Looks aren’t every­thing, but vision is the key!

Vis­ual skills are the back­bone of rid­ing pro­fi­ciency. To de­velop so­lu­tions to vis­ual prob­lems, one must first de­ter­mine the causes of those prob­lems...

Fast Bikes - - CONTENTS -

Have you ever ex­pe­ri­enced any (or maybe all) of the com­mon­est vis­ual prob­lems?

Los­ing, or fail­ing to ever ac­quire, a wide-view vis­ual per­spec­tive is one such is­sue. can lead to tun­nel vision and other is­sues. Ran­dom scanning can be one such is­sue. Undi­rected scanning is not only time con­sum­ing, but it also breaks the smooth flow of vis­ual in­for­ma­tion. This hap­pens be­cause the rider just ‘looks around’ with­out ever es­tab­lish­ing clear ref­er­ence points to use for guid­ance and with­out ever switch­ing on his or her wide­view per­spec­tive.

Look­ing too closely in front of the bike is an­other com­mon er­ror. So is look­ing too far ahead. Rid­ers some­times hold too dearly onto the idea of ‘look­ing through the cor­ner’ only to miss tar­get­ing and then hit­ting a good, tight apex. Fear of run­ning wide causes some rid­ers to look to­ward the out­side of turns or to look straight ahead of the bike, in­stead of vis­ually track­ing the arc of travel through the curve.

Rid­ers of­ten fail to cor­rectly iden­tify the ra­dius of the cor­ner, even when it can be clearly seen. This leads to fol­low­ing the in­side ra­dius as a kind of rolling ref­er­ence point, which al­most al­ways re­quires a series of steer­ing cor­rec­tions, es­pe­cially in mul­ti­ple-ra­dius bends.

Rid­ers who do this are wait­ing for the road to tell them what to do rather than vis­ually as­sess­ing the cor­ner and then proac­tively cre­at­ing a line plan to ne­go­ti­ate it. Some cor­ners are blind-en­try and there­fore of­fer lit­tle or no hint of their ra­dius. Fail­ure to es­tab­lish a ‘lead-in’ ref­er­ence point that you can rely on when you en­ter such a cor­ner the next time, if it’s lo­cated on a race­track or fa­mil­iar road, makes nav­i­gat­ing such cor­ners a hit-or-miss propo­si­tion ev­ery time. Not having a lead-in ref­er­ence point cre­ates the feel­ing of be­ing rushed, which can­cels any hope of vi­su­al­iz­ing what is ahead – even when it is al­ready known to the rider.

When a rider notices his line is in­con­sis­tent in any given turn, it can cre­ate anx­i­ety about that turn and lead to ei­ther tar­get fix­at­ing or ran­dom scanning. On the other hand, having a very good ref­er­ence point – like the apex – and lin­ger­ing on that too long can also cause the rider to get vis­ually lost. Be aware of how long you look at any ref­er­ence point, and don’t linger at all. Keep those eyes mov­ing, with pur­pose.

Find­ing vis­ual ref­er­ence points off of the road or track sur­face sounds log­i­cal, but that can be an­other time-con­sum­ing prac­tice. The best ref­er­ence points are on or right next to the road’s sur­face, so you don’t spend too much time scanning the sur­round­ing scenery. The same goes for scanning back and forth be­tween the turn en­try point and the apex or the apex and the turn exit point. Both habits can in­ter­rupt the smooth flow of vis­ual in­for­ma­tion.

Fi­nally, op­er­at­ing a fixed or a com­pul­sive vis­ual pattern where the rider is look­ing at the ex­act same points each time through the cor­ner – es­pe­cially one with any of the flaws listed above – will only force the rider to re­peat the same con­trol in­puts ev­ery time. This is a ma­jor cause of why rid­ers some­times feel as though they’ve hit an ‘im­prove­ment ceil­ing’ and can’t step their rid­ing skills up to the next level.

The bad news? These vis­ual faults are largely a prod­uct of our in­nate survival in­stincts. The good news? Iden­ti­fy­ing these faults, and notic­ing when they come into play, is the first step to over­com­ing their neg­a­tive im­pact and mak­ing real im­prove­ments in your rid­ing abil­ity.

Look through the cor­ner, sure, just don’t look too far around it...

No, use your eyes, these are your eye­brows!

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