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kpinvt
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« on: January 13, 2007, 06:12:06 AM »

 On October 8 2006 I was riding through a sweeping left hand turn when the right side of the road caught and held my attention. My handlebars felt locked and I couldn't turn them. I totally forgot about counter steering and tried to twist the bars to the left to no avail. I was quickly running out of pavement as I was headed off the road and figured I had better do something before running off through the trees. I slammed the brakes closed but had already run out of room to stop when the bike skidded off the the road and as soon as the front wheel hit the soft dirt on the shoulder the bike fell to the left and I wound up sliding to a stop facedown. Thank goodness for ATGATT. When the bike fell over my left boot was crushed between  the footpeg and the clutch casing giving my foot and ankle a severe sprain but not breaking it. I hit the pavement with my left hand, left knee and finally the face shield of my helmet. I know now I should have pushed on the left handlebar to go left. What I need to know is are there any strategies or exercises I can do to help me not do this again.
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2007, 06:35:51 AM »


 On October 8 2006 I was riding through a sweeping left hand turn when the right side of the road caught and held my attention.

What I need to know is are there any strategies or exercises I can do to help me not do this again.


Have you ever taken a MSF class?  You sound like a perfect candidate who could learn a lot from taking such a class.  There will be some MSF instructors who are contributors to this site along soon.

I would recommend taking a class before you even get on a m/c again.  There is no substitution for experience that is based off developing good habits practiced properly, and that's where you learn the good habits.
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2007, 09:19:27 AM »

A bit more info on your personal history would be helpful, but working from what you've given so far, here is my assessment:
Sounds like you've done you're initial learning on the couch- reading some books about how to ride, what to do or not do, cognitively digesting the concepts of riding, but you have not taken a class giving you some direct assistance. That is how/why you know terms like "countersteering", "target fixation", "push on the left handlebar to go left", etc, but don't REALLY know how to apply them as effectively as you want/need.
So: sign up for a BRC- you can find one thru this link http://nm.msf-usa.org/msf/ridercourses.aspx?pagename=RiderCourse%20Info
Intellectually, you called it correctly; you target fixated. So intellectually, what you have to do is NOT fixate on a bad target (the tree, the sign, the side of the road, the side of the car, etc) and instead create your correct path of travel by looking where you want to go (around the curve, toward the next curve ahead of where you are, etc.), all while continuing to scan aggressively for other issues of concern (animals, obstacles, vehicles, roadway conditions, etc).
In the BRC you'll get to work on developing all of these skills through riding, rather than just reading about them  Smile
Glad you weren't more badly hurt, and that you are seeking help in improving your riding skills. Clap
« Last Edit: January 13, 2007, 09:39:05 AM by bikerfish1100 » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2007, 09:29:44 AM »

As an MSF Rider Coach (but in no way representing or even acknowledging that they know me - other coaches will get that one), a class would be good, but target fixation is a natural reaction that you have to learn to fight.

If you practice and get the tools to control your bike, it is easier to fight, but even road racers have to force themselves, hard, to look past a crashing bike and not follow it off the track.

I watched an experienced rider go through an intersection this summer, target fixate on the shoulder, and almost ride off the road.  I don't think it ever goes away.

The key is LOOKING WHERE YOU WANT TO GO, and having the confidence to go there.

If something is a big enough distraction, it will pull your vision, and your bike, in that direction.  I think by recognizing that this happens and knowing that you need to fight it is a good start.

This is similar to one of the most common new rider crash scenarios.  The rider gets spooked by a corner and stands the bike up and gets on the brakes.  They have slowed to a speed where they could make the corner without leaning much, but they continue on off the road at this very slow speed.

Why wouldn't they just turn?  Target fixation.  You stare at the side of the road, or whatever obstacle you don't want to hit and go right towards it.  Your body involuntarily joins in on this and you can't turn until you look where you want to go vs. looking where you don't want to go.

I'm so used to the effects of target fixation that I can't remember the last time it had an effect on me, but I know it effects me in some way on every ride.  Looking all the way through the turn is how I fight it.



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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2007, 11:27:31 AM »

Thor's response is helpful.  You other guys need to stop being patronizing and get down out of your pulpits.  Almost the same thing happened to my wife in April 2005.  She took the BRC in August 2004, so her problem wasn't lack of MSF training.  In her words, it was simply inattention combined with a panic reaction.  It happens.  She analyzed her mistake, figured out corrective measures and moved on.  

Until you know what the OP's actual experience is, statements like "taking a class before you even get on a m/c again" and "Sounds like you've done you're initial learning on the couch" are just obnoxious.  Get over yourselves.  
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2007, 12:22:28 PM »

It's funny,...get over themselves?? They all had good recommendations. I also teach BRC's and ERC's and run a training site as my full time job. When my students leave I tell them they have just learned to ride on a parking lot and that they should get lots more experience on a parking lot and rural areas at controled speeds before going out and trying to keep up with friends or a spouse. I do not have a problem with my self-esteem as a rider. I do however hear to often of riders who have been off bikes for years or newbies who go out buy that bike they have always wanted and end up in trouble because they have no clue how to handle it. It is like anything you do in life. Do I think I can ski well after being off skis for 4 yrs....heck no! If you don't use it it goes away, and if you have never experienced it reading may give you the fundamental thought but you still haven't had the experience. It is better practiced in a safer place then on the street with other traffic to deal with. It is also better to practice under the eye of a trained instructor, who knows how to recognize what it will take to help the student out.  Who are you to be critical of these other guys who are advising learning good skills before getting out on the road? It comes off that you are encouraging the "new" guy to just go out and teach himself. Why don't you go enroll in an instructor course and then tell us what you think.....
« Last Edit: January 13, 2007, 12:31:10 PM by rottenbiker » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2007, 12:50:58 PM »

Some of the best advice I have ever heard is; Keep your eyes up,Always look where you want the bike to go. I failed my first endorsement test on a u-turn, because I looked down. Droping the bike right where I was looking.  The second test, I kept my eyes up and looked through the u-turn and it was amazingly easy! The bike just seemed turn on it's own and go right where I was looking.And now after 20+ years of riding, I still find myself fighting target fixation.
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2007, 01:23:27 PM »

Hi, kpvint. First off, congrats on wearing ATGATT, and coming through this experience in much better condition than could have been the case. Best wishes for healing well and soon.

Believe it or not, the answer to your question is contained in your message:


 On October 8 2006 I was riding through a sweeping left hand turn when the right side of the road caught and held my attention. My handlebars felt locked and I couldn't turn them....

What I need to know is are there any strategies or exercises I can do to help me not do this again.


When you looked away from where you were going and fixed your attention on the side of the road, all of a sudden your riding skills went awry. You're already aware of this, considering that you described a classic target fixation scenario, and even named the thread "target fixation."

So, how to fix this? The answer sounds flippant, but I don't mean it that way: don't fixate. Don't stare at the side of the road. Instead, look through the turn as far as you can, towards where you want to end up. If need be, tear your gaze away from the side of the road to look where you're going, to the end of the curve or even beyond.

Now, how to do this? As several others have mentioned, taking a riding course is one excellent way to learn and practice this skill. Depending on your skill level, that could be an MSF course, or perhaps some other parking lot course, or perhaps a track course. Learning and practicing skills such as these in a controlled environment removes a bunch of real-world variables and hazards from the equation. It allows you to concentrate on the skills at hand without worrying about, say, deer or other drivers. Coaches can catch your errors and help you develop improved skills.

When riding on your own, practice looking through the turn to where you want to end up. Start doing so at lower speeds in lower-threat curves, then gradually work your way up to higher speeds and more challenging situations. Make it a permanent habit. Own this skill.

Is that to say that you should just stare at the exit of the curve, complely ignoring everything around you? No. You need to keep your eyes open and scanning for potential hazards. The key is not to fixate on anything, and keep the main part of your attention on where you want to end up.

Finally, I'm curious--what led you to target fixate in that particular curve? Was there a hazard by the side of the road, such as a deer? Were you spooked by something involving the ride--maybe too fast an entry speed--that led you to panic and stare off the road? Or maybe there was a cute girl or guy (whichever floats your boat) who caught your attention?  Wink

Best wishes for your convalescence. Let us know if you have any more questions. We're happy to help.
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2007, 02:25:05 PM »

a technique i recommend for helping to overcome target fixation is something that might be called "rehearsal".

what you need to do is to ingrain as deeply as possible the habit of looking where you want to go and pressing on the bar to that side. it's not a natural reaction, so repetition is required to make it stick.

while riding through a turn--or even on straight piece of road--in a safe situation (no traffic, good visibility), declare a "moose turd drill". that skid mark on the pavement or shadow up ahead, right on your line, is a big steamy moose turd with a coefficient of friction only slightly better than black ice. your job is to avert your eyes from the imaginary turd, focus on a safe path *around* it, and alter your line to avoid it.

give yourself plenty of lead time so you don't put yourself in danger by making a hard steering correction necessary. the power of the exercise isn't in speeding up your reaction, it's in impressing the visual habit on your brain.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2007, 02:28:30 PM by Saucy Jack » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2007, 02:34:28 PM »

Who are you to be critical of these other guys who are advising learning good skills before getting out on the road?


Let me spell it out for ya, since you didn't get it the first time: you, and forester & bikerfish are all assuming the OP didn't get training.  He target fixated, he had the temerity to ask about such a basic concept, he must not have had training....  He didn't say whether he's taken the BRC or not.  I don't know if he has.  You don't know if he has.  Until he posts that he hasn't, maybe that's not the root of his problem?  Dig?

Thor, God bless him, actually dealt with the topic at hand.  

I have no issue with MSF curricula.  I have no issue with anyone recommending an MSF course to a newbie or a returning rider.  It would be kinda hypocritical if I had, since I've done the same myself.  I do have an issue with the chain of reasoning that automatically assumes someone coming on here and posting about a problem must therefore not have taken training.  Wait until the OP actually says he never took a class.

It comes off that you are encouraging the "new" guy to just go out and teach himself. Why don't you go enroll in an instructor course and then tell us what you think.....


And, BTW, since my comments were addressed directly to forrester & bikerfish, and indirectly to thor, maybe you could point out where I encouraged the OP to go out and do anything?

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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2007, 03:50:53 PM »

I can only add one thing, kpinvt - to what Thor had to say.  What helps me focus far through the corner is a combination of keeping the head and eyes up and my body posture.  I lean off the inside-corner side of the bike slightly, point my chin toward that inside mirror, and keep my head and eyes up and level with the horizon - it forces me to look far ahead through the corner.  I've seen it described as if you are 'looking around your windshield (if any) like you would lean and look around the edge of a door'.  The posture doesn't have to be drastic or unnerving - just a little lean that way helps big time.  It basically keeps you engaged in the ride and almost forces your body to properly countersteer.  Leaning toward the inside of a turn, it would be hard to try to 'steer' the bars to the inside - because the 'wrong' hand is way out extended toward the outside of the turn.  When you're leaning this way, with chin pointed toward the inside mirror and elbows being relaxed - it's almost impossible NOT to countersteer and keep your vision focused well ahead through the turn.  At least that's been my experience.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2007, 04:15:01 PM by R1150RTMark » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2007, 03:59:24 PM »

jstark- since you addressd me directly in your caustic response, let me explain why it is I thought that kpinvt has not yet had formal training- and i did state at the outset that i was making an assumption, that it "sounded like" he had not yet had a class, not that i was sure of that at all-
certain verbs that he used triggered my initial assumption:
"I totally forgot about counter steering"- forgetting is a primarily mental operation, rarely a physical one.
"figured I had better do something"- again, a verb of thinking, not acting.
"I know now I should have pushed on the left handlebar to go left"- yet again, a verb of thinking.
these combined together to lead me to believe that he had/has an understanding of these operations as concepts, but not necessarly as ingrained behavioral patterns or techniques. and as others have stated, avoiding target fixation requires both a mental component and a behavioral one.
i am totally open to the idea that he had some measure of training, possibly even an MSF class, but from what he wrote, it really does not sound like it. when we finally hear back from him, we will have a better sense of what his experience is.
and as far as your comment "maybe you could point out where I encouraged the OP to go out and do anything?" - i guess that clarifies that unlike everyone else, you have added absolutely nothing to address kpinvt's question.



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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2007, 04:23:02 PM »

jstark47, you might want to check out number 1 of this link http://www.sport-touring.net/forums/index.php/topic,981.0.html
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2007, 04:26:43 PM »

Hope this is helpful. It's meant to be (unlike my most of my posts).
Forget "target fixation". When going round a corner, look for the vanishing point-that's the bit you can see as far ahead as you can. Aim for that. Of course, the vanishing point moves-cause you are. If the corner is tightening, the vanishing point will seem to come up closer in whichever way the bend is turning (right hand bend, vanishing point moves up to the right-if it's coming toweard you, it's getting tighter, if moving away, it's opening up, same for the left but opposite).
Don't pick a target, unless you either know the bend well or can see through it. If you do either, or guess the bend, you will also know when to turn in to flatten the curve as much as you can (forget that crap about chicken strips, bikes work better upright). Avoid picking markers-or targets-like a tree or something in a bend, as this will stop you allowing for surprises and the fact that you are moving (!). The marker doesn't move. You are.
For turning into a bend, it might be useful to pick just one and practice over and over, gradually incresasing your speed and getting your turning point just right. Don't go faster than you feel comfortable with.
Braking in a bend tends to lead to the bike standing up and then running wide-looks like that's what happened here.
And buy really decent boots. Should stop ankle injuries. I wear Oxtar but would buy Daytona if I could.
Hope the ankles better soon.
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« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2007, 04:51:45 PM »


 On October 8 2006 I was riding through a sweeping left hand turn when the right side of the road caught and held my attention. My handlebars felt locked and I couldn't turn them. I totally forgot about counter steering and tried to twist the bars to the left to no avail. I was quickly running out of pavement as I was headed off the road and figured I had better do something before running off through the trees. I slammed the brakes closed but had already run out of room to stop when the bike skidded off the the road and as soon as the front wheel hit the soft dirt on the shoulder the bike fell to the left and I wound up sliding to a stop facedown. Thank goodness for ATGATT. When the bike fell over my left boot was crushed between  the footpeg and the clutch casing giving my foot and ankle a severe sprain but not breaking it. I hit the pavement with my left hand, left knee and finally the face shield of my helmet. I know now I should have pushed on the left handlebar to go left. What I need to know is are there any strategies or exercises I can do to help me not do this again.


When I start fighting the bars like this I consciously tell/force myself to relax my top (outside) arm and rest it on the tank.  In fact, that's part of my corner entry checklist.  That "bars feel locked" sensation is because you're subconsciously resisting the force you're applying with your inside hand, because your mind is saying "can't turn more, can't turn more".  Some will just say relax your grip, but that's much harder to do, and relaxing the arm will accomplish the same thing.

KeS
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« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2007, 05:34:29 PM »




When I start fighting the bars like this I consciously tell/force myself to relax my top (outside) arm and rest it on the tank.  In fact, that's part of my corner entry checklist.  That "bars feel locked" sensation is because you're subconsciously resisting the force you're applying with your inside hand, because your mind is saying "can't turn more, can't turn more".  Some will just say relax your grip, but that's much harder to do, and relaxing the arm will accomplish the same thing.

KeS


You're as cool as ice. I try to keep both hands on the bars in corners!
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« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2007, 05:57:18 PM »

Well, I didn't say LET GO of the grip, just let your top arm relax and lay against the tank.   EEK!

But yes, as an exercise I do sometimes open my grip on the top hand and lay it flat on the bar.  Amazing how easy it is to steer when you're not pushing against yourself!   Lol

KeS
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« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2007, 06:06:31 PM »


Well, I didn't say LET GO of the grip, just let your top arm relax and lay against the tank.   EEK!

But yes, as an exercise I do sometimes open my grip on the top hand and lay it flat on the bar.  Amazing how easy it is to steer when you're not pushing against yourself!   Lol

KeS


You've got a big fat Harley, haven't you?
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« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2007, 06:17:15 PM »

Why yes, I do.  I just disguised it by putting Gixxer bodywork all over it.   Rolleyes

KeS
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« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2007, 06:20:44 PM »


Well, I didn't say LET GO of the grip, just let your top arm relax and lay against the tank.   EEK!

But yes, as an exercise I do sometimes open my grip on the top hand and lay it flat on the bar.  Amazing how easy it is to steer when you're not pushing against yourself!   Lol

KeS

I ride with my elbows in tight which causes my outside arm to go across the tank on sportbikes.  I used to let go of the bar in right hand turns due to my tank bag.  Then I had to go more left in a decreasing radius.  I don't use tank bags anymore.  (Maybe this year I'll try to ride with my outside elbow out farther - something to work on.)
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