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Improving Bp And Speeding Up Using Visual Techniques.


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I was reading an article just now by Keith Code, and something I read made me think of a friend's (Dan) plight from our last trackday weekend, which I've been trying to piece together as to why he seems to be "fighting" the bike every time he came through, instead of just having poor body position (BP) while I was working the corner.

 

Dan has a problem with what could be thought of as poor (which his is still good for a newer rider) BP. Another rider, Nick, is in the same boat, it would seem. I was working with Nick on his BP during our last trackday. It did help a little, but he kept reverting back to his old crossed up habit as soon as he started getting comfortable and moving faster. It hit me after reading this that something else could help even more.

 

The article included the following:

 

"The world begins to distort as we lean over. Once our visual orientation gets out of sync with our internal-balance machinery, it causes both the most rewarding and most terrifying sensations in riding. This is directly observable in new riders when they resist leaning by holding their bodies erect and pressing the bike down and away from themselves in a turn.

 

As riders become more accustomed to some lean angle, they can go one of two ways:

1. Continues as above to resist it; or

2. Get sucked into the tantalizing sensations of cornering, often beyond their skill level. This is generally accompanied by scary entry speed.

 

The barriers then are both physical sensation and visual orientation....."

 

It goes on to state that 45 degrees of lean is where the problems start to arise. "Once at 45 degrees, we not only have 1G of downward force (gravity), we also develop 1G of lateral load."

 

Then the problem is that when we pass this 45 degree barrier, we have more lateral force than horizontal force and it's unnatural for our bodies to feel this. That's when "we need to start using less force and more finesse."

 

This angle (and I believe any angle that is initially new to a rider) is what causes the problems to arise, but they continue. "We instinctively resist leaning with the bike. Speeds seem higher and, as the rider is out of alignment with the bike and the lateral G-load, he struggles to stay on the bike. Now his arms and body come into play, stiffening up. This tires us out from the physical tension, which ultimately upsets the bike's handling. Much like a counter-leaning passenger, it tends to make the bike stand up and run wide.

 

"Awkward and uncomfortable body, neck and head positions result from this. Shoulders and hips twist away from, instead of into, the turn, putting peculiar S-curves in the rider's back. This alone can upset the body's oritentation machinery."

 

 

Here's what I think it boils down to. In California Superbike School (CSS) they don't teach basics of BP. I think they don't bother because it's such a waste of time, besides a couple of simple points. They could teach students day and night how to lean properly and the proper BP, but if the student doesn't understand the problem of why he's fighting the bike and maintaining such poor BP, he's not going to improve.

 

That explains why Nick can't maintain the BP I was showing him. I wasn't explaining to him how to slow things down visually, and when he got more comfortable he leaned more, then the poor BP came right back. All the things mentioned in Keith's article. Working on improved BP is, and still should be, a goal, but things need to be slowed down by learning visual skills.

We're taught that if you want to slow things down you need to look up. If you look at the front tire while you're riding, even at slow speeds, it seems to be going fast. So we pick our heads up to make things seem slower. What newer riders don't get (and some experienced ones who think they're just going fast) is this: when we're going straight and pick our heads up, it seems to slow things down, the same thing is going to happen when in a corner. I know it's probably covered elsewhere, but it made me realize so many things, including why I couldn't get faster in the 2 years I'd done trackdays while focusing on BP, and started improving drastically after attending the first two levels of the Superbike School and concentrated on visual techniques.

I hope what I've figured is accurate. It was something that just hit me while reading an article I've been putting off for quite some time now from Motorcyclist where Keith has/had a section called Code Break. The article is "The 1G Club."

 

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Seems to me you've reached a good conclusion. I had a lengthy phone conversation with a CSS coach who said even top pro's (including one motogp star mentioned by name) can struggle visually. This is quite relative I'm sure; my visual struggles probably are far different from anyone else's (and I can only dream being good enough to have a motogp star's troubles).

 

Didn't we get body position basics in Level 3? Perhaps it's my brain damage kicking in... (I crashed in Level 3; because of visual issues too.)

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I was reading an article just now by Keith Code, and something I read made me think of a friend's (Dan) plight from our last trackday weekend...I hope what I've figured is accurate. It was something that just hit me while reading an article I've been putting off for quite some time now from Motorcyclist where Keith has/had a section called Code Break. The article is "The 1G Club."

Ja-Z;

I don't mean to be late to the party here but I thought that this was an excellent post.

 

Rain

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I crashed in Level 3; because of visual issues too.

Brad;

 

Do you remember why? This is a good thread to expand on I think...

 

Rain

Cobie and I talked this through about a month or so ago, and it was then he helped me realize my mistakes were visual. This should be a fairly close description of my memories. I was coming down the main straight at VIR. I had just received a "thumbs up" from my coach for whatever drill we were on. As I was setting up for turn 1 (hard right hander), someone charged ahead of me and then went hard on the brakes. I was carrying a bit more speed into the corner and his hard braking made it so I had to brake harder than expected. Unfortunately, at that point I shifted my vision to him - instead of through the turn - and I pretty much watched his bike from there on. At some point I saw past his bike and saw the left side curbing breaking to the right (this was turn 2 entry). Since I was not looking up track, but had been focused on the tail section in front of me, I was unprepared for turn 2. I then looked directly at the left side curbing, which took me right over it, across the gravel, into the grass, and the bike flipped end over end. I came down on my right shoulder and head; I was knocked out briefly and I woke to find Cobie running over to me. We were in the third track session of the day, and if I had not let myself focus on the bike in front of me, I'm sure I would have been fine, since I had not had any trouble at all up to that point.

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... I was unprepared for turn 2.

Brad;

Was this your first time at VIR? IIRC, this is a tough section of track to navigate even without someone parking it in front of you so your breakdown of events makes sense. Did his bike force you wide and onto the curbing or was it all target fixing that caused you to lose awareness of your position on the track?

You mentioned that you watched his tail section and I infered that you didn't see the curbing until you were on top of it (a true Oh S--T! moment) but did he also run off the track?

 

Rain

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I hate to say this, but I think body position is over rated. Yes, I do feel better leaning my body in a little so I'm on the inside of the bike, but beyond that, I don't know. I'm not dragging my center stand on anything, so I haven't run out of lean angle. If I'm not running out of lean angle, then I don't NEED to trade off more of my body moving in and down so the bike can move up and out. If I don't need it, why bother?

 

For me, riding on public roads, I'll shift my weight to the inside hip bone, then lean my upper body in and over toward the inside mirror. Since I do this BEFORE the corner, I can see the bike literally move out what looks like about 5-degrees. (Could it be that much?) Between that modest shift in body position and being a slug, I just don't run out of ground clearance very often.

 

Wasn't there a study with sport bikes versus standard bikes (GSX-R600 versus GSX650F) that shows that even on a race track, most riders turned better lap times on the more upright "standard" bike? The theory was that they could SEE more with their heads up, and felt more comfortable on the standard bike and so were able to ride faster. (If you know the articles I'm talking about, please let me know or paste a link in a reply.)

 

Anyway, I guess I'm saying I agree with the general CSS policy of covering body position in Level 3 and not as something of paramount importance that must be covered in Level 1. Unless someone is really crossed up and looking sideways down the track, I think the Two Step is a much more important skill than hanging off.

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Brad;

Was this your first time at VIR? IIRC, this is a tough section of track to navigate even without someone parking it in front of you so your breakdown of events makes sense. Did his bike force you wide and onto the curbing or was it all target fixing that caused you to lose awareness of your position on the track?

You mentioned that you watched his tail section and I infered that you didn't see the curbing until you were on top of it (a true Oh S--T! moment) but did he also run off the track?

 

Rain

Some of this is a little fuzzy, but I'll try to give a good description. Yes, it was my first time at VIR. I had watched a lot of recorded VIR racing before going up, so I knew that area could be tough. I had been going pretty easy, and that section had not bothered me up to that point in the day. On the other hand, I was getting much more comfortable (perhaps too comfortable) with the track. It was wet in session 1, but was dried out by session 3. I had run the corners a few times and felt I had some decent references and lines, and I had gently increased my pace in that session. After the guy parked in front of me, I lost all awareness and watched him instead of looking up track. I essentially matched his pace through the corner, and I believe I was rolling on just a bit harder than in previous laps. I certainly think the extra gas didn't help when you consider I was looking at the wrong things. When I saw the curbing beyond him, I don't think we were going to run up on it, just drift out near it. Since my vision was now looking close in front and to the left (now sort of shifting between him and the curb), instead of to the right and up track, I'm sure that caused me to start drifting more wide. I don't think he got more than a few feet from the curb, but my eyes dropped off him completely and shifted directly to the curb, and I then went right over it. (He didn't force me wide, and he didn't go off track.)

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Brad;

Was this your first time at VIR? IIRC, this is a tough section of track to navigate even without someone parking it in front of you so your breakdown of events makes sense. Did his bike force you wide and onto the curbing or was it all target fixing that caused you to lose awareness of your position on the track?

You mentioned that you watched his tail section and I infered that you didn't see the curbing until you were on top of it (a true Oh S--T! moment) but did he also run off the track?

 

Rain

It was wet in session 1, but was dried out by session 3.

Brad;

This is what I was looking for - a reason why by Session 3 you were not acclimated to the track. As we both know the braking zone into 1 has the biggest drop in speed anywhere on that course but you should have been OK with that if...IF the conditions were relatively constant for the first two sessions. Session 1 was "no brakes" so everyone is being careful especially into 1 but your first session pace and your acclimatizing to this very quick section was retarded because of wet conditions. Session 2 may or may not allow for brakes but clearly session 3 does at every track I have attended so this all makes more sense now. It sounds like Session 3 was the first time you were starting to approach a speed where stuff happens very quickly and there is no room for any errors.

 

I am sorry for making you go throught this all over again but I'm glad your back in the saddle.

 

Rainman

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I have done level 3, and I KNOW that my shortcomings in my riding are with Level 2 - Vision.

 

At a track day at Silvertone Northern part of circuit (National?? Indy?? not sure north part though), you come out of a loooong right, then a quick blast into a FAST kink to get on the straight. I see the curb on teh right (with a bit of pit wall behind it so kind of blind corner really) and I pointed the bike for the part of the curb I saw first... While leaned into the kink, I looked at the outside of the track on the straight, because I was pretty scared about going there (I know I hesitated on my rolling on the throttle as well!!! because I kinda froze due to uncertainty) and ended up on the outside (left) curbing, front tyre actually went over the curb into the grass/dirt, bars gave a good shake (The bike was saying NOOOO) - I believe all this time I was looking at the curb right in front of my tyre... At the same time, I picked up my head, looked far in the distance, and LUCKILY (not skillfully at this point, as I was too busy making a mess in my leathers) the head shake, in conjunction with my rasing my vision, shook the bike back onto the track...

 

WELL!!! After that, I remembered what Glen told me to do at Level 3 at Brands Hatch (revisiting Level 2 drills cuz i told him I knew that vision is my problem still)... Don't look at the end of the straight while in the corner, even close to teh end of the corner - actually try to look to the INSIDE of the track not the outside... keep it as tight as possible for as long as possible, as that is the only way to judge if you can make it faster or tighter...

 

In essence we were almost out of Graham Hill Bend, and he was spointing to the hillside to the left of the straight to make me keep a tighter line...

 

So yeah, I looked around that kink in Silverstone till I was looking at the pit lane, almost, til I KNEW that I was done with the corner... And boy did that help keep my line...

 

Just wanted to share that I also believe Visual Skills are sooo important!!! Bullet once said on this forum he thinks 2-step is THE most important drill taught... Longer corners, 3-step is equally as important...

 

BP I want to work on, but as you guys said, that could come in time... First things first. Vision!! (and throttle control if I keep doing that kind of rubbish!!!)

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I hate to say this, but I think body position is over rated. Yes, I do feel better leaning my body in a little so I'm on the inside of the bike, but beyond that, I don't know.

 

I know Mike Hailwood would have agreed with you. Came out of retirement at the age of 38 and won races for a couple of years while (literally) grinding away his toes and staying in line with the bike. He unfortunately got killed in a road accident in 1981, but up to his untimely death he refused to accept that hanging off was required - and as mentioned, he could back it up with results.

 

Today, I doubt it would be possible to win races on an interntational level without hanging off, but it would be interesting to learn if we're talking tenths or seconds per lap in difference. Other than that, I fully agree with you that it isn't required practice for street riding. I have tried it, from just a little to a lot, but I'm not comfortable with it. And since I ride for fun and not to beat my own times down my favourite backroad, I've simply decided to stick with my more or less bolt upright riding position.

 

Oh, and the gixxer vs F comparo is highly plausible - you have to be seriously good to benefit from low clipons as they are there primarily to reduce air drag. It's not for nothing that Schwantz and Spencer and Lawson etc fitted wide and a little raised bars onto their heavy Superbikes.

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Brad;

This is what I was looking for - a reason why by Session 3 you were not acclimated to the track. As we both know the braking zone into 1 has the biggest drop in speed anywhere on that course but you should have been OK with that if...IF the conditions were relatively constant for the first two sessions. Session 1 was "no brakes" so everyone is being careful especially into 1 but your first session pace and your acclimatizing to this very quick section was retarded because of wet conditions. Session 2 may or may not allow for brakes but clearly session 3 does at every track I have attended so this all makes more sense now. It sounds like Session 3 was the first time you were starting to approach a speed where stuff happens very quickly and there is no room for any errors.

 

I am sorry for making you go throught this all over again but I'm glad your back in the saddle.

 

Rainman

It's been good to work through how/where I made the errors, and Cobie was the biggest help at getting me sorted out. I'm hoping to soon get the doctors to say I'm good enough to ride full time, so then I can get the wifes permission to go back to VIR and get it right :).

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