I can’t remember who said it to me first, but “look where you want to go” is probably the most valuable piece of advice I’ve ever been given while learning to ride. Watch this video from the 2 minute mark to 2:45 before you read on. No cheating…
Done? Now think about the video and ask yourself, “How much room was there to the right of the truck?” Don’t remember? I didn’t either the first time I watched it. But why? Was it the huge firetruck heading straight towards the camera? The feeling of your stomach welling up inside because you know you’re on board with a guy about to face plant into a semi? Yes and yes! The rider comes around the corner, focuses on the truck, and immediately grabs a hand full of front brake—upsetting the bike.
Now watch it again, but this time focus on the right side of the road especially at the 2:41 mark, and don’t even look at the truck. Done? Was there room on the right? Was the bike at maximum lean angle? Could this have been avoided? Easy answers this time and it was all a matter of forcing yourself where to look. It isn’t easy to do when you come around a corner and you’re staring down the bumper of a firetruck, but looking where you want to go will allow your subconscious to focus the bike in that direction and help avoid a bad situation.
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Simply put, what you focus on is where you will go. Practice it and try it out on stuff like potholes and small rocks on the road. Force yourself to not focus on the object you’re trying to avoid, and instead, focus on the line you want to take. As you get better at doing this, you’ll avoid the large things like a firetruck and then buckle down and lean into that corner to find the open road. Thankfully, this guy will live to ride another day and we wish him well on his road to recovery!