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Posts posted by PittsDriver

  1. 11 hours ago, faffi said:

    The brain is not typically wired to be bothered with words like "don't" and for most will only react to "fixate". If your kid has ice cream running down the chin and you tell the kid "do not look down", the child will definitely look down. If you instead say "look up", you can wipe the chin before the kid ruin the shirt. 

    Good point.  That's why I think Hotfoot's advice about her trigger/response seems like the best in this thread.  Whenever I catch myself being compelled to brake for something (like a corner) harder than I anticipated, use that as the trigger for a LOOK, GO reaction.  

    I think the main point of my question is to discuss how to make a good response like this something I can do without thinking about it.  When that "oh @#$%" moment happens, your thinking isn't going to suddenly catch up and get ahead of the action - just the opposite.  In aerobatics we call that brain freeze.  Hence my point about this reaction needing to be something you've programmed in your reptilian brain.  But how?  One technique pilots use in training is chair flying where I'll sit and close my eyes in the comfort of my favorite chair at home and mentally go over and over some maneuver.  I wonder if that would work here to spend time imagining finding yourself charging deep into a corner and triggering the LOOK, GO reaction?

    For the really skilled riders here like the CSS coaches, is that a technique you've ever used to learn something new?  I could see it especially useful to "ride" a track mentally taking yourself through every reference point around the circuit and I'm sure that's something that you do.  I'm thinking it might also be a useful homework assignment for students to do that for skills they're trying to learn as well.  Thoughts?

  2. SRod321, I like it that you seem to have had enough survival reaction experience (or more to the point, constant reenforcement :) ) that you seem to have a proper reaction spring loaded in your reptilian brain.  Wouldn't it be great if there were some training opportunities to get more riders where you are without the risk on the street.  

    I can't remember if I mentioned this in my OP but the slide bike option at CSS was a great way to work on my SR from locking up the front or just panic braking.  That's a great laboratory for demonstrating how I do exactly what I don't want to do in that situation - get a death grip on the bars.  I had to do that drill several times before I could be light enough on the bars during threshold braking to become the human ABS I needed to be.  I felt like I got pretty good at it after several attempts but I'm sure that's also a perishable skill.  If someone pulled out in front of me suddenly on the street would I be locked on with my lower body and light on the bars?

    Maybe a lot of experience and focused attention on this problem is the only answer.  Just asking the question on here it's interesting how it's come up that some track junkies just stop riding on the street altogether.  On the track you should be able to not be often surprised by charging a corner, et. al. by focusing on all that preventative stuff posted here.  Sure it's going to happen but not like it would on riding a few 10's of thousands of street miles per year.  For that, the best advice seems to be to stop riding when you're tired or not well hydrated or not mentally all in the game and have the restraint and judgement to ride The Pace where you're less likely to catch yourself charging a corner.

  3. I can't remember if I've posted this hear before - probably not.  I have front/rear video running on my Super Duke and got this video last year when out in the hills of Virginia.  A buddy was following me when this knucklehead came at me near the centerline.  He then proceeded to get target fixated on my buddy and ended up passing him ON THE RIGHT!  My apologies for the quality of the video which is about as good as the Zapruder film but you can get the idea of how dangerous it can be to target fixate.  This guy had plenty of margin left to get leaned over and make the turn if he would have just looked where he wanted to go and make the bike do it.  This was very nearly a bad day.




  4. Thanks 53Driver.  All those things you posted are great advice for how to properly set up and execute a corner in a way that keeps you mentally ahead (slows down the action) and having proper vision and a LOOK - GO mantra.  If you train and engrain those habits I'm absolutely convinced you'll be a safer and better prepared rider.  

    However, none of that addresses an antidote for your survival reaction of target fixating when you do find yourself in a completely unexpected situation.  Doing all that proper stuff you covered helps reduce those incidents but sooner or later everyone finds themselves with a car suddenly crossing the center line at us or some stuff in the road that runs you wide toward the ditch.  In that case we can get target fixated and don't use the margin and maneuverability we have available to avoid the "target."  

    If you go back and read my initial post in this thread, I make the assertion that in order to be able to eliminate target fixation we have to have to be able to 1. instantly recognize/acknowlege in that moment that what's happening isn't what I expected; and 2) have a response that has been practiced enough to be in my reptilian brain.  I gave the example of how we do this in aerobatic upset/recovery training in aircraft.  

    I was hoping that bringing this up on here some minds much more experienced and instruction oriented then me would give it some thought and figure out a way to train out that target fixation instinctual reaction.  

    Thanks for your contribution but it's my hope that there's a solution out there other than be skillful enough to have it never happen.  I have to believe that target fixation puts a very large number of motorcyclists in the hurt locker.


  5. I've wondered about this as well that they can brake hard enough to lift the rear tire without putting stress on the bars and with one leg dangling.  My presumption is that they're locked on well enough with the outside leg and that throwing out the inside leg still allows for them to further shift the CG in to the turn without further shifting around on the bike.  It seems like there would be no way for them to have any front end feel if they were bracing with the arms.

  6. If you think spins can't induce some brain freeze, let's go do some cross-over spins where we'll go from upright spinning to inverted before recovering.  The first time I did those with my acro instructor he told me just to fly straight and level after and say airspeed.  As I was just trying to keep the wings level I said, we're at 3500 feet.  Yep, I was that confuzzled.  But the point is well taken that it'll be difficult to set up a target fixation SR to work on an antidote like the one Hotfoot suggested - when compelled to brake, look in at where I want to go.  


    • Like 1
  7. On 7/15/2019 at 7:53 PM, Cobie Fair said:

    If you have a good lock on the bike with the lower body (arms are not being used to support the body), the front will feel like it's a bowling ball, stiff and slippery, not "hooked up" at all.  As it warms, you will feel more resistance, it's "biting" more and will track a tighter line once turned in.

    That's the best explanation I've ever heard about how the front should feel riding near the limit.  I think I've spent a lot of my track time assuming traction rather than discovering it and I can see how that's holding me back from getting nearer to the limit.  

    Thanks Cobie!

  8. On 7/1/2019 at 8:14 PM, Cobie Fair said:

    OK pollsters, here is another look at this area, and question for you (and any others that have not chimed in) this could be considered the same question (or similar), but going to ask anyway:

    What single skill would you most like to improve in your own riding? 


    For riding at the track, the skill (or lack of) that's holding me back from advancing is feeling front end grip and riding near the limit.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's fear of a low side that's keeping me from riding near the limit?  The one and only time I've ever put a bike on the ground was a low side in an off-camber decreasing radius where I felt like I had everything working just right until I was sliding on my back.  I blame that incident on my stupidity of pushing cold tires but it's put a road block in my advancement and I wish there was a way to get past that to develop finer feel for the limit.  

    I'm a dirt bike guy as well and I'm comfortable with that bike moving around under me at and beyond the limit of traction but for some reason I just can't trust myself to push the bike into any kind of slide at the track knowing that I can control it.

    Also, I never throw my leg over a motorcycle without hearing protection.  I'm a poster case for being stupid about that earlier in my life and I'm just trying to save the hearing I have left.  

    • Like 1
  9. Another skill for street riders would be developing your spidey-sense for danger from other vehicles on the road.  Unlike the track where you can put almost all your attention into looking where you want to go and how you get there, if you do that on the street that's when someone is going to pull out in front of you because you didn't notice that they hadn't made eye contact with you and were looking the other way.  I guess in CSS terms, that would maybe be the wide view?  Maybe that's still vision but with a different emphasis on detecting potential dangers.  


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  10. I think visual skills are far more important than the others listed.  I think your school thinks so too :)  You teach that and throttle control first because it's the foundation of all the other skills in that those two things keep you mentally ahead of the action unfolding in front of you.  The only other thing I would add as a skill is being smooth and steady on the controls.  If your vision and throttle control are good, I think you'll find that those quick reflexes, bravery, and other skills will get tested less often!!

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  11. On 6/17/2019 at 7:50 PM, Hotfoot said:

    Glad you found that info helpful, but I do want to clarify a bit  - it is not the fact that I have to brake hard that tells me I'm target-fixed - it is the feeling of being COMPELLED to brake, instead of consciously deciding where, when and how much to brake.

    That came through in your original post and I just paraphrased it poorly.  Thank again for all your (and Cobie's) insights on this!


    • Like 1
  12. Hotfoot, that's a great solution, or what I've been calling an antidote, for the SR. It's encouraging to know that it's something I can train myself to do if I've got it spring loaded in my mind to do that.  A great aviation coach has famously said "Good judgement comes from experience; and, experience comes from bad judgement."  

    Whenever I'm setting out on a fast paced ride with friends, I remind myself that there's always going to be riders willing to ride faster than me on the street - ride my ride.  There's no checkered flags out on a twisty road..  The other reminder is to ride "the pace" has discussed in a couple of articles by Nick Ienatsch (i.e. no charging corners, light brakes all day, fast in the corners, slow in the straights, etc).  Fortunately, in doing that I don't have many bad experiences so it really bothered me recently when out with some fast riders in the hillbilly twisties of West Virginia and I got target fixed on the edge of the road in a hot corner. I was kicking myself thinking I know better than that but did it anyway.  

    I hope not to repeat that very often but I'll try a third reminder before I start those rides:  Hard on the brakes triggers a focus on the apex. 


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  13. That's interesting Cobie and thank you for responding.  They had a similar exercise at the school my son attended to get his motorcycle license.  They were basically teaching that when confronted with a sudden decision to turn (obstacle avoidance) to push the bike down under you dirt bike style to get it turned more quickly.

    A question for the rider coaches on here - do you still catch yourself getting target fixed on those rare times when you've blown a corner or something surprises you out on the street?  If not, what was it that you feel contributed most nulling out that survival reaction?

    Yours is the only cornering/track day school that I've attended but I can't find any treatment of this topic anywhere else either.  It seems like there's great advice out there (look where you want to go and not at what you want to avoid, the bike goes where you look, etc) but I don't see anyone acknowledging that it takes repetition with an anecdote to this SR to train riders to avoid the problem.

    Looking at motorcycle accident statistics, single vehicle mishaps are way too common and most of those seem to me a rider departing the pavement and hitting something (ditch, fixed object, etc).  So it seems that target fixation could be one of the top most dangerous tendencies of motorcyclists and some specific treatment of this would yield some real world results for riders that got the training.

    Personally, I've got 100's of thousands of street miles and off-road adventure miles and many track days in my experience.  I'm a fast intermediate to advanced track day rider. That great amount of experience helps me ride in a way where I don't have this happen to me very often and I feel like I'm pretty good at not taking the bike to someplace that my vision and my thinking hasn't already been. But in all those years of great experience, it hasn't solved this target fixation problem for me and I'm going to guess I'm not the only one.  I suspect the answer is somewhere in the comments here about repetition in recognizing when it's not going like I planned and invoking the target fix anecdote - Look....Go.


  14. Now thinking this through, I wonder if this isn't a better topic to talk about with something like the MSF training rather than a cornering school?  I brought it up here because I feel like I got a tremendous improvement from the California Superbike School in my skills out on public roads but this is one thing that I don't mind admitting that is still a work in progress for me.  Because of the skid bike training I got at my Level 1/2 camp, I thought this topic might be of interest here.

    It'll be interesting to see what other reactions we get from this discussion from the CSS coaches.

  15. On 6/13/2019 at 3:54 AM, faffi said:

    What spring to mind is a big space with a painted corner outline, but with tons of runoff. Each rider could then charge the corner, based on their own limitations, with no risk of crashing while going too fast to (belive they can) make the corner. By always adding enough speed to maintain this "I cannot make this " you should hopefully have a similar training situation to that of the airplane.

    That might be interesting and there's probably several different ways to set this up.  So we've got a defined corner, maybe 90 to 120 degrees of turn, with ample "no harm" run off area.   Now let's say we've got set of cones that establishes that you must approach the corner on a "low line" where you are forced into an early apex.  You start out on your first couple of passes at a speed that is easy to make the corner but then you increase the speed by 10 mph on every subsequent pass.  It would reach a point that they have it in mind that  on the next pass it's going to be difficult to make the corner.  Will that create tenseness on the controls and target fixation?.  Even knowing the corner and what's coming, there would be a certain amount of stress associated with trying to make the corner going "too fast." Would I fixate on the outside edge in this exercise?  Don't know.  But it would tend to engrain the thought that "I'm going to keep looking where I want to go" and making the control inputs to get me there.  

    That might be of value even without the key element of surprise.  I say "might be" because I think there's a missing component - the surprise that invokes the SR - and the need in that instant to mentally declare that I need to invoke the anecdote to a charged corner "LOOK....GO"  In aerobatic upset/recovery, that's what breaks the SR and gets the pilot back out of the reptilian brain and thinking again.  However, for the more novice to intermediate rider, would that would lead them to the understanding that the bike is capable of more than they thought if they stay focused on where they want to go?  Would repetition at charging a corner and using the LOOK-GO antidote be the enough to get that SR engrained in the reptilian brain?  

    Interesting thoughts.  This would be difficult to set up on my own outside of an organized, coached training exercise.  I wonder if this would be a valuable training option to put in the program with the options to ride the slide bike, panic braking, etc


  16. Given what I know about the effectiveness of upset training in aerobatics, I'm thinking this is something missing in our training as motorcyclists.   I'd contrast this with the training I got on the skid pad at my level 1/2 camp at VIR when we got rained out of our last couple of sessions.  We took the bike with outriggers out and practiced locking up the front and felt the negative effect of the SR to tense up on the bars.  Through repetition we eventually "got it" that if we were locked on to the bike with our lower body and stayed lighter on the bars during the braking, we got to the point that we could slide the front a bit without tucking and slamming down an outrigger. That was a great eye-opener of the effect of the SR to get a death grip on the bars during braking beyond the threshold.  But as great as that opportunity was (thank you Superbike School!) I have to wonder if out on the streets when a car pulls out right in front of me, if I can overcome the SR to grip too tightly.  Even with this experience, is this a perishable skill that needs frequent re-training to keep engrained?  (ABS is a wonderful thing)  What could be the analogous drill to break the SR of target fixation and how would we keep that fresh as we begin each new riding season?

  17. Thanks for the reply Hotfoot.  It's before I tip in to the corner.  I generally try to ride with the attitude that I will not charge any corners on the road but during a weekend out in the mountains it'll happen once or twice that a corner surprises me (in one case I came over a rise that revealed a 90 degree turn).  Yeah I know, I shouldn't have been outrunning my vision and I feel I'm pretty good with that.  So this isn't a chronic problem for me.  Still, I'll come upon a situation from time to time where I'm kicking myself afterwards for target fixing on where I don't want to go.  

    A few other observations - it's not fear of lean angle.  I feel like I have pretty good BP and have no concern getting the bike over in a properly executed corner.  It's not fear of using the brakes hard - that I do in this situation.  But maybe when I get surprised before corner entry I fix on the edge of the road and I'm not watching when I could release the brakes and tip in properly - because I haven't moved my vision to the apex/exit.  

    This never happens to me at the track (not racing, track days) because I know that I can exit the corner with more pace if I set it up properly to begin with.  This just happens when I'm surprised out on the road. 

    I feel like I need practice with suddenly realizing I came at it too hot (or something revealed itself too late in setting up for the corner) and then engraining the SR to LOOK & GO.

  18. *crickets*  I'm guessing all the school coaches are out helping riders at track days.  I'll just keep checking back here from time to time hoping to have the discussion.

    Until then, my post was probably too long so "let me sum up..."  - paraphrasing Inigo Montoya

    How does a rider overcome the SR to target fixate when things don't go as expected?  My main point is that the drills like the 2 step and 3 step are fine for having good throttle control and setting lean angle but not as an antidote for target fixation when dangerously hot into a corner.   I always try to ride "The Pace" when out on a twisty public road but sometimes I still make a mistake and a switchback comes at me unexpectedly.

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  19. I haven't posted on here in a while but I think I've had an epiphany about my survival reaction to a corner that I've charged into too hot.  It's been a few years since I've been to a CSS camp (L4 repeat offender).  I'm humbly asking for you to help me think through the thing I'm still struggling with on target fixation.  Apologies for this long post to get to my question.

    Panic, brain freeze, survival reaction - all characterize what happens to a rider when things aren't going as expected in a corner and the natural result for vast majority of riders is target fixation - they look at the thing they don't want to hit and then go there.  They say that confession is the first step in recovery so here goes:

    Hi, my name is Wes and I get target fixed when I've charged a corner.  :)

    I think that the problem with telling riders things like "the bike will do more than you think,' or "look where you want to go, not at what you don't want to hit," or "double down on your lean angle" is that, while it's all the proper advice that's dispensed often on forums and over a beer after a ride, I think it's useless to someone in that moment unless it's deeply engrained in your reptilian brain as your survival reaction.  To put it another way, if you are mentally behind the action enough to have gotten into the corner too hot, then your thinking isn't going to speed up to work the problem.  Just the opposite - you're going to mentally freeze up - and the only thing you have working for you is what's engrained in your reptilian brain.  I know all this because of years of aerobatic upset and recovery practice in aerobatic aircraft.  In aerobatic upsets (falling/tumbling/spinning out of control in the air) we call it "brain freeze" and we counter that with lots of repetition.  We go up high and intentionally get the airplane out of control and then practice a reaction over and over again that is always the same:

    - Admit/declare that I'm out of control (anytime the airplane is doing something I didn't expect, this declaration is triggered)

    - Do the same thing every time - which in an aerobatic airplane is center up all the controls and pull all the power off  (that stops making things worse and makes some space for the recovery)

    The only way to get a proper reaction is to be spring loaded to declare I'm out of control followed by recovery repetition.  We have to learn to be ready to admit in the moment that this isn't going like I thought.  My own mental model is that this is like a circuit breaker in my mind.  So to bring this back to cornering a motorcycle, I try to always be ready to immediately realize that I've blown the corner, or that something is happening in front of me that I didn't expect and pop the breaker.  Once I've admitted that I've charged the corner, then the thing I've tried to engrained in many hours of practice (look, go) can kick in, or so I thought.

    One of the hardest habits for me to break at the California Superbike school camps I've been to is that the bike goes where I look.  I can't tell you how many times I've gone back to practicing the 2 step drill.  I think it was my L4 rider coach that gave me the advice to actually say it out loud on every corner: LOOK, GO.  I could do it if I was thinking about it but tended to abandon it if it wasn't in the front of my mind.  After I'd been through that drill at CSS, I started trying to practice it out on the road when I was out in the twisties.  It worked for me there as well as on the track to keep me mentally ahead of the action as I tipped in to a turn.  I thought this is a great drill to allow me to ride with more margin and with more pace. But I was still having the problem that I'd sometimes charge into a corner too hot and get target fixed on the edge of the pavement where I didn't want to go.  It occurred to me that I was practicing the 2 step to keep everything under control with good margin but that it wasn't helping me when I truly needed it.  Repetition wasn't making this my survival reaction, I suspect because I wasn't practicing the first step in my aerobatic training - declaring I'm out of control.  

    It seems like the 2 step should be the right answer to target fixation.  If I can recognize that I've charged the corner and trigger a LOOK (where I would rather be going) and the GO (push on the inside bar and double down on making the bike go there) I will have the best chance at rescuing my charged corner.  But how do I practice that?!  I don't think I should be out intentionally charging corners and rescuing it when I'm out in the hills on a ride. But, as in my aerobatic training,  if I don't practice being confronted with "oh s**t" moments, how can I truly make this my survival reaction?  I've seen the positive results of that kind of practice in the air.  How can I get there with my cornering out in the wild when nitwits cross the center line at me or there's gravel in the turn or I've just charged the corner too fast?  Is there a drill (maybe on track vs. the street) where this SR can be deeply engrained and refreshed so that it's there and unconsciously ready to be triggered when needed?



  20. Long, constant radius turns like turn 2 at Barber, 7 at Summit Point, and other carousel type long turns. I feel like I'm cruising through them or making multiple apexes out of them but never patiently holding good speed until time to roll back on for the exit.


    Esses, my temptation is to be rolling on throttle as I go knee-to-knee on the final turn of the esses. I can count on you guys to catch me adding throttle and lean as I tip back over in the opposite direction to exit.

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