Dear RideApart: I’ve had a few close calls in tight corners or with obstacles in my path, heading towards exactly what I want to avoid. Can you help?
We’re so glad you asked. This experience is called, “target fixation.” It’s the worst but it’s also quite common—the feeling that you are being drawn, as though by a very strong magnet, to exactly what you’re hoping not to hit.
The good news that there are real reasons, and real solutions.
WHEN DOES TARGET FIXATION TEND TO HAPPEN?
- In corners when it feels like you’re coming in too hot and that the bike is being pulled off the road. You tense up, brake and stare exactly where you don’t want to go, which is where you end up, heart thumping wildly, or worse, off the bike.
- In a straightaway when you head straight into an obstacle - a parked car, a pothole, an indecisive pedestrian – that you’d meant to avoid.
HOW TO GET AROUND IT
In any situation, these 5 tips will help you navigate around your way safely.
- Look THROUGH to where you want to go, your peripheral vision will take care of the rest. In a corner, looks as far forward through the turn as possible. When you can’t see the whole roadway and you’re traveling at a certain rate of speed it’s easy to stay fixed on the last section you saw, which is very quickly under your tires. For that reason, it’s also best to…
- Continually SCAN your entire field of vision so your gaze doesn’t get stuck in one spot but keeps taking in all the information. What makes this most successful is if you…
- TURN YOUR WHOLE HEAD, and not just shift your eyes. No need to go crazy but especially in those tighter corners, it will help guide your body better if the part associated with your vision is physically moving toward your goal. Still stuck?
- TALK to yourself. Instructions, reminders, words of encouragement will help you do the right thing and also keep you calm when things get a little challenging. And finally,
- STAY FOCUSED, RELAX and TRUST YOUR BIKE. Your gorgeous hunk of metal on wheels was designed to stay upright. Look where you want to go, love the feeling and let the bike do what it was meant to do: get you there.
There are a lot of things to think about when you ride so it’s important to stay within your comfort zone. We all want to get better which happens, with time. The best place to take chances is when you’re in controlled environments where your goal is to have fun like at a track day, on a Moto Gymkhana course or playing in the dirt. The expert riders I asked favored off-road riding where the landscape is continually changing, obstacles are part of the experience, speeds tend to be lower and you’re wearing plenty of gear.
Remember, where you look, is where you’ll go, so keep your eyes on where you want to go, not where you don’t.
Sources: US129 Photos, TheRideAdvice