My anxiety got worse!
What? How could that be? This guy was famous. He was a winning racer. A big shot author. So, I figured I was doing it wrong, and went and practiced some more. But when you want to turn as quickly as possible, you have to run into the corner deeper and deeper. That created even more fear. And my problems got worse instead of better.
"No. No," I told myself. "This must be the way. Go watch some real motorcycle racers ride, and you'll see they all do it this way." Well, that's what the author of that book said anyway.
He was wrong.
What I saw, over and over and over again when I watched videos of the top riders In The World, was that NONE of them rode that way. Not one. Zip. Zero. Nada. Zilch. What were they doing differently than me? What did they do differently than that book author recommended? The fastest motorcycle racers in the world would blast down the straight, slow down, tip in a little, get started into the curve, then finally actually turn in and scrape their knees on the ground.
Watch it for yourself below. You'll see it in the very first corner of this American Superbike race. The riders tip in, and turn in.
When I tried riding that same way, I found it worked great! Way better than it had any right to. By initiating my turn slowly and gently, instead of trying my darndest to slam the bike down to full lean angle, I was much more relaxed. The bike behaved better. My hands, arms, face and eyes were all much more relaxed. It felt like the bike was coasting effortlessly down and back up. I found I was often using more lean angle with less effort. Best of all, my rides become longer and more enjoyable.
So, go for a ride! Hey, any excuse for a ride, right? Keep your eyes up, watching the vanishing point and checking for road hazards well ahead of the bike. Setup early for the corners by moving to the outside lane position. Then when you are close to the entrance of the corner, somewhere before the place where you would usually start to feel apprehensive, and just tip in slightly.
Going left? Push gently forward on that left hand grip. Don't push hard enough to make the bike dart across the lane or cut in too early. Just break the bike off that 90-degree angle. Get the bike leaned, just a little, Get the bike just a smidgen off of perpendicular. Then, add more lean angle as necessary to safely make your corner.
- You may find that your initial lean is about all the lean angle you need for certain corners.
- You may find that once the bike is leaned a little, it is much easier to lean it a little more.
- You may find that your fear of sliding out is not attached to how far you lean over, but the very act of leaning at all. Once you get the bike leaned, even a little, without falling down, you may suddenly feel like everything is going to be okay.
- You might also find that once the bike is leaned over, even a little bit, you can relax and get your eyes up. Even that tiny change in your vision can make you suddenly feel much more comfortable on the bike.
Spring is here. Get out there and ride. Carefully and gently try new things. Report back here with your results.
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Look in. Set up. Ride on.