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Survival Reactions And Training


chipset
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I have been reviewing a lot of TotW II, again.

 

And it struck me that the survival reactions can actually be grouped into two categories. They are somewhat linked but one category deals with physical actions (or reactions) whereas the other group is more mental. Both can be mental, but the mental group will not cause an action in and of itself ont he motorcycle.

 

SR 1

Rolling off the throttle is a severe action on the motorcycle. Street riding may treat this more as a benefit, unless you really need it. In which case, not rolling off the throttle will cause a crash.

 

SR2

Being stiff in the bar causes additional forces to be added to the chasis and makes it harder to control.

 

SR7

Braking, both over and under, causes all sorts of issues.

 

Those are direct physical actions on the motorcycle that have a direct input.

 

The others, frantically looking, target fixation, and freezing in place, are less physical in terms of actions on the motorcycle but tend to be more mental.

 

The last one, running into the item you are looking at, seems to be both, as you can move directly into something but it is caused by mentally.

 

I certainly have suffered from all of the SRs. Generally speaking, the physical SRs are caused by visual SRs. At least for me, they are.

 

There are defined exercises to try to work through the visual SRs, such as wide vision, the two step/three step and whatnot. And the exercises can be practiced while driving, walking, sitting in your office.

 

SR7 can be worked on by braking drills. You can practice braking, over and over.

 

SR2 can be worked out by focusing on body position and recognizing when your body is tense and doing things to relax (such as chicken winging, etc).

 

SR1, which tends to be the one that strikes me more often, is harder. Without having a slide bike to practice on, how do you practice not rolling off the throttle when the rear tire gets loose?

 

How do you practice for the activities that seem to be more panic related regarding SR1?

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..

SR1, which tends to be the one that strikes me more often, is harder. Without having a slide bike to practice on, how do you practice not rolling off the throttle when the rear tire gets loose?

 

How do you practice for the activities that seem to be more panic related regarding SR1?

 

The hard way (like I did). I had read TOTW2 and wanted to try some things, I was getting very comfortable driving curves using the throttle rule already. I was on a side road and in a left turn (nothing big, 30 dregree turn, I was going about 100kmh) I saw some wet mud on the surface (probably cow-xxxx, you know). There was no way to avoid it, sure I could have done better if I had watched out ... anyway, I got scared but concentrated on not rolling off the throttle and somehow automatically kept rolling on (it wasn't me doing that :lol: ) ... ... the front wheel didn't slide at all and I only heard the motor rev up a little bit when the back wheel went over that piece of mud. That was that. You do it once you can do it all the time

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I tend to over-react, as in slow more or brake harder than required in an emergency. Or rather, what at the time made me think it was an emergency. But somehow, if I enter upon a slick surface, I actually manage to stay away from any abruptness and simply try to put as little force into the bike as possible. This happens primarily on instinct, but I do find it surprising how the mind works.

 

Another scenario relates to braking, when even under full panic I usually manage to modulate the brakes to sit right on the verge of lock-up. Only trouble I never seem to get rid of his how quickly I reach the threshold; I jump on the brakes too hard too quickly, which means I do not get the maximum out of them since the tyres will reach their friction limit before enough weight has gone to the front.

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SR 1

Rolling off the throttle is a severe action on the motorcycle. Street riding may treat this more as a benefit, unless you really need it. In which case, not rolling off the throttle will cause a crash.

.............

 

How do you practice for the activities that seem to be more panic related regarding SR1?

As a street rider, I have been working on the persistent SR 1 a lot, and can tell that it is hard to eliminate, since it is a natural reflex many times initiated by sudden traffic conditions.

 

As a way to reduce the braking effect of the sudden roll-off, I have been training my reflexes for combining the roll-off with a simultaneous clutch-in.

 

That liberates the rear wheel and allows the front brake to take control over the (more gradually) deceleration of the bike while I stand the bike up from any lean (as much as possible).

 

Very good questions, Chipset

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SR 1

Rolling off the throttle is a severe action on the motorcycle. Street riding may treat this more as a benefit, unless you really need it. In which case, not rolling off the throttle will cause a crash.

.............

 

How do you practice for the activities that seem to be more panic related regarding SR1?

As a street rider, I have been working on the persistent SR 1 a lot, and can tell that it is hard to eliminate, since it is a natural reflex many times initiated by sudden traffic conditions.

 

As a way to reduce the braking effect of the sudden roll-off, I have been training my reflexes for combining the roll-off with a simultaneous clutch-in.

 

That liberates the rear wheel and allows the front brake to take control over the (more gradually) deceleration of the bike while I stand the bike up from any lean (as much as possible).

 

Very good questions, Chipset

 

I can see how rolling off the throttle and pulling in the clutch might help with the speed, but are you just substituting one SR for another?

 

If you are training your body for this and you are in a curve, is rolling off and pulling in the clutch going to help or hurt?

 

 

 

Fritzdacat,

 

I have had moments like that, as well. Running on the back roads and see freshly cut grass on the road or gravel on side roads. If I have to hit them, I try to keep it in maintenance throttle.

 

But how do you train for the rear stepping out unexpectedly?

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Fritzdacat,

 

I have had moments like that, as well. Running on the back roads and see freshly cut grass on the road or gravel on side roads. If I have to hit them, I try to keep it in maintenance throttle.

 

But how do you train for the rear stepping out unexpectedly?

 

I think a dirt bike would be the best way to try these kinds of things, a lean and slide bike may still throw you off if you chopp the throttle once the rear starts sliding (unless you know how to react)

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call me crazy/unlucky or lucky

 

the roads in my woods suck so much that everytime i improve on a bit of TOTW II stuff, i immediately gain

an advantage over my peers . I improve on all 7, people call me crazy, oh well ...

 

 

 

 

stuff i "use" to "practice" on public roads :

 

 

 

 

white/yellow lines + manhole covers (SR1, sliding and just not even upsetting the bike dramatically lets me use "unusable" lines that scare my peers sh!tless les the lowside)

 

 

 

other suicidal lane cutting motorists (quickflip, SR2/7)

 

 

lamp posts for visual markers

 

 

 

 

as for the rear stepping out, I roll 10% off the gas and hang out my body (half a buttcheek will do for me) and the bike picks up very fast.

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I can see how rolling off the throttle and pulling in the clutch might help with the speed, but are you just substituting one SR for another?

 

If you are training your body for this and you are in a curve, is rolling off and pulling in the clutch going to help or hurt?

The help comes from eliminating the braking effect of the engine.

Sudden deceleration is what transfers a lot of weight from the rear tire onto the front tire; all bad for friction and suspension.

Yes, I have been trying to reduce the danger of rolling the throttle off while I learn to keep it on in panic situations.

 

I have noticed that keeping two fingers on the front brake lever makes the undesired sudden roll-off of the throttle more difficult.

 

Deceleration will always straight the bike up naturally.....if we don't lock the steering bar.

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I can see how rolling off the throttle and pulling in the clutch might help with the speed, but are you just substituting one SR for another?

 

If you are training your body for this and you are in a curve, is rolling off and pulling in the clutch going to help or hurt?

The help comes from eliminating the braking effect of the engine.

Sudden deceleration is what transfers a lot of weight from the rear tire onto the front tire; all bad for friction and suspension.

Yes, I have been trying to reduce the danger of rolling the throttle off while I learn to keep it on in panic situations.

But pulling the clutch will remove the drive from the rear wheel, and this will slow down the bike. You're only replacing one evil with another (albeit smaller evil).

 

What you should do is to keep the throttle roll-on (the throtttle control rule) right through the turn.

 

Here's a fun exercise: put down a "line" of sand on a good sized practice area. The sanded area should be something like 1 ft by 5 ft and ½-1 inch high. Now make a 90 degree turn so that you drive through the sand under lean. What you'll find is that it will only give a small jerk in the front and rear wheel, as the slide a bit sideways while passing through the sand. I had an instructor who went through the sand on his GSX-R1300 Hayabusa, with his knee on the ground - no problems!

 

The trick is that only one of the wheels will be sliding as they pass through the sand, and the other wheel will help you keep the arc and the stability of the bike.

 

Studentswill usually want to lay a brick the first time they try this, and then they go "oh, isn't it more than that!" when they've tried it.

 

I have noticed that keeping two fingers on the front brake lever makes the undesired sudden roll-off of the throttle more difficult.

 

Deceleration will always straight the bike up naturally.....if we don't lock the steering bar.

Alas, that is not universally true. Some bikes will fall into the turn on deceleration. Depends on steering geometry etc.

 

Kai

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In ToTWII, it talks about how having the weight planted in the 40/60 (front/rear) keeps the bike from getting twitchy under power. Without the engine keeping the motorcycle in the sweet spot, the motorcycle:

 

Off-Gas Results

 

1. Weight is forward, overloading the front tire and underloading the rear, reducing available traction.

2. Suspension is out of its ideal range, causing the bike to over-react to the pavement.

3. Steering response quickens, adding to any twitchy tendencies.

4. The bike wants to wander outward, not holding a line.

5. Cornering ground clearance is reduced.

6. The bike slows.

 

When you get to the throttle determines where the bike is actuallyworking.

 

Results 2-6 certainly apply to pulling in the clutch. And I suspect the motorcycle will be somewhere near 50/50 weight (or maybe 45/55) if you are coasting, depending on the type of turn.

 

 

 

 

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For practicing things that relate to SR 1 (not chopping the throttle), I do what ktk_ace and khp suggest. For instance if I am just riding along slowly somewhere and notice a bit of sand/dirt on the side of the road I will ride through it and give a bit of throttle to spin up the rear (maintaining increased throttle until the wheel stops spinning and the bike starts accelerating again). If you're riding over manhole covers (especially in the wet) the same will happen. If you combine those situations with cornering you'll start to get a feel for the rear moving around. Mid-corner bumps can also be used - there is one in particular on a road that I used to commute daily - if ride over it while adding throttle the rear will step out a small bit, only for an instant. Experiencing these sort of things just help to increase your confidence. And if know the corner and can deliberately make the rear slide/step out even just a little I think that's a good sign that you're on the way to beating SR 1. But obviously you need to take care... It can be a bit daunting on a sportbike. I found that just riding around on a motard is a much less intimidating way to practice good throttle control and get used to sliding. Actually, one other thing you could do is get used to the feel of locking the rear and feeling it go 'light'. Even in a straight line, it's a similar kind of feeling to when the rear slides mid-corner. And a possibly unconventional method to get used to sliding, for someone who is very nervous about the prospect - they could try it out on a mountain bike, or BMX, something like that. I would say that if someone can't ride a MTB down a hill with a locked rear wheel fishtailing in the dirt, they will have a really hard time learning to be comfortable with a sliding motorcycle tyre.

 

So those are some things you could actually do. The other part of it, I think it's just mental. For example I just worked on completely changing my mindset once I learnt about throttle control and not just chopping the throttle. It's just something that I had to drill into my brain, not to chop the throttle in any circumstances, as if my life depended on it (well, I suppose it could). But if you do that, it's no use to still be afraid of a tyre sliding on you, because it will happen. So the next step is to just accept that yes, the tyres probably will slide. But no, it doesn't mean you're going to crash. So - Step #1: Condition your mind to never chop the throttle. Step #2: Condition your mind to love the slide. Every night before bed, "I will not chop the throttle, I love it when my tyres slide." tongue.gif

 

As far as SR 7, braking - was it in one of the Twist books that it was recommended to get comfortable with locking both the front and rear tyres? That makes alot of sense to me. Not only so you learn the limit, but if you're not comfortable with locking a wheel it could almost become like a 'target fixation'. If someone was constantly worried about, and thinking of not locking the wheels, I'd say they'd have a fair chance of doing just that when under pressure.

 

I'm yet to lock the front wheel consistently, or be able to demonstrate it on demand - but I'm comfortable with knowing where the limits are. But I suppose you could try it by riding through some sand/dirt on the road, not something that I've been game enough to try out though. I think I kind of just picked up that kind of feeling for the front tyre through regular riding. For example, a while ago on an unfamiliar track, mid-corner and still going faster than I wanted to started to apply the front brake... I stopped when I felt the front wheel start to shudder. (A novice move, but it let me feel out the limits a bit.) I felt the same kind of feeling recently as I was messing around in an industrial estate on a weekend, braking hard as I started to turn and just eased up on the front brake when I felt that same kind of shudder. Things just happen the more you ride, like using too much rear brake and locking it after you've started to turn into a corner. I had maybe 70º lean, but just released the brake and carried on - but it's experiencing stuff like that when you'll realise that just because something like that happens, it doesn't mean you'll crash.

 

If you're able, I'd suggest just plain riding as much as you can. If you can ride to work - ride to work every day, whether it's sunny or raining. You'll be able to experience a wide range of conditions that way.

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I have been reviewing a lot of TotW II, again.

 

And it struck me that the survival reactions can actually be grouped into two categories. They are somewhat linked but one category deals with physical actions (or reactions) whereas the other group is more mental. Both can be mental, but the mental group will not cause an action in and of itself ont he motorcycle.

.................

SR7

Braking, both over and under, causes all sorts of issues.

 

I did fall this morning, when a van run a stop sign just in front of me.

 

I had started the bank to turn in that corner when I saw the van coming to hit me if I wouldn't brake.

 

Immediately survival reaction #7 took over my brain and, before I could blink, my hand was squeezing that front brake lever.

Just on pure instinct I did in a turn what I do each day while moving in a straight line: gentle front brake without touching the rear brake.

 

I guess my point is that survival reactions shut the conscious system down in a fraction of a second without asking permission.

If I had had a conscious reaction, I would have straighten the bike up before applying the brake.

 

My gear protected me but got no help from the van driver, who stopped, looked and continued without saying a word while I had the bike over my left leg.mad.gif

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Bastid van driver :angry: Good to hear you're OK, though, as that's what matters.

 

Everybody suffer from SR, even top rank racers. We often see even world champions run off track when they could have easily made the corner. Heck, even Stoner panicked and overreacted when he found no front brake during a race last season.

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I'm yet to lock the front wheel consistently, or be able to demonstrate it on demand - but I'm comfortable with knowing where the limits are. But I suppose you could try it by riding through some sand/dirt on the road, not something that I've been game enough to try out though. I think I kind of just picked up that kind of feeling for the front tyre through regular riding. For example, a while ago on an unfamiliar track, mid-corner and still going faster than I wanted to started to apply the front brake... I stopped when I felt the front wheel start to shudder. (A novice move, but it let me feel out the limits a bit.) I felt the same kind of feeling recently as I was messing around in an industrial estate on a weekend, braking hard as I started to turn and just eased up on the front brake when I felt that same kind of shudder. Things just happen the more you ride, like using too much rear brake and locking it after you've started to turn into a corner. I had maybe 70º lean, but just released the brake and carried on - but it's experiencing stuff like that when you'll realise that just because something like that happens, it doesn't mean you'll crash.

 

If you're able, I'd suggest just plain riding as much as you can. If you can ride to work - ride to work every day, whether it's sunny or raining. You'll be able to experience a wide range of conditions that way.

you can practice it at your own risk, I do that on occasion:

Traffic light lines, the lines will have a much lower friction coefficient (at least in my woods because they skim alot on the silicon(sand)content) and because they are thick.

 

you can do a squeaky to stop with only your front tire on the fat line, but it has an amount of danger to it too, so...

 

I also practice on a stretch of mountain road (gradient training , up, level,down) , going downhill helps me see how much the back can handle till it "slides" and i use the info (sampling) to see how much and when the front brake should be used. Kinda like very heavy trial breaking + quick flip on some downhill relatively unbanked corners.

 

 

 

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Thanks for the suggestions.

 

I was at LVMS running levels 3 & 4 this weekend. I had a nice rear slide. I could feel the rear tire break a little and while it seems like a second or two, in reality it was a split second slip. However, it was great. Just held the throttle and she hooked back up and away I went.

 

I am so ready for more track days. I learned a lot, got a little over my head and when I dialed it back down, I was that much more precise and in control. It was a great learning experience.

 

Thomas

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  • 3 weeks later...

I did fall this morning, when a van run a stop sign just in front of me.

 

I had started the bank to turn in that corner when I saw the van coming to hit me if I wouldn't brake.

 

mad.gif

 

I had a similiar experience back in January. It was seemingly the most benign of circumstances. I had stopped for a stop sign at an intersection about a block from my house and a girl yakking on a cell phone came barreling through from my left, seemingly out of nowhere as I rolled into the intersection. I was on a ZX-6R and punched the throttle to try and get out of her way but no luck, at the last second, I turned hard right, full lock away from her and dropped it and rolled off. She never hit me, nailed her brakes stopping about a foot from where my bike lay on the ground

 

In this case my survival instincts said to turn away from her ....HARD....which probably saved my left leg from being pinned between her bumper and the side of my bike. It all happened so fast it seems like a blur.

 

As it turned out, I suffered no injury to myself or to my riding gear other than a sore wrist from ground impact. The bike sustained about $2000 in damage.

 

Each case is different and I guess it 's impossible to train ourselves for every possible mishap. I'm not sure what I could have done differently that would have affected the outcome and that bugs me. I apparently misjudged the threat this person imposed or possibly made an assumption that she was paying attention when she wasn't.

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Hi Centurion, sorry to hear about your accident. That's never a good thing, but as they say - it could always be worse...

 

I would say it's a good thing that you've been thinking about it, but maybe not so good that you haven't been able to think of a way to better handle or avoid the situation altogether in the future. I have always thought that if you don't know what went wrong, you can't stop it from happening again. (Which is definitely a worrying though.)

 

Sometimes it can help to discuss things with other people - if I can make one observation... you mentioned that the girl in the car seemingly came out of nowhere... I think this could be an indication of where things started to go bad. We know that cars don't really 'come out of nowhere' (unless it's a flying DeLorean tongue.gif ), so do you think it would be fair to say that you weren't paying enough attention? No shame in admitting that, everyone makes mistakes - just so long as we don't make the same mistakes again. And if that's what the problem was, the answer is simple - to pay more attention. That could mean just stopping for longer, looking left/right more than once, etc.

 

Never making assumptions (especially on the road) is perhaps another important lesson to be learnt from that incident. For example if you only take one quick look and expect a car to be travelling at 60km/h, the driver could easily be distracted by talking on the phone and actually be doing 80km/h which gives you alot less time/space than you thought you had. When it comes to that sort of thing, I always keep this little 'quiz' in mind:

 

Q: What do you know if you see an approaching car with it's left turn indicator flashing?

 

A: That the car is going to turn left.

 

Nope, wrong.

 

The correct answer is: You know that it's left side indicator is working correctly. That's all. wink.gif

 

 

For tracking down the real cause of accidents it sometimes just takes a really brutally honest self-examination. A bike never just crashes, the rider always makes some mistake (except for very, very few extreme circumstances). A rider who tries to place the blame somewhere other than their own actions will always have a hard time coming to terms with things and ensuring the same mistakes don't keep happening. The best course is just to accept that 'yes I made a mistake', then work to make sure we don't make the same mistake again.

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Not really in context, but the core of the oil pressure switch blew out of my brother's engine yesterday just as he began passing a bus, oil spewing directly onto his rear tyre. Luck and skill prevented a crash when the rear spun up and began to come around, but if it had happened at great speed while cornering...

 

However, I do agree that in the absolute majority of cases, the rider have made some choices prior to a crash that contributed to the happening.

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You do it once you can do it all the time

 

Once you've been there and survived, I think you will be able to do it again, it's a confidence thing that comes from training, training and more training to rid yourself of deadly survival reactions

 

I was on one of my favorite twisty roads last year and was cooking into a tasty right hander at speed when I noticed a dumptruck had dropped a load of pea gravel right at my apex point.

 

Back in my earlier riding days I would have probably gone into full blown panic mode, grabbed a big handful of brake and asphalt surfed.

 

As it was, I was scanning well ahead and caught a glimpse of the hazard with enough lead time to react. I was amazed that I stayed on the throttle, picked the bike up as I passed through the gravel and then dropped back into a lean after I passed through, just making the turn without drifting across the centerline. The back end of the bike gave a little wiggle as it passed over the gravel but nothing crazy.

 

The thought of using the brakes never crossed my mind.

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You do it once you can do it all the time

Once you've been there and survived, I think you will be able to do it again, it's a confidence thing that comes from training, training and more training to rid yourself of deadly survival reactions

There are some things which are easier taught/learned than others. In my experience, how hard you can brake and that a loose surface is not equal to instant fall falls into the "easier to learn" group, while other things fall into the "harder to learn". Thinking about it, I think that the "hard to learn" stuff are the things where you need to coordinate or control multiple things at the same time, at a very high skill level in order to execute it perfectly (ie world-class level).

 

Take a simple example of playing darts. Given enough throws, most/all people can manage to hit a tripple-20. But that doesn't make it automatic to do tripple-20'es every time from then on. Hitting the tripple-20 is a complex interaction between grip of the dart, velocity, timing and arc. What you did wrong and how to correct it is not easily observable.

 

Contrarily, the "loose gravel is not equal to instand death" issue is a matter of NOT doing something/anything. (non)Cause and (non)effect are easily and directly linked.

 

This reminds me of the motto of the pocketbike club I used to ride in: "We don't practice until we can do it right; we practice until we can't do it wrong".

 

 

Kai

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