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My first ride through the twisties, and my first stack.

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by zenali, Oct 13, 2008.

  1. I try to be a sensible rider. I started reading about safe motorcycling as soon as we decided to get a bike. I practice my e-braking and cornering in carparks under safe conditions. I don't lane-split (as a rule). In times of poor visibility I wear a hi-vis vest to compensate. I try to improve my skills and at the same time ride within my abilities.

    Of course, the problem is that as a newbie I have only a hazy understanding of what "my abilities" actually are.

    Well... slightly less hazy after my ride into the hills on Saturday.

    Hippo had offered to take me up the Mt Dandenong tourist road, and I happily accepted. I've been riding for a little over two months, and this was my first chance to get out of the city and try some twisty roads. I've done Yarra Boulevard a few times, both on newbie rides and on my own, and I practice my cornering (albeit at 40 kph) on the Albert Park grand prix track, but I hadn't made it out for a long run of twisty road. I wasn't sure what to expect, so I tried to ride slow enough to be safe.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I have a kind of monologue running through my head when I'm practicing a new technique. I'll be approaching a turn and think something like this:

    Slow before the turn... Now look through the turn... OK, now body weight to the inside... Lean the bike... aaaaaaaand we're through!

    I'm sure that this will become second nature, and the internal monologue will fade away with time, but for now it helps me focus on doing the right thing. When I feel like I'm not going to make a turn it goes more like this:

    Slow before the turn... Now look through the turn... OK, now body weight to the inside... Lean the bike... Not enough lean! Running wide! OK, OK, look further through the corner, push more on the bar, lean lean, lean... aaaaaaaand we're through!

    I had the same kind of monologue running through my head as we rode down the Mountain Highway from Sassafrass on Saturday. The weather was perfect, the bike was behaving itself, and I was having a wonderful time. We'd made it up the hill with no problems. The CBR125 is really nimble, but it did struggle on the hills a little and needed to be revved fairly high. I blame myself rather than the bike for that though - I'm quite a bit bigger and a lot heavier than the intended market for this bike. I'm sure that if my wife was riding it would have handled the gradient much better.

    Then it happened. I came to my first sharp hairpin. It was there that I discovered that knowing all about the common newbie mistakes doesn't actually stop you from making them - it just means that you recognise them as they are happening. My internal monologue for that corner ran more like this:

    Slow before the turn... Now look through the turn... OK, now body weight to the inside... Lean the bike... Not enough lean! Running wide!

    And that's where things went wrong for me. The turn had a decreasing radius to the right (which is not my preferred side), and the trees meant that I couldn't see right through the corner. I'd slowed down, but not enough. Enough for my bike, I'm sure - but not enough for me. I watched first hand as those pesky survival reactions kicked in and I did exactly the wrong thing.

    No no no no! Don't hit the brakes! You'll run wide!

    I hit the brakes.

    I ran wide.

    Shit! I told you not to do that! OK, look down the road and do a quick stop. Don't look at the embankment or you'll hit it.

    I looked at the embankment, not the road.

    Oh shit!

    Now luckily for me this bend has a run-off area, and by the time I had reached it I had already scrubbed off a lot of speed. Of course, the run-off area has a lovely, thick layer of decayed leaf litter, dirt, some weeds, and a delightfully slippery coating of freshly fallen leaves. As soon as my wheels hit this I found myself horizontal instead of vertical without seeming to go through the usual transitional angles. I'm ashamed to say that my only thought at this point was...

    Not the helmet!

    Judging by the marks left in the dirt the bike and I slid for only a metre before coming to a halt. I am considerably wider than the cibby, so it spent most of the time supported by my ample leg. I scrambled out from under the bike and frantically tried to get the thing upright before any cars came around the bend to witness my ignominious condition. I was acutely embarrassed at having done exactly what I was determined not to do: ride too fast, run wide, and fall off.

    Two cars stopped and asked if I was OK, which I assured them was the case. A rider who was coming up the hill did a u-turn and pulled in to help me assess myself and the bike. He suggested that we roll the bike back and forth a bit to make sure that everything was still turning smoothly, and I was delighted to find that it was. After a momentary worry when the bike wouldn't start I realised it was still in 4th gear. I changed back down to neutral and the bike fired straight away. We straightened the indicator out and plucked some grass from the fairings, and then with my overwhelming gratitude following in his wake the helpful rider took off up the hill. (I didn't get your name, but if you are a Netrider let me say thanks again!)

    I climbed back on and made it the rest of the way down the hill to where Hippo was waiting for me without incident. A bunch of other riders who had seen me on the side of the road had stopped and let her know that I had stacked, and when I turned up they waved and took off. After a brief rest to let the adrenalin die down we turned around and went back up the hill. We did the same stretch of road again after a coffee break and I took things just a little slower and had no problems.

    In a nutshell I would describe my stack as follows:

    100% predictable. 100% avoidable. 100% my fault.

    In closing, I thought I'd give a quick write up of how my gear handled the stack. Apart from a stiff neck (from trying not to let my precious helmet hit the ground - what an idiot!) I was completely unscathed. The bike slid along with my leg pinned underneath, but by A* Supertech R boots and Draggin jeans held up magnificently. No sign of damage to either. I was also impressed by my Dainese vented jacket. It has dirt and grass stains along the right arm, mainly over the shoulder armour and the elbow/forearm armour. This suggests to me that the designers knew what they were doing when they positioned the armour in the jacket.

    Well, that was a long post about a little crash, but as a learning experience I think that it was valuable. For instance, I now know that even when your conscious mind knows what to do, your body can do the exact opposite. I also know that the little wheel slides I've felt on wet pavement or tram tracks are nothing like what awaits you once you leave the tarmac. I went down so fast I didn't even notice it happening. And most importantly I know that riding within your abilities is actually harder when you don't know exactly where that threshold between control and panic lies.
  2. Hey Z,

    sorry to hear that, but I suppose it could have been worst. Thats the good thing about EFI bikes :D

    We all learn from out mistakes. I did. Lets get. I so wanted to go out on Sat too, but I was so hay-fevered I couldnt fit in the helmet.

    Glad to know that you and the bike are both ok. Wat did the missus say to you when you got home?
  3. She was fine - I broke it to her gently, and emphasised that the bike and I were both OK. :)
  4. Good to hear you didn't do too much damage and came off lightly. Takes a bit of time to learn to ignore target fixation.
  5. Excellent, well done.

    You got the first one out of the way nice and early, came out of it unscathed.
    Now that you have learnt that lesson, you wont make the same mistake again.
  6. Glad your OK.

    Very well written and a timely reminder for myself and I'm sure a lot of other learner riders that take the time to read posts such as yours to ride within our own abilities.

    The very reason you describe your accident is why I have been to chicken to venture into the hills..LOL
  7. Glad your ok and learnt something zenali. will we see you on Tuesday night? You can show off your battle scars. :)
  8. yep target fixation is a problem, and something that will always probably have to work on, it's a hard skill to master and one very quickly lost, i too was first time out on the bike in a while (a long while), and had to mentally think about the steps, and processes as i entered each turn.

    Glad to hear you got out of it with no major injuries though, any stack you can walk away from is the best outcome :)

    cheers stewy
  9. Thanks guys - I really am looking at it as a learning experience. I've overcome target fixation on some smaller corners, but this time it grabbed me tight and didn't let go. Weird sensation really. My brain was screaming at me to look through the corner and lean more but I just didn't do it.

    Rod - I should be there tomorrow night. Not much in the way of battle scars to look at though. I can gouge up the fairings a bit to make it look more impressive if you like... :)

    Oh - and the funniest bit was when I went to pay for my coffee and dirt fell out of my wallet. :D
  10. The fact that you were still in 4th going into a hairpin is probably also relevant - lots of slowing down, and not just with the brakes, to set yourself up.
  11. True dat! Though to be honest it might have been 3rd... I'm not sure how many times I clicked down to find neutral. Whatever gear, I was definitely going too fast for my brain to handle. Slower into the corners was the lesson of the day without a doubt. Or one of the lessons of the day. :)
  12. Bugger. Thank Jebus you got off easy.
  13. Very glad to hear that you are okay.

    Thanks very much for sharing and going into such detail. It has now become a learning experience for more people. Glad to know that the protective gear works as well too.

    Stay safe. :grin:
  14. great post Z. im betting a lot of new riders will read it and think to themselves that is exactly how they think about corners etc and gives them some insight in trying to avoid making the same mistakes.

    I almost had a similar problem on saturday with going wide round a corner, had a brain fart and didnt correct well enough. luckily I squeezed through without any issues. Good to hear that you and the bike are ok.

    Im looking at tackling Mt Dandy within the next month now that the weather is fine and i should have some extra time up my sleeve.
  15. mmm im same as bravus, u were still in fourth? or even 3rd for one of the hairpins? try second. your revs will be up, but you should be off the throttle before you enter the corners, using engine braking as well as disc brakes. then you should be in soem decent rev range to power out of the corner.

    good that came out of it fairly well :)

    was this towards the bottom of the hwy, with the blind tightening lefthander, followed by the immediate tight righthander with the open runoff?

    biatch of a corner that one, i ran wide the first 5 times i did it :LOL:
    love that road though, its great once you get to know it. local too, so good for some cornering practice.
  16. Glad to hear it wasn't worse, you goose! Dundoodatagain!

    Which corner was it mate?
  17. You have to remember that I'm on a CBR125, which has very low gearing. I wouldn't be able to take a corner at 40 kph in 2nd gear and still have any revs left to throttle out of the corner. I'll have a play tomorrow and see where the revs lie.

    Either way, good advice - I'll make sure I'm in a way lower gear next time I approach a tight corner. :)
  18. Bloody Hippo always gives people bad luck, just blame her..
    Don't be afraid to go back and try again now you know where to go.

    After i discovered sassafras (Thanks Ben) i went up there every day for a week!!
  19. Hey Zenali.

    Dont stress - you are not hurt and that is the most important thing. :)

    Target fixation - this is something that even the best riders come across - it is a very difficult thing to get over.

    I think the most important lesson of this is to take it easy on roads you are not familiar with. :)

    Good luck and please be careful :)
  20. Well, since I've only gone up and down that road twice now I can't say I know the corners by heart yet. :)

    Coming down the hill from Sassafrass I had just come round a sweeping left and into a long-ish straight-ish stretch, which ended in a sharp right-hander. There was water tank tucked into the corner, and from memory it was the first of these as you come down the hill. I did notice another one further down, but I'm fairly sure it was the first one where I crashed. I suppose it was half way between the town and the gravel parking bay / bus shelter thing on the way down the hill.

    Does that help?