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An Unspoken Language


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I was chatting with some friends about the Marquez and Rossi issue and I mentioned that Rossi's looking back at Marquez was some unspoken communication. I started thinking about it and I realized that as riders we do a LOT of communication with one another without even saying a word. The amount of space we leave or don't leave is communication. The way that we conduct passes is communication. Hand signals our body position and the way we move can also communicate information.

 

What kind of unspoken language have you witnessed on track and what did it mean to you?

 

I'll start.

 

I had a rider on a much less powerful bike "show me a wheel" indicating that he wanted to pass on the straight knowing he would need my agreement to get by my bike at 100% throttle. We were in the corner entering the straight and he pulled along side me and slowed his roll on and slipped back behind me. I nodded and short shifted and he passed. We never said a word but the conversation was Him: "Hey Buddy. Mind if I slip by you on the straight for this lap?", Me: "Hey no problem I'm just cruising".

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Moto 2 few weeks ago in spain. I can't remember exactly but the rider in front realized that the one behind him is faster and wants to pass to make a good lap. (Qualifying). On the Straight he gave him a Signal by putting both knees out on the straight so the wind is Little bit slowing him down so the one behind him can pass him without loosing to much of his lap time.
"Hey, I know you are faster than me, pass me, so you can get your Lap Time" "Thank You"

 


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rchase, I wish there were more riders like you at our race practice weekends. I am forever showing guys on 600s my front wheel, only to have them peg it on the straight. The communication there is

 

Me: "Hi. You are slowing me up in the infield. I am seconds faster than you per lap, or else how did I get here behind you? If you let me by, within half a lap I won't be affecting you at all".

 

Them: "Me fast. Watch me go!".

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I'm out there just to have a good time. I can't tell you the amount of times I have let a less powerful bike by and then stalked and watched in the corners and learned some new tricks from them. Save your super awesome secrets for when you get some distance otherwise I'll be trying them out the very next lap. It's not only an opportunity to be courteous and help someone improve their lap times. It's an opportunity to learn something from them even if it's how much faster you can go.

 

A friend of mine is an amazing communicator on track. He manages to communicate clearly an amazing amount of information while he's coaching just with his body. My personal favorite of course is when he's lurking behind you watching and likes what he see's and decides to pass mid corner on the rear tire giving the thumbs up on the way by. The conversation is "Good job Dude! Always remember you can go faster! Catch you later!"

 

I agree on the idea of being careful with communication on a track days. The reality is often you don't know the riders very well. Their intentions, their personality or their abilities can be unclear. It's very easy to misinterpret the message.

 

I had an experience years ago at a track day where I attempted to make a pass on another rider and miscalculated our speeds and ended up near the turn point to the inside of him with a lot less room than I would have liked. I decided to hang back and let him make his turn and just pass on the exit. I did not realize he saw me there and was delaying his entry to let me by and avoid being stuffed. There was an awkward pause while both of us were trying to figure out what the other was going to do. I eventually had no other choice but to turn and ended up getting closer than i would have liked. I made it a point to go and find him and apologize. Super nice guy. After talking to him I realized exactly "why" he reacted the way he did. He was having issues in that corner and to make matters worse that was the corner where he had some uncomfortably close passes. Lesson learned. It's sometimes a challenge to "read" other riders and often your actions are just as unclear to them.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not everyone is doing it but i observed a lot of them doing it.

 

When those guys are riding on the track they look little left or right over their shoulders (like looking in the mirror on street riding before they start overtaking).

 

Meaning: They want or start their overtaking now.

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Makes me wonder if organizations shoould post what "unspoken communications" happen and what they mean. It could help prevent issues.

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That's an interesting thing as well to consider. Observation of clues that riders are about to do something before they do it. I'm going to pay a bit more attention to that myself as it would help you "predict" what they are about to do.

 

I agree with Spike in regards to organizations speaking a bit more about on track communication. However this is a bit of a controversial topic with a lot of organizations. For safety purposes they want all riders focused ahead of them rather than anyplace else to prevent incidents. Observing other riders takes away from this in their minds which I can't say I disagree with. Everyone being on the same page would reduce incidents but with so many new riders doing their first day with an orginization discussing it openly would be a lot of information and lead to confusion. They focus on the super important bits such as flags and technique which are more crucial in the grand scheme of things to keep people safe. People eventually figure out the non verbal on track communication themselves.

 

What's interesting is the car side of track days do discuss openly non verbal communication. Drivers of cars at track days pay attention to their mirrors and give faster drivers a "point by" to let them know it's safe to overtake. This is mostly because of the physical size of cars. On bikes you can be 4 across during passing and still have plenty of room on most tracks. For some car tracks you can only be two cars across without a lot of room. Hence the need for the point by.

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