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Race Spectator Turned Racer


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Just wondering what you guys and gals think about the learning value of watching motorcycle racing.

I am even beginning to explore the idea that watching on TV, while entertaining, may come with some negative transfer of ideas about riding.

What have you noticed watching others ride or race? In person and on TV?

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I notice that it is very hard to get the actual character of the track from seeing it on TV. Hard to perceive the elevation changes, hard to see the changes in camber and surface, and the abrupt changes in camera perspective can make it hard to grasp the flow of the track.

I also notice that I am amazed by how much the bikes slide around, and wiggle under hard braking, and how rough some riders can be on the controls while others are silky smooth.

When I watch videos (especially on-board videos) of amateur racers I am amazed by how many errors some riders make in races. Riders that are fast, judging by their laptimes, but make a lot of mistakes; it would seem surprising that they don't fall down more often - but then sometimes I find out they DO fall often.

It certainly seems possible to pick up some incorrect ideas or not-useful information, for example I sometimes hear announcers throw out some thoughtless comment or platitude that is really not applicable and could be confusing if you tried to really take it seriously. On the other hand, seems like you could learn a lot about preparation and race strategy, tire wear management, and race rules by watching races, by seeing what happens to riders that are late to the grid, or overwork their tires in the first part or a race, or choose the right or wrong tire compound, I find that stuff quite interesting.





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I think watching racing is helpful for technique related issues.  Especially nowadays with on-board telemetry, it is insightful to see how top level riders are trail braking and transitioning to the gas.  Scott Redding actually has some fabulous on-boards and discussion of his braking technique on his Youtube channel.

I think seeing the different body positions (feet, hands, etc) is very insightful.  It's easy for anyone at a track day to tell you what they think; it is entirely different when you can see the positioning of the top level riders.

I don't think there is necessarily a negative with watching TV.  I find that watching helps me better evaluate cornerspeed (same with reviewing on-board footage from my bike) while removing the "speed sensation" in real life. Often, watching on-boards "slows down" the corner in my mind and helps with identifying reference points.  

Less useful, at least at this point, is watching professional racers' corner entry and mid-corner technique when it comes to backing it in or using the rear brake.  I'm of the mindset of focusing on the front brake and working to improve that.  However, maybe there is something to be said about early training of using both front and rear.  Even in club racing now, fast experts are modulating the rear either by foot or by a hand lever.  Maybe not using it early on is like waiting too long to learn a foreign language.  But at least for now, I'm finding that stuff to be more entertaining and less informative.  


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A few years back there was some footage of Casey Stoner.  He was out front, way ahead, in a fast corner, lost the front end...then it came back!  The announcer was all over it, and half a lap later, they cut back to the camera that was his hand, facing back looking at him.

When he lost the front, you could see him let go of the bars!  That of course is what allowed the bike to recover.  He had just enough pressure to keep the throttle on, but he hands visibly opened as the front tucked and recovered.

Pretty cool.



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