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Over-coming survival instincts;


Huzband

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This subject has been in the back of my mind since I did RideSmart. It was brought up briefly, but time was not sufficient to discuss it. I don't have the answer, so this is more of a question.

 

After road-riding for more than 30 years, I realized at RS that I've been using survival instincts as a crutch all too often. Now, one of the goals of RS is to eliminate the need for those instincts. Even if you get into a corner too hot, or it tightens up on you, there's still plenty of bike & tire left to drive around it.

 

All well & good, but what about the instinctual reaction that's still ingrained in your brain? During the last weekend in the mountains, it only happened once, but it still happened. I recognized my mistake immediately. It was a blind right-hander. I wasn't too hot in, but I fixated on the yellow line. Rather than using my RS training to complete the corner, I tensed up, rolled the throttle back slightly, & even feathered in a little brake. I didn't cross the line, but I was on it by the finish of the corner. Had I used RS, I would have driven around it, with plenty in my pocket.

 

So, this was when I really started to give this issue serious thought. How do you overcome it? I don't see parking lot practice as helpful, as you know you can't get into trouble.

 

I know a lot of you have more experience in this area than I do, so I'll sit back & glean info from your wisdom.

 

Thanks, & I hope this helps others, as well.

 

RideSmart.

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How do you overcome it?

 

Real world practice and always thinking ahead.

 

I realize that parking lot work is tedious and not always "real world" but it can help you in becoming more comfortable with reactions and thinking ahead.

 

As you are riding, try to think ahead about what-ifs. What if this corner tighens up on me? What do I need to do rather than how will I react based on instinct and past habits? What if an animal darts out in front of me?

 

Go out and ride some roads you know well and practice what-if situations. Find a curve that you know is a decreasing radius and practice slowly. Go into a turn slowly and practice your reactions based on a number of scenarios, like animals, etc.

 

RidingSmart is a wonderful set of tools but those tools take practice. If you've been riding a long time, with many years of bad habits, you may need a lot of practice.

 

I did and still do.

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Don't think of it as "overcoming" survival instincts. Think instead about honing them so that your first reaction when you realize that you've fixated on the yellow line is to look up and through the turn. We're all prone to target fixation; we're all going to be hot into a corner at some point. Those situations don't need to invoke panic.

 

The point of the parking lot drills is to build good habits that you will fall back on when thinking time gets short.

 

A corrolary to this is to use good riding technique all the time, even when it's not "necessary."

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This subject has been in the back of my mind since I did RideSmart. It was brought up briefly, but time was not sufficient to discuss it. I don't have the answer, so this is more of a question.

 

After road-riding for more than 30 years, I realized at RS that I've been using survival instincts as a crutch all too often. Now, one of the goals of RS is to eliminate the need for those instincts. Even if you get into a corner too hot, or it tightens up on you, there's still plenty of bike & tire left to drive around it.

 

All well & good, but what about the instinctual reaction that's still ingrained in your brain? During the last weekend in the mountains, it only happened once, but it still happened. I recognized my mistake immediately. It was a blind right-hander. I wasn't too hot in, but I fixated on the yellow line. Rather than using my RS training to complete the corner, I tensed up, rolled the throttle back slightly, & even feathered in a little brake. I didn't cross the line, but I was on it by the finish of the corner. Had I used RS, I would have driven around it, with plenty in my pocket.

 

So, this was when I really started to give this issue serious thought. How do you overcome it? I don't see parking lot practice as helpful, as you know you can't get into trouble.

 

I know a lot of you have more experience in this area than I do, so I'll sit back & glean info from your wisdom.

 

Thanks, & I hope this helps others, as well.

 

RideSmart.

 

Danny, come up with & PRACTICE new basic instincts.. Sit down with yourself & come up with (make a list) of a game plan that you want to be your NEW basic instincts.. THEN, practice that daily (even every time you ride)..

Intentionally ride into a corner too hot & practice the correct reactive actions… Intentionally dodge small pot holes or road cracks at the last minute.. Practice hard braking in a curve by changing the line & standing the bike up..

 

Every time I ride I practice evasive maneuvers,, imaginary debris dodging,, what if’s, if that car makes a sudden L/H turn in front of me,, fast line changes in a curve,, etc.. The more you practice (ALL) the what if’s the more ingrained they become.. When you have practiced the new instincts more than the old ingrained ones the new become your basic instinct..

 

Twisty

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ShovelStrokeEd

Danny,

Here is what I did.

Took awhile to get it too.

I made, by dint of constant practice, the RS thing my survival reaction. I spent a whole day doing the RS with David instructing and I still didn't really have it by the end of the day. Proven on the way back when I went chasing after Larry and promptly threw away the whole day's instruction cause I was running much faster and fell back on my old habits. Follwed Baker after that little exercise and he was kind enough to keep the pace reasonable and exaggerate his own movements so that, by imitation, it came back within 20 miles or so.

 

Next day, I was up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and trying to work it out on my own. What I wound up doing, I really wasn't interested in a speeding ticket, was to come into the corner at a moderate speed and then delay my turn-in until I was way late. Then I simply applied the RS movement and position to get me around. Now, way late was really late, delay till I figured I wouldn't make the curve, period. Then just gently move inboard with the upper body and rail the bike around the curve. Result was some strange lines as my late became later and later, but it did what I wanted. Instead of stiff arming the bars and chopping the throttle, I just calmly shifted some weight inside, rolled on a bit more gas and giggled at how easy it all was.

 

I really think the most important lesson I learned was that you can almost always make the corner at even some silly increments over reasonable and proper. Also, the RS thing works even better if you do all your movement and setup before the corner, leaving you nothing to think about but the near future line and the road ahead.

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Danny, it might help to rephrase "overcoming survival instincts" with "recognizing survival instincts." Only when you recognize that you are you are in a survival instinct situation can you begin THINKING about a way out. It's the thinking part which will save your bacon.

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What I think some of us are alluding to (or at least I am!) is that unless you intentionally put yourself into some sort of situation where you have two choices on how to react; the old way or the new way, you will never actually afford your brain the chance to re-train itself. You must create and practice situations where RS is required then by successfully executing it your conscious self confidence in the technique, and more importantly your ability to execute, it will build. At the same time your sub-conscious "survival instinct" will begin to be reconditioned into what is it's new correct response.

 

Actually you've made one jump in recognizing at the time that 'this is the right thing to do'. The next step is to change right not what you are doing mid-process. E.g - get off the brakes even when your other side of your brain is screaming 'stay on them.' FORCE yourself right then and there to do the other thing. It take summoning up real actual courage, but you can. The next time it you force yourself to confront the situation it will be a bit easier, then the next time and the next time, until eventually it will be come second nature and your re-training of that particular survival instinct/reaction will be complete.

 

There's also a certain element of a mindset that your not going to give in to this mistake (of the moment) no matter what. Tell yourself that under no circumstances will you scum to the improper reaction. Then don't! Kind of a mixture of stubbornness and self-confidence.

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russell_bynum
Danny, it might help to rephrase "overcoming survival instincts" with "recognizing survival instincts." Only when you recognize that you are you are in a survival instinct situation can you begin THINKING about a way out. It's the thinking part which will save your bacon.

 

I disagree.

 

If you're in SR-mode, you CAN NOT think.

 

Your brain is in "I must do something so that I don't die." mode and will be blocking all other logical input.

 

Your best bet is to train to avoid the SR in the first place.

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Danny, it might help to rephrase "overcoming survival instincts" with "recognizing survival instincts." Only when you recognize that you are you are in a survival instinct situation can you begin THINKING about a way out. It's the thinking part which will save your bacon.

 

I disagree.

 

If you're in SR-mode, you CAN NOT think.

 

Your brain is in "I must do something so that I don't die." mode and will be blocking all other logical input.

 

Your best bet is to train to avoid the SR in the first place.

 

Russell, I'm not sure what you mean by SR-mode. Survival reaction-mode? I'll hold the rest of my response until I correctly understand what that means. smile.gif

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russell_bynum

I mean...once you go into that panic "Oh sh*t I'm running wide and I'm going to die." mode, you brain stops listening to other inputs. You can't think your way out of it, because you can't think.

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I mean...once you go into that panic "Oh sh*t I'm running wide and I'm going to die." mode, you brain stops listening to other inputs. You can't think your way out of it, because you can't think.

 

Gotcha. I understand what you are saying, but I would argue that if you can't think, you're going to die. Although carefully practiced responses may get you through some of those situations, thinking is the only way to get through the ones you couldn't have practiced. This is much the same as being able to "see" in these situations. Being able to not focus on the hazard, but rather look for a way out.

 

I find that quickly coming to the realization that one is in a panic situation is the crucial first step toward overcoming the natural instinct to panic.

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After I got my 12ST, I took it to Deal's Gap during a lull and practiced. The relentless next curve coming forces setting up repeatedly.

 

I started the day with the feeling that the ST felt vague in curves. I found that I had not yet become comfortable on it and was fighting it. After two trips through the Dragon, technically and thoughtfully, I felt right at home, and could finally let the bike take the curves.

 

I learned one lesson when I was drawing out all of my RS account on one curve - I had not been setting up for the next curve. I would set up and run one, then stumble through the next. Once I realized this, I began to set up for this one and the next as appropriate.

 

I got that object lesson on the way back from Cashiers, NC where there is no guard rail. In a left hander where there is no guard rail, motivation is strong and the memory lasting.

 

Of course, we have all these bad roads here in SC and NC, so I am forced to practice quite often. I may have to go practice Monday.

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russell_bynum
Gotcha. I understand what you are saying, but I would argue that if you can't think, you're going to die. Although carefully practiced responses may get you through some of those situations, thinking is the only way to get through the ones you couldn't have practiced. This is much the same as being able to "see" in these situations. Being able to not focus on the hazard, but rather look for a way out.

 

I find that quickly coming to the realization that one is in a panic situation is the crucial first step toward overcoming the natural instinct to panic.

 

Indeed.

 

Once the amygdala takes over, it can be nearly impossible for the neocortex to regain control.

 

The best option is making a concerted effort to avoid the panic situation in the first place. Failing that, the sooner you can wrestle control back, the better. But once you get into the panic, you're already behind the curve.

 

I had an instance on the track last weekend. I'd been through the turn a zillion times already. This particular time, I missed my turn-in point by a few feet. No big deal really, but it threw me off a bit. I found myself running a little wide. Not so much that I'd go off track, but more than I intended....I was going to miss my exit point. Now...the logical thing to do would have been to hook the bike in, return to my desired line, and get on with my day. I had a panic moment. "Oh God, I'm running wide!" Of course, the "Yeah, but it's no big deal." message never made it through, nor did "And all you have to do is hook the bike back onto your line."

 

Instead, my amygdala took over and I tensed up. Of course, that just makes you run wide. Which made the panic worse....more tensing...more running wide, etc.

 

I finished the turn, running wide all the way through, and still had a whole bunch of racetrack to work with. I was out of shape for the next turn, but that's no big deal.

 

I had all the tools to fix the problem. I had the knowledge that it wasn't really a problem even if I couldn't fix it. But all of that went out the window when my brain said "Oh my God, I'm running wide."

 

What was wrong? It was 110F and my brain was medium-well. eek.gif I didn't have the mental focus that I normally have. Normally, the panic would have never even materialized. I'd just see that I missed my turn point, hook the bike, and be back on line and on the gas without giving it a second thought. In other words, I would have kept everything in the neocortex where I can control it. The fatigue brought my guard down, and when a situation arose where things weren't going the way I planned, the primal fight or flight mechanism took over. Had I been in a different turn where my line would normally lead me right out to the track's edge intentionally, I would have run off into the dirt and probably crashed.

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ShovelStrokeEd

Steve,

I tend to agree with Russell and Ken. I forget where I read it so I can't make an attribution but the phrase "Fear is the mind killer", I think, pretty well describes a panic reaction. Once you have entered into panic mode you have already lost the battle. Yeah, your conscious mind can argue down that lizard brain but it is a long fight and a tough one and the road is still curving or that car is still turning left and you are getting closer all the time.

 

Panic sets in when you don't know what to do. That is the salient point, I think. Once you have trained yourself to react appropriately, or more important in the Riding Smart sense, prepared yourself before hand, you will know what to do and therefore, won't panic. This is what Ken meant by pushing your envelope so you can become familiar with the signs of impending panic and train your brain to react the way it should.

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Only reading on RS has been from a little on this forum,so can't make any comment on that.............

 

Survival "instincts" and survival "reactions" are wholey different in my pea brain and is delt with accordingly.Kieth Code's teaching is where I came to grips with SR's.It took a cpl years and many tens of thousands of peg dragging miles to overcome SR's.

 

Survival instincts on the other hand need to be cultivated.Around here we have Deer and dipsh*t linecrossers

to deal with on a daily basis.Making plans/strategies and practice is what works for me.Then let the SI's run on a sort of radar,for lack of better description.One of my best SI stories was at the Gap.Had a decent pace that day and came up on a blind rty with a hunting dog right about turn-in.He was easily missed but could tell from body language and spidey sense that something wasn't right........so instead of blazing past the thing I got on the binders pretty hard.......and believe me at this point I sure as heck ain't looking or fixating on the mut......looking deep into turn for whats setting off my SI's.Sure enough,it was a cpl of his mates right on the raci.....err,uhh in my lane.

 

 

Taming,understanding SR's are the key to being able to use you SI's.Its also the key to better and more enjoyable riding,be that at peg dragging rates or more sedate paces.Read some of Code's stuff.And practice ultra accurate lane position.Best of luck,BW

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Survival "instincts" and survival "reactions" are wholey different
Good point. I'm actually rather fond of my survival instincts, they're what helps me, well, survive. It's our survival reactions that at times need work!

 

I think the key is learning and knowing that you and your bike can do 'other things' so that your survival reaction is more appropriate than before.

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Bill_Walker
I forget where I read it so I can't make an attribution but the phrase "Fear is the mind killer", I think, pretty well describes a panic reaction.

 

[off topic]

"Dune", by Frank Herbert, and it's various sequels:

 

The Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear.

Pg 19 of Dune

 

I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

 

[/off topic]

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Couchrocket

Great thread. Thanks.

 

I agree with what's been said, and even see "the differences in perspective" as more a matter of "degree" than real differences.

 

What Russell says is really important I think... re fatigue, and I'll extrapolate from that to a more general statement of what I understand / experience.

 

Summary of the good stuff I've gleaned from this thread so far:

 

Survival tactics / instincts are a completely different animal than are "survival reactions." The former are really defensive driving tactics, attitudes, experience gained in riding that help us not be taken out by great horned rats, sand, cages, etc. The latter, are really "panic" reactions where our purely human instincts and reactions almost always are counter what what "ought to be done" to keep the bike on its wheels and completing whatever maneuvers will keep us alive and our machines undamaged.

 

In thinking about Russell's comment about 110F and fatigue, and comments about practice, practice, practice -- and in my own experience -- I begin to see that practice, and muscle memory can lower our susceptibility to SR's defeating us. On the other hand, it would appear that perhaps they "never go away completely" (are just pushed deeper into the background) and also that our individual "threshold" for them "cropping up" isn't fixed in relationship to our training, but also involves lots of other factors like fatigue, mental state, how rested we are ( or not ), distractions and the like. So, we need to be aware of our "overall fitness for the ride" and adjust accordingly knowing that our SR threshold may be affected.

 

I know that (even though I'm still slow! grin.gif ) since my Riding Smart class and with continued practice, and always riding in "Practice Mode" for the most part... that the number of times I get to my threshold of SR's has diminished dramatically from only a few years ago. And in general I'm a little faster a slow-person than I was before, and more capable with more of a margin in my riding.

 

Is this a great group, or what? thumbsup.gif

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ShovelStrokeEd

That's it!!!!

 

Actually I wouldn't place it off topic at all. A good mantra to run through your head whilst working on this stuff.

 

Been 20 years since I read that stuff but the entire series is on my bookshelf so I now have something else to do of a rainy night.

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Honestly... track days.

 

There is no better environment for training yourself to react in certain ways. Someone said on my first or second track day that the best piece of advice they'd ever heard (I think they credited Jason Pridmore), was to never give up on a corner. It is always better to ride the bike right into the ground in a lowside than to stand it up on the brakes and then highside in the dirt, especially since in the vast majority of cases, simply steering the bike through the corner will have you coming out the other side of the turn with the rubber still on the ground. I think about that a lot at the track, especially back in the early days, when I still made occasional mistakes that would put me into the runoff. It's been years since I've run wide enough in a turn to wind up off the track, almost entirely because my body has learned that the better reaction to any event is to steer the bike rather than nail the brakes. But more importantly, wth all the track practice, I just don't make the kind of mistakes that are likely to run me wide anymore. I can't even remember the last time I had to run wide in a corner for any reason, including gravel or other schmutz, let alone just cause I overcooked the turn. Even if I were to have a pucker moment, I am so comfortable with large lean angles and occasionally having to make pretty dramatic line corrections either on the brakes on corner entry or even mid-turn, that there is no question that my reflex would be to lean/steer the bike, not stand it up.

 

--sam

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Matts_12GS

That's sort of like the advice given to WWI pilots during flight training.

 

"Fly the aircraft as deeply into the crash as may regain control of the aircraft before impact."

 

That's been good advice for me and has helped me get most of the way over my habit of "bailing out" of corners when I was too hot, too wide, too xxx. I'm still not great at it by any measure, but RS sure did help me out this past weekend.

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I haven't taken the Ride Smart course, but have read about it numerous times and it seems to be an excellent technique. I plan to take the course someday. I think you are 90% down the path toward better technique since you obviously recognize your habitual responses! That's always the first step toward growth.

 

After road-riding for more than 30 years....

 

Have you ever ridden a dirt bike? I grew up on them (been riding for 44 years and counting), riding and racing all manner of competition from trials to enduros, motocross, flat track, anything and everything on two wheels (and I love mountain biking - another story of it's own!). Dirt riding is ALWAYS a compromised traction situation. You have to learn to read and react to the terrain in "real time" (bumps, holes, drops, etc.), it just flows through your mind and you react instinctively - there's no time for any other alternative. My instructors and fellow riders used to say "anything closer than fifteen or twenty feet is HISTORY", meaning you can't react in time to make any changes even if you were aware of the need. Of course at highway speeds your attention should be much further out. So you have to be feeling your way with your attention out ahead, assessing your speed, braking traction, accelerating traction, cornering traction, a million factors all rushing through your senses. It's quite exhilarating and involves your whole being in the experience - that's why we ride! This also assumes you are intimately familiar with the machine you are riding - it's capabilities, assets and weaknesses, power curve, braking performance, feel of the clutch, gearing, weight, suspension, on and on. You must get familiar and comfortable with allowing the machine to move around underneath you, not being locked into one riding position. These machines are amazingly capable of soaking up the terrain if you just let them do what they were designed to do. Another plus is that it doesn't usually hurt as bad when you fall down, either. tongue.gif

 

So anyway, it has been my experience that dirt riding teaches you things about riding conditions, your machine, and your abilities in a way that is very complimentary to road riding. You will build skills that translate very well to riding on asphalt. I can't speak from experience, but I have observed a number of times that street skills don't always translate well to dirt; most experienced street riders I've met had a steep learning curve when they headed off-road for the first time. If you can afford it and have someplace to ride, I strongly recommend getting a little dualsport bike and getting out in the dirt, mud, sand and playing with that as another tool to build your skills with. Oh, by the way, it's really FUN too! thumbsup.gif

 

Just two weeks ago I got another lesson in this... We were riding home from Torrey and did the scenic Poudre Canyon road between Walden and Fort Collins, Colorado. The road goes over Cameron Pass at 10,250 feet elevation then winds for endless twisty miles down Poudre Canyon. It was raining a little, so we were going a little slower than normal. The lesson came when I shot into a corner a little too fast, drifted to the center line and got intimate with the fact that not only was the center line paint a little slick from the rain, but it's also got a rumble strip built into it! Talk about limited traction all of a sudden! I felt the GS skitter sideways a little but instead of tensing up or braking or rolling off the throttle I just let the bike do it's thing under me and stayed in my position... Voila, it rolled through the crappy traction section and back onto asphalt in my lane just like it was supposed to. I didn't even have to change my diaper afterwards.

 

Man, I sure love motorcycle riding! grin.gifthumbsup.gif

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That's sort of like the advice given to WWI pilots during flight training.

 

"Fly the aircraft as deeply into the crash as may regain control of the aircraft before impact."

 

I love Ron White's line, as he's asked a desperate question by his seat mate as the plane loses power and starts to dive.

 

"How far do you think we'll make it?"

 

"Well, I'm not positive, but I'm guessing we'll make it to the scene of the crash." tongue.gif

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Have you ever ridden a dirt bike?

 

He's actually ridden...and raced...dirt bikes, and would kick most of our butts. I know this from experience! grin.gif

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I have worked on my technique since attending RS. I really like David's analogy relating to a mechanism to signal our body that "we are ready to raise the intensity a bit". For me, this relates to getting our body in a position to control the bike. I believe this has helped me to focus better on my lines and I always feel like I "something left" using the RS technique. I do know that before taking RS that if I was way too hot into a corner it took a lot for me to stay off the brake and I haven't experienced that urge since the RS. I really enjoyed RS and I believed it gave me a "kick start" to reevaluate what goes on between my ears as well!

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Have you ever ridden a dirt bike?

 

He's actually ridden...and raced...dirt bikes, and would kick most of our butts. I know this from experience! grin.gif

 

 

Thanks, David. I appreciate that.

 

BTW, any input on my query?

 

You're one of the people I was most hoping would respond.

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That's a tough question, and one I'm still cogitating on. I think I'll have more clarity in a few years--right now it's just clearer than it used to be, but still fuzzy.

 

I was driving (not riding) in Seattle this week in the rain, and the cars in front of me stopped suddenly, on an decline at that. Instinctively I slammed the brakes on, activating the ABS. The technology in the car stopped me in time, but with no thanks to my skills. I was surprised at myself for the panic reaction.

 

On motorcycles, though, my survival instincts are much more tamed and available to do as I tell them. Why, though, since I have so many more miles in cars/trucks/buses than I do on two wheels? Probably because I treat motorcycling like a sport and I've practiced for hundreds of hours. Maybe thousands.

 

In these last four days on the track (see separate thread on what it's like to do 58 sessions in a row), there were about a dozen instances when I felt my survival instincts rising to the surface. In each case, time slowed down and my heart didn't even quicken. I calmly did the right thing to avoid an incident. Click here to see a 1 minute video (30+ MB) of avoiding a high side at 100+ mph by resisting the urge to chop the throttle when the rear end of the Tuono came around. Click here to see a much smaller version of the same 1 minute video (2 MB).

 

Here's what I believe at the moment:

 

1) Survival instincts cannot be removed, so just aim to tame them. They come from deep within us, prompted by the evolutionary forces that kept us alive.

 

2) Technology is far ahead of the body, and our survival instincts are feeling very disrespected, if that makes any sense. We constantly ignore them by doing things the body was never designed to do, like fly upside down in a jet at 1,000 mph. Or bungee jump off a high bridge. Or ride a motorcycle at 210 mph. So it's no wonder that we're out of sync. You dive off your boat dock into a lake and your body tells you to keep your mouth, nose, and eyes closed. You go to Cancun and go scuba diving on a reef and retrain your body to keep your mouth, nose, and eyes open.

 

3) One reason we have to reorient our survival instincts is because our natural environment has changed. How far ahead did a human every need to look? You could walk, even run, maybe even ride a fast horse and never approach the speeds we do now. Picture a warrior galloping on a horse at 30 mph, looking for obstacles or hidden foes. His sight lines only need to be so far out in front. Fast forward 200 years (which is a "second" in evolutionary terms) and that same human is now a rider going 80 mph, scanning for crossing traffic. You can see how you'd have to retrain your natural instincts to look much farther ahead. All this to say that many of our survival instincts probably come from recent evolutionary needs that we're still liberating ourselves from.

 

4) Survival instincts are best tamed when you are concentrating, intent, focused, and engaged. I'm convinced that survival instincts kick in because we have not anticipated a situation. There is a direct connection between survival instincts and surprise, and few of us treat motorcycling with enough seriousness. As someone mentioned earlier in this thread, part of RidingSmart was to get your body in an engaged position so that your mind would follow, like a crouching sprinter right before the signal gun goes off. I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that a big, fast, powerful motorcycle is a vehicle to be used to convey me from one place to the next. To me, it's more of an attack ship meant to maneuver a hostile environment and escape to the other side. In that light, I've been toying with the idea of demonstrating this with a 3 minute video in traffic, where I talk into a microphone for those three mins, endlessly calling out dangers as I scan the horizon. All this to say that when you are riding actively, survival instincts are not as likely to take over than when you are riding passively and let something surprise you.

 

5) Just like the best way to warm a tire is to slowing ask it to do some work as you slowly lean the bike over, so too survival instincts can be trained by slowly putting yourself in a situation where the bile rises every so slightly in your throat and you must react properly. On a track, that's 1-2 mph faster than you took the same turn last time. It's a laborious process to bring yourself to the point where you find yourself way to fast in a corner and know the dozen or things you can do, all at once, to get you through it. It requires understanding, repetition, and some acquired confidence. The same training can be done on a parking lot--it's just not as fun.

 

So we're humans whose survival instincts are sometimes useful but often can kill us given advances in technology, and in those environments, only those who can fight them down will survive.

 

(And what a long-winded SOB I am.)

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russell_bynum

David,

Your conclusions pretty much match what Laurence Gonzalez said in Deep Survival

 

One example he used, was how we keep finding dead scuba divers with air still in their tanks and perfectly functioning regulators. In a moment of panic, they pulled their regulators out of their mouths, and died.

 

Why?

 

It turns out that lots of people have a very strong survival instinct that says that you can't breath when your mounth is covered. Something happened down there that made them panic, their amygdala took over, said "YOU CAN'T BREATH BECAUSE THERE'S SOMETHING COVERING YOUR MOUTH!!!", so they removed their regulators...and died.

 

Their reaction was correct...when viewed over the course of thousands of years of human evolution and survival. But, in the unnatural environment of a scuba diver deep in the ocean, it was the wrong thing.

 

Same with motorcycling. Lots of the reactions that will kill us on a motorcycle are actually the right thing to do when viewed in the context of a more natural environment.

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David,

Your conclusions pretty much match what Laurence Gonzalez said in Deep Survival.

 

Cool! I heard you guys talking about that book. I ordered it, but it hasn't arrived. Can't wait to read it.

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russell_bynum
David,

Your conclusions pretty much match what Laurence Gonzalez said in Deep Survival.

 

Cool! I heard you guys talking about that book. I ordered it, but it hasn't arrived. Can't wait to read it.

 

I think you'll really enjoy it.

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I've been toying with the idea of demonstrating this with a 3 minute video in traffic, where I talk into a microphone for those three mins, endlessly calling out dangers as I scan the horizon.

 

I was thinking of the same sort of video but edited with overlays of red and green to show where I saw dangers and exits. I don't think a monologue could be fast enough. In my video editing fantasy world, there's also an eye tracker showing where my eyes are actually looking. I think this sort of video would be very helpful as a training aid and we all need more training.

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Feel free to use it if you like. I have neither the video equipment nor editing skills to make it a reality any time soon.

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A while ago I posted something similar and thought this response from Steve made sense. I've done advanced rider courses where they call this mental training. Apparantly it is quite effective; when the time comes you do what you've practiced best/most frequent.

 

Mirim, I agree with what Mitch wrote. Practice is the best way to overcome these instincts.

 

But keep in mind, practice can be accomplished on and off the bike. When you have a free moment, imagine your way through various situations as if you were actually riding. Think about your posture, line, controls, environment and obstacles as you negotiate an imaginary roadway. Examine where and why survival instincts would occur and how best to deal with them.

 

Obviously, "simulation" doesn't replace actual practice, but it can help build a mental foundation upon which to develop your skills BEFORE you actually need them.

 

http://bmwsporttouring.com/ubbthreads/sh...&PHPSESSID=

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I mean...once you go into that panic "Oh sh*t I'm running wide and I'm going to die." mode, you brain stops listening to other inputs. You can't think your way out of it, because you can't think.

 

You've been reading Deep Survival, haven't you, Russell?

 

Pilgrim

 

(Oops! Posted before I read the rest of the thread. SOM.)

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I mean...once you go into that panic "Oh sh*t I'm running wide and I'm going to die." mode, you brain stops listening to other inputs. You can't think your way out of it, because you can't think.

 

You've been reading Deep Survival, haven't you, Russell?

 

Pilgrim

 

(Oops! Posted before I read the rest of the thread. SOM.)

 

 

 

Read his sig. line......dopeslap.gif

 

 

 

BTW...Best book I've read in a long time....Thanks to ya'll for suggesting it in an earlier thread.

 

Whip

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I mean...once you go into that panic "Oh sh*t I'm running wide and I'm going to die." mode, you brain stops listening to other inputs. You can't think your way out of it, because you can't think.

 

You've been reading Deep Survival, haven't you, Russell?

 

Pilgrim

 

(Oops! Posted before I read the rest of the thread. SOM.)

 

 

 

Read his sig. line......dopeslap.gif

 

I had been. (Now insert complex and irrelevant explanation of why it did not trigger the response I wrote before I read the text of his messages.)

 

 

BTW...Best book I've read in a long time....Thanks to ya'll for suggesting it in an earlier thread.

 

Whip

 

 

 

 

One of Gonzalez' best and most obvious thoughts is that to be survivor, the first and smartest thing you ought to do is stay out of do or die situations - which is what situational awareness is all about.

 

And his other particularly trenchant observation is that sometimes-you-are-just-screwed.

 

Pilgrim

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I mean...once you go into that panic "Oh sh*t I'm running wide and I'm going to die." mode, you brain stops listening to other inputs. You can't think your way out of it, because you can't think.

 

You've been reading Deep Survival, haven't you, Russell?

 

Pilgrim

 

(Oops! Posted before I read the rest of the thread. SOM.)

 

 

 

Read his sig. line......dopeslap.gif

 

I had been. (Now insert complex and irrelevant explanation of why it did not trigger the response I wrote before I read the text of his messages.)

 

 

BTW...Best book I've read in a long time....Thanks to ya'll for suggesting it in an earlier thread.

 

Whip

 

 

 

 

One of Gonzalez' best and most obvious thoughts is that to be survivor, the first and smartest thing you ought to do is stay out of do or die situations - which is what situational awareness is all about.

 

And his other particularly trenchant observation is that sometimes-you-are-just-screwed.

 

Pilgrim

 

 

The problem with your statement is that people have different ideas of what "do or die situations" are.

 

L. G.'s entire life would sound like a do or die situation to some people.

 

The very idea of riding a motorcycle is a "do or die" to my friends and family.

 

 

One of the things I got out of the books was that if your in a situation you've never been in before and things start to go bad, trusting your instincts is not the best idea. They have no point of reference....don't listen to them...think!!! Which brings us back to Danny's (Huzband) question.

 

You have to train yourself what to do in his case and give yourself a point of reference so your instincts will know what to do.....because otherwise your gonna to stand it up and get on the brakes...and get hurt!!!

 

Whip

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The very idea of riding a motorcycle is a "do or die" to my friends and family.

 

 

It is for me, too.

 

If I don't do it, I'll surely die. grin.gif

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russell_bynum

One of the things I got out of the books was that if your in a situation you've never been in before and things start to go bad, trusting your instincts is not the best idea. They have no point of reference....don't listen to them...think!!! Which brings us back to Danny's (Huzband) question.

 

You have to train yourself what to do in his case and give yourself a point of reference so your instincts will know what to do.....because otherwise your gonna to stand it up and get on the brakes...and get hurt!!!

 

Exactly. You have to build that secondary emotion that says "push the inside grip when the turn tightens up and good things will happen". Until you do that, you don't have a frame of reference to deal with the situation. You can't think fast enough to get yourself through it, so you fall back on "instincts"...which are almost always totally wrong in the context of piloting a high-powered, unstable 2-wheeled vehicle through a set of unforgiving corners.

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Interesting thread, I enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to reading the book Deep Survival that was recomended here as well.

 

My take on the idea of survival reactions is that they are "involuntary reactions" that more often than not, cause more problems than they solve. I don't think that survival reactions can ever be removed completely (even the best riders and racers still have to fight against them sometimes).

 

The best way to overcome them IMO is to train yourself (via practice, classes, reading and understanding) to reduce SR's from kicking in in the first place, AND, to train yourself to know what to do if your SR's DO kick in.

 

For example, if you learn how to enter a corner at a good speed, turn it in the right place and take the best line through the corner then you are less likely to have to fight with survival reactions that tell you you are going too fast, or running wide in a corner. Your SR's don't need to kick in because you used your riding skills to have a good run through the corner.

 

Then, if for any reason you run into a not so perfecrt situation (dirt in the corner, an obsticle you have to avoid, a corner that tightens up, you have the skills in your pocket to know what to do it a situation. You might tense up for a split second (but if you KNOW that tensing up is going to make the matter worse) you can recognize this and force yourself to relax and make the right choices.

 

I disagree with the idea that once an SR kicks in you can't think at all. I've been in situations where I've started to target fixate and then pulled my gaze away from the object and looked to where I wanted to go. Plus I've had situations where I've started to tense up (like in a tank slapper) and then forced myself to relax. It comes from practice (track days, racing, coaching) and from understanding the fundamentals of riding, why the body reacts to certain things and how the bike responds to those reactions.

 

The more you KNOW, the better you are able to ride and react accordingly.

 

I'm curious to know what you guys think the most common survival reaction is? What is the SR that you fight with most often?

 

Misti

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Couchrocket

What is the SR that you fight with most often?

For me it is those times when I've misjudged a curve / corner's radius and discover that it is tighter, and decreasing in radius. Not that I'm in "too hot" necessarily (though that will surely do it), but just that it is tightening up much more/faster than I judged. The SR is to "slow down" because it "feels too fast." For the record, 99.9% of the time I'm not "too fast" just surprised at how quickly things are tightening up. So, I must "put off" that SR, and force myself to realize that the bike is more than capable of negotiating this curve as long as I don't get in its way. Take advantage of more lean angle, stay "soft hands," gentle increase on throttle, more "kissing of the mirrors" and all is just fine -- but for that first "instant" it takes some "talking to myself" to overcome my SR.

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russell_bynum
What is the SR that you fight with most often?

For me it is those times when I've misjudged a curve / corner's radius and discover that it is tighter, and decreasing in radius. Not that I'm in "too hot" necessarily (though that will surely do it), but just that it is tightening up much more/faster than I judged. The SR is to "slow down" because it "feels too fast." For the record, 99.9% of the time I'm not "too fast" just surprised at how quickly things are tightening up. So, I must "put off" that SR, and force myself to realize that the bike is more than capable of negotiating this curve as long as I don't get in its way. Take advantage of more lean angle, stay "soft hands," gentle increase on throttle, more "kissing of the mirrors" and all is just fine -- but for that first "instant" it takes some "talking to myself" to overcome my SR.

 

Interesting. When I have that "I'm going too fast" reaction, I don't have a problem getting (gently) on the brakes. I'm fully prepared to lean the thing over, but I figure if I've misjudged the turn and I'm going to fast, I could crank in more lean angle and fix the immediate problem. But...I've already been wrong about one aspect of this turn. Correcting that wrong required me to eat into my margin (lean angle/traction). Am I confident that I didn't make any other mistakes in reading that corner? If I did make other mistakes, now I'm in it even deeper with even less margin to work with.

 

I'd rather feather in some brakes to get my speed down while I re-evaluate the corner. I can always add power when I figure out what's going on. And if I did misjudge the corner, then going slower is only going to make life better.

 

Note: That's for times when I've grossly miscalculated. If I'm just off by a bit and need a hair more lean to make it, and I can see where the turn is going, then I'll just crank in some more lean and keep going.

 

 

For me...my biggest problem is fixating on the outside edge of the road, particularly on left turns. Even when I physically turn my head and point my eyes where I want to go, my attention still wanders over there to no man's land where I don't want to go. The result is I tense up, and that pushes me wide. (which makes the problem worse).

 

The only solution I've found so far is to slow way down. When I'm going so slow that there's absolutely no worry about running wide then I don't have a problem keeping my attention where it belongs.

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Couchrocket

I'd rather feather in some brakes to get my speed down while I re-evaluate the corner.

 

Russell, for someone of your skill level, I agree completely, and there are times when I'm genuinely "too hot" and do feather in brakes as a first step in re-evaluating my situation. BUT, and this is an important "BUT" in my case -- I tend to be way too timid, in general, getting the bike "over" (you may remember from following me at Riding Smart -- I can remember watching myself on the video, and remembering how I "thought" I was really getting the bike leaned over into the turn, but in the video I'm almost bolt upright w/ my body off center!). So, in my case, what I'm talking about is a rider who thinks he's at 8/10ths who is really more like at 5/10ths and needs to overcome the SR that is in actuality coming on "way too soon" (if that makes sense?). Put it another way.... even when I've really had to keel the bike over, get on the gas, etc. as I "overcome" my SR... I've never yet dragged the peg feelers on my RT, even w/ Suburban peg lowering kit! There, that ought to put my particular situation in perspective! lmao.giflmao.giflmao.gif And since you prompted me to be so "forthcoming" about my skill level, and since we live so close together, how about some free riding lessons? grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif

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russell_bynum
I'd rather feather in some brakes to get my speed down while I re-evaluate the corner.

 

Russell, for someone of your skill level, I agree completely, and there are times when I'm genuinely "too hot" and do feather in brakes as a first step in re-evaluating my situation. BUT, and this is an important "BUT" in my case -- I tend to be way too timid, in general, getting the bike "over" (you may remember from following me at Riding Smart -- I can remember watching myself on the video, and remembering how I "thought" I was really getting the bike leaned over into the turn, but in the video I'm almost bolt upright w/ my body off center!). So, in my case, what I'm talking about is a rider who thinks he's at 8/10ths who is really more like at 5/10ths and needs to overcome the SR that is in actuality coming on "way too soon" (if that makes sense?). Put it another way.... even when I've really had to keel the bike over, get on the gas, etc. as I "overcome" my SR... I've never yet dragged the peg feelers on my RT, even w/ Suburban peg lowering kit! There, that ought to put my particular situation in perspective! lmao.giflmao.giflmao.gif And since you prompted me to be so "forthcoming" about my skill level, and since we live so close together, how about some free riding lessons? grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif

 

Definitely, the reaction depends on your own skills and limits.

 

The other important fact there is that Dick Frantz and I spent a fair amount of time practicing braking with the bike leaned over, so it doesn't faze me to have to do that. If you're not comfortable braking in a corner, it's probably not a good idea to try it in the heat of the moment. smile.gif

 

As for free lessons...one of these days I'll figure out how to put the camera on my Tuono and we can do a SoCal RideSmart.

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I've been in situations where I've started to target fixate and then pulled my gaze away from the object and looked to where I wanted to go. Plus I've had situations where I've started to tense up (like in a tank slapper) and then forced myself to relax.

 

Misti, reading your description, it doesn't sound like those situations involved survival insticts/reactions. A good response was critical to your immediate future so, in a sense, your reactions ensured your survival. But your training and experience delayed the point at which reactionary self-preservation kicks in. That's a good thing in the middle of a tank slapper.

 

I remember one time riding in the mountains on an unfamiliar road. I had just passed a few people and came up on a right-hand sweeper. My entry speed was beyond my comfort level, but I couldn't brake without jamming everybody up and the "runoff" to the left was open sky. I knew that I didn't want to go over the cliff, so I decided to trust my tires and make the turn. It could have been a panic situation but it wasn't. Tensing up would have been Very Bad Indeed. Instead, I looked through the turn and carried the sort of lean angle that sportbikes are designed for but for which I am not.

 

To get to your question, in general, my biggest riding worry is not having enough space/time to stop for something unexpected. I manage this by riding at a moderate pace -- very moderate compared to some here. If I were more devoted to developing my braking technique, I could probably extend that comfort zone.

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I know that (even though I'm still slow! grin.gif ) since my Riding Smart class and with continued practice, and always riding in "Practice Mode" for the most part... that the number of times I get to my threshold of SR's has diminished dramatically from only a few years ago. And in general I'm a little faster a slow-person than I was before, and more capable with more of a margin in my riding.

 

Is this a great group, or what? thumbsup.gif

 

+1

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And his other particularly trenchant observation is that sometimes-you-are-just-screwed.

 

Depends on the individual's 'decision' of at what point they will 'give up'.

 

That's partly 'mentally' as in allowing the SRs to take and keep control, partly down to knowledge and skills, and partly down to preparedness to use that knowldege and skill.

 

eg Going hot in to a blind turn, do you have the knowledge and skill to tighten your line, and will you have mentally prepared yourself for the likelyhood before turning in.

 

Of course there's another level: what skills & knowledge could you gain?

Braking, swerving, and steering to tighten a line, are well-known examples.

 

But there are others which just might never occur to some riders:

eg http://www.cooperbiketraining.org.uk/games/games.htm

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