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New rider skills plateau & complacency

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by XJ6N, Aug 22, 2015.

  1. I like reading through OldmaidOldmaid's excellent What did you learn from your most recent ride? thread. We're all learning this and that no matter how long we've been riding. It won't be long until I've been riding for one year. Like a lot of Netriders I learnt to ride off-road in my teens - I first learned on an agricultural motorcycle on a farm - and became a licenced rider much later with fifteen years in-between where I didn't so much as sit on a motorcycle.

    When I started riding again it was almost as if I hadn't had that fifteen-year hiatus. I often find that I can quickly get a rudimentary grasp of the basics of an activity - riding included - and it is later when I become aware of a plateau in my skill level that things become much, much harder. It's a different experience for everyone.

    While this is normal - I can't expect to continue to acquire new skill levels at the same rate as a complete beginner - as a novice it can be difficult to find the best approach to continuing improvement. Resultant complacency is probably the major potential problem I face in an activity where often the best outcome of a crash is major pain, incapacitation, police charges and or financial loss (as opposed to the alternative).

    My approach is to remind myself to ride within my skills and the conditions, seek out further rider training and to attempt to stay aware of everything I'm doing when on the bike. Putting more two-wheel kilometres behind me doesn't hurt either. Talking to experienced and demonstrably safe riders about specific situations has helped too.

    What do you do to continue improving past a rider skills plateau? What do you do to avoid complacency?
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  2. John McGuinness said there is no replacement for seat time, commuting, track days, country road riding & touring, slow speed practice, superbike school, off road riding, etc,etc
    it all keeps riding interesting, if you just stick to one style of riding, especially just city riding, you may as well just buy a car it gets boring pretty quick
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  3. Depends what skill you are aiming to improve. As my commute to work I feel like I have it pretty well figured out how to get there and back each day without major dramas.
    I actually feel more relaxed riding through traffic than doing twistys.
    So I try to get as much skill as possible riding through country roads to get better at hazard perception and cornering on less than ideal roads.
    My fears at the moment which I haven't developed enough skill for is
    1) an oncoming car mid corner when I am leaned over and what action I need to take
    2) loosing grip mid lean and trying to save the bike and
    3) panicking when a hazard pops out in front and locking my brakes
    I don't really get an opportunity to practice theses skills on a daily basis as there are chances that I will crash if I push my luck but I do try to avoid putting myself in situations where my top 3 fears can be realised.
    I do get impressed by riders who know exactly what to do when they feel a mid corner slide or a who can brake hard enough without crashing.
    Also every time I get cocky I follow some faster riders through my favourite set of twistys or on track and realise how slow I still am lol.
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  4. i guess it depends who you are comparing yourself to.......I used to chase some fast riders on the track, ended up having two big crashes. I didn't have the tyres, suspension set up and track experience to keep up with those guys. I used to just turn up on a road bike and road tyres and think I could keep up.

    I find if I relax and go my own pace, track days and twisty roads become much more relaxing and enjoyable
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  5. I'm sure my wife's said something like that....
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  6. I ride like an idiot and scare the sh*t out of myself. That usually learns me real good.
  7. No matter what your skill level:

    If it feels fast, it is!

    Slow down and stay within your limits.
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  8. #8 Hillsy, Aug 23, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
    Yeah I've hit plateau's in a couple of pursuits recently including riding, pushed past then hit another. That's what it's all about for me and I've realised this is the best part, like growing up you just want to be a big boy.

    Slow down and enjoy the journey. If you feel it's not going quick enough do more of it, but always love it.

    Seat time and riding with more experienced riders is how I'm approaching learning to ride.
  9. At the end of all the theory and discussion, that's it really isn't it. I don't want to form bad habits though. McGuiness' results from seat time are pretty clear...

    Commuting makes up most of my riding. It is the one route taken day-in, day-out that I think I could become most complacent about because of the repetitive and (mostly) predictable nature of it. When I go for a non-commuting ride on weekends it is often on roads that I'm not as familiar with so that tends to tune me in to the road and what I'm doing on the bike better.

    That you're turning up to track days shows that you're looking to improve. Managing my expectations of what I think I and my bike should be capable of in comparison to other riders hasn't been a big issue thus far. Around the time I bought my bike I was told by an experienced rider, "Ride your own ride". I tend to ascribe to that maxim anyway but it particularly stuck with me.

    How dare you lower the tone of my thread like this. On the other hand, this is a very sage adaptation and I'm going to keep this and that other advice - "Ride your own ride" - together as a mental note in order to reduce complacency in another activity. It's still very rude though and my sensibilities are offended and my feelings are all hurt.

    There's nothing like a brown-underpants-moment to realign our riding chakras and put everything back into the same perspective our riding instructors or mentors drummed into us on the tarmac of riding school. Every time I've had the thought "I might be going down here" it focuses the mind marvellously for some time after - thankfully it hasn't been very often. Which leads me to the next member quotes...

    In between increasing riding time (within my limit - fatigue, etc.) and keeping speeds down I think I learn the most - there's enough time to be aware of what you're doing and as long as I'm enjoying it - which for me at this stage doesn't have much to do with white-knuckle speeds (I'll save that for track days in the future) - I'm motivated to continue on.
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  10. Just to clarify I wasn't referring to speed.

    I have a mate who has been riding since he was fifteen and now in his fourty's is battling with having fun and keeping it sensible.

    Where as at no where near his speed is thrilling for me, so I'm happy progress slowly from here.
  11. I have a favourite stretch of road, its a swift section, but when you get it ride it feels like it's meant to be, and if your not on the line it feels horrible, I generally go through that section every time I sneak out and every time I come back home.

    Warp Factor 9 is for startrek, some of the best combinations of twisties are done spiritedly in second gear.
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  12. there's no replacement for displacement.

    get a hayabusa on your L's and you'll be going too fast for any trouble to happen
  13. Having only about 14,000 km of riding experience, most of my riding has been commuting to and from work. I can do my trip to work easy but new roads really test me out. For me to improve my skill, just riding some different roads is enough to challenge me. Even going on a motorway is something I've done a few times but I still always get nervous about it. But then when I do it I feel better.
    My priority at the moment is to work on cornering technique, my abilities and confidence seem to waver when doing unfamiliar rides, especially if I'm in a group and I feel like I'm being judged lol. However I am always open to the advice of others and constructive feedback so I try to take it on board.
  14. JackJack, to quote the experienced rider in Twist of the Wrist II:

    "But - there's one place you really need to go to see if you have it nailed...the track!"

    It sounds like you'd enjoy a track day. I'm planning to do a couple of track days next year.

    Being confident to ride in different conditions - for example, twisties or freeways as you've said - is one of those things that I suppose only comes with motorcycle 'seat time' mentioned earlier in the thread. I'm usually alright up to a certain basic skill level and then find it exponentially harder to progress from a plateau.

    I live in 'cruiser country' - long, straight highways that stretch to the western horizon. I often ride east to where the roads offer more curves and this jolts me out of the armchair malaise I sometimes experience on my work commute.
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  15. Just booked my 4th ever track day on the 2nd of Nov at EC.
    Getting my fulls in Oct so will be my first track day on a big bike(600cc).... gulp.. throttle control is not something I have had to deal with on my LAMS Ninja 300 usually I am on full throttle mid lean on the low powered bike lol.
  16. Easy to learn, difficult to master...

    I believe the learning curve is inversely exponential. You improve quickly at the start and slower later on. But since your skills are always better, even small improvements can make a significant difference.

    I've never heard an experienced rider experiencing any earth shattering breakthroughs in their riding.

    As always: happy to be proven wrong...
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  17. That sounds very good - it must be if you're going back for the fourth time! I'm looking forward to it. I'm sure all the other things you've learnt will translate well so you can focus on the required throttle control of the bigger bike.

    That's probably the best summary, spot-on. At the pointy end of riding or any activity those small improvements over time are what separate the (above) average and elite.
  18. One thing I've found to be quite useful is reflection: just taking a minute to replay a ride or situation in your mind when you're off the bike & really ask yourself objectively "what happened, and could I have done anything differently?" Something I've been doing a lot of from my hospital bed of late! ;)

    I use an exercise from Twist of the Wrist fairly often too: slowing down a bit and consciously observing your riding, noting things like when did you tip in to the corner, how smoothly do you get off the brakes and back on the throttle, exactly where are you looking through a corner, how much does the front fork extension change, what is your body position like, etc. Its a really good way of identifying areas that you might need to consciously work on, although not something to do on a busy road but a really good way to learn a new one.

    Above all, ride your own ride (as already noted) & have fun clocking up seat time!
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  19. That's what I attempt to do - albeit at a novice level. I particularly like the analogy from the Twist of the Wrist book about having $10 worth of attention to spend at any one time. By slowing down I can afford to spend a greater percentage of my $10 on all the things you mentioned - brakes, throttle, field of view, etc. Thanks for reminding me of this. By the way, how was the ward circuit today?
  20. You're welcome XJ6NXJ6N. The $10 analogy is a great one and as you gain experience you definitely get better at investing it wisely. ;) Its still useful to strip it back to basics every now & then, just to give yourself the opportunity to ask "am I missing anything?"

    One of the things I love about riding is that its arguably hard to do well -- it appeals to the meticulous part of my nature, constantly trying to better myself and be the best rider I can. When it all comes together, the payoff is sublime -- I'm probably happiest when I'm on my bike I think. I did go through a stage where I really was overthinking it and had to just take a step back, go out and just enjoy feeling the sun and wind on me again.

    Oh, got lapped on the ward circuit today -- by an 85 year-old with a walker, no less! ;)
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