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My Riding Diary .. VCM .. a work in progress

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by VCM, May 7, 2008.

  1. I hope I've posted this in the correct section. A little diary of my riding progess.

    This is an account of my attempt to understand and hopefully gasp the concept of 'cornering'. I realise that this post may be BORING to most of you guys here. I apologise in advance, and suggest you possibly skip this post. I felt the need to cement this day here in the hope that I may look back at it and laugh.
    Having clocked over 10,000km in almost 10mths, ( 95% commuting ), I considered myself a fairly competent rider/commuter. I ride everyday, rain, hail or shine. Most of my travels involved pretty straight-forward roads, and a few bends that did not require much in the way of rider input to negotiate safely. It was not until I was faced with one or two that almost saw me kissing the embankment, that I realised the urgent need to up-the-anti and begin to work on my cornering skills (or lack-thereof being a better term).

    My first real attempt of cornering was at the NR Anzac Day Ride, where we rode through the spur ( my first time ever ). I enjoyed the ride IMMENSLY and got to meet some real nice people. It was that day that I met raven & pinx ( two of the nicest people I've come across here to date ). It was obvious to them that I was lacking in the cornering dept. and a few days later they were kind enough to offer to take me across to the spur for a day of mentoring. I was grateful & obviously accepted their offer.
    We all met up at Lilydale Maccas, where we shared a coffee and discussed what I was to expect that day. They provided me with lot of info and I was doing my best to take as much in as I possibly could. After mentioning my intention to pillion my wife, it was proposed that I experience being a pillion first-hand, to better understand the concept of being a co-rider as oppossed to being extra luggage.

    Shortly after heading off toward Yarra Glen, we stopped roadside. It was
    suggested to me that my first of two lessons begin ..
    (1) Experience the sensation of not being at the helm ( pillioning ) and what input is required to be a co-rider.
    (2) Experience the art of leaning, and getting over my fear that the bike will slide out from under me, hense the reason I am very uncomfortable leaning into a corner.
    Knowing a little of my background by now, ( I have never been a pillion, I hate fast rides, and even worse I'm a terrible passenger ), raven explained that I may feel scared shitless but the key is to go with the flow and not upset the bike's line. I have to admit I felt like getting on my bike and heading home at this point, but If I don't begin to conquer my fears now ... I never will.

    ( BORED YET? ) :p

    I mean, it's really no big deal right? My first ride as a pillion was going to
    be on the back of what basically is a race bike (CBR1000RR). :-w
    And the guy riding it usually rips through corners hanging off the bike whilst sliding a knee .. :eek:hno:

    I jumped on.. off we went, leaving pinx to keep my hornet company.
    I took in all that was said to me about following the rider's lead, working with the rider, and I think I did fairly well.
    Being a pillion, and not in control was a weird feeling, and although I was
    scared shitless..( at least I thought I was then ), I felt extremely safe having raven at the controls. We were approaching some bends ahead. I was expecting raven to demonstrate just how well one can lean a bike safely and hopefully put my fears at rest.
    Well FOOK me !!! I had NEVER experienced anything like it im my LIFE!
    Not only did raven successfully demonstrate how natural a bike felt leaning at high speeds, he showed me what 'scared shitless' was really all about. :LOL: :LOL:
    You name it,, I felt it ..Adrenalin, fear, disbelief, exhilaration, out-of body
    experience .. ( ok I went too far then ). :roll:

    Anyway, I survrived the ordeal, we got on our bikes and headed out to the spur. Pinx was taking photos whilst they were trailing behind me, watching me hit the twisties, ( laughing I suspect :wink: ). We stopped at Fernshaw Park where I was briefed on what I seemed to be doing wrong, what I needed to do etc.

    Down the spur again ... back up .... I just seemed to be having trouble getting my head around this 'leaning thing'.


    Well, back on raven's bike for another hair-raising ride through the twisties. Raven took the hornet for a scoot on his own, gave his approval of the bikes handling and capabilities. ( Also got rid of my chicken strips for me :wink: Threw me on the back on my own bike and we headed
    down, then back up for a demonstration of how my bike SHOULD be ridden through the twisties.
    Off I went again .. still not leaning, cutting into the opposite lane etc...

    I think there was a couple of times I actually looked like I was leaning
    correctly, but mostly I seemed to just lean the bike one way, whilst my body decided it prefferred the outside of the turn.

    WE called it quits late avo, headed down to the Beechworth for coffee, a bite and another chat, before heading home.
    Once home I could not stop talking about my day. I must've given Cindy ( my wife ) a bloody headache. I Pm'ed raven & pinx to thank them once again for taking the time, it must have been frustrating
    for them .. I warned them I wasn't a fast learner.

    Reflecting back, I have come to the conclusion that it was nothing but 'fear' that prevented me from doing better. Fear of speed, fear of leaning, lack of trusting the bike. The reason I kept cutting across the centreline, I believe, was lack of speed through the corner whilst attempting to keep the bike at somewhat of a lean.

    In conclusion, I have to say that PLENTY was achieved that day. I learned a few fundamental facts:
    1: In being a pillion, you effectively become a co-rider. Your input makesa difference.
    2: Bikes lean at high speed and DONT fall over.
    3: Correct technique is what will save your ass
    4: I have to combat my fears before I can think about progressing as a rider.

    I am now resigned to practicing whenever I can. To start slow, and build up speed slowly. To practice the art of leaning and trust.
    I would once again like to thank Raven & Pinx. They took timeout to spend an entire day trying to assist an old scaredy cat newbie in the hope that I could one day become a capable rider. For this I will always be grateful.
    I hope I didn't bore you lot too much, hopefully even amused You.
    I am not too embarrased to admit my flaws. It's only through working them out that I can ever hope to reach my goals.
  2. :woot: ...you should get out more :LOL:

    There was nothing to laugh at, Vinnie ... oh, except when you suggested that we'd never seen anyone ride as poorly as you. As I said on the day, you didn't see ME starting out! :LOL: We're all at our own stages; all working on things... nothing wrong with that :wink:

    Great write-up, by the way. And yes, it's always interesting to look back on old notes and see how you've progressed/ have a bit of a laugh. I wrote notes on the first couple of months riding... oh dear. I don't know how I survived :shock: :LOL:
  3. Glad you've learned something

    And not saying Raven's not a good teacher, really enjoy his posts on here, but have you thought abotu some advanced rider training? Thouroughly recommded, and even if you wait till you upgrade, you'll get another perspective
  4. Yep...I agree completely, and I think Vinnie is planning for some advanced rider training.
  5. :LOL: Caroline .. I do get out .. and often :p
    Toecutter, I agree mate. advanced training is something I must do, and Yep, Raven is a GREAT mentor. Explains himself extremely well, very patient and talented!
    However I do believe that until I get over these fears, progressing will be difficult.
  6. With the cold wet weather this time of year, I feel reluctant to get out of my commuting bubble. I have, however, been taking an different route to work which puts me through a few bends. Better than nothing eh
    Bike feels more 'together' since the front forks were done, and I am slowly beginning to trust her, seeing as she is now giving me better feedback.

    Riding home Saturday, road relatively dry, I pushed her through a bend a little faster than I usually do ( which is still kinda slow :p +10km). I actually started to feel to bike 'push' itself into the bitumen, almost like gravity had increased 3fold and was forcing the tyres to stay put. Felt great .. never experienced before ( except as a pillion ). << is this how it's meant to feel ?
    Anyway I did the usual .. entered at speed I dialed in, outside of bend, chose a late apex, looked where I wanted to end up, countersteered to drop bike, leaned and added power. I felt that finally some things were slowly beginning to come together ... felt right .. UNTIL.. I found myself getting to the inside too soon ( kinda like I was doing in the spur where I ventured across to the wrong side of the road ). Something I had been told, or read, popped into my pea-brain for a split second .. I gave her a little more power, she begun to lean more upright.. then correct my line so I did NOT cross over that dreaded double line :shock:

    I am now thinking my problem with cutting to close to the inside may be lack of speed mid-turn? or lack of 'progression' on the throttle.

    Anyway, I think I may be on the right track here, and hopefully will improve my skill as a rider by the time the good weather sets in.
    Till then .. it's practice.. practice.. practice..
  7. Hi Vinnie.

    Sounds like you are starting to get your head around some of the cornering issues we've touched on mate...If the bike feels like it wants to drop into the turn, a little more than you'd like, throttle will assist you. combine that with a little less lean and you should stabilize. If it's too abrupt of a tip in, you can counter-steer the other way, but really, that would mean you approach is way off, and the problem is there.

    Remember, that a bike naturally begins to slow as you go through a turn, so you MUST have a little throttle open to counteract that, and just maintain your speed...so having the throttle open even a little more won't be a problem.

    Good to see a rider seriously trying to get their head into what cornering is all about. Too many riders do things, and while it might be right, they don't fully understand "why".

    Keep at it mate. :)

  8. Hmmm... It's kind of hard to describe! To me it feels like gavity/G-forces change direction to be on an angle of the rider/bike combo. The faster you go, the sharper the angle and the stronger it is to hold you against the bike; to the point where you can be effectively beside the bike, but the Gs hold you in place. Like the Gravitron (?) I tried at the show/ Luna Park years back :) Yes, you can definitely feel it on the back of John's bike. Once you're more at home with the feel of a bike leaning, give John a yell and he'll pop you on the back for a play ride :wink:

    Great stuff, Vinnie! I'm guessing a few people might have mentioned that. Throttle work is fairly subtle, so have a little up your sleeve entering a corner (large sweepers are good so you have room & time), pick your line/body position/bike lean, then change only your line by easing the throttle on, to go wider, or off to corner tighter. Experiment! Remember you only need little movements - keep them as smooth as possible. If it's scarily jerky, bump it up a gear, or practise smooth throttle on/offs in the straights until you're right. You can change your line in different ways, but I think throttle is a good one for you to work on while you're getting your confidence and speed up a little.

    Keep it up, Vinnie! :biker:
  9. Thanks Guys :)
    I have such a long way to go, but I think I'm begining to 'understand' the practical side to basic cornering, which I believe will help me overcome my fears and reluctance to 'use' the throttle.
    It's a long road .. ( I'm a slow learner with a late start on 2 wheels ), but I'd rather take it slow and get it right anyway.

    Yep ! That feeling I remember well .. :p

    :shock: .. again? :eek:hno:
    :LOL: kidding ... I actually never felt safer and scared shitless at the same time.
  10. BTW Vinnie, and just for the sake of any newbies looking on...Caroline is not saying that you learn to corner by use of the throttle alone...It's merely to demonstrate how the throttle can effect you cornering, and that you should try it so you get used to how the bike reacts, when throttle position is altered.
    In effect, you need to have your throttle stabilized and cracked open through the turn, and be using all of the techniques combined, that we've discussed previously.
    The trouble is, you won't always get the corner right, and you may have to get off or on the throttle to correct a mistake mid-turn. It's important to know what that does, and how it effects the bike, and cornering in general.
    Throttle alone is'nt the way to properly corner...(to state the obvious for newbies again) :)

  11. Yep .. I remember you guys telling me that.
    As I understand, ( in a perfect world ), I should have speed set before I enter the corner, throttle stabilised, then as I lean the bike I open the throttle slightly .. just enough to counteract the decrease in tyre diameter ( the more its leaned over the smaller the diameter hense the more rpm is needed to maintain speed ), then as I see my exit point, I slowly increase power which also helps the bike keep its 40/60 weight distribution to maximise traction. correct ???
    :p Been reading TOTW :wink:
    One question ... are my chicken strips and indication of my progress, even though I am still relatively slow
    If so I've gone from:
    May 2008 16mm 25mm
    June 2008 10mm 15mm
  12. i am going to add something to this as i find it a little easier, which is as you are setting up for the turn, working out entry speed etc, don't be afraid to entry the turn a little slower. By doing so allows you to get on the power earlier, and not just trying to balance it on approach, but where you can actually ride through the turn. I use this approach mostly on roads i am unfamiliar with or down hill sections, (ie. slow in fast out).

    Just means your not just floating on the throttle but actually driving through right from just after tip in.
  13. ta mate!
    Makes alot of sense. And I feel more comfy a little slower.
    My goal is to get my technique right at a snail's pace, then gradually build up my speed. Mostly cause I'm a fraidy cat, but as long as I get there time is not a factor.
    Once again thanks to all of you for the help and patience you've given me. :grin:
  14. lol vinnie i love the measuring chicken strips idea for progress :p

    When i get my next new set of tyres im gonna try that
  15. it's a not a true indicator, though will show how far over a rider will get the bike. Before i adjusted my riding position i would scrub almost out to the edge of the tyre, now getting off the bike, i noticed i have gained some huge chicken strips as i am now using less of the edge, but overall feel quicker through the turn :)
  16. Yep...as Stewy said Vinnie...
    A rider with poor riding technique...ie..leaning the bike but not himself, can easily reduce the chicken strips....whereas, as Stewy points out, correct technique might in fact increase the size of those strips.

    In Stewy's case it just means that he has more up his sleeve, so he's safer (all other things being equal), even though he is quicker.
    On a road or corner that he knows, he would be able to corner at a higher relative speed, and use up that extra tyre width, that he has allowed himself through good techniques, if he chose to do so. The point is...he provides himself with that option. :)

    Slower in - faster out, is a good way to travel on public roads, since it also increases your options.

  17. Vinnie, whenever you want to hit the twisties for some cornering practice, give me a bell!

    Good idea with this thread too, will be good to read over it in a couple months time, see how far you've progressed.
  18. Sounds great mate .. first decent weekend we get .. I'll ring ya :)
  19. thought i'd steal your thunder Vin, and post up your progress (only because i'm so impressed at how much you improved today!!!)


    i'm happy to say Vin is leaning much more, and halved his chicken strips today! all in a 30-40min session in a new industrial park.

    well done mate, keep it up! :wink:
  20. :p Ta mate, was good to catch up, even if it was only short. I'm gonna try frequent this place more often, it's close and very repetitive ... just what I needed. Baby steps seem to work for me .
    Oh . and yea, and I'll remember to keep my left foot further back on the peg :p