My take on how to cope with overcooking a corner
07 April 2010 10:01
After a year of riding I've found that the best way of dealing with overcooking corners is to not be totally afraid of the idea.
This may sound drastic and I'm sure I'm leaving myself wide open for some crap Deauville joke, but I think it's best to put yourself in these situations.
Of course I don't mean hurtling towards the corner at the speed of light! but I do mean pushing your limits, on roads you know, conditions you're familiar with on a bike that has your respect.
It sounds crazy but the human brain works in a funny way, when presented with panic, you may find your self thinking "how did I control that" or "I just did it without thinking".
This is because in panic the brain does what it knows best, this involes diving deep into your memories and finding the closest thing to the current situation it can find and using this as a past experience (the brain thinks "I survived it last time by doing this" so it does it).
As stupid as it sounds this is the way some of the best fighters (boxers and martial arts competitors) have won fights.
It works on the principle that if you imagine something all of the time 'day dream' as it were. Then when in a panic situation the brain will call on this as a memory, as you don't have time to interviene and tell it 'no I was only day dreaming', and uses it!
The idea sounds crazy but it is a proven method and still helps in all areas, from sport to combat.
So if/when you have a track day, learn the track, play it through in your mind. play all the different scenarios and this will improve your riding.
All you have to do is think about riding, easy!
Whenever I get a new bike I take it to one of my favourite stretches of road that's straight, quiet and has a nice surface.
I then practice using the front and back brakes in all different ways at all different speeds.
It teaches me the feel, lock up point, fork dive and general handling of the bike under braking.
This is invaluable, as when you come to a situation when you really need your breaks you know exactly what you can get from them, not only that but if in normal riding you lock the front or rear up you may panic, if you do your brain goes "Ey I'm sure I've done this before, oh yes, I remember I controlled the back end squirm with my hips whilst releasing the back break till it re-gained grip, then I re-applied the brake".
It does it really quickly and you may not even realise you've 'accessed' this thought!
Catastrophe averted! So just use the same with cornering, same rules apply: road you know, conditions you know, bike you trust bla bla bla.
Practice taking corners at all different speeds, on all different lines. You may find it easier to NOT touch the brakes, maintain throttle and drop the bike right down taking a tight line, you'd be suprised how much grip your tyres have to give.
You could trail the back break and slowly wind off and drop the lean in more. Any one of these would be good, we all know that going for the front brake would be stupid and that increases the front contact patch and stands the bike up due to weight shifting to the front, rolling the throttle off too quickly can have the same effect.
My point here is that if you do it deliberatly and controlled when you really do muck it up your brain has something to look at and use as an escape route.
Because if you really panic you automatically go into this autopilot. But what ever you do DON'T focus on the thing you dont want to crash into, look round the corner, focus on: entry, apex, exit, never the scenery!
And don't lock on the bars, relax, give that inside bar a bit of a push