By Reg Pridmore
Originally printed in Motorcyclist Magazine many years ago, it still rings true today.
Sooner or later, it hits even the best rider — the sudden realization that your approach speed is much too fast for the corner rapidly filling your faceshield. It doesn’t matter if you’re a commuter cruising home from work or a racer who just suffered a lapse of attention at speed; riding out of this mess gracefully demands attention, skill and mental preparedness. Let’s take the problem a stage at a time.
DECIDE TO MAKE IT: Your first emotion should be a firm determination to “ride through the corner”. You have to stay mentally strong and suppress any doubts, which can quickly explode into panic, and can overwhelm your ability to take charge of the situation. Too often a rider panics and locks the rear brake, losing his ability to control the situation. He then slides off a corner that he could have made if he simply had been resolved to do so.
Some riders simply freeze, and never make any control inputs at all. It’s more common for a rider to crash when he panics entering a corner that he could have completed than it is for a rider to fall trying to corner too hard. Learn to relax and maintain your body position and motorcycle control in these high-pressure circumstances.
LEAD WITH YOUR EYES: You go where you look, so LOOK UP THE ROAD AND THROUGH THE CORNER where you want to go. Don’t let you eyes begin searching for a place to crash. Part of overcoming panic is wrenching your eyes away from the ditch or railing or even the open field looming ahead and putting them where you want to turn. It’s also the first step in actually turning that way.
BRAKE DEEP, LEAN HARD: If there’s ever a moment when your braking practice pays off, it’s now. As long as you have some significant pavement ahead, there is room to brake. The slower you go, the tighter an arc you can ride through the corner. Of course, the closer you come to the edge of the lane, the tighter an arc you NEED to stay there. Given sufficient room and hard enough braking, at some point your speed drops below the point at which you can safely lean it over and drive through the corner. That speed is probably higher than you realize, however, unless you have spent some time on a racetrack exploring the outer edges of your bike’s performance abilities. The only way you will learn how much your bike has left and how to use it fully is to practice
LEARN FROM THIS EXPERIENCE: A close call should reinforce your confidence if you handle it successfully, reminding you that you have a reserve to tap. It should also remind you of your limitations. In other words, either know your road, or slow down.
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DISCLAIMER: TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THE AUTHORS ACCEPT NO LIABILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES RESULTING FROM THE USE OF THESE TECHNIQUES OR RELIANCE ON THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THEM. MOTORCYCLE RIDING IS AN INHERENTLY DANGEROUS ACTIVITY, AND YOU USE THESE TECHNIQUES AT YOUR OWN RISK.