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Jaybird180

What is a person’s true riding potential?

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I’ve come to accept that with the passage of time, my chances of becoming MotoGP Champion declines. I should know this by the fact that I spend 8hrs a day, 40hrs a week honing a craft that involves driving a desk and that I’ve been doing it nearly 2 decades.

But as I think about the investment I’ve made in my riding skill and make an honest assessment in the return on that investment, I begin to ask: what is a realistic goal for my riding accomplishments?

I’m a multi-time Level 4 student and because I love it so much, I will very likely return to CSS for more L4, but now with a different mindset, and a question.

I’ve previously thought there was that ONE THING that once unburdened in my riding, would open the door to limitless improvement. My interpretation and reading of TOTWII indicates that as a message. But what if I’ve already peaked? What if my “plateau” isn’t really a plateau but instead my zenith? How in the world can I figure this out?

I know that I certainly have counterproductive habits and tendencies and as I ride more they come to my attention. When my awareness comes up, those tendencies reduce, at least until the next ride. I also know that I have fears and as I ride more they become articulable. I know that I sometimes make errors because I have a base of information gleaned from years of study of Keith’s and others’ material and my comparison of my error in judgement becomes apparent as I reflect on a previous session.

I DO know that I still enjoy it. And I also know that I don’t do it often enough for my learning style.

I think...I’m just looking for MY breakthrough. Writing this post has been therapeutic. Now I hope to get some valuable feedback from other students, forum posters and especially coaches on how riding breakthroughs actually happen. I’ve heard about them. Now I’m ready to experience my own.

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Like most any physically demanding sport, physical fitness (nutrition, hydration, strength, flexibility, etc.) is a factor in your ability to perform, and so are training, understanding, and practice. But, in my opinion, personalized coaching, and willingness to BE coached, are extremely important.

I'll give you my perspective: I started riding quite late, in my mid thirties. I was very slow and very nervous and I don't think anyone expected me to have the potential to ride fast, let alone race (least of all me!), but I got really interested in the sport, got lots of coaching, and devoted a lot of time to really understanding the material, and my understanding of the material ABSOLUTELY changed and evolved as I rode faster. Going back and reading Twist II, I found lots of information struck me differently as my pace increased and I found techniques that were a bit vague to me at first became much more important, much more useful to me, because I NEEDED them more. For example, I could get away with slow body transitions at slower speeds but as my laptimes came down, speed of moving across the bike in a chicane became a limiting factor, I couldn't get through a particular section any quicker without moving over faster. Suddenly hip flick, which didn't seem very useful to me before, became a critical skill. That is just one example, but I have had, over the years, a BUNCH of breakthroughs like that, and have found that as I progress in my riding, becoming proficient in certain techniques and riding faster overall, new barriers crop up and as I address each one I get quicker again - and then encounter something else. How do I overcome the barriers? Through coming to school and getting coaching, mostly. Sometimes study of the material helps, sometimes analyzing data (laptimes, braking zones, lines, etc. from my lap timer or data logger) help, but coaching is what always makes the biggest difference - very often what I THOUGHT was my barrier turned out to be something different entirely, and it required the eye of a coach to discover that.

Of course, my mindset while being coached is a huge factor in my ability to improve. If, for example, I came to school fiercely determined that I already knew "what my problem was", then I did not get nearly as much benefit from coaching because I was resistant to allowing the coach to help me. After I figured that out, I got even more improvements on my school days.

I said physical fitness is important, but I am a lot older than many of the riders I race against, and not as fit as most of them, either, but my CSS training allows me to ride with fewer SR's and a lot less wasted effort so I can go faster and be calmer overall. I thought I had reached my riding peak years ago but I am actively racing this year and I am riding faster than ever before. I still get coaching as often as I can, generally I come to school as a student at least 4 days a year, if not more, and that makes a huge difference for me. It is not because I am in better shape, because I am not. It is because I understand and apply the riding tech better than I could before.

I used to think, at the end of any school day as a student, that I was riding as fast as I ever would, because I figured I would just get older and slower.... but I'm not getting slower, I'm getting faster. Every time I come to school I get some new piece of information or tackle a new skill that adds something to my riding, and I get quicker. And what a thrill that is! And it is even better when some twenty year old comes over to your pit to ask you how you do it. :)

 

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In this article, Keith describes what HE needs to do, to make riding improvements, this article has been pivotal for me in my riding. I carry a copy of it with me to every track day or school.

I went to the Articles section to look for the link to it and noted there are several other articles about Rider Improvement or Isolating Barriers, etc. a look through the Articles section may help you find some of the answers you seek.

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Thanks Hotfoot. Going to do more thinking on this.

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Jaybird, man, you stated something that I have been battling with internally for the last two seasons. Granted, I'm what I consider still fairly new to riding. I, like Hotfoot started riding in my opinion, late (early thirties to be exact), and I started doing track days just two seasons ago. I know I'm still relatively inexperienced when it comes to the track even though I've done levels 1 - 3 with CSS and about 3 other track days. I learned early on when I began riding that I LOVE riding, and I started following MotoGP and WSBK as well as MotoAmerica. I never thought I'd be as passionate about it as I am and like you, I have the desire to eventually race, and hopefully one day compete among some of the best. I've been asking myself the same questions. "Am I past that age?", "did I miss my opportunity?", "Whats my limit?", "Can I ever even reach that level?". I wonder if I'll ever have that "ah-ha" breakthrough moment that opens up as you stated "limitless improvement" or if I missed it because I started so late in life. Think about it, most of the "Pros" you see on TV have been on or around bikes probably since the age of 4 and here I am so late to the party. I can relate brother.

Hotfoot, your words are a breath of fresh air on this topic to me. It tells me that the only real limit is myself. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suddenly filled with hope that I'll be side by side up against Marc Marquez in the near future, but that I can always improve. I remember three years ago, I was at the motorcycle show at the Javits Center talking to one of the coaches for TPM (Team Pro Motion) and he asked my why I wanted to ride the track. My answer back then was, and still today is to get better. Yes I want to go fast, to be faster, but to go faster you have to get better, you have master your craft. I know I still have a long way to go but reading Hotfoot's comment I realize that there is no definitive window of opportunity that can be missed when it comes to learning and improving, that as long as you're willing to learn and pursue improvement, you WILL improve. I'm no where near as good as I want to be, I'm still chasing that knee drag moment but I know in time it will come, and now I firmly believe that in time I WILL find myself competing on some level eventually. Jay, if its what you truly want to achieve, you can and you will.

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SRod,

My oldest coach is in his late 60's, and he's fast.  I don't mean fast for a 68 year old (or whatever he is) but fast.  Raced with his son a few years back.

Got a whole slew of guys in their 40-50's that are crazy fast.

We had an 80 year old at the last school, it was his birthday in fact!

My dad skis in Taos, NM, he's 82, and free lift tickets after 80 (I thought that cool).

CF

 

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17 hours ago, Cobie Fair said:

SRod,

My oldest coach is in his late 60's, and he's fast.  I don't mean fast for a 68 year old (or whatever he is) but fast.  Raced with his son a few years back.

Got a whole slew of guys in their 40-50's that are crazy fast.

We had an 80 year old at the last school, it was his birthday in fact!

My dad skis in Taos, NM, he's 82, and free lift tickets after 80 (I thought that cool).

CF

 

I hope my body can still handle the rigors of snowboarding if/when I reach 80 lol! Free lift tickets!? Are you kidding me!? Lol! But back on topic, yeah it's inspiring and motivating to know that i can still potentially reach that level. It's just mostly if not all on me. I hope Jaybird feels the same way now. I'm just excited man!

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I would be ecstatic for solid top 5 and an occasional few podiums in my local minimoto race club.

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Just bump into a few of the kids, push them out in the weeds.

OK...I am kidding!

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