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Am I overconfident?

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Jimmyz, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. I've always taken part in sports that require you to push yourself pretty hard and every so often things go wrong, you get hammered and come out with some colourful bruises and a few aches that go away in a week and then you do it again.

    I know this is but the lucky outcome with a motorcycle - when you come off at 80km/h+ and fall off a cliff there is a high chance you won't be getting back on for a while/ever. I have a father who's sworn off riding after 15 years, watched several friends die on motorcycles so I get plenty of respectful reminders and advice from him.

    I have been riding for just under a year - I have kept myself challenged; hit the twisties once if not twice a week and progressively improved over that time, I have always had a respectful fear of riding, I have done my best to learn from others even though I try not to ride in large groups because I find there is a competitive streak in me and it has no place on the road. I've always had good riding gear; except for a lack of leather pants, but they are on their way as of tomorrow. I have made a point of practicing emergency braking, swerves etc.

    Today was my first day riding the Old Pac - I loved it, was giggling like a little girl when I hit the twisties between the pie shop and the road warriors Cafe (or what used to be). In fact I turned around a few times and did that section 4 times in total - that's how much I loved it. This was bike heaven.

    I continued along to Peat's Road (???) and came back. On my last leg something occurred to me - I was not afraid in the slightest as I had been in the past. I felt I owned this road (on a 250cc HA! keep dreaming), nothing was going to take me down today, every corner came to me naturally, I could lean her over hard as I wanted, brake/shift late into corners, I reckoned I could corner at 140 - the little 250cc wasn't enough all of a sudden. All I needed was a bigger engine, (WAY)better suspension and brakes and/OR


    It wasn't in any way that there were any large flaws in my riding that I could pick. I was smooth and took good lines 90% of the time, I felt in control even though I didn't know the road and I did manage to avoid gravel etc.

    At this point came such an intense internal dialogue that I actually had to pull over because I lost concentration on what I was doing.

    I realised that I was going very fast, but at the same time I didn't feel in danger - is this wrong? I have never felt this confident before and I'm unsure as to whether I'm being complacent.

    The 'sensible' (paranoid?) side of my brain was telling me to slow down, what if a kangaroo jumped out? What if you hit oil? What if there's a pothole you can't dodge? Your suspension isn't up to the job!

    It came to the point where I felt for a second I should sell the bike, perhaps get a track/race bike and then push myself in a controlled environment.

    I'm in no way saying that I'm a great rider and I'm sure there are people way faster than me on 250s. I think my problem may lie with my perception of risk out on the twisties and my possibly lacking ability to self-assess beyond how I think it should be done - I can only trust my own intuition so far and here it's telling me that I'm pushing to hard for my experience level.

    Perhaps the problem is that I've only ever been able to scrutinise myself. Maybe I need to go riding with some more experienced riders who'll tell me what I could improve on? Maybe I need to take another course? Maybe I should go to the track and bite the dust a few times? Maybe I'm just being a pansy... I don't know.

    Newer riders, have you ever felt this way?

    Any words of advice from experienced riders would be greatly appreciated.
  2. I realised that I was going very fast, but at the same time I didn't feel in danger - is this wrong?

    Well first of all, since the Old Highway has a speed limit of 60 kph, yes it is, and it's part of the reason it may be dropped even further. As for the rest, I really don't care.
  3. Yes, I too get like that, dont know if this is a good thing or not, sometimes I go out feeling just the opposite when it all feels a little unbalanced, yet other days it all clicks in and I feel exactly how you described. Ive always been a little lacking in self confidence throughout life, yet now feel totally empowered when riding, so that in itself has been very good for me. Some days the old fear factor kicks in when Im moving along a little, but oh boy the adreneline rush is always there!
  4. Once you start alternating between utter boredom (riding slowly) and guilt (after considering the recklessness of your "fun" riding), it is time to go to the track. No question about it.
  5. Some parts were 80 I recall.

    Even so 'very fast' is very much meant in relative terms - I didn't mean relative to the speed limit even though I may have gone over it a bit at times. I mean relative to what I'd usually do/be comfortable with. This is a question about risk perception NOT about how fast the authorities say I should be going.
  6. I actually enjoy taking it easy from time to time.

    But as far as the guilt feeling and riding recklessly - you hit the nail on the head.
  7. Every rider knows what it's like to be in 'the zone' when everything seems to click. I suspect that this is not over-confidence, but a happy confluence of mental, physical, and perhaps even spiritual, influences that conspire together to produce the result.

    Some guru can probably tell you how you can be in this 'zone' all the time, but he hasn't told me yet :LOL:.
  8. Sure some days (like today) it just clicks. But alarm bells ring in my head when I feel almost 'immortal' (like today). There must be a balance I'm missing.
  9. Not on my experience; when you're in 'the zone', ride and enjoy it. Just don't expect it all the time, and ride with more caution accordingly. Then there are the days when you can't ride past the end of the street and feel confident. In those cases, don't....
  10. mmm...well firstly...I'd get out with some good and experienced riders or rider, and have them take a look at you. (You need to be cautious of the "legend in my own brain, syndrome")...That's not a sling off at you...just that if you ride alone most of the time, you have no yardstick by which to measure your skills. There is such a thing as riding well, on luck and good fortune, rather than outright skill. You need to answer that question.
    It "sounds" like you have your head in a good place...self-analyzing, self-awareness etc, that you probably are actually a decent rider, and that you had one of those goooood days where it all comes together nicely. But they can be ellusive.

    The simple fact is...it's easy to ride fast and well, when everything is going fine...consider how you might fair if it all turned to shit in the middle of one of those corners, because THAT is the measure of a good rider IMHO. (Does'nt mean they won't crash). It's all about how you handle those times, that matters.

    As for wanting or needing a bigger faster bike...I'd wait until you are able to ride that way, all the time. Then it would be fair to say that you have outgrown the bike, and a more advanced machine is required in order for you to progress any further.
    THEN IT STARTS ALL OVER AGAIN...as you learn the new bike and how to apply your skill, ability and experience up to that point, all over again to that new bike. It will require different riding from you.
    That knocks you a few pegs back down the ladder, appropriately, and is often where young heads get sucker-punched. Some will step onto a bike way more capable and powerful and try to ride their old way...usually only making it through the first few turns before mashing themselves.

    Your competitive spirit is something to be vigilant of, it will easily cause you to bite off way more than you can chew and leave you looking stupid...especially with a powerful bike...get competative with the wrong person who has the experience and while you may keep up for a while, you could easily lack their ability, skill, and road-smarts. ie...their 80% is your 100% = disaster for you eventually.

    If you are able to upgrade, then do so...bearing in mind the stupidiy of thinking the bigger bike makes you better - you will have to learn to ride it, before you can improve...and I would suggest at least 6 months of vested time concentrating on THAT to be about average.

    The fact that you even posted here on this subject, is a sign that you are correctly self evaluating, but like I said...rule out the downside factors with a ride or two among experienced and accomplished riders, so you can get the PERSPECTIVE you need about your own riding. And if you do get out with them...please don't try to impress...just ride your ride.

  11. Right...wrong...good or bad...is more or less irrelevant.

    The important question here is WHY...

    Think about that for a while - it will help you.
  12. If you find out, you'd better PM me, or I'll be very upset!..LOL
  13. I've always been told to ride within my limits.

    The last time I crashed I was in the zone but stepped onto the overconfidence plate. You ride your best when you are in the zone but once you let the zone tell you that you can handle anything and not go down, its time to put your head back in check.

    Its good to hear you're getting out there though. Good thinking on going out with some more experienced blokes. Sometimes going out with more experienced riders can actually help the ride get safer, smoother and faster.

    A good lot will look out for you, keep good lines and focus on enjoying the day opposed to one upping another rider.

    The zone really is treading the line of your best lap time and your next crash. As long as that voice in your head keeps telling yourself "this could all go to hell in seconds", you should be doing well for yourself.
  14. The most important part of being a good "public road rider" is being aware of what others are doing that might bring you and them undone. I didn't see that mentioned at all.

    Take it to the track.
  15. Just got back from work (at 12am .... yuck) Thanks for the helpful responses guys, really appreciate it :). I was pretty uptight about it all of today, but I think I shall now be a little bit more vigilant in the future, so at least that's a positive outcome for now.

    A ride with experienced riders is definitely in order once I've finished my uni commitments for the year and get a bit more free time (soon enough!). I reckon it would be very beneficial to get some outside perspective on my riding as John said, I really am limited by what I know about riding beyond the basics. Thanks John I always find your posts very helpful and was hoping you'd respond :) - I'll definitely be asking myself 'why' next time I feel 'invincible' it's something that is difficult to answer when you're not in that particular moment.

    Not4resale - I agree with not riding outside your limits, the only problem for me is that I haven't 'reached' them so to speak and I don't think I ever want to! :eek:hno:

    Perhaps even a track day to experience 'riding on the edge' with the reduced risk would be beneficial.
  16. trackday is on the cards i reckon.
    once i went, it was alot easier to comprehend the additional hazards of 'the twisties'. and i got much slower along Pac Hwy. :(

    ..dang i wish i had a trackday booked now.... :)
  17. An additional word regarding this "sense of invicibility"...because it concerns me alot when I hear riders speak of it.

    On a day, where you seem to just nail the tip in point, match the speed for the corner and capability of your bike and yourself, hit the apex, and power away to your exit point, in a fluid style that seems almost symbiotic with your bike and the surroundings, truly is something to savor.
    If you are hyper alert, very focused, and looking well ahead in anticipation of what's coming and already making your moves to match it, then everything sloooows dowwwwn because you are ahead of your bike. - it appears to you, as if you are ready for just about anything that could be thrown at you, because you have so much "apparant" time up your sleeve. (And at this point you are usuually travelling quite a bit faster - because things seems slower, you speed up.)

    It's "the zone". :)

    THAT!...is what can sadly lead to that "sense of invincibility", which is very bad...you're on a bike, and can die in an instant, if you stuff it up!.

    Beware the intoxication of that sense of invincibility...it will draw you in like a mosquito to a bug-zapper, if you don't keep your head in the game and mentally acknowledge that it is all only going according to plan, and that you have'nt somehow morphed into a super-being since you woke up that morning.
    When you get in the zone, get your head zeroed into it like a lazer beam and soak up the brilliance of the experience, or sit up and get out of it immediately if you can't get that focussed.
    The zone is much closer to the "edge"..

    Ultimately...ride proactively...the zone is a by-product of everything else, and won't happen without your head being where it should.

    All of this is VASTLY enhanced by a track day, where you can explore every aspect of your riding with all the additional safety that comes with it. (as other have said)
    But be prepared for some deflating moments out there. :)...Out on the track just about everyone descovers that they are'nt quite as good as they thought they are...

  18. jeez, this is solid golid.. The best scenarios/advice in the world and work is paying for it.. Well I do commute here on the bike daily, so its money well spent by the boss.

    Thanks for the post Jimmyz. I have this mental image of your bike cornering like a Motard on a kids BMX track whilst attempting to break the sound barrier?? Sounds like your pushing the envelope on public roads quite significantly. I'll just get on with my post, as I may be living in a glass house...

    Im pretty sure Im in a similar boat, to a lesser degree (skill wise) but similar in an emotional sense. A few weeks ago, I had the 'talk' with myself about risk/boundaries after a very fiesty ride where I felt the need for boundary pushing was greater than appreciation of the moments and then a full stop. Pondering the ride later at home I dealt with some internal voices shouting at me saying "are they just getting wider because Im getting better so its ok, just keep it steady and you'll be fine" VS "Im showing minimal respect for myself and others here with this quest for late braking, lean and speed... stop it you baboon...your going to die" (sounds dramatic, but at the time the scared little noob came out)

    The guilt kicks in a bit and the thought of a stack or mishap makes you feel a bit ill. Normally I just make sure that my next ride is mellow. No splitting, filtering and the like and my balance seems to resume. The above cycle then starts again. But having a friend pass away recently (non bike related), getting married and having strange thoughts of kids, family picnics etc has flattened my mojo to ride anything other than my 5km commute. I usually move heaven and earth to hit the twisties weekly but the case after that last ride. The other silly thing is that during this whole thoughts process and for a while in the lead up, Ive been gagging for an upgrade. WTF?? "If i cant handle my 250cc demons how is that going to work??" are my thoughts, thus I ruin the moment for myself.

    Im going for a ride on Saturday, first in over a month and Im over thinking the whole thing, which may not be a bad thing. Im sure it will be ok, and 5 mins in after I tackle a nice line through a challenging corner with reverance and maturity I will be thinking about this post wondering what all the worry was about, but happy to have indulged my own thoughts whilsts learning from others.

    Raven mentioned "THEN IT STARTS OVER AGAIN" in relation to a bigger bike. I think I will take that advice to my current bike/situation and just re asses and plan a solution - ie, get some tuition, take a track day perhaps, read some books on riding skills etc so that my increase in confidence and or engine capacity over time is well complemented with the necessary tools to ensure maximum safety.... ahhhhhhhh, (deep exhale with happy face)
  19. Kermit...just a quick note...Demons are demons mate...they don't equate to what sized bike you ride...In fact...you might find that they can be somewhat reduced by a more capable bike over the one you have...say a 600Supersport. Because the bike is far more capable, and increases your margins.

    Take a 600SS through the same road at the same speed as you would do on your current bike, and you'd find that you had ALOT more up your sleeve...thus it's safer (all other things being equal). THAT actually chases the demons away...

    The rub is...you're confidence will improve, your skill will improve, etc etc, and the demons will be back knocking at your door again. And so it goes.

    My only suggestion... Total Focus on what you're doing...If the demons pop into your head WHILE you are riding, then get off the gas and slow down to where you are'nt copping the mental block the demons create. Leave it for another day.

    There comes a point where eventually you have the ability, and will be able to put your complete faith in your skill, your experience and your bike, because you can efficiently manage your risk levels...certain demons will still be there, but lost in the background noise, while you take care of business.

    ADDITIONAL REMARK : All of that, of course, Does'nt take into account the things that you CAN'T control...(Everything outside of you and the bike)

  20. Its always good to know I'm not the only one that gets this then.

    At the end of the day it's our risk averse nature getting to us after the event. I think it is up to us to question (as raven said) whether or not our sense of invincibility is justifiable.

    Did I leave sufficient visual buffer on that corner? What if I need to brake - how well/quickly can I do that? What if this corner has a decreasing radius? (we've all been caught out there a few times!) etc.

    The conclusion that I have come to is that - if you believe you are riding at 100% and leaving no margin for error - then it's very likely you'll come to grief sooner or later, rather develop skills so that (ie 'make' your old 100% your new 90%) you can handle a situation if it were to eventuate at speed - such as E-braking etc - I guess that's what they mean by riding within your skill level.

    It's as simple as risk vs. reward and it would be ironic if any rider were unfamiliar with this!

    An example of that in my own riding: there is a particular corner that I LOVE to hit really fast! - mind you that is only at 50km/h; it's a hairpin! This is because although I'm going 100% I can see if there are cars around the bend and furthermore the consequences of falling off at 40 into dust are much less grave than falling off at 100 off a cliff.

    There are situations in which you can push yourself and others that you shouldn't; the correct assessment of which is which depends on your own judgment in which experience must play a large role - I have little.

    I forget who's sig it was but it sums it up brilliantly - fill the bag of experience before the bag of luck runs out - something like that.

    I can't wait for the upgrade either, was sitting on a few 600 SS last weekend... they feel vicious!