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Skill development: Can I? vs. I Can!

Posted June 1st, 2016 at 03:27 PM by adouglas

TL; DR: That magic moment when your brain flips from "Can I go faster?" to "I know I can go faster."

Just got back from a couple of very productive track days. Musing on how much progress I've made, I was thinking about how I felt going into certain corners this year, vs. the same time last year.

For those that haven't done it, riding the track is intensely mental. You've got a whole lot to process and you're fully engaged, both physically and cognitively. You're staring your limits right in the eyes, even at beginner group pace.

As you get faster, the markers shift and your speed goes up, but that at-the-limit-of-mental-capacity feeling remains, at least for awhile.

This past weekend I passed an important milestone in getting past that. Before, I'd be going through a corner under control, but not quite sure if I was approaching the limit and about to crash. Evidently I wasn't, since people were passing me...
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Rider aids and skill development

Posted February 3rd, 2016 at 01:24 PM by adouglas

TL;DR: IMHO rider aids (that work as intended) can help you focus on the skills that matter.

A recent thread from a member who's thinking of upgrading from a fairly new 250 to a 300 solely because the latter has ABS got me thinking about rider aids.

The observation was made by those who know first-hand that aids like ABS can actually hinder proper bike control under certain circumstances (threshold braking on the track). Having no experience with an ABS-equipped machine, I'll take that at face value.

Nevertheless, I'm in favor of rider aids in general. The reason is that they alleviate some of the worry associated with screwing up by lessening, or potentially even eliminating, the consequences of rider error. As a result, the rider can focus more on skill development and less on disaster avoidance.

My first exposure to the track was in a car, back in the early 1990s at the now-defunct and sorely missed Bridgehampton circuit on...
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Why good gear? Here's why.

Posted December 25th, 2015 at 05:36 AM by adouglas

TL; DR - You think leathers are expensive? Try a hospital bill on for size. Here's the real cost.

About a month ago, I got a leg infection unrelated to motorcycling. Simple, even trivial thing... a break in the skin on my left calf got infected.

Within 24 hours my leg from the knee to the ankle was the color of corned beef hash, swollen like a party balloon and I had a fever pushing 103.

I wound up in the hospital for five days, on IV antibiotics. That's all they did... no surgery, nothing but a bed, food, 24/7 nursing care and IV.

Yesterday, the bill arrived.

Thankfully, I have a good insurance plan. It does require coinsurance, however. For those who don't know the confusing terminology of the insurance world, coinsurance means that when something costly like a hospital stay happens, the insurance company pays most, but not all, of the bill. You pay the rest.

Here are the actual numbers off the...
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Take a selfie. Or not.

Posted October 15th, 2014 at 09:08 AM by adouglas

TL; DR - IMHO it's better to live in the moment than to obsess over recording everything for posterity.

Something recently posted by a fellow track newbie, @nickjpass, got me thinking.

Originally Posted by nickjpass View Post
I didn't record any other session... I didn't want to crash because I was riding harder for the camera.
Now, this is perfectly natural and we all do it. But there are a couple of things about this post that say a lot about how we approach life these days.

Yes, I said a couple... in addition to wanting to look good for the track photographer, Nick was also using his own camera that day.

Face it. We're all obsessed with visual images. I'm seriously thinking about buying a GoPro myself, and yeah, I have photos of my first track day on my wall.

But the mania to record everything we do can get in the way of the experience itself. A couple of incidents spring to mind:

- Years ago,...
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When it comes to gear, there really is only one right answer.

Posted July 11th, 2014 at 07:47 AM by adouglas

A recent thread from a new rider had me falling right back into gear-rant mode. Like many new riders, she spent her money on the bike and is commuting wearing khakis, a shirt and a 3/4 helmet.

This, of course, is not a wise choice when it comes to gear. A few items:

1) Road rash sucks. Do a Google image search on "road rash" and prepare to be grossed out.

2) Are you aware that the cost of a skin graft requiring hospitalization approaches $20,000? This is a TOTALLY PREVENTABLE thing, if you wear proper gear. By "Proper" I don't mean a closeout mesh jacket. I mean quality gear, preferably leather.

3) Imagine yourself riding in a van at 40 mph. Slide the side door open, crouch down and watch the pavement going by. Feel the sense of speed. Look at the texture of the asphalt. Now roll out of the van. What do you think will happen to your jeans? Yep... they'll shred in a heartbeat. What do you think will happen...
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The frustrating thing about bigger bikes

Posted June 28th, 2014 at 05:24 AM by adouglas

In talking to experienced riders over the years, I've encountered some who gave up riding on the street and now only go to the track. "Track riding ruined the street for me," they'll say, or "the street is just too dangerous."

I never really got that... I enjoy riding so much I can't imagine only doing it a few days a year.

But now that I've moved up to a GSX-R750 -- an awesome machine that I absolutely love -- I'm beginning to understand. This bike begs to be ridden fast. Cornering is wonderful. Acceleration is beyond belief. It's made be a better rider, because I want to get more out of the bike.

So on a typical ride I'll go for miles, often in a conga line of traffic, waiting for that perfect corner where I can actually practice some skills... only to find that there's a landscaper's truck right in front of me going through it at 15 mph. Some days I might as well be riding a Vespa.

There's this one beautiful,...
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