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What Used To Scare You, And Doesn't Anymore?


Hotfoot
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I was thinking as I was driving on the freeway about how many things used to scare me, about riding motorcycles, before I came to the Superbike School.

 

For example, the rain grooves on the freeway make the bike feel weird and used to make me nervous. One of the drills at the school completely eliminated that fear.

 

So I thought I'd ask - what are some things that YOU were afraid of, about riding, and aren't anymore?

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Being totally relaxed on the bars took a lot of time for me, still catch myself putting weight on the bars from time to time when just lazy street riding but even then try to kick the habit. Wouldn't say that it scared me but out of nervousness I am sure tensing up on the bars would come close to qualifying as scared.

 

Here is one- perception of speed used to scare me a little bit, wasn't afraid to go fast but the "blurred vision" that you get when you are too focused on what is right in front of you instead of what is waaaayyyyy down the road took some time to beat into my mind. It wasn't until I read Keith's book "the soft science of road racing" that brought me to terms on the perception of speed vs reality.

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Great question Hotfoot. One thing I can speak to is the bike getting out of shape (rain grooves will do it, slides, head shake, etc). That used to scare the {expletive deleted} out of me. Understanding more about what causes that, and more importantly, what to do about it, has made me a much calmer rider.

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As I think about my recent riding improvements it gets me even more excited because each breakthrough is very satisfying and I know there's still so much more to learn and experience.

 

I pondered Hotfoots question for a few minutes and I found three things foremost in my mind.

 

* Higher entry speeds/speeds approaching the corner. Especially after my crash at VIR, I was pretty intimidated by faster corner entry speeds. I wouldn't even try to get top speed on a long straight and often would roll-off/brake much earlier/harder than necessary. Practicing the wide-view technique has really helped me to overcome that rushed sensation. As a result I'm effectively reaching top speed on the straights, staying on the gas longer, braking later/harder, and carrying more speed into and through the corner.

 

* Sliding tires. Sliding tires used to unnerve me quite a bit. A tire slide often would trigger an SR and a bad reaction, typically roll-off the gas (and then run wide). A couple weeks ago in the fast esses at NOLA I slid the front and rear simultaneously (I suspect an error of adding throttle and lean). Slight pick up of the bike, hook turn, continue the roll-on, the bike kept going like a champ. I barely even registered what happened until after I came off track at sessions end.

 

* Closeness to other riders. At my first track experience I was passed by two riders who were much faster. They probably were 20 ft to my right as they passed (nice wide track) but I hadn't expected it and the shock of them blasting past rattled me. Now people will close pass me (often control riders it seems), inside, outside, stuffed entering a corner, etc., and I barely notice. I also used to keep a lot of distance from the rider in front of me but as I've learned to see more and better recognize where they roll-on/off, brake, etc., I now can ride right behind someone without much concern. I think wide-view again is key in increasing my comfort.

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I imagine my list could be really long. Since when I started riding nearly everything unusual scared me to a death grip.

 

Basically street riding for me now, so I see many different situations and the one that still gets me the most is;

Slides or any movement from the tires that I did not expect. Heading through a turn and a wiggle of the bars or tuck of the front as I'd go through even the smallest of sand patch. Even though the event was over before I could even react to it, I would still instinctively shut the throttle and run wide . SR for sure, unfortunately that only made things worse after the fact, running wide. Often times if I saw the sand or gravel late I would grab for the brakes and scrub as much as I could, often more than necessary before turning or trying to ride around it in the other lane.

I can't say that unexpected sand patches and a slide make me comfortable still, but they don't give me the same reaction of shutting the throttle they once did and more often than not I simply ride through it, afterwards thinking to myself "I didn't see that, why?". When I do see it ahead of time I pick the cleanest line and stay in my lane and make sure to be smooth and a bit slower.

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Time really... and a bit of mental focus to stay on task.

 

2 things, I ride a 250 (no damper) quite a bit and she likes to chatter a lot while cornering hard. Next is my stock R6, again no damper. It used to be every time the front would come up (most likely my fault for being tight on the bars), I would get head shake and have a pucker moment. Now when the bike just shimmies a little bit, I don't fight it. In fact, I don't do anything correct it. I just keep doing what I am supposed to be doing with the throttle, keep loose and calm. At this point I just mostly ignore it until it's "really" a problem.

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Time really... and a bit of mental focus to stay on task.

 

2 things, I ride a 250 (no damper) quite a bit and she likes to chatter a lot while cornering hard. Next is my stock R6, again no damper. It used to be every time the front would come up (most likely my fault for being tight on the bars), I would get head shake and have a pucker moment. Now when the bike just shimmies a little bit, I don't fight it. In fact, I don't do anything correct it. I just keep doing what I am supposed to be doing with the throttle, keep loose and calm. At this point I just mostly ignore it until it's "really" a problem.

 

Cool that you can calmly ride through it... but, what is causing the chatter? Is it something that can be eliminated with a different tire or suspension changes? When does it chatter, on the entrances or exits? On the brakes or on the gas?

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The 250 is bone stock aside of tires. She chatters something awful post apex, WOT and normally calms down just before exit. Definitely needs some suspension work, new shock and springs/oil on the way for this season's races. I hope it calms it down along with some fresh tires.

 

I think I have my R6 pretty much dialed in for my current pace. Feels solid and planted in the corners, only issue with head shake is over crests and dips and I think that is a rider problem vs a bike problem. A damper still wouldn't hurt, just don't want it to mask my errors.

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What used to scare me, honestly, was the lean angle. I was not aware of how far I could go safely with the tires and wasn't sure about my abilities. After my video bike on Level 1, I saw I was leaning a lot farther than I thought! Cobie even pulled me aside one session and told me "you're at scary angles of lean, on the edge of the tire...now quit applying throttle when leaned that far!"

 

Now what scares me, after doing all 4 levels and getting my confidence and abilities more advanced than previously, is riding on the street. I know what I can do, and what my bike can do, and it scares me to ride on the road. I keep thinking "what if...a car pulls out there, a kid runs out there, a dog crosses the road around that bend...etc" and I'm going too fast. Something that would help would be the braking drill, but only so much I think. Like we've all heard before...the track is safer and more fun; another reason they call it track crack. Now to find that perfect track bike...

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