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Track Skills vs Street Skills?


Misti

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This topic has come up a few times in some of the other converstations so I thought I would ask some specific questions regarding it....

 

What track skills would also be valuable on the street? AND/OR What street skills would translate to the track?

 

Misti

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OK Misti,

I'll take a shot here. I think one skill that would be a valuable transfer from track to street would be extreme braking. Unless hare scrambles on a DT 250 counts, I've never experienced track riding situations (come to think of it I don't think the DT had brakes). I would suspect however, that one is regularly called upon to haul the bike down from speed in order to set up for corner entries. On the street one encounters such situations usually in "surprise" situations (the left turner, the deer, the whatever). Being practiced in the art of extreme braking on the track, it seems to me, would translate to a valuable, ready at a moments notice, street skill. Good question. thumbsup.gif

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I would think the main advantage a regular street rider with no high speed ambitions can learn under track instruction, is how far away from his/her limits and the bike's limits the every-day riding is.

I have myself seen several cases where high mileage riders suddenly find a road turn that tightens or simply is tighter than expected, and all it would need is a little bit more counter-steer and lean - I'm not even getting into body position - to go around. If they have never done it before, they will not do it by instinct when needed and will ride off the road.

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Misti

 

I know this will cause me to be flamed by some, it has in the past.(I also know you're an intructor)

 

I had not been on the track in 20 years, I was a good safe "slow rider", I had lost some cornering skills, but was never afraid to back off and let others take off and leave me. I was usually 2 up and Mrs. Whip likes to hit me upside my helmet when I scare her.

 

Anyway after a few track days last year with some good instruction my pace as picked up substantially, even 2 up. I'm still not "real fast", but I am faster. I also don't think I'm as "safe" as I was before I did my track days.

 

I'm sure I can control the bike much better, but I've never passed so many in double yellows nor intentionally slid the rear end of the FJR exiting corners in "Sweeper Madness"(without Mrs. Whip) before.

 

These "risky" things can and should be controlled by me, but it's hard since I know I can.

 

I think a case could be made that my track days have made me less safe instead of more safe.

 

I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

 

I hope this isn't to much of a hijack.

 

 

 

Whip

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russell_bynum

I'm sure I can control the bike much better, but I've never passed so many in double yellows nor intentionally slid the rear end of the FJR exiting corners in "Sweeper Madness"(without Mrs. Whip) before.

 

These "risky" things can and should be controlled by me, but it's hard since I know I can.

 

I think a case could be made that my track days have made me less safe instead of more safe.

 

I've seen that in a few people. Most of the people I know who started track riding (myself included) reported that they go slower on the street now. For me, I go slower partially because I get my "speed" fix elsewhere, but mostly because going from the relatively controlled environment of the track to the free-for-all public streets, really made the street seem dangerous. I mean...I knew all that "stuff that's going to eat my lunch" was there already, but when you spend a few days not having to worry about it, then suddenly you're surrounded by it, it really stands out. I actually stopped enjoying street riding for a while in 2005 because it just seemed so dangerous. I've since changed bikes and riding styles a bit so I'm enjoying street riding again, but I what I get from it is totally different than what I get from the track.

 

I'd be interested to see how many people go from the track to the street and try to ride a "track pace" on the street. I occasionally fall back into that trap, but thankfully it is becoming more and more rare these days.

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+1 with Paul thumbsup.gif

As big as the RT is, it is a well balanced bike that handles and stops exceptionally well. Learning the limits on it has been a fun experience wink.gif

 

I believe it helped that I began riding Norton twins and ended up club racing on a 500cc Manx Norton. The Featherbed frame Nortons were, in some ways, like an RT. i.e. An easy handling bike with a better frame than most and, in its day, it was pretty well balanced handling/power wise. Working that big single motor is another story entirely grin.gif

The main issue back then was that the brake and tyre technology wasn't really there but I don't believe we cared about that too much then grin.gif.

 

If I had, perhaps, raced a newer machine with the latest brakes and tyres my riding style would probably be way different. With a pretty unforgiving motor and a narrow powerband on the Manx, you develop a momentum maintenance mindset and being in the right gear through the corner was crucial. I also developed a "hanging off/knee out" style back then and I find that I still use my old mindset and style to this day whenever I am out hooning around. Works for me and I feel very comfortable on the bike.

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Misti

 

Anyway after a few track days last year with some good instruction my pace as picked up substantially, even 2 up. I'm still not "real fast", but I am faster. I also don't think I'm as "safe" as I was before I did my track days.

 

I'm sure I can control the bike much better, but I've never passed so many in double yellows nor intentionally slid the rear end of the FJR exiting corners in "Sweeper Madness"(without Mrs. Whip) before.

Whip

 

Hi Whip,

 

This is an interesting response for sure, and no...not too much of a hijack. smile.gif It's conversation and debate and that is why I am here. You said that with some instruction you learned to go faster, and are probably able to control the bike better, so what were the things that contributed to that? What skills did you pick up that helped with those two things?

 

Now, as for saying that you are less safe because you ride faster on the street, this I cannot really relate to. My experience has been more like what Russel described. The more I ride on the track, the slower I go on the street because I realize how dangerous and unpredictable it can be. I rode like a maniac when I first started riding but now that I spend so much time on the track I find it difficult to enjoy riding on the street. I switched to cruisers and touring bikes, and ride sportbikes much slower.....that is the only way I enjoy riding on the street anymore, I take it easy....Zen on my motorcyle

 

Misti cool.gif

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Quote

 

"You said that with some instruction you learned to go faster, and are probably able to control the bike better, so what were the things that contributed to that? What skills did you pick up that helped with those two things?"

 

Quote

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Hey Misti

 

Just a couple to start with..................

 

 

Body position

 

Late braking

 

Lookin much further ahead

 

Faster on the throttle when exiting a corner

 

Learned to trust the tires more when corning

 

Using tighter exit lines to give me more room for error

 

I now know what the bike is supposed to feel like when the suspension is set up properly

 

I'm much more comfortable riding closer to other riders at high speeds

 

I'm sure there are others, but that's a good start.

 

 

BTW...soon as I can I'll be back at a track near me.

 

Whip

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While all street riders should practice hard braking, many never do and when called upon to do so are not aware just what their bike is capable of doing.

 

I would think that smoothness is a skill that would transfer well from track to street. Both in acceleration and braking.

 

Good cornering lines is another. How many times have you seen or heard of bikes running wide because of lack of skill. Many times it is due to too much entry speed.

 

The other item, which is not a skill per se, is trust in your tires. Most street riders never get close to the limits of adhesion with their tires when cornering. Many times a corner could be made if the rider knew that they could lean much further.

 

my .02, won't buy you coffee anywhere. grin.gif

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ShovelStrokeEd

I would think that everything learned at the track can in some way or other be applied to street riding. Cornering, braking and body position skills certainly all apply. I feel that street riding really requires a different degree of situational awareness than does track riding. The focus is also somewhat different in that at the track you are constantly repeating the same corners and seek to optimize your line, brake and turn in points and throttle control to get better at that particular set of circumstances and thus tend toward a narrow focus. On the street, such a focus can get you killed. You have to contend with so much more in re other traffic, more road hazards, hard things in your escape line, etc.

 

Maybe a better way to put it is in terms of budget. Just as with traction, where you only have so much at your disposal, attention is the same. The street just presents so many things you have to watch out for, your attention cannot be as focused on your immediate riding needs. You have to anticipate more and plan at a different level. Next time, for a particular curve may not be just a minute and a half away, it might be weeks.

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I agree on smoothness & body postion would benefit both street & track venues. I might add lots of practice. I would think any advancement of skill level achived on the track would help on the street. With that said, the street is such a different animal. Situation awareness and going quickly in the curves without much braking are important to street survival in my book. On the track braking for turns is essential, on the road it's the safety valve for the unexpected. I'll conclude with the key element common to the track and street when going quickly. It's CONCENTRATION!!!! Bad things can happen when you loose it for even an instant. dopeslap.gif

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russell_bynum

OK, I've been chewing on this all day and here's what I came up with...

 

I can really only think of one "track skill" that doesn't belong on the street: using reference points. At the track, you pick finite reference points and use those to tell you when to start braking, when to stop braking, when to turn the bike, when to get on the gas, where the apex is, where to pick the bike up, where the exit point is, etc. Because you're running the same corners over and over all day, you can memorize these points and that lets you use lines and speeds that are independant of your sight distance.

 

Doing that sort of thing on the street is a really good way to find yourself in deep shit. I caught myself doing that on Ortega Highway once a couple of years ago. I cross Ortega twice a day on my commute, so I know the road pretty well. I was on Lisa's RS and was just commuting home....not trying to "go fast" or anything like that...just riding. I was in a long gentle right-hand turn at a pace that was quite reasonable for the turn...if I could see. There was a hillside on my right and the end of the turn was blind.

 

Suddenly, I was jolted back to reality when a rear bumper of a STOPPED car came into view. Traffic ahead was backed up and I was leaned over at a pretty good clip headed towards them.

 

By the way....those of you who think ABS will help you if you overbrake while leaned over: WRONG! My initial brake application was too abrupt and the front end let go. I managed to get my wits about me and get the front tire gripping again, got back on the brakes, and brought the bike to a stop just to the left of the last car that was stopped. My left foot came down on the double-yellow, which says the left saddle bag was probably over the line and it was a good thing nobody was coming.

 

My mistake was really simple...I knew the turn, and I was riding a speed that was appropriate for the turn...not the sight distance.

 

 

Other than that, I think all of the skills that you learn and hone at the track are applicable on the street. Even though you wouldn't normally use them to the same degree (braking until the bike is right at the edge of traction, accelerating until the rear tire starts to spin, leaned over with your knee on the ground, etc), you still do all those things (stop, go, turn) and the same technique that lets you turn a good laptime at the track will give you loads of margin on the street.

 

"Street skills" that don't apply to the track is a different story. Road reading, situational awareness, traffic avoidance, etc is all stuff that's fairly unique to the street.

 

Another thing is the way you deal with traffic. At the track, things are generally pretty predictable, so you can ride a few feet away from another bike and it's no big deal because they're not likely to do something moronic like come to a dead stop to take a picture of something on the side of the road, make a left turn from the right lane, drift into you because they aren't paying attention, etc. As a result, it's easy to watch where you're going, and just keep the other traffic in your peripheral vision. On the street, you really can't do that becuase things are much less predictable. (Note: even at the track, things aren't a sure thing...I followed a guy for 3 laps and he was very consistent every lap. I was setting up to pass coming out of the last very tight right-hand corner on to the front straight (Streets of Willow). Right at the apex, for some reason known only to that guy ahead of me, and God...he rolled off the gas and sat upright. I damn-near centerpunched him, and the guy on the 636 who was setting up to pass me in the same spot just about nailed me. That sort of thing is REALLY rare at the track, but it does happen.)

 

The other one that seems to really help with street riding but you don't really deal with that often at the track, is low-speed manuvering. By that, I mean all that CHP figure-8 in a box smaller than the wheelbase of the bike, etc. That sort of thing can be a big help on the street (U-turns on narrow roads, parking lot manuvering, etc), but you really don't encounter a need to use it that often at the track.

 

The other thing I wanted to mention was that stuff that Whip was talking about.

 

Although it is true that for the most part I have slowed down since I started riding at the track, I have found myself riding at a pace that's totally inappropriate for the street from time to time. A few examples....a year or so ago when I ran Sweeper Madness on Lisa's RS with Gleno. My pace was pretty stupid...not because of sight lines (you can see for bloody ever) or unknown road condition (it was my 2nd run of the day so I knew what to expect) but because of the speed (120mph+ in corners on the edge of the tire) and the total lack of medical help out there. Even a minor spill at that speed (if there is such a thing) could turn fatal just because it could take several hours to get any help to you. It was also totally unnecessary because I could have dialed it back just a bit and extended my margin substantially.

 

Another one...on the way up to Unrally with Lisa and Howard (the day I crashed), coming over Wolf Creek Pass, I was going way too damn fast. The road was clear, the sight lines were good, and I was on top of the world...my Tuono was working perfectly, I finally got my helmet sorted out so I didn't have any pain from my earplugs, I was riding with two of my favorite people in the world, the weather was spectacular, and I was on an incredible road with incredible scenery all around me. So I cut loose. A crash would have sent me tumbing across the road and into the guardrail...and/or over the Great Divide. eek.gif

 

At the next gas stop, I was chastising myself for letting the badger loose and I vowed to keep myself in check.

 

 

Ironically, it was shortly after that as I was tiptoeing slowly through a corner taking a very conservative late-apex line that I found a patch of road-colored gravel and crashed. I guess irony can by pretty ironic sometimes. dopeslap.gif

 

So far, I've managed to keep myself in check on all my rides since then and I hope that I can stick to it.

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russell_bynum
one "track skill" that doesn't belong on the street: using reference points.

Uh, at what reference point did the track call for this?

 

free_at_last.jpg

lmao.gif

 

See...I'm just trying to make the bike more aerodynamic, that's all.

 

muttergrumbleDamnGelstragrumbleharumph

 

smirk.gif

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I can really only think of one "track skill" that doesn't belong on the street: using reference points.

Russell, I beg to differ with you on the reference point issue. I think we use reference points on every curve. Turn in here, hit apex there and exit will be … still on the pavement, that’s a good thing. In the example you used the problem may have been paying to much attention to the spot the tire was hitting (as in the photo grin.gif) and not using a wider view to see what was coming around the bend or in this case what was stopped around the bend.

 

I agree that there is a difference in how we treat the RP’s on the track than the street but RP’s should not be totally discounted. At Barber I spent two very slow sessions trying to figure out the track and pick RP’s to get around only to find while running the third session that those RP’s didn’t work anymore because my new found go button required new RP’s. (Actually it was Misti threatening to kick box me back to Texas if I didn’t stop dragging things that I sorted out body position errors and new RP’s to slow down my entry and pick up speed on the exit.) On the track we pick an exact spot weather it’s a skid mark or clump of grass on the edge of the track and focus on fitting that mark, time after time or until it’s time to pick a new point. On the street our RP’s are a little more general in nature however we are picking points that we hope to connect to safely negotiate the corner.

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Uh, at what reference point did the track call for this?
Man, Gleno cancels and suddenly the 'real' Gelstra returns...

 

Coincidence???

 

lurker.gif

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russell_bynum

Steve, you're right. I was struggling with that because I do agree that it is important for us to set finite points to do stuff, even on the street. After all...how can you ride a smooth arc through the corner until you have at least a turn-in, apex, and exit reference point picked?

 

It's just that we use RP's differently on the street, and you usually don't set out on a road with all of the RP's already in your mind like you do on the track. Usually you're making it up on the fly on the street.

 

And you're right about RP's moving as your pace changes. It's amazing how something as simple as getting on the gas 10' sooner coming onto the straight can invalidate all of your pre-corner RP's (roll off, brake, release brake) at the end of the straight.

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Misti

 

I know this will cause me to be flamed by some, it has in the past.(I also know you're an instructor)

 

I had not been on the track in 20 years, I was a good safe "slow rider", I had lost some cornering skills, but was never afraid to back off and let others take off and leave me. I was usually 2 up and Mrs. Whip likes to hit me upside my helmet when I scare her.

 

Anyway after a few track days last year with some good instruction my pace as picked up substantially, even 2 up. I'm still not "real fast", but I am faster. I also don't think I'm as "safe" as I was before I did my track days.

 

I'm sure I can control the bike much better, but I've never passed so many in double yellows nor intentionally slid the rear end of the FJR exiting corners in "Sweeper Madness"(without Mrs. Whip) before.

 

These "risky" things can and should be controlled by me, but it's hard since I know I can.

 

I think a case could be made that my track days have made me less safe instead of more safe.

 

I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

 

I hope this isn't to much of a hijack.

 

 

 

Whip

 

Whip,

 

I'm not telling you anything new as you already know: self awareness is the beginning of self discipline. So you are already half way there.

 

wave.gif

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[quote

 

Whip,

 

I'm not telling you anything new as you already know: self awareness is the beginning of self discipline. So you are already half way there.

 

wave.gif

 

 

 

Ya think breaking my leg will be the other half??????? dopeslap.gifdopeslap.gif

 

lmao.giflmao.giflmao.giflmao.gif

 

Maybe grin.gif

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Ya think breaking my leg will be the other half??????? dopeslap.gifdopeslap.gif

 

lmao.giflmao.giflmao.giflmao.gif

 

Maybe grin.gif

 

I'd be happy to help you out there son...

 

I can run over and take care of that other leg for you right away...

 

I'm sure that wouldn't be as painful as having to constantly watch me dissapear into the distance causing you to treat that poor FJR like a sport bike! lmao.gif

 

However, you are right on in your earlier comments. (write that down, it is rare he is right!)

 

Confidence is an incredibly dangerous double edged sword, just ask Russel... lmao.gif

 

lurker.gif

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I'm sure that wouldn't be as painful as having to constantly watch me dissapear into the distance causing you to treat that poor FJR like a sport bike! lmao.gif

 

Surely the distance you refer to is in his mirrors. grin.gif

 

And ,yes, I just called you "Shirley". lmao.gifwave.gif

 

lurker.gif

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Hey Guys,

 

There are some really great comments here. It's interesting the part about reference points that Russel talks about...what I would like to know is how do you pick out reference points on the street? Do you use a different method than you would when finding them on the track?

 

Misti

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ShovelStrokeEd

On the street, I tend to use the road itself for my reference point. Hearkening back to my Level One class, I mentally paint that big yellow X on a point on the pavement. From there, I’ll pick up a roadside reference in my view that I can keep in my peripheral awareness while my eyes are looking for the apex. I also make an estimate of where my entry speed should be and make note of my approximate braking point. All of this taking place in much less time than it takes to read/write this.

 

If I can see the apex by the time I arrive at the turn-in, same process. If I cannot, well, it is now about lane position and maintaining a bit of margin in case the road fish hooks. The vanishing point is now my reference and key indicator of what the road ahead is about to do. I HATE it when that sucker starts rushing towards me, although it is my trigger to get ready for a little fun. Arms loose? Check. Butt light on the seat? Check. Maybe pull that inside toe in a little tighter? Check.

 

I do tend to ride with a good deal of margin on the street. Entrance speeds are conservative and lean angles ditto. I like having that last little bit of tire left for the unexpected. Even spirited riding leaves the last ¼” or so of tire in reserve. The margin is there to allow me to devote a little more attention to things like road surface, how the oncoming traffic is managing their lane position, did I turn off the coffee pot?

crazy.gif

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russell_bynum
Do you use a different method than you would when finding them on the track?

 

On the street, RP's are generally made up on the fly. Lots of times, you don't know your apex and exit RP's until you've initiated your turn, and your turn-in RP is "the point at which you can see through the corner."

 

That's not always the case, of course...sometimes you can see through the corners enough to set your RP's before you get there.

 

They tend to be more "fuzzy" and less finite because you don't have the luxury of looking at the same corner 100 or so times in day, so you don't always find every little dark spot, skidmark, or whatever.

 

On the track, the first time out on a new track, you're riding it just like a street. Generally on the first sighting lap, I'm just getting a feel for where the track goes and what the 'street' line would be. Second sighting lap, I'm riding the line that I found on the first lap, and looking for RP's to solidify that line.

 

As I get more familiar with the track, I'll start easing towards a more agressive line in places where sight lines would dictate otherwise, and as I do that, I'm looking for new RP's that will solidify the new line.

 

RP's on the track are all about repeatability. By having all of your RP's memorized, you can easily ride from RP's to RP with very little thought given to your line, reading the road, braking, etc. That free's up your attention to work on whatever it is that you want to work on...braking later, getting on the gas sooner, etc. If you don't have your RP's, you will be inconsisent, and you'll waste too much attention trying to figure out where you're supposed to be going.

 

It doesn't really work that way on the street since you don't have all the RP's memorized before you set out on a road.

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Hats off to all the teachers out there who have to explain things everyday because I really had to think about how to verbalize something we do thousands of times every time we ride. Approaching a curve we visualize the line we will take through the turn. Where are the exit point, apex and turn in point? These points are quickly identified in relationship to pavement stripes, rocks or skid marks. Backing up from the entry point we know that we need to be off the brakes somewhere about right there so we need to brake right about here. All of the locations are calculated quickly to allow time to set our entry speed. If the exit is not visible then we imagine where that spot should be based on the information presented and adjust the entry speed down just incase the exit is not as predicted or something else is in that spot. David Hough refers to these reference points as “Critical Windows” in Proficient Motorcycling. The term window makes a distinction that differentiates RP for the street and track in my mind. Repetition on the track allows the opportunity to be very precise with the selection of RP that are critical for consistency. Traveling an unfamiliar road we are not afforded the luxury of getting exact and verified RP’s but picking intermediate windows that the motorcycle passes through to complete the curve is very attainable. That’s the theory anyway as I am not claiming to have ever consistently hit my mark, chosen the correct points or enough of them. grin.gif

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Fernando took a StreetMaster's course and gave a great writeup. Give it a look.

clicky

 

To begin with, StreetMasters is designed (in part) to be the next step after the MSF Experienced Rider Course. It stresses smoothness and late apexing as important, but not commonly practiced techniques to ensure safety, not necessarily speed (and not saying that the two can't coexist, but they are often at odds).

 

In offline conversations I've had with track days afficionados, we've agreed to agree, and agreed to disagree about whether certain track skills transfer to the street successfully. And that's based on one's definition of success.

 

Speed skills do transfer. The issue is safety skills and practices.

 

At StreetMasters they stress doing all the braking in a straight line. No trail braking. This is the safer way, not the faster way.

 

They also stress delaying your apexing until you can see a straight line to the next corner, not delaying until you can see a finishing arc that will allow you to maximize exit speed by using the entire road. Again, this is the safer way, not the faster way. And they stress this for roads and curves that you are unfamiliar with or of which you do not have a clear view of the curve. If you can see through the curve, and can tell that no one is coming in the other direction, and the asphalt looks clean enough that you're comfortable with that small risk, then the choice of lines is yours. But when you are uncertain, the safer methods they teach are the ones that provide the higher probability of successfully making it home.

 

Again, the track and street are different. At one you're dealing with the same dozen corners. On the other you're dealing with a new situation every single time, even if you were on the same road yesterday. Conditions on the street change hourly. Gravel. Sand. Dirt. Oil. Transmission fluid. Animal droppings. Animal remains. Slurpee/Icee/SodaPop/Ice remnants. To not be victimized by these, thus increasing one's safety, takes a set of practices that are different than, but not divorced from, those designed to maximize speed.

 

This is not to say that any of the control techniques learned on the track don't transfer as safety techniques on the street. Greater control of the motorcycle, under any circumstances, is a plus. But the faster line is what one seeks on the track. The safer line on the street. They are not always the same.

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Speed skills do transfer. The issue is safety skills and practices.

 

 

Well, can you have skills that enhance both speed and safety, or are the skills you use for going "faster" less safe?

 

Misti

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Speed skills do transfer. The issue is safety skills and practices.

 

 

Well, can you have skills that enhance both speed and safety, or are the skills you use for going "faster" less safe?

 

Misti

 

Misti, I said that speed skills on the track do transfer to the street (as speed skills). At the risk of repeating myself, the issue is whether speed skills on the track become safety skills if practiced on the street. I contend that they don't always. Which is not to say that some don't.

 

If they were all the same, the transfer would work in both directions and one could expect that rigorous street riding education would make on into Rossi. It doesn't. Neither does a plethora of Track Days transform oneself into a David Hough, Larry Grodsky, Bob Reichenberg or other street safety notable.

 

Each set of instructions/skills/practices is tuned to a specific focus. That there is overlap is inarguable. But there is not complete duplication.

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Warning: Long post.

 

Misti,

 

I think we are talking about survival skills. But before I describe what I am talking about …a little background. I have been to the California Superbike School twice and have worked through all four levels. I have also been through the CA CHP sponsored motorcycle training class. In addition, I also regularly go out by myself and just practice survival skills and various maneuvers such as panic stops in corners, straight line braking, obstacle avoidance, ect. In any event when I returned to riding after a 20 year hiatus and before I went to Keith Codes school, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to get out of riding, the training I would need and the survival skills I wanted to develop for the street.. What I decided I needed to do was determine what my 100% track riding ability is and use that to set my street riding level at 80% of my track skills. My reasoning is this provides a 20% skill and abilities safety buffer. This strategy is flexible as there are times when I ride above (Just ask Richard!) or below this “set” point, depending on conditions. As my skills developed I realized that there are other influences that exist on the street, such as the site line through corners, that influence the instantaneous perception of what is safe in the moment. In example, can I stop based on how far I can see, at this speed, in these conditions?

 

I firmly believe that the skills you use on the track are the same ones you use on the street. On the track you use these skills at the maximum level that can be attained based on individual abilities, experience and comfort level, the abilities of the bike and environmental conditions. It is much safer on the track since the margins for error are much higher as the conditions are a known quantity. Case in point, race tracks are generally 20 to 60 feet wide, have known distance markers, open site lines through the corners or the cornering line is not visible but known, the surface conditions and traction are predictable, no opposing traffic, flag workers, ect. However, when it comes to the skills needed to negotiate a race track or the street, these are basically the same. Site line, braking entry point, braking release point, cornering engine speed and gear selection, corner entry speed, corner turn in point, apex, throttle roll-on coupled with corner exit, or picking up the bike. All of these skills are needed both on and off the track to avoid crashing.

 

As an example, I believe one of the highest statistical causes of motorcycle crashes, when no other vehicle is involved (Alcohol excepted), is due to failure to negotiate a corner. I believe this is due to lack of rider skills or “survival skills”. The reason this happens is freezing up due to fear or lack of confidence. I have read many posts over the years from people who have experienced this type of crash. I have had friends crash for this very reason and the usual response is that in looking back they stated they could have made it had they leaned the bike over, or let the brakes go, not fixated on some object on or off the road, or just not frozen up. When I think about these experiences and in developing “survival skills” this is what comes to my mind. How am I going to react when there is gravel in the corner, someone pulls out in front of me, the tire tread from an 18 wheeler separates and comes straight for my head? What will I do when I think I am going into a corner too hot? I think the answer is to regularly get out there, in a safe environment, and practice developing these skills. One simple drill is to see how close I can come to the commuter lane diamonds and swerve to avoid them, traffic conditions permitting. Another is to find a safe corner that you can see through, with little traffic and practice stopping right in the middle of the corner while staying in your lane, on the road and within your site line. This is one of my favorites and it has saved me more times than I care to recount.

 

My point is this, if you want to “survive” practice “surviving” until it becomes instinct and BEFORE you find yourself in a situation where you need these “survival skill.”

 

Cheers!

 

 

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[i said that speed skills on the track do transfer to the street (as speed skills). At the risk of repeating myself, the issue is whether speed skills on the track become safety skills if practiced on the street. I contend that they don't always. Which is not to say that some don't.

 

Hey Fernando,

 

I hear you on this, I really do. I guess I'm just thinking and wondering if there are things that help you go faster on the track, that also help you ride safer on the street....if you know what I mean. For example, I learned all about proper throttle control from riding on the track and being instructed, and I KNOW it makes me safer in all riding situations. That's what I was getting at.

 

I also see though how certain things like shoulder checking or scanning for trafic at intersections doesn't necessarily apply to the track. But do some of the visual skills learned while riding on a track make you safer on the street and vice versa? I think so.....

 

Thanks for the comments! thumbsup.gif

 

Misti

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I feel that street riding really requires a different degree of situational awareness than does track riding.

 

Situational awareness, ahh yes, the friend of pilots, soldiers and, hopefully, motorcyclists. Not a skill highly valued by cagers unfortunately. I look forward to the day I can actually get on a track and wring out a bike without being almost creamed by some cell-phone daydreamer who thinks the yellow line is for centering his car on.

 

I know that doesn't really add anything to the discussion. I just love the term grin.gif

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[quoteOn the street, RP's are generally made up on the fly. Lots of times, you don't know your apex and exit RP's until you've initiated your turn, and your turn-in RP is "the point at which you can see through the corner."

 

And a main difference is that the track is a predictable environment (corner marshals let you know what's changed) whereas the street in relatively unpredictable. So you're looking for clues that tell you about what might be ahead.

 

For example, a winter rally driver does not have reference points for the upcoming stage. The navigator does sound out the type of corner coming up (a big advantage over a road driver/rider). So, for example, the driver knows that a decreasing corner is coming up, but has no reference point for it. The rally driver is tuned to picking up any clues that can tell him what is up ahead.

 

I'd say that, by definition, RP's on a track are fixed. You react to them by anticipation. The street has nothing fixed because there may be oil spread across the road since your last visit, so your braking reference point may be wrong.

 

So I guess, instead of thinking of RP's for the street, I put more emphasis on looking for clues ie the tops of trees to know which way the road turns and how sharply beyond the blind rise ahead. That way I anticipate the type of corner before I get to it. I'm not surprised by it.

 

Maybe having dabbled some in winter rallying has something to do with this. smile.gif

 

Anyways, just some thoughts.

 

 

Bruno

Montreal, Canada

http://pages.videotron.com/mcrides

Gerbing Cascade Extreme jacket review

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What track skills would also be valuable on the street? AND/OR What street skills would translate to the track?Misti

 

Scratched my head and came up with some points that I keep top-of-mind when I ride.

 

Increased awareness. I always think of riding as being similar to piloting rather than driving. And a good pilot has good situational awareness. Awareness to surroundings (track or street) and your bike and how it interfaces with its surroundings (traction levels etc). For street, awareness of possible bogies ie left-turning cager, oil, dogs running out etc. Real-world bogies to contend with requiring good good situational awareness.

 

Smoothness at controls (throttle, brakes, gear shifts), so as to not apply sudden or upsetting inputs to chassis. Good for street and track. Especially so when riding in the heavy rain on the street, where traction is minimized and any sudden input has more of an effect.

 

Looking ahead of where you are. Track riding encourages this, since the faster you go, the further up you need to look. Excellent when applied to street riding. Especially so when riding in rain, where you need to anticipate earlier rather than wait to be surprised by something coming up, requiring sudden input.

 

Setting up corner entry speed appropriate for the radius and traction conditions so as to not approach too slow or too fast. For the street, radius is often less clear as are tractions conditions. So going in slower is a safer approach. Waiting for a late apex before turn-in, if the radius is not immediately obvious. Allows us to not run wide on exit if the corner is decreasing radius.

 

Relaxed at controls, not imparting input to chassis through handlebars. Also not imparting input to chassis by unnecessary body movement after turn-in. Let's the bike do its job to the best of its ability without rider interference. Applies to both street and track.

 

Smooth and effective application of brakes. Applies to both street and track. Especially effective when braking in heavy rain on street with no ABS.

 

A focus to look at and process the right things. As we ride, we are surrounded by info. What we choose to focus on (either street or track) makes a huge difference. On the street, clues are often numerous, but sometimes not recognized. So being alert to recognizing clues. BTW, this is a perfect reverse example for the left-turning cager. Clues apply to riders and drivers.

 

The track allows you to progressively explore your limits in a much safer environment (the street is not the place for that).

 

Develop a more accurate sense of available traction at the track that can then be applied on the street.

 

Becoming used to processing more of the right information on the track, and maybe even at a faster rate, pays dividends on the street.

 

I'd say these are some of the basic tools in my normal riding chest that I keep top-of-mind.

 

Bruno

Montreal, Canada

http://pages.videotron.com/mcrides

Gerbing Cascade Extreme jacket review

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As an example, I believe one of the highest statistical causes of motorcycle crashes, when no other vehicle is involved (Alcohol excepted), is due to failure to negotiate a corner. I believe this is due to lack of rider skills or “survival skills”. The reason this happens is freezing up due to fear or lack of confidence. I have read many posts over the years from people who have experienced this type of crash. I have had friends crash for this very reason and the usual response is that in looking back they stated they could have made it had they leaned the bike over, or let the brakes go, not fixated on some object on or off the road, or just not frozen up.

 

 

smile.gif

 

I am one of those riders. Less than 6 months after I started riding again, I high sided on a loose gravel on a freshly sealed road. Thought I couldn't make the corner. Locked up the rear brake. When I got off the rear brake the bike tossed me off like a bucking bull.

 

Yes, looking back after tens of thousands of miles I have ridden since then, I could have made the turn if I had trusted my tires and not locked up the rear brake.

 

I agree completely, when under pressure, we do what we have practiced. That is why I practice stopping, as quickly as possible, often. Hope I never have to do it for real but want to be ready if I do.

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I agree completely, when under pressure, we do what we have practiced.

 

Very true. And practice can be physical and/or mental.

One thing that works for me in many sports is mental rehearsal. This has benefits for both track and street riding. When something occurs unexpectedly, you typically don't have time to figure out how to respond, whether on track or street. If you've mentally rehearsed the possibility, you've already decided how you'll react should a situation occur. Then it's just a question of executing your plan rather than figuring it out. So I'll mentally rehearse some situations ahead of time.

 

 

Bruno

Montreal, Canada

http://pages.videotron.com/mcrides

 

Gerbing Cascade Extreme jacket review

:

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  • 3 weeks later...
I agree completely, when under pressure, we do what we have practiced.

 

Very true. And practice can be physical and/or mental.

One thing that works for me in many sports is mental rehearsal. This has benefits for both track and street riding. When something occurs unexpectedly, you typically don't have time to figure out how to respond, whether on track or street. If you've mentally rehearsed the possibility, you've already decided how you'll react should a situation occur. Then it's just a question of executing your plan rather than figuring it out. So I'll mentally rehearse some situations ahead of time.

:

 

This is excellent stuff. I like the bit about doing what has been practiced. Though is it enough to just practice the skills? What makes something go from a learned "skill" to something that comes naturally in a bad situation?

 

Misti crazy.gif

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  • 2 weeks later...

Took Level1&2 at Blackhawk Farms. The best thing I took away was the visual skills. And while it may make me sound like a complete nut job the best way I can explain is two mental tasks or voices....

 

If you've ever watched WRC with the driver and the navigator, THAT is what developed in my head. In WRC, the driver has the car sideways in the muck and is executing the current turn perfectly. While the second, the navigator, is sitting there VERY calmly reading off what's coming next.

 

It was amazing when in my peripheral vision the rider voice is yelling "TAG" while hitting my RP on turn 3 (the big right hander where I always lost focus) and the navigator has already decided how to approach the next turn, and the next 2-3 RPs.

 

The navigator dialog is very different from the street to the track. But the role remains very much the same, to look further ahead and pick where the bike needs to be, and at what speed, in the near future.

 

Other big gains for me were confidence in the bike, importance of hydration and electrolytes for good concentration, and practice using the whole track/road.

 

But a common theme I'm reading here is track confidence causes higher street speeds. But the street brings some unknowns, hence less safety. Make up for that with better skills for dealing with the unknown.

 

Braking near or during a turn. Practice how to scrub speed when the unexpected happens. Perhaps chalk line off a big wide turn into a sharper turn and work on late braking? Plenty of room to run off if you get it wrong.

 

The instructors seemed able to place their bikes ANYWHERE on the track at any speed. Where I always seemed locked into my line. Maybe move the "X"'s around for a session, but don't mention it? Lie to us some how, make us get it wrong. Force us into mistakes and different lines in a controlled environment and we'll better learn to recover. Or maybe use passing as a chance to take a different line? Do a pass with a student in tow. Or even just lead and take some different lines, make some "mistakes" on purpose?

 

One of my truths about motorcycle riding is that whatever my instinct is will kill me. Too fast in a turn, better chop the throttle and grab the brakes says the instincts. Where skill overrides instinct for me is when I've already been there and done that a few times. When the bad situation I'm in isn't bad anymore, it's just different.

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of my truths about motorcycle riding is that whatever my instinct is will kill me. Too fast in a turn, better chop the throttle and grab the brakes says the instincts. Where skill overrides instinct for me is when I've already been there and done that a few times. When the bad situation I'm in isn't bad anymore, it's just different.

 

Hey, this is really good and I totally agree with that. I guess that is where practice and learning the skills come into play. The more you are able to practice something, the more instinctual it then becomes....so that being said....if you are able to practice certain skills on the track they can then translate to the street....and you can continue to practice what you learned on the street and take it to the track!

 

I remember one specific instance of something I learned on the street that I then took to racing...it made me faster and better. I noticed that when I rode behind the lead rider on the street I was more comfortable and faster than if I was leading. During an endurance race, after I had ridden about 45 minutes, I stared thinking about that fact and it brought my eyes up the track a bit so I was looking further ahead. Suddenly, I didn't seem to be approaching the corner so fast and my entry speed seemed more managable....I took a second off my best ever lap time in the last 15 minutes of my riding session. It is something specific I figured out from street riding that helped with my racing....

 

just my two cents...thanks for all the great comments

 

clap.gif

 

Misti

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