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Going faster by relaxing one's intent

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by [FLUX], Jan 11, 2007.

  1. Just something that I've noticed, especially so with the camera mount and the ability to review footage, is that on the times that I know that I've been more relaxed, that I'm actually going a touch quicker.

    What I mean is that I'm still doing all the correct body movements, which are now more or less automatic, but by relaxing, rather than attempting to consciously "attack" a corner, that more often than not I'm getting through some corner more quickly even though it may not feel like it at the time.

    Now I wouldn't classify this as a "new rider" tip, because I don't want it to be mistaken with not paying correct attention to the road and the corners. It is not entering a corner with a "laissez aller" attitude, but rather just a relaxing of the attitude towards attacking the corner.

    I never forgot the words of Dr Costa after he tried monitoring various rider's heart rates during a race. Biaggi had a heart rate of 170-180bpm, and was described as being like a man on a mission, whereas Rossi has a heart rate of ~120bpm, and is more relaxed like a "child at play".

    I'm not saying that if we all relax we'll all be Rossi's, but I guess that I am now starting to understand in a truer sense the meaning behind those words. Of course it has to develop from a solid skill foundation, but it is becoming more apparent to me lately that by "playing" with a corner, rather than "attacking" a corner, that this somehow leads to the ability to traverse a corner more quickly, presumably through subtle alterations in the body's interaction with the bike from being less aggressive.

    Anyone else noted anything similar? Experiences?
  2. I entirely agree Stew. I've always found that by putting too much thought into trying to attack the corner and go fast, it distracts the rider from focusing on riding well. I believe most if not all riders will inadvertantly ride faster simply by not trying to go fast. Take the agression out of the riding and there's a lot more room there for smoothness, timing and technique. :)
  3. Perhaps Rossi is relaxed _because_ he is fast?

    Is one's heart rate really a good indicator of mental relaxation during physical activity? I don't know. Biaggi is certainly smaller than Rossi. He might just be working harder physically.

    Foggy always seemed faster on his banzai qualifying runs where I find it unlikely that his heart rate was comparatively low. :)

    FWIW, I always thought "smooth is fast" was intended to cover mental attitude as well.
  4. Interesting observation, kinda makes sense I suppose (although I'm neither an attacking rider or a particularly experienced rider).

    Have to ask the question though, which do you enjoy more, attacking the corner and feeling faster, or relaxing and being faster?
  5. Honestly i can say that when i feel relaxed my style of riding feels better and i can focus more on how i move through the corner and how much quicker i can move through the corner :wink:

    This has been my 4th month on the bike now, and it is my only means of transportation so i have been mentally aware of how my riding styles change pending on mood and mental awareness.
    When i go riding specificaly for fun, hiting the twisties, long sweepers, etc. I need a warm up period before i feel completely relaxed and confident in my own riding skill, but when i feel this relaxed state i'm able to focus more mentally and let my body do its own thing. I know i'm moving quicker through the corners and it feels so much smoother when i'm relaxed.
  6. I guess it depends on how strenuous it is. Easy to raise one's heart rate through mental agitation if you're presently relaxed and not working hard. Then again, if you're mentally relaxed when working, are you exerting yourself less as a result, and you therefore capable of lowering your heart-rate? May be best to compare it at an individual level, rather than between individuals, I agree.

    Probably a different thing. It has been said that even when racing, racers are generally operating at 95-97% of what the bike can really do, purely because at 100%, if even the smallest thing goes wrong, you're hosed with a large number of laps to go. To finish first, you must first finish... There are no such pressures on a banzai qualifying lap. You can lay it all on the line for one lap, on stickier qualifying rubber too mind you. Anyway, Foggy was an inherently aggressive rider, and the real question is whether if he was more mentally relaxed, could he have gone even quicker?

    It's one thing to read and attempt to understand a concept, it's quite another to actively experience it in practise, and coupled with the ability to measure it.
  7. To me, this has two answers.

    You can stretch your existing pre-conceived boundaries (we all have them) by deliberately doing so in attacking a corner - do it in very small increments though. When you become aware that you're becoming more familiar with your new boundaries, that is very enjoyable.

    What I'm describing in the OP is a second sense of enjoyment, by then relaxing after doing so, and then discovering that rather than going slower, you're travelling at about the same speed or even a touch quicker.

    What is more enjoyable? Chicken and egg really.
  8. Great observation Stew & really interesting discussion point. while i'll never be a fast rider, i certainly find that when i've been focused on going faster through twisties, i've invariably ended up no faster than when i've been focused on being relaxed, in control and having a good time.

    With my professional/philosophical hat on for a moment i would suggest one of two explanations (long winded rant starts here :p ):

    1. The Learning Process

    A popular notion in adult learning circles is that there are 4 stages of learning

    * Unconscious incompetence (you don't even know what you're currently doing wrong)
    * Conscious incompetence (you become aware of what you could/should be doing differently but haven't learnt the skills yet to correct it)
    * Conscious competence (that awkward learning stage where you're focused very consciously on each step of what you 'should' be doing)
    * Unconscious competence (where it's second nature and been learnt at a cellular level by your brain/body so you don't even need to think about it any more).

    This first theory therefore holds that you have become so unconsciously competent in each of the aspects of cornering that you can let go of your conscious efforts and flow more easily (think touch typing, or better still, a concert pianist - at the highest levels, thinking about what your fingers are doing would get in the way of the spirit of playing).

    2. The (Energetic/Spiritual) Law Of Intention & Attraction closely related to the Law of Least Effort

    Lao Tzu said "An integral being knows without going, sees without looking, and accomplishes without doing". This is therefore a principle of least action, of no resistance. Just as grass doesn't try to grow, fish don't try to swim and flowers don't try to bloom - they simply have a genetic intent. The buddhists sometimes call it 'effortless effort'.

    When i Intend (with a capital 'I' and a booming voice) to make a particular sales target for next month, i work hard and long and focus on making lots of phone-calls and invariably end up making it, but with lots of sweat and stress. When i hold that intention more gently however, with an open palm rather than a clenched fist, it's amazing how often i come back from my walk or jog having simply had the thought on the way, and a message is waiting for me from a client wanting work the next month with almost no effort made on my behalf. it's the difference between magnetic energy and dynamic energy, yin v's yang, attraction rather than promotion. same as when you're trying to pick up :wink:

    my favourite quote ever is Franz Kafka "You don't need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Don't even listen, simply wait. Don't even wait. Be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itslef to you. To be unmasked, it has not choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet."

    so it seems there's something about relaxing and letting the corner come to you rather than you doing the corner, or as Ken invariably says to me "stop riding the bike and let it ride you". somewhere in there it seems that too much sweat and too much control chokes the natural flow.

    hmmm.... a topic i have a lot of interest in. here endeth today's rant :grin:
  9. Thanks for the great post Carri. I think we need a new book - "Zen and the art of motorcycle riding".

    Very good reading.
  10. Interesting points... Zen and teh Art or motorcycle mantenance had nothing to do with motorcycle mantennce... And funaly enough not much to do with Zen.

    At the end of the day Zen can not really be applied to something specificly (IE and the art of...)

    "Finding Zen Through the twisties" I think is probably a better way of looking at it. And it is not necisaraly all talking about on a bike though a lot of the philosophies could transcend the boundries between life on and off the bike.
  11. that 60 or so bpm is a bit... could it be a case of multiple factors, such as mental state and physical fitness?? I'm sure both have great staff etc but maybe Rossi just does better cardio workouts. Or maybe Biaggi's a party boy who smokes too much lol.
  12. Yeah - I have read the book. It was just a casual line, okay?
  13. It is possible to overthink riding. I am guilty of doing this and experience issues as a result.

    I think this is related....apologies if it's a hijack.

    I used to drive 80,000km a year in the UK, zooming around the countryside like a man possessed. I found there were some days where I was driving on autopilot, totally alert, totally safe and driving very quickly. It was all so seamless. In that time (5yrs +), I never had an accident, could anticipate what other people where going to do with startling accuracy and could read corners and road conditions perfectly. The whole thing was effortless. Now, if only I could make my riding like that!
  14. The state is called "flow". Where things happen smoothly and seamlessly, without conscious effort.

    Ever been working on something, looked up and found that an hour's passed without you realising?

    Peter Brock described experiencing "flow" when driving - it's like the car was driving itself. More that he was part of the experience rather than 'commanding' events.

    If you haven't read it, you might be interested in tracking down "Zen in the Art of Archery", by Eugen Herrigel. Apart from the title, it has nothing in common with "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" - it's much more readable, too!

    From the book's Wikipedia entry:

    As relevant to riding as any other endeavour, I think.
  15. (may be misquoting so i will not mention the riders name)

    i remember a rider saying that he minimises the effort he exerts on the bike.

    paradox being;
    the more gradual/slow/smooth the input you provide,
    the faster the bike will go.

    wether it works or not,
    this is what i aspire to.
  16. I find I relax better with my music on and I seem to get better cornering when Im listening to tunes in the background of my mind. If I got earplugs in and no music I seem to worry about the line/setting up and speed more. Then I make mistakes and my mind starts working OT.

    With the music on im flowing better and I dont seem to stress so much.
    I work with music all day so maybe its just a bit easier that way for me.
  17. In my younger days I used to Bow Hunt. Both out in the bush after live game and also on the ranges. I reached the stage where I was consistantly winning Junior A grade comps and in the bush I felt at home and pulled off some great shots. The thing I noticed was that If I started a round and felt "mecanical" in my shots then I would not do very well. However on the otherhand if I got into the groove people would comment on my "not even taking my time, or you didn't put much effort into that shot". The thing was I didn't need long deliberation and intense concerntration because when I shot it just felt right and most of the time it was too.

    I agree with the OP and Carri27, I think your subconcious mind works quicker and better when your concious mind does not interfere too much.

    If you want a real challenge try Bow Hunting. It's not about killing things its about a style of Archery (practical) No sights, no aiming aids just instinctive shots. I would still be doing it if I hadn't discoverd girls and bikes but when you are 15 it's the rush that counts :grin:
  18. Doggy has used the term I was going to: In the groove.

    When I am in the groove and things are going well, I am much more relaxed, and put less effort into the activity I am engaged in. That's when I get the best results, whether it be driving, riding, water skiing, writing, or whatever.

    Since I stopped trying to use the accelerator and brakes to their limit on the bike, and have concentrated on using less brakes, Countersteering and the Wide Line, Apex Late cornering methodoloy, I have had many rides "In the Groove". My quickest run on the Spur was just such a day, and I all but had the pegs down on the Multi. :grin: I never felt out of control, or like I was trying hard. These are the best rides for me. I enjoy them most. (Of course it didn't hurt that I was on new Pilot Powers :!: )

    When I'm in the groove my conscious thoughts are all about reminding me how I want to take the corner. Simple words like "Look", "Stay wide", "Turn late", "Push (countersteer) now" are what goes through my mind. Nearly all the other stuff like traffic, gravel or other obstacles, radius of the corner, gears, revs and such are handled sub-consciously, or at least at a much lower level of consciousness than when I began riding. Only something monumental (like gravel completely across the road) gets my concious attention.

    I still have off days and overthink the riding, and at the end of a long day riding I find my subconscious skills don't work as well, so I have to think harder consciously. But practise makes perfect.

    Thanks for the post Cathar. I like the way you think, and I seem to be progressing my riding along the same lines as you, albeit at a much slower and less skilled level. :cool:
  19. Looks to me Cathar has "The Pace" :wink:
  20. :eek:wned: Stew

    Now, how does that knee thing go again?
    Hehe, Scheff