and on camping trips. I remember thinking "wow, if I was never any richer than I am now, if I could still afford to do this, that would be just fine". Here in Canada the insurance industry has pretty much made that impossible for today's teenager...but they haven't been able to ruin track riding for us...yet.

 

Never thought of the economics. Car track days are not as expensive as you think. A friend of mine is pretty heavily into car track days and does his track days in his BMW M3. He drives directly to the track and back and takes the same car to the office the next day with worn out tires. He's been trying to get me to go to Road Atlanta with him in my Porsche but I'm having way too much fun with the bikes.

 

But actually that's is a good point if you look at it slightly differently. Most Superbikes have a performance characteristic that's closer to an older F1 car. The BMW's the school rents to people could probably humiliate most road going exotic cars and even some of the modified ones on trailers heading to car track days. The reality is for $15K you can get more performance than a car that costs $300K. That's an amazing value.

 

Regardless of if people agree I found the Embrace Risk article quite inspiring and it brings me one step closer to figuring out what makes me tick. I do however find this conversation quite interesting at the same time. Seeing other people's points of view is always a good thing. Despite my willingness to "Embrace Risk" as the article discusses the simple fact of the matter is most of you guys are probably a lot faster than I am at the moment. :)

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faffi    12

Didn't even consider risk when I started riding, I just knew from the age of 2 that motorcycles was going to be for me when I got old enough to ride on the road. Also, riding a motorcycle is much more in tune with the forces; now whipping around in the seat. And you can see more and smell more when riding. Also, bikes are quicker for the money and far easier to maintain. Other than getting cold and wet, there is not much a bike isn't better at than a sportscar.

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Ventodue    1

Just on the speed and risk thing ...

 

When I attended my first CSS school, the Instructor blithely tossed out to the audience, "Well, no-one came here to ride slower, did they?!?"

 

Ha!Ha!Ha! Big guffaws of manly laughter ... And true, of course. But until that moment, I hadn't even thought about being there to ride quicker. I was there to learn to ride better. Which for me meant - and still means - with more control, with more consciousness of what I was doing or should be doing. So, in fact, actually reducing the risks inherent in motorcycling.

 

So I'm with Eric. Motorcycling for me is not a speed thing. Frankly, I have as much fun on my little bikes as on a track bike. I learnt a long time ago that I don't like going over 140mph. To be honest, I just don't see (or process the visual signals) well enuf. But nailing that bend just as it should be nailed - ah, there's the buzz! Hell, I can even laugh myself silly on a push-bike.

 

Just my 2 cents worth.

 

Craig

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ktk_ace    0

Just on the speed and risk thing ...

 

When I attended my first CSS school, the Instructor blithely tossed out to the audience, "Well, no-one came here to ride slower, did they?!?"

 

Ha!Ha!Ha! Big guffaws of manly laughter ... And true, of course. But until that moment, I hadn't even thought about being there to ride quicker. I was there to learn to ride better. Which for me meant - and still means - with more control, with more consciousness of what I was doing or should be doing. So, in fact, actually reducing the risks inherent in motorcycling.

 

So I'm with Eric. Motorcycling for me is not a speed thing. Frankly, I have as much fun on my little bikes as on a track bike. I learnt a long time ago that I don't like going over 140mph. To be honest, I just don't see (or process the visual signals) well enuf. But nailing that bend just as it should be nailed - ah, there's the buzz! Hell, I can even laugh myself silly on a push-bike.

 

Just my 2 cents worth.

 

Craig

 

I'm in the program to ride better too ; thou i would say 75% safer/better/control wise and 25% faster/more speed as part of my overall objective.

 

The traffic and pedestrians are are effin' nuts fyi, the law heavily biased against pedestrians doesnt help either.

 

Less SR's triggering = more control + bigger portion of 10 dollars to spend on emergencies.

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Stroker    0

Try and understand what RChase is saying.....it is more fun to eat some bacon rather than lettuce.Is it good for you or bad for you? Your call.

 

RChase does not advocate gluttony with respect to " Bacon " [ risk ] but prefers bacon to lettuce [ safe choice ].

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rchase    5

Try and understand what RChase is saying.....it is more fun to eat some bacon rather than lettuce.Is it good for you or bad for you? Your call.

 

RChase does not advocate gluttony with respect to " Bacon " [ risk ] but prefers bacon to lettuce [ safe choice ].

 

Somebody gets it! Thank you Stroker! :)

 

I recognize the activity as a risk. I also recognize that's my attraction to it and finally figured out what makes me tick as a result of Keith's article. Thank you again Keith!

 

I ride well within my abilities and SR limits but I have decided to embrace the risk to help my confidence. In fact when I do level 4 again in less than 20 days that's one of the big things I'll be working on. My intention is to embrace the risk and get my confidence up.

 

The only real limitation that I have right now is that little voice in the back of my head telling me "be careful you might crash". In Level 1 and 2 that little voice was screaming at me as I followed Laura through turns at speeds I honestly did not think were possible. I trusted her and my training and made it through every time. Thinking about it afterwards I realized that Laura was probably not going very fast at all because she was watching a jittery student behind her in her rear view mirrors who had never been on a track before. She safely helped me stretch my SR limits.

 

While it might sound like I'm wanting to ride way above my head I'm not. I'm slowly stretching my personal limits so I can improve my skills. Stretching those limits for me requires me to embrace the risk involved. Like many of you guys crashing is not something I want to experience if I can avoid it.

 

To me embracing the risk is the acknowledgement of the inherent danger in what you are doing and turning that into a positive energy and loving it rather than letting it turn into fear that ultimately affects your ability to reach new levels of riding ability. While with the speed the danger increases you can still get into a massive accident when someone slams into the back of you regardless of how cautious you are riding. Just being out there is a risk in it's own when the bikes around you are traveling in triple digit territory.

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I attend any trackday and attended CSS a few times for the learning to ride better, smoother and ultimately faster. I understand the risks and being a former racer and as a young ego driven competitive uneducated rider once upon a time I have crashed my fair share and hope to not experience that any more, so I try to judge how much risk and then exercise enough restraint to keep the risk as low as possible while still pushing myself as much as I feel comfortable with and enough to learn further.

When I first starting racing I went out with the intention to win every race. If I wasn't winning I wasn't having fun. I actually would feel I let myself down and the next time would push harder disregarding many of the risks and too often the warning signs that I was approaching crash status.

Eventually I found a happy medium, where I could push and go fast and win a few races and yet not be riding so hard that the risk was so high that crashes were nearly unavoidable. Attending CSS in the mid 80's really helped with this and while I got significantly faster afterwards I also got significantly safer and more in control. Sure I still desired to win every race but by then I had realized that was not going to happen ever, so I was more content to win when I could and place as well as possible when I could not.

 

As far as street riding; well in my teens and maybe even early twenties I had friends who we always felt the need to one up each other, if one person could take a corner or cloverleaf at 65, the next one of us had to go 66 or 67. When we headed out to the desolate isolated hill country roads that are barely a lane and a half wide and you don't see another human for hours and we let the bikes rip, well it was always like a race and no doubt we often came home when we perhaps should not have. Seeing two riding buddies die on a stretch of road we knew well after they encountered a pick up truck head on really changed how I street road, for the better.

Since then, I have never treated the road as a racetrack or proving ground although certainly we can still go a bit "fast" by some peoples standard now I (and most who I am willing to ride with) certainly exercise the art of controlling the bike and precision line selection as our means to show the other riders just how well we can ride. We all know the risks and all of us accept that or we probably would have given up riding. Each of us has had an off or hit a deer or just were dumb and made the wrong correction and crashed atleast once in the past say 10 years or so, so we have all had our reminders of the risk vs reward of how and where we ride, and I think as each of us age. Most of whom I ride with are my age or older, so 50-65, and nearly all are former racers with many still riding trackdays. But each of us rides on the street with the main goal to be safe and come home unscathed whilst having as much enjoyment as we can, since as we get older those crashes hurt more and last longer. Being the most skilled rider you can be is the only way to truly accomplish these goals, IMO.

Well I suppose you could eliminate all risk and just give up riding and essentially give up your life as there is risk in everything one does everyday. Once you are 6' under there is little risk of anything I suppose. Some risks are just easier to ignore/deal with than others for some people.

I suppose that is why there will always be skeptics of why we ride, how we ride. People who always feel motorcycles are too dangerous etc...

 

Motorcycles for me are part of my life and have been for decades and I certainly plan on them being with me as a big part of my life for a couple more decades. They actually do define who I am and where I have been, without them I would not be who I am today. So the risk while real is certainly not going to scare me off from riding, street or track.

As far as the thrill factor, sure that is also real and always present too but it isn't why I ride even if sometimes I really do enjoy a great deal when I pass one of my buddies or leave them behind through a tight technical stretch of asphalt.

 

As stroker phrased it, once upon a time I bordered on glutony, now I just want is a piece or two and I'm good with that.

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EricG    0

I used to street race cars in my misspent youth... ;-) that was all about adrenaline and swagger. I learned about corner entry, grip, using throttle and gear to load suspension by watching others mistakes and successes and trying to apply it myself. This was on Mulholland Drive in the mid to late '70s, mostly at night.

 

I ride bikes for the sheer fun of it. Don't race and mostly ride alone. Yes, I've got a genetic need for speed. Can't shake it. But I didn't go to training just for speed, nor for control, or risk for that matter. I went to get a better handle on how to ride safely, not just for me, but for those I share the road with. I wanted to learn how to control this beast, to ride properly, and yes, to go faster as the result of greater confidence in my ability and that of my bike. But I see this as decreasing risk, or at least managing it.

 

Risk is a fact of life. We deal with it every waking moment. Managing risk effectively takes skill, acquired with experience, based on training, whether formal or not. Managing risk increases enjoyment by decreasing fear. This is gained by being able to assess situations quickly, figure a solution and its expected outcome, and implementing it with as little drama as possible.

 

When I ride, I'm free. In the moment, enjoying all the sensations that come with this obsession of ours. The more I can decrease fear by managing risk, the more I can relax and enjoy what I'm doing, reveling in my confidence and at ease with my environment. For me, that's what it's all about.

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EricG    0

Oh, and would I love to be the guy in the still, pulling a 60 degree lean dragging my knee and elbow at insane speeds? You betcha!!?!?! ;-)

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rchase    5

EricG,

 

Very well spoken. This part sort of sparked a bit of thought and made me realize something.

 

"Managing risk effectively takes skill, acquired with experience, based on training, whether formal or not. Managing risk increases enjoyment by decreasing fear. This is gained by being able to assess situations quickly, figure a solution and its expected outcome, and implementing it with as little drama as possible."

 

I scrolled up and read what I wrote about embracing risk before attending CSS at Barber Motorsports Park this last time and realized something. Normally I think about the risk involved and there's a moment of apprehension that I have always had every time I'm about to head out onto the track. By embracing and accepting the risk I was able to take my brand new BMW S1000RR to out on track and not once did I have that feeling of apprehension. I think there's more to this embracing risk thing than meets the eye.

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