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Coping with fear on a motorbike

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by midnight, Apr 20, 2016.

    • Informative Informative x 2
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  1. interesting reading
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  2. Welcome back, midnight!!!
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  3. Good article someone has taken time in preparing. Especially for noobs or someone thinking about riding.
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  4. Thanks Paul . Life is starting to slow so now i have more time on my hands .
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  5. Good link Midnight.
    I liked the bit about finding the correct balance, between too much fear and not enough fear. Now if I can only put it into practice! I might then end up with the "responsible hooligan" personality I aspire to.
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  6. I am pretty confident on my bike and ride within my limits, I don't really enjoy tight twisty corners and I'm happy to simply concentrate on the right line and speed. Fast sweepers, are different. However I am very aware of my fear of corners in the wet. My current plan is that I don't ride in the rain, but as the article says I just can't bring myself to trust that a wet road in good nick is not going to make the tyre slip. What I am most aware of is how tense my arms are on the handlebars. I'd like to be able to practice on a wet track with instructors at least so I can stay a bit loose.

    Or maybe get one of these Victory bikes that won't fall over...

    After all no one wants to be chickenshit...

  7. The only way to overcome fear I believe is experience The better you get the less fear, mind you a healthy dose of fear can keep you alive as well
    I ride all weathers best ride I ever had was from Bundaberg to Brisbane in pouring rain .
  8. Good read...
  9. I disagree about having too little fear being a bad thing and a little bit of fear being a good thing. There is a big difference between being quietly confident but wary and being actively afraid. Even a little bit of fear makes us do things subconsciously that impact on bike handling. Tightening on the bars, getting off the throttle, braking inappropriately, fixating on what we want to avoid, hugging the side of the road away from what we're afraid of which can put us onto the worst possible line in a corner. Those errors inevitably make control and handling more difficult and unpredictable which in turn increases fear. If you are routinely afraid on the bike, get some training. Everybody has different thresholds for where they go from excited or wary, to frightened, to panic. A little frisson of excitement can be performance enhancing where you get a little adrenalin and your reaction times and responses get a little sharper than usual. Once actual fear kicks in rational thought starts to go out the window, observation skills drop off into tunnel vision and target fixation. Tension make you tighten up on the bars and control goes down the toilet while the fear and adrenalin levels climb towards outright panic. Experiential learning where you get to gradually push yourself outside your comfort zone while learning real control skills and methods for improving your riding is the best way to gain confidence and control. You build up your skills gradually, incrementally in a controlled environment and with coaching to help you improve at the same time.

    There is a big difference between being confident but wary and being overconfident and reckless. Neither rider is afraid but one is likely to have a large margin for safety and the other is likely to have a short riding career. It's not the lack of fear that makes one rider safe and the other dangerous, it's the attitude and possibly the imagination to identify what could be happening over that rise or around that corner.

    [EDIT] Most of the tips were fine, I just disagree on the bit about needing a little fear.
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  10. Get a few good friends together and find a great destination to go explore or better still latch on to a netrider jindabyne ride and sit back and follow the leader or simply find a quiet area to just kick back and cruise solo.

    If you create enough moments where you look back on the day and think "hell yeah'' the fear will be slowly pushed aside by that need to do it all again.

    I guess what im trying to say is that if you enjoy it enough and stay in your comfort zone the rest will fall into place over time.
  11. Keith Code has made a lot of money from identifying Survival Reactions and how to overcome them.
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  12. Not just Keith Code either, Lee Parks and essentially anyone in the rider training field are all earning a crust by helping riders to be in control of the bike and themselves.
    Personally I think Lee Parks communicates the road riding relevant bits more clearly but both are mostly packaging the same information. I'm very glad that they do make a living out of it because I've found it to be useful for me anyway.

    I've always found that money spent on professional training has been a good investment, whether that's been for riding, rock climbing, kayaking, or any other activity. The tricky bit is often finding the right instructor to work with as instructors like anyone in any job vary in personality, approach and sadly, sometimes competence. You can learn by trial and error, but it's easier to get coached and while they say that practice makes perfect, the limitation is that without coaching we often practice and perfect bad technique. It's not easy to look at yourself and see exactly what you're doing right and wrong. An instructor can do that and correct you in a pretty short session.

    The problem with scaring yourself on the road is that unless you can work out what you were doing wrong, then the next time you enter that situation, you go into it at a higher level of anxiety and that causes more problems which reinforces the idea that "it's a difficult corner" or "I don't like roundabouts" or "the bike doesn't handle well in that situation". ie we then blame the road feature or the bike rather than our own skill level. Once you have the mindset that it's not your fault it's very hard to improve.

    Being competent and confident in your control skills frees up more attention to spend on spotting actual hazards earlier. You should be wary, you should be careful, but you shouldn't be afraid because it is counterproductive on the road.
  13. A lot of this is just a semantic point about what you call 'fear'. What you're describing is the level of fear grips you, when you get to the point when it starts to override your conscious decision-making. This type/level of fear will get you nowhere.

    Whereas I think there's a level of fear that operates merely as a subconscious awareness of danger, sort of a useful underlay to your conscious hazard perception (useful in the sense that it doesn't interfere with your primary mental processes and can operate faster than you think). From that perspective, I think the key to keeping it at that level is to refine what it is that you're afraid of. If you're afraid some nebulous concept like 'crashing' or 'pain' or 'death' then your fear responses are going to go haywire at every little thing, whereas fear of hitting that tree or oncoming car might just trigger the avoidance reaction that you want.

    Which leads to the other thing about fear - it's a conditioned response. So not only can you condition yourself to suppress it (handy in some circumstances) but you can train yourself to respond in useful rather than self-defeating ways. For example, most of us who've survived motorcycling for any decent length of time would have developed an avoidance response to an unexpected obstacle, eg something appears out of nowhere, your reaction is to brake or swerve away or otherwise not hit it, as opposed to simply freezing in abject terror. You can call this 'reflex' or 'instinct' or whatever but personally, it feels that it's the puckered-starfish feeling that triggers the life-saving reaction faster than I could have thought to do it.

    Ultimately though you get to the same conclusion - refine your hazard perception so that your subconscious knows what to be afraid of, and get your skills and control up there so that it knows how to respond.
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