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Request - MENTAL tips on cornering

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by JudeAndHerVTR, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. Hello fellow riders...so I have a question about cornering. And YES I have searched the other threads. My question is not about the technical stuff as such (because I actually understand that - I may not be able to do it very well just yet but that's a Learner issue).

    The problem I have is this: when I'm on my own it's not as bad, but as soon as I'm in traffic and I need to corner, I find all the knowledge goes out the window. I know I'm supposed to look where I want to go, but I find myself so nervous about the cars around me that I'm watching them instead. As a result my cornering becomes VERY slow. I worry that they will change lanes mid-corner, or leave their lane and come into mine (oncoming traffic) or that someone may suddenly appear from a side-street or from parking and knock me off my bike. So my eyes are in all the wrong places and my cornering is absolute sh1te as a result.

    Additionally I find myself sometimes looking at the road to make sure there are no potholes etc, or the bike itself, to make sure it's doing what it should. That may make no sense, and I can't quite explain it, but either way it's nerves that are making me look at things I know I shouldn't.

    What I'm hoping you guys will be able to help with: tips on how to overcome this. How to focus on where I want to go with the corner and NOT focus on what the cars are doing. I really feel that my cornering would be a 100,000 times better if I could do this.

    Is it just a practice thing? That as I get more experience I will stop being so freaked about others on the road trying to kill me? Or are there tips that others use to help with focussing on the right stuff in a corner?
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  2. Yes - in a way... It's a lot to do with taskloading.

    Whilst on your own, there are less things to process. Once you are in traffic there's additional information your senses need to process - which increases your task loading. Keith Code touches on this a little with the ten dollar bill in Twist of the Wrist. (Google it for more information).

    As you become more familiar with your bike, the way it handles, and gain more experience - it reduces the amount of mental task loading. (It's a bit like when you first learned to drive - just pulling the clutch out required a lot of concentration - now it's done with almost no thought at all). Once you gain more experience and some things become second nature, you have more reserved mental capacity to look at other things, and everything becomes easier.

    Likewise, not only handling the bike, but observing certain hazards, or noticing strange actions by drivers will also become second nature. What your going through is quite normal.

    My advise is to not worry about speed. Travel at something that you are comfortable with. If you're comfortable, you will have less anxiety, and your skills will naturally improve more efficiently. If you push yourself, you can get yourself into a situation where you can't process everything and that's where mistakes are made.
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  3. Basically, I agree with what ajrider said, but there is one other "trick", getting used to using your peripheral vision.

    This is kinda hard to explain in words on a forum. Face to face, is easy.

    I think Keith Code talks of it as Wide Vision.

    Most people don't actually use all the vision that they have and it can take a conscious effort to "switch it on".

    Try looking pretty well straight ahead, stretch your arms out on each side so they are about a straight line with your shoulders and start wiggling your fingers.

    Keep on wiggling fingers and slowly move your hands forward.... at some point, and, hopefully, surprisingly quickly, you'll be aware of your two hands with wiggling fingers..... this is using your peripheral vision. Remember, you are still looking ahead.

    It also works for up and down...... draw a chalk line some place. Stand 10 or 15 foot away from it, now, looking straight ahead (not down at the mark) walk towards the line, and stop just before the line. Then look down and you should find that you are pretty close to the line.

    They may well have done this at your pre-learners course as it's part of not having folk look down at the white line on the road when coming to a stop sign and the like.

    Once you get the hang of it, you find that some stuff you actually LOOK at, while other stuff, you just seem to be aware of, and may or may not need to actually look at.
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  4. Agree with both ajrider and CrazyCam. Particularly the bit about wide vision.
    This is something you can practise off the bike. It's about being aware of everything in front of your eyes rather than narrowing your attention down to a specific point. It'll help you to adopt a responsive mindset rather than a pre-emptive one, and this will in turn allow you to relax.
    My strategy is to try and not focus directly on anything but try and sense movement, or anything out of place.
  5. All very valid points in the above posts.

    As ajrider posted, you're over thinking the situation. As the task of clutch/gear became second nature, try to do the same with the turning combo. In a nutshell : Indicate > apply brake > turn head towards the turn you're about to take and maintain line of sight > relax the arms a little bit more > reduce speed > Take the turn as per the line of sight > increase acceleration and follow through with the turn (changing gears up if have changed down while reducing speed).

    I know easier said than done so practise and practise some more. Find a industrial area as on the weekends, most of them are empty and spend a few hours doing right-hand turns, left-hand turns and especially U-turns.

    The more comfortable you're with the surroundings, the more comfortable you'll be on the bike. :D
  6. Hey these are all such great tips folks - really appreciated :)
  7. For someone new to riding, having to consciously operate a motorcycle (gear selection, balancing, cornering, using indicators, etc etc), as well as having to perform continuous traffic management, can be very taxing and stressful. I've personally seen this while helping my partner to get into riding. I was lucky to have had the benefit of a fair amount of dirt/trail kilometres under my belt before even getting a licence to get the 'riding' part downpat.

    I noticed with Rose (my partner) that it's not until the operating becomes well-ingrained and almost subconscious that you free up maximum grey matter to allocate to reading traffic, start making good decisions, and stop stressing too much about the traffic.
    Luckily here in Tassie we have plenty of quiet roads where we can build bike skills without having to overly worry about traffic :D:D:D
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  8. Vision is a funny thing, if you look to long at a specific thing it to me focuses your concentration and you miss the big picture. Over time I seem to get more info from my peripheral vision, I now react quicker from it than a hard stare.I don't even watch traffic lights at a stop now.Some people call is Spider sense, you develop it over the years.
  9. Maybe you aren't scanning far enough ahead. I was taught to scan 12 secs ahead, which is around 200 metres at 60kph. (Not constant at 200 meters but out to 200 metres backwards and forwards, side to side). If you are doing that you have a pretty good idea of what will happen and can plan for it. On corners use the vanishing point. At road speed on a wide line you can either dive for the apex to avoid cars or stand it up a bit. Should be part of your plan. Other trick some people use is to think of themselves as surrounded by a bubble and don't let anyone into it.

  10. Indeed. A great way to see how it works is this:

    1) Hold your arms and hands out to the side whilst reading the screen. (Keep looking at the screen - don't turn away)

    2) Wiggle your fingers

    3) Do you see the spider on your desk crawling towards you. :)

    You will if there's one there - every freekin time! Just pretend cars are spiders and you'll never not see one again. ;)
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  11. It will get easier with practice. But try to get into a habit of constantly scanning who is behind you, for any potholes or debris ahead and also use your peripheral vision for side to side surroundings.
    Ride slow to begin with as your brain is overwhelmed with all this info coming at you so fast.
    You will gradually get better at riding and scanning the road at a faster pace.
    Come back to this thread in six months and let us know how you go as it takes a while to master. I have been riding for around 18 months and am still learning.
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  12. #12 GreyBM, Nov 30, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015
    It's pretty much all been covered but two specific points.

    Do NOT watch the road for potholes. Your head should be up looking way ahead to where you want to go. If you do this you will normally see potholes anyway (Says he who destroyed two rims on a pothole I didn't see and could have potentially killed myself in the process when I lost all air in the front tyre.)

    At roundabouts DO focus on the traffic. There is potentially to much to go wrong in roundabout traffic to worry about looking too far ahead to where you want to be. Focus on getting through the roundabout safely.
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  13. I wonder how much driving you have done before getting your bike licence. I didn't ride a bike until I had my licence for about 20 years, so traffic management wasn't really an issue for me. I would worry more about getting your line correct. Usually, cars behave themselves. When they start to misbehave, you will see them. Just be ready to brake, or speed up as necessary.
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  14. I'm puzzled why you think you are doing anything wrong ... Being extra cautious about other road users is plain commonsense and to me it is sounds like you have an excellent understanding of roadcraft basics and are riding at low risk according for your skill level.

    On the public road we require the ability to recognise when we are exposed to hazards and take direct action which will reduce the likelihood of crashing. Observation ... if you can't see 5 seconds ahead - slow down. Slow down ... could you stop if you had to. Always be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear. Buffer ...when a rider perceives a hazard creating space away from the hazard can reduce the risk of a crash. These are basics that to me you are well aware of ... attend to the basics and confidence will come without you even realising it.

    For cornering turn your head, start wide, buffer as needed and finish tight. If you keep your head turned toward your exit line, while glancing with your eyes for hazards, you may feel more comfortable... the trick being to keep your head turned but swivelling your eyes ;-)
    • Winner Winner x 2
  15. Well I am a still only a novice on a bike but I think some more quiet practice, a lot of practice and then practice a bit more will build your confidence and skills plus the good old trick of practicing that the bike really goes where head points routine is tantamount to riding. Then and only then go and enjoy the traffic.
    Just a suggestion after reading your post. :)
    Being shit scared and nervous is a sure way to have an off.
    If you get too spooked by getting in amongst it all too soon you may never feel only alert but always feel alarmed.

    I agree with FractalzFractalz that some caution is good but if you get too hesitant a driver will try and second guess you and if you slow again you could get rear ended in a hurry. Some arsehole drivers will occassionally almost see, to smell your unease and make your ride hell by riding your butt or cutting you off...

    If you find a quiet area like a sport oval when no one around, place some objects that you need to manouever around at least 10 m apart to begin with. Then practice some of the other good advice given above.
    I terrorised the local netballers for months- they knew to,park well away from me after a while ;)

    You only got your beautiful bike a few weeks back, be gentle and patient with yourself and get the basics happening in small steps rather than giant leaps. You want to enjoy yourself not have to get the sards out every time you go out in traffic.
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  16. I like that tip! Turning the head and still glancing with the eyes. This is exactly where I feel I've been going wrong and you hit the nail on the head. That's exactly what I need to be doing and I'm not, I'm allowing my head to look away from my intended path. Thanks!!
  17. It takes a bit of practice ... and almost a leap of faith at times LOL ... but it does work. I will guarantee it :)

    It really is the head turn that works ... Some people say look through the turn but unless the whole head is turned it doesn't really work.

    If you google up some motogymkhana youtubies you will see what I mean :)
  18. When going straight keep your position in the lane by keeping a lane line in your peripheral vision.
    When cornering physically turn your head to keep the line in your field of view.

    -You should only be spending 10% of concentration/focus on maintaining your lane position with the rest been on scanning for dangers, keeping an eye on drivers and lastly predicting and responding to dangers.
    -Use your senses (sight, noise, smell (hopefully not touch) to build a map of all the traffic around you and the condition of the road. Keep a track of cars beside you by listening to the tyre and engine which will change relative to their intentions and position. Constantly update this map by scanning your mirrors and road ahead, never loose track of a car and if you do you should be focused on finding it immediately.
    -Don't just watch the brakelight of the car ahead, watch the cars infront of that and preferably look well ahead to know the full situation.
    -If your tired/overwhelmed (happens to even experienced riders), switch to a slower lane or take a short break.
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  19. I will add the motogymkhana YouTube to Twist of the Wrist on my list of things to watch when I move house in a couple of months. I currently live in 1873 with NO INTERNETS and insufficient phone data to allow hours of video. The horror. :arghh::arghh:
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  20. OMG !!! :-O
    that's awful :-/
    thank doG you have a motorbicycle :) =D
    • Winner Winner x 1