BY KRIS FANT
Have you ever been riding along just fine, then everyone stops, and find it hard to hit your stride again? Being sweep on a number of group rides, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the concept of mental momentum.
We know our bikes need momentum to stay upright, to traverse obstacles, to navigate a corner. Riders also need mental momentum. As you keep riding, a smooth rhythm develops, but many factors keep us from riding continuously. Here are some tips for keeping your mind in the game while riding, and when the bike takes a break.
As you ride, continually assess your body position. Are your toes pointed forward? Are your knees tucked into the bike? Is your spine straight? Are your hands soft on the bars? These small adjustments will help preserve your energy and keep you alert and aware.
In the twisties or off road, learning proper technique and finding words to talk to you through it reinforces it in your mind. At the PSSOR training, there was a discussion about how often we lose riders in the second or third corner. When we let our mind wander and don’t set ourselves up properly for the first corner, our line by the second or third has us braking mid-corner, which can be a recipe for disaster. Talk yourself through each corner and each obstacle, keeping your mind alert and your attention in the present moment.
How far down the road or trail can you see? Can you see further? Now try for further? Our eyes can be tuned to look through cars and corners, really seeing what the road ahead is going to bring. Now, keeping your eyes forward, check in with your peripheral vision. What colors can you see? Any movements? When our attention starts to wander, our vision shifts to the 50 feet in front of us, rather than 200 feet down the road and inclusive of the shoulders. Keep your eyes alert.
When we let our attention wander, we may forget the importance, especially off road, of staying engaged until the bike is stopped. I’ve had many experiences where I’ve completed a challenging trail and fallen down because I jammed on the front break when riding up to my group. Keep your attention alert until the bike is off.
Getting Going (again)
When the group has stopped for a break, someone has fallen, or we are checking the map, it’s not uncommon that our mind is on that last interaction we had while stopped. We’re covering ground, but it’s not smooth, and maybe there are a couple of close encounters with tree stumps. Rather than this experience when you start again, take a couple of deep breaths, and remind yourself that you are starting to ride again. Talk yourself through the next part of the trail or road, no matter how easy. “I’m easing out the clutch, rolling on the throttle. My feet are forward, knees in, back straight. I’m folding forward to stand, slight throttle roll over the root, lean forward for that back tire, and off we go.” A little bit of focused self talk can go a long way at getting the flow back again.
There will be times in all of our riding that we will have to stop, and find it challenging to get going again. Using these techniques will help you refocus your energy on the present moment, keeping you safe and strong on your motorcycle. Do you have tips and tricks for keeping the mental momentum going?