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You And Valentino Rossi

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You and Valentino Rossi

 

It's not often we are treated to the kind of excitement that Moto GP racing is providing us with today and we see a huge difference in what he can do compared to the other riders out there on the circuit.

 

With Val Rossi we know that the equipment makes little or no difference, he has won on slower and less developed bikes; he breaks lap records on the last lap when everyone else complains about their tires going off and he has the same rubber as them. He's not noted, like some top racers, to maintain any sort of rigorous physical training regimen. What's up with that?

 

I suppose we'd all like to be able to ride like Valentino Rossi. We admire him and then we ride and can't figure out how a Human could be in such command of so many aspects of riding when we are essentially doing the same thing on the bike as he is. You work the same controls that change the speed and direction of your bike as he does.

 

So if it isn't the bike then it must be the man. And if it is the man it is the mind that guides it. If it is the mind that guides it, then the fuel for the mind is the perceptions of the individual rider himself that rules.

 

When we look over the number of perceptions that we can have it is actually pretty staggering. We perceive, line, lean angle, traction, speed and the timing and degree of control application to put them all in some kind of sensible order for ourselves.

 

There is the difference?what is a sensible order? When you pull on the brakes in a set of esses and someone else is wide open and upshifting you start to get some inkling of the difference between your perceptions. Leading the way on perception is our ability to process visual data. Or, more accurately, our sense of location in space.

 

It is easy to see that location rules when it comes to working the controls. What one rider sees is vastly different than another, even though the things that are available to use as reference points are exactly the same.

 

One rider's line is different than another's. How much different? Well, you might have a track that is 4 DOT lanes wide but the actual usable space for speed and control narrows down quite a bit from there. The amount of that space that you can use is limited, maybe 10 feet of it would be the amount of variance from one rider to another, maybe. That would be a generous estimate, it is probably more like 5 feet. Unless you are Valentino who seems to be able to make any line work.

 

What's all the fuss about lines? Big fuss. When you break it down the only logical explanation is that a rider can choose and run any line that he can see. The corollary (an easily drawn conclusion) to that is, if you can't see the line you can't choose it and you can't run it.

 

I can't count the number of times we've shown a rider a line and then followed him to see how good his "monkey-see-monkey-do" skills were only to find his line varied only slightly from what he had been doing and markedly varied from what we demonstrated.

 

What someone uses for Reference Points (RPs) and how they use them is the key. This was my first real discovery on riding back in 1976. It changed my riding and everyone that I worked with made huge leaps in their own skills by simply becoming aware of this simple fact.

 

What I now know is: there ARE other points that must be cemented in for a rider to have a solid enough foundation to even get to the point they can find and use good RPs with certainty and with confidence. When we take up Reference Points, and the other visual skills, on Level 2 we get to the real core of riding and it isn't that easy to master it.

 

So what about Valentino? Our Australian school director, Steve Brouggy, has a great way of putting it. "If you could record what you see and record what Valentino sees you would have two totally different movies." I agree.

 

As I have seen with lots of top riders, their biggest ongoing breakthroughs come in their ability to use their visual abilities, their perception of location. Why can a rider go through a turn 300 times and all of a sudden have a massive breakthrough and finally "understand" the turn? It happens all the time. I hope it has happened to you. If it hasn't then I know why.

 

Valentino does it on the fly and it seems that he has honed this ability to its finest possible point. You can see it if you look closely. Watch his lines and see not only that he can use any line in a pinch but that the differences in his and the others out there really is different.

 

Have fun watching for this. Truly, if you have difficulty seeing this from the camera's perspective you would have a very difficult time doing it on your own. What I'm saying is this: it's good practice to notice lines, your own and someone else's, it may give you a new idea on how to use your own eyes. Once you become interested in your lines, I hope to see you for Level 2 and sort it out.

 

Keith Code

 

 

ⓒKeith Code, 2005, all rights reserved.

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Where to look on a track has become the hardest part of racing for me. I didn't have much experience on a motorcycle when I started racing 4 years ago, and the TWIST books helped me understand alot- and still do when I re-read them and apply it to my riding. I race the same 2 or 3 tracks all year long, and what I found (by going to a new track) was that I was using the refrence points to "cheat." By cheat, I mean that I knew that in a specific corner I could run to a certain RP and then brake, turn at the next RP, apex at the next, and so on. All of this could be done without looking very far ahead of the bike. I was having a very hard time improving my corner speed, and as you can imagine, when I got to a new track, I was lost.

 

I am still working this problem, and using the "two step" method described in TWIST. Sometimes I remember to look farther ahead, but then I have the fear of running over the inside curbing because I'm TOO far ahead. The usual result is that I'll look down right before the apex and stand the bike up slightly (DOH!) Is there a way to overcome this? Maybe by shifting eyes to the exit but some attention to the apex as you pass it?

 

I'm sure if you watched Valentino's mental "movie" he would be so far ahead of the bike it would be startling.

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use the force!

 

you just have to feel it, get used to riding at a comfortable speed just easy curisin around town or in the hills and just never look at your bike or the ground anywhere near your bike keep your eyes and head up and scanning around up ahead on the road focus on where youre going and not where you are just keep doing this till it's natural

 

the way i learned to do this was by accident really, by riding my bicycle on narrow 8" wide curbs in parking lots when i was in high school, if you look right down at your tire you'll fall off, you have to look at where you're going and just have faith that your wheel is where you want it, you can do the same thing by trying to keep your bicycle tire right on the white line on the edge of the bike lane, it's harder than it sounds heh, to not have you tire ever come off the line

 

but yeah if you have a bicycle i'd try practicing your mental movie on that....a little safter than the motorcycle heh, keep an upright posture so that you can't see any part of your bicycle or motorcycle in your perifial vision and just KNOW where your tires are without looking

good luck -David

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oh i just thought of something else you can do on a motorcycle or on a bicycle, when there's no traffic ride in the middle of the road so you can feel the little reflective bumps and then look up ahead on the road and try to keep hitting all the dots

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Where to look on a track has become the hardest part of racing for me. I didn't have much experience on a motorcycle when I started racing 4 years ago, and the TWIST books helped me understand alot- and still do when I re-read them and apply it to my riding. I race the same 2 or 3 tracks all year long, and what I found (by going to a new track) was that I was using the refrence points to "cheat." By cheat, I mean that I knew that in a specific corner I could run to a certain RP and then brake, turn at the next RP, apex at the next, and so on. All of this could be done without looking very far ahead of the bike. I was having a very hard time improving my corner speed, and as you can imagine, when I got to a new track, I was lost.

 

I am still working this problem, and using the "two step" method described in TWIST. Sometimes I remember to look farther ahead, but then I have the fear of running over the inside curbing because I'm TOO far ahead. The usual result is that I'll look down right before the apex and stand the bike up slightly (DOH!) Is there a way to overcome this? Maybe by shifting eyes to the exit but some attention to the apex as you pass it?

 

I'm sure if you watched Valentino's mental "movie" he would be so far ahead of the bike it would be startling.

don't just use your eyes to look...move you whole head...your balance and perception of speed come from eyes/nose/ears....keeping them level is a move to naturally balance your instincts to be upright...humans have very good periferial [sp?] vision...and vision memory...try to teach your self to trust it in baby steps...you'll soon learn to trust it

 

CP

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Right zipper... cause you know Rossi, he doesn't think about the bike or his riding at all. Just turn the twisty thing on the right there and you have it all pegged. Thanks man, your insight is awesome!

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Actually its true. You can't possibly think as fast as you ride, and thinking about your riding while your in a corner is not a great combo. I gaurentee Rossi has nothing on his mind when he is on the track. I was just saying that we all differ in styles to some degree, and that somtimes, especially those that are successful, believe fully in thier training and just do it. Pardon the tag line. Those that just do it are most successful, those that spend thier time thinking about how to do it are not. (<I think this is written somewhere?Keith?) Learning proper fundamentals is hugley important, and practicing them as well, but it seems there is a lot of second guessing of small stuff. Stuff that is distracting at speed and better left for a practice session. Sorry if my meaning was lost, I was saying, Trust your training and practice, go out and ride without worrying about what body part is where, or where your eyes are, when you hit the brakes at that last corner, the fastest guys out their devote 110% of thier mental capacity to riding, not thinking about riding. I am in no way suggesting that your riding does not need to be sonstantly monitored updated and practiced, I am only saying that when it comes down to the track it time to trust yourself.

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uh...taking exception to the "move your head not your eyes" advice....

 

when performing the "two-step" method...yes.

 

however, recall Twist of the Wrist ...

 

oceanic vision or awareness (can't quote as i don't have the book handy, but...)

 

moving your attention around without moving your eyes OR your head. remember the classroom excercise of keeping your head still and your eyes pointed at one spot on the wall...while moving your attention around the room? imagining a string attached to each corner? well...i believe that particular exercise and class were at mid-ohio around 1988, and the champ we talked about was wayne rainey...but, i do remember this subject being covered in the book. so, aside from the 2 step method of shifting attention from entry to exit of a corner, i believe on this particular issue of "losing touch" with awareness of current location in time and space....that focusing too hard on any particular spot may contribute to disorientation, you can't shift focus of your eyeball that fast. by the time you take a static reading of your position it's too late. your position has already changed. and will continue to do so in process. a dynamic process. freeze frame is good for some types of analysis, but...chances are you need all the dollars and cents of attention you can get....for riding. in any case, i digress, as usual....

 

practitioners of some martial arts refer to a middle distance or almost non-focused gaze, the eyeball is focused neither near or far, but at the middle distance allowing one to more easily shift your attention or awareness. but...it's in the book, Twist of the Wrist.

 

excercise: i like to run on railroad rails. yes, run. walking can be almost more difficult because it's too tempting to look at your feet or just ahead of them, while at speed, there's no way...great for balance too. talk about using the force....

 

also, new tracks vs home tracks... yes, they do force you to think again don't they?

 

good luck

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Hey guys,

 

Let me steer you just a bit on this if you don't mind.

 

When you go out with a purpose in mind it is far better than just going out hoping that it will all come together for you. It is lovely to get into the zone on riding. Brilliant experience and makes it all worthwhile. But pulling yourself along with a purpose for the ride, the race, the parctice session, for those of us who don't have MotoGP quality of riding yet, is the way to go.

 

Listen. I've been doing some research. I've come up with 40 different purposes a rider can have for how they set up and execut a line through a corner, they all have some sort of result that riders try for when they ride. Sometimes it is just an intention. Some of them are vague and some are specific.

 

'To make it through the turn', that would be vague. 'To have higher mid corner speed' would lead a rider towards something they could actually accomplish. 'To go faster', pretty vague. 'To get into the zone', pretty vague. 'To get back on the gas earlier', you could work with that one. You see what I mean?

 

Good advice is just that, good advice. Nothing wrong with it but all too often it just sounds good but doesn't give the rider a real plan to execute to improve.

 

Best,

Keith

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uh..oh...HEY KEITH!! It does say 'Keith's Corner' at the top doesn't it? And there I go responding to replies...what was my intention...?

 

Well, I'm in deep and sideways now...

 

CaptGino,

 

I believe the chapter I was referring to is called 'Seeing the Big Picture'. Or something like that. Twist of the Wrist. The original...guess I'm old school. Using RP's to form sub-procucts and products is NOT "cheating". When you visit a new track you simply need to start from scratch. Learn a new set of RP's. Walk the track. Get to know it. Make friends with it... ;)

 

Then there is the idea of 'target fixation' or 'you go where you look'. And between these two ideas is what I'm driving at. "See" the RP without looking at it. Maybe? I'm not watching you so I can only guess. If you find yourself needing to lift the bike mid-corner, are you turning too early? Need more speed? ...somehow? Might you be going slower than you can because you aren't comfy yet? New tracks take time. Check it out. Are you watching the homeboys' lines between your sessions? Try cornerworking a new track...especially if it has limited spectator access to the viewing areas. Try following a 'local' dude in practice. Maybe you ask him first and make friends...hmmm.

 

As for thinking while you ride...probably best to think before you ride, make a plan and work on accomplishing it. Perhaps taking stock while you breath on a straight away. "Did it work? Maybe I'll try option two."

 

I haven't watched 'Val' since 2002 or mid-2003 as I've been living at a monastery, overseas, or in some foreign country without cable access...but prior to 2003 I've seen pretty much every one of his races back to the 125 WGP's when his hair was half way down his back and he wore a superman cape to the podium...so I'll have to dig up some tapes and do some watching/thinking to speak about what I see in some meaningful way.

 

As for what he thinks about...I can't say as I never asked him. And if I did, would it be in his interest to publish just now...?

 

At my home track, I catch myself thinking about my grocery list down the back straight...as do many others. But that's another story...

 

Frankly, I think Rossi would be hard pressed to explain what he does in a step-by-step 'how to' fashion...but, I can guess that even though he might be thinking strategy far ahead, as for his riding, he's pretty much here/now and looking just ahead. Only he could say...

 

Mere mortals, best to follow steps 1-4.

 

As for 'vague intentions', I'd have to start with seeing the beauty of the machine, the track and yourself. All else flows from that, dare I say, love? (What a hippie freak!) Hey, you wanna know about the force, you'll need to attend the Jedi academy. In the meantime, enthusiasm, excitement and attitude is everything...

 

Peace Brother Man.

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oops...

 

Steps one thru four were mistakenly deleted by the editor....

 

1. Read the Twist books.

2. Go back and read them again.

3. Repeat steps one and two.

4. Attend the school.

 

ad infinitum...

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oh, and all apologies to homegirls and dudettes.

 

unintentional gender specificity....was, well...unintended. :)

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good gosh, what have i done?

 

i'm going to go home and rethink my life...

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Guest Guest_Keith Code_*

Speaking of thinking it through--did any of you read Rossi's autobiography?

 

He goes over just how much he is thinking about his riding during a race

weekend. Very interesting stuff.

 

I haven't finished the book yet but that part is in the first or second chapter.

 

Best,

Keith

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I wasn't logged in properly, here goes again.

 

 

 

Speaking of thinking it through--did any of you read Rossi's autobiography?

 

He goes over just how much he is thinking about his riding during a race

weekend. Very interesting stuff.

 

I haven't finished the book yet but that part is in the first or second chapter.

 

Best,

Keith

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I was unaware Rossi had published. Truthfully, this website is my only real contact with the sport lately...aside from an occasional foray into the want ads at RRW or FATBAQ. Or checking up on my buds on the Kiwi scene. Thank you for the heads up. It sounds very interesting.

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Guest RC

First off let me say this is a very informative site.

 

I have a newbie question for Keith or anyone else who wishes to chime in.

 

I am considering attending the level I in August at mid-ohio. I purchased my first bike in August 2005. My first ride on a motorcycle was a few days previous to that.

 

I really love riding, but definitely have problems with confidence. Like other new bikers, I have no problem going 100 mph+ in a straight line. When it comes to any type of curve with or without negative camber, I slow down hard-core.

 

Yesterday I purchased volume I && II of the TOTW books. I skimmed the first one for content last night, and it seems very informative and helpful, and I can't wait to practice some of the techniques mentioned.

 

My main question is this: How do I know if I'm too much of a new rider to attend a "racing" school? I really want to attend the school to learn the limits of my bike, get rid of bad habits, become more aware of my surroundings, etc.

 

I guess it boils down like this: what skills would I need to possess before I attend the school?

 

Thanks in advance,

 

RC

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Hey RC!

 

Since you specified "anyone wishing to chime in"...

 

In my opinion, the sooner the better for you to get to a Keith Code CSS session.

 

If you're looking for a reason NOT to go...I can't think of one.

 

They are entirely prepared to teach/coach every skill in the book(s) one on one. And, they are the best.

 

In the meantime, my opinion is...'counter steering' and 'front brake/blipping throttle for downshifts' are good skills to work on while you prepare for your first school at Mid-Ohio in August.

 

Ah...Mid-Ohio in August...what a great choice. Pardon me while I re-live some of my best memories. B)

 

Be safe, be there,

BH

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Guest RC

Racer,

 

Thanks for the reply. Shortly after I created my post, I found several other questions dealing with my sort of question. I apologize for the dupe, and am thankful for your answer.

 

RC

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RC and Racer,

 

For sure a good idea to work on the braking/downshifting and blipping the throttle. If you can get that so it takes less attention, it leaves more to work on the other more fun stuff! That can be practiced anywhere, don't have to wait to get to the track. There is a lot of great info on braking in Twist 1, but if anything is not clear, or you have a question on any of that, let us know.

 

Best,

CF

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Is the Rossi autobiography available yet?????????????

 

Hi Gerry,

 

I did a quick look and looks like it is, here's an amazon link for it:

 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/185...1622025-7087164

 

Best,

CF

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