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Turn Once Lessons


Crash106
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Hello everyone. Bit cold this winter, even in North Carolina. (Either that of I'm just getting old.) I haven't had my bike out much, but I have been practicing my riding skills ... by driving my car! I have a 12 year old, 140 horse power, four door Mercedes-Benz C-230 with a big fat soft spot just off idle. To keep me connected to my riding, I've been practicing easing on the throttle and turning once per corner. The results are very interesting.

 

It's hard to wait for the throttle to catch. When I don't wait, the car hesitates, then the throttle jerks open--finally--and the car lurches toward the outside of the turn. If I take up the slack in the throttle cable (so to speak), then wait to feel the engine pickup slightly before giving her the gas, everything works smoothly. You can hardly tell when I'm on the brakes or on the gas, but it ain't easy! It takes a sort of Throttle Patience.

 

One turn works for a almost every corner. I've found a few--mostly on-ramps--that are literally decreasing radius turns, but mostly, it appears the road engineers did their best to make the turns ONE diameter. All that being said, it feels strange, even unnerving, to turn the car once then let it just GO. On it's own. No more help from me. All by itself. It feels spooky. Why? I guess I'm just so used to driving by connecting the side of the car to the center line, that when I feel/see the car drift even a little bit off that line, I feel I MUST take corrective action. It feels like something really BAD is going to happen if I don't keep futsing with the steering wheel!

 

What really happens, however, is entirely different. If I've turned at the right point and to the right degree, the car will almost always take one effortless path around the corner. Apparently, those constant corrective actions I used to make in the past were completely unnecessary. At the same time, I have to be able to ALLOW the car to drift slightly toward the outside fog line, or let it crowd in on the inside double yellow line. The C230 is a little car, but still, even 4-6 inches of "drift" feels very unsettling. I'm still in my lane. I'm not in danger of driving off the road or crossing the center line and smacking into a truck, but it feels out of control. This "feeling" is coming from my eyes, not the seat of my pants or the tires.

 

Slowly, I'm getting used to how the car feels using ONE turning input and gentle throttle control. You know what? Once I move past the fear, the car feels much less busy and much more settled. Lean angle? What lean angle? We're just riding around this corner on one nice smooth arch. When I move past the danger my eyes want me to see, and actually feel what the car and the tires are telling me, suddenly, everything feels very steady and in control. (Yes, even in a car you can feel the lean angles of the car tipping out, and your own body tipping in.)

 

This has GOT to make a huge difference when riding a motorcycle at high speed and steep lean angles.

 

Do you get any of these same feelings or perceptions from your driving or riding?

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A car will naturally straighten out though, so I don't think you can really compare it to the bike. One smooth steering input in a car is ideal, but you will need to hold the wheel to maintain the angle, unlike a bike which will hold the line with no grip on the bars and a constant throttle.

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Steve,

 

You make a very good point. I was noticing that with the car: I would rotate the steering wheel, say 90-degrees, and leave it there for a long time. So, I was wondering how I would do that on the bike. "I'll just push the right handgrip forward 1" and leave it there for a long time." Clearly, I would just fall smack dab on my right side. So, you are exactly correct. On the bike, I'll have to turn/lean once, then let the bars straighten out, and ease on the gas.

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Update.

 

I've broken the bike out of Winter Jail. Even riding back and forth to work on the bike, I can feel the benefits of my car driving practice.

 

Trying to turn once and ease on the throttle in the car has given me a lot of confidence on the bike. I think I've had to make a lot of the visual stuff happen automatically in order to make one turn. On the motorcycle, I really notice that my Turn Point is right after my Off the Brakes point. I didn't realize it, but I guess I was setting the car up and relaxing while I rearrange my hands on the wheel. I feel much more relaxed on the bike now. I come up to a turn and feel much more confident. It think it has to do with seeing what I need to see and then relaxing, but I don't know how to explain it better than that. Maybe it's the "getting on the gas smoothly" part. Twist II talks about how being smooth helps your brain relax.

 

Anyway, I do feel that my winter car practice really helped my spring motorcycle riding.

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