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Distractions And Speed


rchase
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I figured I would share an unusual and somewhat amusing experience that taught me how costly distractions are.

 

This Saturday I was riding at the Talledega Grand Prix in Alabama and was having a great time. It was coldish and windy and I was riding my street bike on the track. The wind and the noise from the bikes upset a large hive of bees from a neighboring farm that started swarming the track and paddock.

 

I went out on the track unaware of the swarming bees and was having a great day. I exited the bowl turn onto the back straight and got into the power on my RR. It's a short straight so you are only going between 100 and 140mph depending on how motivated you are. I never ride "all out" but I was probably somewhere in the middle of the speed range for the straight. All of a sudden I see a a sea of black objects and I'm being pelted with them. I slowed my roll on and approached the Farmhouse turn complex and was distracted and went through slower than I normally do.

 

The next lap was much the same. I mentally prepared myself for the sea of weird wet splattering objects (had not figured out they were bees until I got back to the paddock). The distraction was still there and despite my attempt to ignore them It was taking my attention away from the quickly approaching Farmhouse turn complex. I eventually was able to tune them out a bit but I was going slower than I had been previously which "bugged" me (pun intended). I was finally able to also tuck a lot more aggressively than needed under the screen that avoided some of the more distracting impacts but it was not really a true fix.

 

When I returned to the paddock I talked to some of the other riders and looked at my bike and discovered they were bees. Here are some amusing photos. My leathers took the brunt of the impacts but I was eager to clean off and did not get photos of them.

 

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Does anybody have any tips to ignoring distractions like this? As well. Share your amusing on track distractions. Just the knowledge of strange things you can encounter that you aren't expecting is not only fun to talk about but can mentally prepare us all. :)

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I had birds standing on the track by a puddle, bees, lane cones flying through the middle of the track... They're rare events but they do happen and they're part of the sport. After you've gone through them a couple of times it will make less of an impact on your riding. One mistake I made once seeing a cone in the middle of the riding line was to signal with my hand and slow down my pace too much. In hindsight it's better to just avoid the obstacle and let the other bikes figure it out until track direction decides to flag.

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The bees were a new thing for me. I have seen cones and turtles before and they don't bother me quite as much. I think the real distraction was not knowing what they were and seeing the swarm. I have a really difficult time turning off the inquisitive and curious part of my mind.

 

Cones actually can make life interesting when they move and change the apex of a corner last minute. I have overheard riders complaining loudly about cones being clipped and ending up on the track surface. Personally I rather enjoy a last minute adaptation as it's quite rewarding being able to instantly learn a new line around and obstacle with no advanced notice and make it work. It's cheap training that could come in handy in the future. Those cones could easily be a fellow rider in the middle of the track. You would certainly want to be able to change your line last minute to avoid that.

 

I finally got my leathers more or less cleaned off. Thank goodness for protective gear. The bee's pretty much liquefied on impact. Feeling that on bare skin would have hurt and been way more distracting. If anybody has ideas about how to clean out the clear plastic vents of a helmet I'm all ears. :)

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I once exploded a good size tumble weed with my shoulder at full lean with aggressive hook turn application, it was much more mental than physical, a brief second of panic and preparing for impact, and then nothing.

 

Something like this may help clean out the bees in the vents

 

Cotton tipped applicators:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E8JOCOE/ref=s9_simh_gw_g328_i1_r?ie=UTF8&fpl=fresh&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=04AZCQ1X31GQG5DR2RBY&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2437869742&pf_rd_i=desktop

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Have you tried closing your eyes and screaming? :) I don't think I'd be very relaxed if I thought I was riding through a bee swarm - I'd be worried way too much about one getting in under my collar or helmet and stinging me! Good thing you didn't know they were bees until you pitted in! Doesn't sound like it distracted you too much, slowing down a little when things are out of the ordinary is usually a wise thing to do, unless you're in a position where maintaining your pace is a necessity (like in a race) and as long as it isn't so abrupt or dramatic that it could be a hazard for riders behind you. However if you had NOT slowed down but been distracted going into a turn... that could have bigger consequences, like overshooting the corner and running off!

 

I can handle most on track distractions pretty well, I just hate it when stuff hits me. Like when a rock flies up and hits my hand (ouch), or when someone tags a cone in front of me and flips it up in the air. And I can't help but duck when flying through a flock of birds (pun intended). :)

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I once exploded a good size tumble weed with my shoulder at full lean with aggressive hook turn application, it was much more mental than physical, a brief second of panic and preparing for impact, and then nothing.

 

Something like this may help clean out the bees in the vents

 

Cotton tipped applicators:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E8JOCOE/ref=s9_simh_gw_g328_i1_r?ie=UTF8&fpl=fresh&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=04AZCQ1X31GQG5DR2RBY&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2437869742&pf_rd_i=desktop

 

That had to be interesting to see. I think I probably would have been bracing for impact myself.

 

Ah! That's an interesting idea on the long swabs. I'll have to order some of those. I did not try the bathroom grade ones as I figured they would bend and just make it worse.

 

The gross thing is I wore that same helmet the rest of the day and even wore it again today without cleaning the vent. :)

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Have you tried closing your eyes and screaming? :) I don't think I'd be very relaxed if I thought I was riding through a bee swarm - I'd be worried way too much about one getting in under my collar or helmet and stinging me! Good thing you didn't know they were bees until you pitted in! Doesn't sound like it distracted you too much, slowing down a little when things are out of the ordinary is usually a wise thing to do, unless you're in a position where maintaining your pace is a necessity (like in a race) and as long as it isn't so abrupt or dramatic that it could be a hazard for riders behind you. However if you had NOT slowed down but been distracted going into a turn... that could have bigger consequences, like overshooting the corner and running off!

 

I can handle most on track distractions pretty well, I just hate it when stuff hits me. Like when a rock flies up and hits my hand (ouch), or when someone tags a cone in front of me and flips it up in the air. And I can't help but duck when flying through a flock of birds (pun intended). :)

 

LOL. I have the picture in my mind of one of those 1970's accidents where the driver screams and violently jerks the steering wheel. :)

 

I'm also really glad I did not know they were bees at first as I would have had some of the same thoughts of being stung. I probably would have pitted in right away because of the risk. A sudden reaction from a painful sting is not exactly something you want at speed.

 

That makes a lot of sense about being cautious. I tend to look at a lot of my caution as a flaw but in reality it was likely the best thing to do. Especially for a track day. :)

 

The bee's did not seem to like my BMW's. They tended to find the Italian and Japanese bikes a lot more tasty. Perhaps with so many of their friends stuck to the front of my bike they were just afraid?

 

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