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GO PLAY ON THE FREEWAY

by SPEEDSLUG

All right, you've memorized the 'look where you want to go' mantra. The parking lot is finally mastered. You decide to hit the road and try a slightly curvy road for the first time. Things are going good until the first car coming from the opposite direction 'catches' your attention. There you are in mid turn and you CANT TAKE your eyes off the hood emblem. Good thing you're going slow, as you covered quite a bit of road while riding blind. The next one will get better you tell yourself, 'I'll really concentrate this time'. Next car turns out to be a big ole pickup and now it really has your attention. You can clearly read the words 'CHEVROLET' and is that front grill huge. By the third car, you may as well have a necklace made out of the famous Mercedes hood ornament! You go home, throw your gloves down, maybe kick the wall and stub your toe.

Ok, so how did this 'look where you want to go' jazz, get mixed into target fixation? Easy. Distraction and not enough work on looking where you want to go when you have multiple tasks to do at one time. (throttle, brake, cars, turning, etc) You know that if you keep looking at the oncoming car during a turn the bike is going to plow right into the front bumper one of these days. You've got the parking lot practice down, but the oncoming traffic caught you unprepared. What's a rider to do?

Here's a suggestion that will take you to the next step. Turning with traffic and working on the 'look ahead' while not having any oncoming cars to distract you developing this one move: On ramps. Yeah, the freeway kind. They have a constant or decreasing radius turn situation with some cars, but everyone is going in the same direction. Find an easy one at first, then move on towards tighter and tighter on/off ramps as you develop your look ahead skills. Break it down into look ahead find your exit point, then look ahead exit point, etc. Concentrate on NOT looking where you are or what's 10 feet in front of you. You want your eyes to be 50 to 100 feet ahead of you depending on the type of turn searching for the exit of that turn.

Now I'm presuming that you're ok with highway speeds by now and if there are too many cars, wait till Sunday morning and spend 20-30 minutes going over the same ramps again and again. Why the same ramp over and over? By working a familiar bit of road, you will have more mental time to spend working on your technique. With a little practice you will be able to 'place' your bike exactly where you want it in that particular turn to get the best view. Through repetition, you'll begin to feel how much lean angle you'll need for whatever speed you select at the moment of entry. One less thing to do, like looking at the speedometer will free up more time to work on skills.

Think about what you're going to do before trying it. It's always easier when you go in having a plan. Once you start gliding, instead of fighting through the turn, go back to that bit of road that gave you problems the first time and see the improvement (hopefully).

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SPEEDSLUG is a frequent contributor to the Women Riders International (WRI) Forum and has generously allowed us to post his tips at here at RideMyOwn.com

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