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Tear-ars*ing around on the bike

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by raven, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. SO there you are...a few mates...off to have a rip through the twisties or wherever you're going.
    You reckon you're not too bad of a rider, it feels good on the bike, and you just blew one of your mates away through that last corner...ahhh...the joys of bike riding, and getting stuck into it a bit.

    But then...you just misjudge your braking distance entering another corner - your SR's kick in, your brain freezes, and from that point on, your destiny will NOT be decided by "you"...
    Unluckily, you spear off the side of the road and hit the embankment - the taste of blood being the last thing you remember.

    Amazing, how one minute you're on top of the world, enjoying life, and the next minute your mates are desperately hoping you're alive and not laying there, bones protruding through your skin from compound fractures!, or even worse if that can be imagined.

    So what brought you undone...you're good with the bike...skills have been picking up all year, as has your confidence and general bike control.

    What's brought you undone was judgement

    Often our bike craft and skills can improve quite a bit faster than ones sense of judgement, and that lulls riders into a false sense of security and confidence. It's true...you ARE a decent rider, with good bike control, and road sense, but the simple act of trying to judge where to brake for a corner, has failed you, because you have'nt yet developed your levels of judgment to match your bike craft.

    Good judgement just takes longer....

    "Good" riders are'nt just good because they can ride with competence, faster, with more commitment and skill...they also have a more highly developed sense of judgement, at their respective levels, which keeps them out of trouble more often, in the first place.

    Assuming that you consider yourself to be a "good" rider, ask yourself what you base that on, but now, include your "levels of judgment" in the thoughts that first came to mind, and you may come up with a slightly different feeling.

    Said all that just to raise the issue of judgement into the minds of you newer/newish/noob riders, with summer coming on. (and it won't hurt us more seasoned riders to think about it either) :wink:

    Fee free to comment .:) ...throw in your 2 bobs worth, eh. :grin:
    It's meant to be an open discussion. :)

  2. Good post.

    I'd actually put good judgement far higher than, say, bike control (beyond a certain, fairly basic, level) when it comes to keeping safe on a day to day basis.

    As the old saying puts it, "good judgement comes from experience. Experience generally comes from bad judgement".
  3. Not to be confused with the highly negative statement, "You only learn to drive/ride by crashing your car/bike" and all its variants, which I think (and hope) is a total crock of shit. :p :grin:
  4. :LOL: :LOL: I like that one!

    Been pondering since I posted...and it IS an interesting conundrum(?), that judgement comes with experience, but it only comes with the specific experience that it relates to.

    Thus, even an "experienced" rider could lack judgement at times, if he gets into something he lacks specific expereince with. huh? :grin:

    ...mmm...So does that mean...(rhetorical question here)...that as your skill level increases, it allows you to experience more, and with that experience comes better judgment? (specific to riding)


  5. Good post! I have been reading most of your stuff with great interest, you write really well.

    Ok now about me, I have been commuting daily on the 10r for the last 10ish months, which I feel has allowed me to "get to know" my bike really well. I think that "judgment" needs to be broken down a bit. I attack traffic rather aggressively every day and I rarely get a scare or close call, and when I do I have seen it coming and have always been prepared/expecting it. I put part of this down to "judgment" (of a kind) which I think is a different from the judgment used in the twisties.

    Every chance I get I am in the hills lapping gorge road, with mates who consistently hand me my arse, I do find though, that after a few laps I improve greatly and by the end of the run i'm riding quite quickly (and safely).

    I don't consider myself to be a great rider, competent but defiantly no expert.

    Does any of this make sense and am I dribbling shite again?
  6. No No...that makes perfect sense, and it's normal.
    I would tend though...to put it down more to familiarity when you get into the twisties...ie...you need some time to get your brain up to speed for that specific environment...once it catches up, you feel more comfortable or are able to ride better overall.
    It's a completely different environment and the brain takes a little time to adjust.
    The judgement side probably comes into it with how you manage your ride while your brain is coming "online". The fact that you know not to go chasing the mates, ride within your ability at the time, and then sense your brain coming up to speed and being able to judge just how much you can rtamp it up without biting off more than you can chew.

    At least...that's what I am thinking might be closer to what is going on. And I feel that to if I have'nt done something for a while...whatever it is.

    The judgement part prevents you from getting into as much trouble in the first place.....the skill level hopefully saves you if your judgment is off in a specific instance.
    It would seem that these two things (skill AND judgment) cannot be seperated. I mean...one without the other is useless, and it is the value of their collective influence, that defines a so-called "good rider".
    Maybe I'm stating the obvious....I don't know...only that judgment is something that is'nt talked about much (compared to bike skill)...until now, hopefully. :grin: :grin:

  7. I think i'm only as good as my perceived margin of error.

    For example going around a blind corner i know i can go faster but i'll limit myself because there may be stationary car or pothole etc.

    Also things like confidence in the tyres/suspension. That's why it takes a few corners before I can start putting more into it. Then i'll stop putting more into it when when i feel the risks are getting too high.
  8. wow, John.
    i was sitting there, reading, thinking " :shock: i swear it was just Rod, Chris, and myself riding when i had my first crash :shock: " u were in the bushes taking pics weren't you? :p
    that first paragraph or two, sums up my first crash precisely. well, maybe i wasnt at one with the bike yet, i had only been riding 7 days :LOL:
    but it is so true! i was pottering along at a good pace, third cut of the spur, ahead of rod and chris (coz they let me haha) but felt like i was gaining distance from them, felt really good.
    then BAM. not bam-bam, just poor line, too hot, and wow im running wide.
    SR's and im looknig at the gravel, stood up n on the brakes, and into Crash Corner.
    much have i learnt from that day, and today being the 2nd day im back on a bike after 6 months on, 6 months off, im taking it easy. i know i can ride, and i know the feel of a VTR250. but i stil have a long way to go, and im still fresh into it, my mind is not used to thinking how it now needs to think.
    time for some good KM's, and hone that judgement :)
    as said before, judgement only comes with experience, and experience inthe different conditions, but i dont plan on getting any more experience from bad judgement :grin:
  9. yep i agree judgment and familiarity to very different things, and yes i do admire those (good) riders that are great at familiarity but then i have a greater respect and admire these blokes that ride on judgment (like those familiarity riders do) but they just seem to be on another fcuking unreal level /step up. , it's just amazing to watch see and ride with people like that....it teaches you a couple of things, one you not as good as you think and 2 there is always someone quickier, so ride at your own pace :wink:
  10. I was once did a rally driver training course with ex Australian Rally champion Geoff Portman and then go for a ride with him in his Nissan Bluebird.

    The thing that impressed me was his judgement. In fact he could tell within half a second how fast you were over a 6 kilometre road and where you lost the time.

    Personally I like doing track days to improve my skills and judgement.
  11. Good to hear you're back on the bike Robin. :)
    Build it up steadily and the ol' brain will start to remember pretty quickly and you'll be back to where you were in no time at all.

    My best advice...took me 20+ years (won't admit to more) for me to get to my level...don't hurry it...otherwise you'll miss all the fun in-between. :grin:

  12. Everything you just reinterated about your riding, demonstrates you're applying judgement. :grin:.

  13. spot on Raven,
    The development of good judgement takes longer than the development of skill but the other influence in your example is that of peer group.

    Trying to keep up with people who are more experienced/faster than you will often lead you into trouble once you find you yourself pushing harder than you are comfortable with. You find that your lines start to straighten, youll tip into a corner earlier, resulting in running wider, have a few 'oh shit' moments and then......... the embankment....... The trick is to recognise the warnings and slow down to something that your comfortable with.

    Im currently teaching the missus to ride and she worries that shes slowing me down. I tell her that the best way for her to learn is getting to get to a corner at the right speed for that corner, and to teach her this I have her follow me as I go through the corners using the correct line for road riding(wide entry late apex power on after the apex) and no brake. All the time trying to ride the bike as smoothly as possible. If you ride smoothly, speed will come and you will be a better, safer rider.

    I was amazed at how fast she came along after a few days on a wet GOR recently.

    I think a lot of young blokes try to go as fast as their mates too early and as a result wind up getting hurt. For this reason I will never bag a guy for being slower than me.

    Testosterone when riding bikes is an evil thing, save it for the bedroom.

  14. The crazy thing is though is that familiarity is almost the antithesis of judgement, when it comes to developing both skills.

    You can do the same road over and over until you get really familiar with it, but you've done nothing at all then to train your on-the-fly judgement ability. Experience/judgement only comes from training it explicitly, and to do that, you HAVE TO keep challenging it, which means takes yourself out of your "familiar zone" and start riding all sorts of roads that you don't know.

    Riding a familiar road gives you the bike handling skills to corner better and faster, and to learn more about what your bike can do. This is because you're spending less time worrying about what the road is going to do next, and thus have more time to worry about what you're doing on the bike. This trains "muscle memory" and trains the brain to handle the bike in the right way without even thinking about it.

    Complementary to that is as John points out, on-the-fly judgement, and this can't be learned by familiarising yourself with a road. Get yourself to some road you've never seen before and throw yourself at it. If you only go fast on a couple of roads but everyone else is leaving you behind everywhere else, it's because you need to train your on-the-fly judgement better.

    I ride with lots of different people and I saw a good example of it this last weekend. Following some guys on a road that I don't know that well. Well, for the first part of it, it was clear that they didn't know it that well either. Constantly on the brakes excessively and taking what should've been fairly easy corners quite slowly. Then all of a sudden these two guys in front took off and it was a challenge to stay on their tail. I later found out that they had reached a section of the road that they repetitively ride all the time, and that's why they sped up.

    The moral of the story is that you need to get out of your comfort zone to develop your sense of on-the-fly judgement. Familiarity is an important part too, but if you don't develop both, you'll only ever be a two-road wonder.
  15. This is such a misleading load of poop.

    Good judgement comes from learning from your experiences and applying said lessons the next time round wisely.

    Everything is an experience, it's how you absorb it and apply the knowledge later on that accounts for your level of judgement.
  16. Exactly true, Stew!

    ...riding along roads that you know IS a good thing for skill developement, but as you said, while your judgement specific to that road will tend to be very high, your "on the fly" judgement will be very low, as it is not being exercised at all under those conditions. Even though there might be some sort of benefit in the broader sense, it won't work for you when you need that "on the fly" judgement.

    I tend to think of judgement as circumstance specific.
    ie ...ride everywhere at 60 k's and when you one day find yourself doing 100k's (no law breakers here!), you will not really have the ability to properly judge things, even though your bike craft might be good enough for that speed...

    all very interesting stuff, and worth thinking about. :) Thanks for all the input and thoughts guys...
    ...continue... :grin:

  17. People here often talk - correctly - about 'muscle memory', training the mind/body to react properly etc. All this is good, and it's part of the survival package.

    But there's another part we should also talk about. "Judgement' is a mental skill that has to be learned and honed in exactly the same way as a physical skill. It doesn't just 'happen'. We all start from a base of minimal knowledge, and build on that. Some do it better than others.

    This is something a very good rider told me years ago.
    The skill of making good decisions can come to us from suffering the consequences of making bad ones, but there is a better way - you can train yourself to make good decisions.

    The first part needs to be to go out and aquire the knowledge of what is a good decision in a given situation. That means possibly doing a course, or listening to what good riders tell us, asking questions etc.

    The second part involves playing out those scenarios mentally, by imagining a given situation, thinking through the correct choices, and then imagining them playing out. This needs repetition to work effectively.

    The third part is to actually go out on the bike and build the mental discipline of playing out those scenarios in real life. Exercise it until it becomes mantra.

    Example: overtaking.
    Long before you go out on your bike you should have a set of 'rules; about how you approach overtaking (how far can you see? How much time will it take? what are the conditions like? etc.) .

    Before you get to an overtaking situation, mentally examine bits of road and practise 'reading' them, then re-examine your decision (if it had been a real-life situation, would it have played out as you thought? If not, why not? What did you miss? Do this constantly.

    When you get to the the real thing... sit back, examine the situation. Does it meet your rules? Have you checked every possible factor? If you're not sure... DON'T! Wait for a better opportunity.

    You can't acquire judgement overnight, but you can start building it from the very beginning. It doesn't just happen, though - it requires conscious mental practice. The one thing I would suggest to new riders is this: Ride as fast as you like but give yourself time to make a decision. Wait that half second, or two or twenty, until you're sure. With experience the certainty will come faster.

    That's pretty much what I was taught, and I believe it 100%.
  18. Good post, Titus...I liked how that read, mate. :)
  19. Oh, I get what you're all talking about now. I didn't quite understand at first. So judgement is kind of like "the force". So it's as if you are given a brand new piece of road and told to go as fast as you can whilst still riding safely (and within the speed limit :p ). Being able to analyse new situations and make smart decisions on the go.
    This has me thinking because lately I've been riding the same bits of road over and over again.
  20. That's it, mate...This judgment thing is a bit cerebral...you make hundreds of mini-decisions as you traverse a piece of road, and underpinning most of those is your sense of judgement...
    It's rolling along underneath everything you do (more or less).

    In your case...riding the same roads will defintely help with your skill, but as you it becomes very familiar, your sense of judgement becomes less critical, and is only speciffc to that road. Do it long enough and you can end up very skilled but without the level of judgment you need.

    ie...take that same situation straight to an unknown or less familiar road, and your judgement will not be up to snuff, since your "on the fly" exposure has been muted by the familiarity of the known road. Make sense?

    Everytime you come into a corner, and you realize after you turned in, that you are too slow, or too fast, in the wrong gear etc (happens alot), you have exercised your judgement earlier in the corner and are now finding out how good that judgement WAS, and adjusting things to what you desired. The better the judgment, the less you have of these so-called adjustments. :grin: That can make a major difference in your riding overall.