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What Calms Things Down For You?


Hotfoot
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Riding seems to go best when the rider is calm and confident. What calms things down for you?

 

Do you have drills or routines that calm your mind and your eyes? Do you use earplugs while you ride, or listen to a favorite song before you get on a bike, or just think happy thoughts? Does just riding a certain bike or a certain road make you calm and confident?

 

I'd love to know what you guys and gals do to get the right mindset WHILE you are riding or before you start.

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Half a cup of mineral water at room temps with 1/3 teaspoon of taurine

 

and BPM < 90 (i have a watch that takes my bpm for me ) = calm for me.

 

I wont call myself confident... more like modulated aggression ; no one is a friend when I ride ; everything can become an enemy needing a solution to avoid injury to myself in the flick of an eye

 

I wear a mask , when i pull the mask down, its into the warzone until i take it off when i stop , park and remove my helmet followed by the mask.

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Nerves / distraction / whatever are not an issue for me. Right before the session, just before getting on the bike, I go over in my head exactly what I am planning on trying to accomplish or experiment with that session. This has all been planned before hand based on my evaluation of the prior session after looking at lap times. A simple list of two or three things, like

 

"...brake latter for turn 1, skip the up/down shift before 6 and just let it hit the limiter for a second, and take a wider entry into 9...."

 

that sort of thing. And then I am just all business, doing what I need to do and evaluating myself all the way along

 

"...no, chicken, more entry speed, look how much room we have at the exit!.....forget the exit cone look for the next apex....now, now, throttle throttle throttle throttle...chicken!......this guy has more power but we can get by him on the brakes into 1...".

 

Some of this is actually out loud in my helmet. Seriously. I am way too busy to be nervous.

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I have sort of entered into this topic on a tangent in one of my many topics that bombed :D But for me, I need to know that the tyres will stick, what's going on between the road and the rubber. If I'm good with that, I relax. This sensation with the tyres can stem from both the bike and the rubber stuff. On my old KZ650, everything is perfect in this regard. I just know that the tyres will stick and don't even have to think about it. Instead, I can focus on my lines. Also, and here is the tangent thing, lifting my sight and staying mostly off the brakes have a very relaxing effect.

 

Apart from that, I am generelly not a stressed person, so I do not need to calm myself normally. When I just ride where there are few challenges, I simply let my mind wander. If the road has some challenges, I focus on being smooth and where to place the wheels.

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Since I ride almost exclusively at the track it now is hard for me to relate to the street all that well any more. At the track, I don't think of my pre-ride practice in a particular way so I think the closest description would be brief meditation. I try to devote a couple minutes (and nearly always do) before the upcoming session to sit quietly, relax my body, let my mind go blank (that's the easiest part ;) ). This gives me a pleasant sense of calm in advance of leaving the pits. Once on the track, and when needed, I find the easiest way to calm myself is by talking myself thru a section of the track in a checklist fashion. "look for the turn point" "off throttle" "on brakes" "look for the mid-corner" "off brakes" "turn-in" and so on. Like YellowDuck mentioned, I too will sometimes say these things out loud. This gives me a system reset so to speak and the next lap around I'm usually calm and free flowing again. Honestly though, if I get severely rattled by something then I take a run thru the hot pit lane, stop, take a few deep breaths, and then go back on track (or else I just end the session if it were already close to ending).

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I started martial arts from a pretty young age and learned how to meditate. I don't meditate before or during a ride but its sort of given me the ability to just "flick the switch" into being calm. It only works when I'm riding motocross which I've done since I was 9. I'm extremely at home in the dirt on my dirtbike and its easy to fall into a solid state of focus. Its not quite that simple on a sportbike.

 

I haven't been on a road course with my sportbike yet but I do get a little tense when I'm trying to go a little faster on my favorit twisty roads. As soon as I feel that tension I have to just back off the pace a little bit and regroup. Focus on turn in points, throttle control and looking through the exit. After that everything starts to flow nicely again.

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Street: If my mind or body doesn't seem up to par I don't. Remember that I am invisible and a wreak is an instant away, because I'm invisible and then there is Bambi :o . Continue gearing up, take a deep breath followed by helmet and gloves. If I find myself tensing up while riding, I'll tell myself to "Relax" and then slow down some.

 

Track: That is a vacation for me. I lock away anything "Real World" in the basement of my brain and place the guard dogs in front of the door. So this starts a few days prior and I try to have it all locked away by the night before. At the track just the courtesy check on the bike before the fun starts. Get the thought of wreaking done and out of the way. No need with that thought filling the visor at the wrong time. Tell myself don't do anything stupid around slower riders and hope that faster riding will do the same for me. Take a deep breath and on with the helmet and gloves. Maybe another deep breath before going on the track.

Get my plan down for the session and go ride. When I catch myself tensing up I tell myself to "Relax" and even sometimes flap my wings. I try not to think about why I was tensing, unless it was obvious, until after the session. I really try to keep all distractions away from what I'm doing at the moment.

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.............I'd love to know what you guys and gals do to get the right mindset WHILE you are riding or before you start.

 

At the physiological level: Breathing and visual techniques.

At the mental level: Emptiness and fluidity.....and acceptance of defeat (fall, accident, error, injury, etc.)

 

"Like everyone else you want to learn the way to win. But never to accept the way to lose. To accept defeat — to learn to die — is to be liberated from it. Once you accept, you are free to flow and to harmonize. Fluidity is the way to an empty mind. You must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying." - Bruce Lee

 

Street riding in difficult traffic brings the challenge of either trying to survive it in constant terror or accepting the real possibility of a fatal accident.

Adopting the second attitude before and during each ride removes all terror or fear and brings the feeling of accepting a challenge just to play at the very best of my abilities.

For me, it is just like playing chess: I can lose or I can win, but will enjoy the mental game either way.

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Great responses on this topic!

 

For me, if I start to feel tense or busy, or my riding gets choppy, the first thing I do is try to regain my wide view. That calms things way down and I don't feel rushed anymore. If I find that I KEEP losing my wide view, I know I had better slow down a bit, then I take a quick stock of whether I am tired or dehydrated or if there is something absorbing my attention that shouldn't be - like uncomfortable gear or something feeling wrong about the bike.

 

In terms of general mindset, I have discovered that my riding is best (AND fastest) when I am having FUN. If I put myself under too much pressure to make improvements or reach a target laptime, I don't ride as well. Aggressive competition (as in, I'm going to pass that guy NO MATTER WHAT!!!) can make me go a little faster and push the limits but it tends to make my riding choppier and my control inputs too rough, the overall result is not as good. I have learned that if I have a track day that isn't going well, I take a few minutes to settle down and remind myself that I do this for fun. :)

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Track riding:

1st thing, I arrive early with equipment that is 100% checked several days before the event. So not a single $ of my attention is on equipment.

 

Once I'm on the track, I talk to myself.

I commentate and narrate my way around the track in full sentences out loud.

When I begin to stutter or stop forming complete sentences, it's my indicator that I'm going too fast and am running out of "attention $".

If I'm going so fast that I can't narrate to myself, I'm also beginning to "react" to the immediate necessities of the corner rather than planning for the next corner.

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Add me to the list of martial artists here, the self control and focus is awesome after about 10yrs of training.

 

"Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash! Be water, my friend'... - Bruce Lee

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  • 5 weeks later...

Time. I've been riding track for 6-years 1-2 trackdays a month. Familiar tracks. I'm at a new track right now and hate having to learn new points. I stay in the advanced group while I'm learning the track, but get anxious because I know I'm probably getting in people's way. And I know the photos are going to suck. For certain corners I go through what I'm doing over and over so I beat it into my thick skull what I'm supposed to do. 1,000 times and all... I think mental laps count toward that somewhat.

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