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Mental Recovery After A Crash


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I blew a corner last week. A classic SR scenario - unfamiliar snake turn on unfamiliar road, carried too much speed for my comfort zone, got scared of tar snakes and lean angle, went straight off the road and down in the grass. Broke plastic fairings, bent subframe. I got a small bruise on calf (was wearing full protection which I think saved my bacon). Leathers got dirty, not torn.

 

Obviously I blame myself for getting scared of that turn - I have been on track and into much more extreme lean angles (down to scraping pegs) than was required for that corner. I shouldnt have been afraid of that lean angle, yet I wasnt feeling safe there. In fact thinking back I wasnt feeling safe that day on the road at all for no reason.

 

My family, of course, now is even more against track days and street rides. I feel I got a good lesson, but not sure how to get back the confidence needed for riding a sports bike.

 

I wonder how others have dealt with similar situations and got back into saddle?

 

Peter

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I don't have much advice for you but I do have sympathy. I once crashed on invisible (black) ice on a downhill corner in the north Georgia mountains. Took me forever to get over that and trust the front end again.

 

It helped me a lot to get into the mental place where I had decided ahead of time that if I was not going to make a corner on my current line, my default strategy would be to just lean it more. For 90% of street riders in 95% of "too hot" situations, this will usually save it without incident. The rest of the time, the result is generally a lowside crash, which is no worse than running off and crashing anyway.

 

The first few times I saved myself with this "just lean it more" strategy it improved my confidence quite a bit and ingrained the strategy in my head. Nowadays, on the street or the track, I pretty much automatically do that. Good example - first track day of the season this year I went into a slow 180-degree corner too fast (for me). Leaned it more....knee and toe scraping, still not going to make it...at *that point* I stood it right up, braked as hard as I could on the asphalt, then released the brake and carried what little speed was left onto the wet grass and managed not to dump it. If I had just stood it up and braked in the first place I doubt I could have kept the bike upright on the grass with that much speed. Leaning it more and trying to stay on the asphalt if at all possible is almost always the right decision.

 

But, you have to already be "pre-programmed" to adopt the "lean it more" strategy. This is just good panic management, and it takes forethought.

 

The other thing I can say: now you are going to be a bit freaked out for a while, every time you enter a corner with any speed. Concentrate very consciously on staying loose through your shoulders, arms, and grip. When you fell any tension develop, force yourself to release it. This is especially true *while* cornering - let the front end run naturally. I find that for me, relaxing the body relaxes my mind as well and helps me see, feel and understand what is going on with the bike. The nervous death grip makes me completely useless.

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I blew a corner last week. A classic SR scenario - unfamiliar snake turn on unfamiliar road, carried too much speed for my comfort zone, got scared of tar snakes and lean angle, went straight off the road and down in the grass. Broke plastic fairings, bent subframe. I got a small bruise on calf (was wearing full protection which I think saved my bacon). Leathers got dirty, not torn.

 

Obviously I blame myself for getting scared of that turn - I have been on track and into much more extreme lean angles (down to scraping pegs) than was required for that corner. I shouldnt have been afraid of that lean angle, yet I wasnt feeling safe there. In fact thinking back I wasnt feeling safe that day on the road at all for no reason.

 

My family, of course, now is even more against track days and street rides. I feel I got a good lesson, but not sure how to get back the confidence needed for riding a sports bike.

 

I wonder how others have dealt with similar situations and got back into saddle?

 

Peter

 

One thing that might help is to think through the crash so there is no mystery about why it happened, or how that situation could be avoided or corrected in the future. You mentioned a number of things - you felt you went in too fast, got scared of the traction (tar snakes) and lean angle, and went straight off into the grass. Looking back on it now, do you think you really were going too fast, or carrying too much lean angle, to make the turn, or did it just seem that way at the time? Do you remember how the turn looked to you as you entered it? Did you have a wide view of the whole thing or did your eyes get hung up on the tar snakes, or the edge or the road?

 

(Bear with me, I may ask a variety of questions to see if we can pin down exactly what was going on - there may have been multiple things that contributed to the crash but ideally we'd like to find the first error, the one that likely triggered additional SRs - in other words, what happened right BEFORE everything started going wrong.)

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I blew a corner last week. A classic SR scenario - unfamiliar snake turn on unfamiliar road, carried too much speed for my comfort zone, got scared of tar snakes and lean angle, went straight off the road and down in the grass. Broke plastic fairings, bent subframe. I got a small bruise on calf (was wearing full protection which I think saved my bacon). Leathers got dirty, not torn.

 

Obviously I blame myself for getting scared of that turn - I have been on track and into much more extreme lean angles (down to scraping pegs) than was required for that corner. I shouldnt have been afraid of that lean angle, yet I wasnt feeling safe there. In fact thinking back I wasnt feeling safe that day on the road at all for no reason.

 

My family, of course, now is even more against track days and street rides. I feel I got a good lesson, but not sure how to get back the confidence needed for riding a sports bike.

 

I wonder how others have dealt with similar situations and got back into saddle?

 

Peter

 

One thing that might help is to think through the crash so there is no mystery about why it happened, or how that situation could be avoided or corrected in the future. You mentioned a number of things - you felt you went in too fast, got scared of the traction (tar snakes) and lean angle, and went straight off into the grass. Looking back on it now, do you think you really were going too fast, or carrying too much lean angle, to make the turn, or did it just seem that way at the time? Do you remember how the turn looked to you as you entered it? Did you have a wide view of the whole thing or did your eyes get hung up on the tar snakes, or the edge or the road?

 

(Bear with me, I may ask a variety of questions to see if we can pin down exactly what was going on - there may have been multiple things that contributed to the crash but ideally we'd like to find the first error, the one that likely triggered additional SRs - in other words, what happened right BEFORE everything started going wrong.)

 

I wasnt too fast (except in my mind). I wasnt carrying too much lean angle. It was all mental. I would have definitely made that turn if I committed to it. I got fixated on those tar snakes in front of me, didnt look through the turn (doh!). I did all the wrong things.

 

The single biggest reason IMO was that I just wasnt feeling confident at the time. Should I have committed to the turn I would have been fine. Mental preparedness.

 

Peter

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Unless we give them something else to do, our eyes tend to default to searching for danger. Are you familiar with the 2-step technique, or wide view, from school or from the books? Do you have a plan for what your eyes should do as you approach a corner?

 

Often visual skills are a good cure for "not feeling confident", unless there is some other lack of data or confusion regarding control of the bike itself.

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Unless we give them something else to do, our eyes tend to default to searching for danger. Are you familiar with the 2-step technique, or wide view, from school or from the books? Do you have a plan for what your eyes should do as you approach a corner?

 

Often visual skills are a good cure for "not feeling confident", unless there is some other lack of data or confusion regarding control of the bike itself.

 

Yes, I am familiar with the technique and have practiced it a lot, especially on track. The particular corner was blind so I didnt have a good reference point - still not an excuse for not looking towards the apex before initiating the turn.

 

Peter

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Up until I passed 45 years of age, I simply didn't worry. I've survived multiple heavy crashes with multiple injuries, but it unfortunately never caused any concern. In that respect, your worry is a good thing because it means you will now stop and think things through instead of repeating your mistakes. Lots of good advice given above. You'll figure it out. But knowledge is your best allied. If you know what you did and you know what to do, you'll be good.

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Up until I passed 45 years of age, I simply didn't worry. I've survived multiple heavy crashes with multiple injuries, but it unfortunately never caused any concern. In that respect, your worry is a good thing because it means you will now stop and think things through instead of repeating your mistakes. Lots of good advice given above. You'll figure it out. But knowledge is your best allied. If you know what you did and you know what to do, you'll be good.

 

I just turned 44, and have been riding for 3 years now. I am sure the mismatch between my speed and mental state was the cause of that crash - I know what had to be done, and what I didnt do right.

 

What I dont like is that my mental preparedness was much lower than at a track day month earlier. Hopefully it will come back :)

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What I dont like is that my mental preparedness was much lower than at a track day month earlier. Hopefully it will come back :)

 

Is "hopefully it will come back" enough of a solution for you? Wouldn't you feel better if you had some actual control over your 'mental preparedness'?

 

If just 'hoping it will get better' isn't good enough, have a look at A Twist of the Wrist II, Chapter 21, there is an actual drill described in there that you might find very useful.

 

Assuming the basics are in place (you are fed, rested, hydrated, etc.) this drill can do wonders for preventing or correcting issues like "loss of concentration", difficulty judging correct entry speed, and just generally feeling unprepared for what is coming at you when you are riding.

 

Regarding your other post about it being a blind corner - are you familiar with the Vanishing Point drill? Would looking for the vanishing point have helped keep your eyes moving ahead in the corner instead of getting hung up on the tar snakes or the place off the road where you ended up going?

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What I dont like is that my mental preparedness was much lower than at a track day month earlier. Hopefully it will come back :)

 

Is "hopefully it will come back" enough of a solution for you? Wouldn't you feel better if you had some actual control over your 'mental preparedness'?

 

If just 'hoping it will get better' isn't good enough, have a look at A Twist of the Wrist II, Chapter 21, there is an actual drill described in there that you might find very useful.

 

Assuming the basics are in place (you are fed, rested, hydrated, etc.) this drill can do wonders for preventing or correcting issues like "loss of concentration", difficulty judging correct entry speed, and just generally feeling unprepared for what is coming at you when you are riding.

 

Regarding your other post about it being a blind corner - are you familiar with the Vanishing Point drill? Would looking for the vanishing point have helped keep your eyes moving ahead in the corner instead of getting hung up on the tar snakes or the place off the road where you ended up going?

 

Thanks for the tip - I reread those chapters just now! I often practice looking through the turn or towards vanishing point just driving in a car. That day, however, I do not know what came over me and I made all the SR errors in the book - the same ones I have been practicing to avoid. Apparently I am not as good at managing my SRs as I thought, and need way more practice.

 

Peter

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What I dont like is that my mental preparedness was much lower than at a track day month earlier. Hopefully it will come back :)

 

Is "hopefully it will come back" enough of a solution for you? Wouldn't you feel better if you had some actual control over your 'mental preparedness'?

 

If just 'hoping it will get better' isn't good enough, have a look at A Twist of the Wrist II, Chapter 21, there is an actual drill described in there that you might find very useful.

 

Assuming the basics are in place (you are fed, rested, hydrated, etc.) this drill can do wonders for preventing or correcting issues like "loss of concentration", difficulty judging correct entry speed, and just generally feeling unprepared for what is coming at you when you are riding.

 

Regarding your other post about it being a blind corner - are you familiar with the Vanishing Point drill? Would looking for the vanishing point have helped keep your eyes moving ahead in the corner instead of getting hung up on the tar snakes or the place off the road where you ended up going?

 

Thanks for the tip - I reread those chapters just now! I often practice looking through the turn or towards vanishing point just driving in a car. That day, however, I do not know what came over me and I made all the SR errors in the book - the same ones I have been practicing to avoid. Apparently I am not as good at managing my SRs as I thought, and need way more practice.

 

Peter

 

you have to remember skills if not practice often, gets rusty...

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The "mental" side of riding...a huge part for sure.

 

If you are satisfied you know exactly the technical error, then don't have to belabor that. If the "problem" is knowing what lead to that and the SR's kicking in, one possible area could be addressed.

 

SR's kick in more easily when a person is stressed, and mental stress can be aggravated with physical stresses: not enough sleep, not enough or good enough food, dehydrated, toxins in the body being stimulated.

 

We see this at the track, and how some really take for granted or ignore the causes and results of insufficient preparation for a stressful activity--riding at speed! Dehydration for example: sneaks up on one slowly, but riders can make mistakes that are severe. I knew one rider that nearly passed out in a race from dehydration: he was 21, young and extremely fit! But he didn't understand dehydration.

 

Or the effects of toxins: some have had just too much caffeine or other stimulants, prescription or otherwise. I saw a rider making extremely dangerous high speed corner entries...I researched the prescription drug he was taking, it was a listed contra-indication.

 

At a recent school a young rider ran off--twice! Turns out, low on sleep, just flown in from another country (totally dehydrated from his flight).

 

Another rider took himself out of a school (I totally respected this move). He had some personal stress that made it impossible to fully concentrate on riding, so he was honest with himself and left.

 

The above are only some things that could contribute to a rider being more prone to making SR related errors, in my opinion. Let me know if that makes any sense.

 

Best,

CF

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I've been riding for 5 yrs now, 4.5 of the, on a Honda Fury, a big chopper that still handles like a Honda. I've low sided twice, once with less than 6 months,of riding experience, once after 3 yrs hitting a gravel patch. That first low side is still with me. I have a huge SR with 90 degree blind turns at anything over shopping mall parking lot speeds, especially if the other side of the curb is nasty. Been working on it for a while now, making good progress.

 

Also, in many situations, my mind flashes possible worst case scenarios in my mind before I decide to make a move. Some of them are gruesome, but I learned to ignore this aspect of my imagination, and it's also under a fair semblance of control. And I'm almost 51, so I understand my own mortality.

 

What I'm trying to say is that it will take time to get your head right. Understand it, work with it, and work on the skills that will help you manage it by increasing your confidence. The proverbial bottom line: work through your fears to conquer them. A great way to do that is to take CSS level 1. The other extreme is just not viable... ;-)

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You have to just pick it up, get back out there and act like it never happened (the actual crash) the only part you need to focus on is the mistake you made, how to correct it and laugh at yourself for a couple days.

 

This is what I did after my tank slapper at my last trackday because I was in a panic to slow the bike down after I ran off track into the grass and grabbed the freaking front brake......I still laugh at myself for it but I got up, fixed the bike, went back through tech and got back out there!

 

Oh and don't forget to laugh at yourself for the next week and tell your friends about it, it's almost like it happened 3yrs ago for me now instead of 3 weeks ago lol.

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^^^^ Sometimes we get a bit to serious while riding. After my last crash, I tiptoed around the track while realigning everything in my mind. The track day after that, I went out with a bunch of my friends and while I thought we were going slow, we were actually riding faster than my normal pace. I got towed around, I gave tows, we passed each other and what not.... Don't forget to have fun for at least a few laps.

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I blew a corner last week. A classic SR scenario - unfamiliar snake turn on unfamiliar road, carried too much speed for my comfort zone, got scared of tar snakes and lean angle, went straight off the road and down in the grass. Broke plastic fairings, bent subframe. I got a small bruise on calf (was wearing full protection which I think saved my bacon). Leathers got dirty, not torn.

 

Obviously I blame myself for getting scared of that turn - I have been on track and into much more extreme lean angles (down to scraping pegs) than was required for that corner. I shouldnt have been afraid of that lean angle, yet I wasnt feeling safe there. In fact thinking back I wasnt feeling safe that day on the road at all for no reason.

 

My family, of course, now is even more against track days and street rides. I feel I got a good lesson, but not sure how to get back the confidence needed for riding a sports bike.

 

I wonder how others have dealt with similar situations and got back into saddle?

 

Peter

 

Sounds like you have your basics right... Wearing full protection and understanding what went wrong.

If it's your 1st fall from a bike, it takes a bit of time to get the full confidence back... It took 3months for me after the 1st fall. Practicing makes it perfect so there is nothing to blame yourself. Varied concentration levels happens in life.

 

Learn more about hook-turn which has helped me in several cases to tighten the line mid corner (CSS Level 3I believe). I personally prefer to hangout more and reduce lean angle while on the road. You can always go a little slower the 1st time you ride on a new route. Similar to sighting lap done on the tracks...

 

Your family cares for you and thus worried... so it's normal.

WAGAT (Wear All Gears All Time) and I'm sure in no time you will be back on confidence level!

Good Luck!

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I am getting there... starting to get some confidence back. Some corners are still unnerving. I certainly plan on going back to the same curve and riding it again. This is a good learning experience for me - riding is mostly mental, and your mental state varies from day to day. If I could take that corner yesterday at 50mph that does not mean I can do the same today. Relax, take it easy, recognize the signs and dont push the envelope too far!

 

Thanks everybody! :)

 

Peter

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