The formal term for this is “Target Fixation”.
Here are three examples;
- When you see a pothole coming up and you stare at it while you are approaching it, odds are that you will hit it.
- Making a tight U-turn on a residential street and halfway through the turn you look at the opposing curb, odds are that you will hit the curb.
- During a gradual turn on a two lane road, you look at the oncoming traffic; odds are that you will ride right into oncoming traffic.
Sounds crazy, it did to me at first, but I am here to tell you that it is the truth. In each of these three examples, as soon as you realize you are heading into a problem, immediately look away from the pothole, curb and the oncoming traffic and look at where you really want to go. If you are not too far into the pending collision, changing your look will change your direction in time to avoid the imminent crash.
Looking at the spot that you are trying to avoid will suck you into that spot every time. Looking at the spot where you do want to go, will move your motorcycle towards that spot.
You have experienced this in a car before when you are looking at the passing scenery and your car starts drifting over the road in the direction you are looking.
This was hard for me to overcome as I am always trying to look at that pothole (for example). I must force myself to look away from the pothole and look where I do want to go, typically, around the pothole. They say that once you see the pothole, keep it in your peripheral vision but focus your main vision on the desired direction or spot of your intended travel. That goes for any upcoming road hazard, keep it in your peripheral vision and look at the path or spot where you want to go.
Look where you go in a sloping gradual turn, look at the vanishing point of the turn, the end of the turn. If you want to take the turn closer to the side of the road, look even further past the end of the turn and you will travel closer to the edge of the road.
Now, none of this look where you go stuff is completely automatic, you still are in charge of driving the motorcycle. You still must use all of your riding skills to make the motorcycle go where you want it to go and looking where you go will ensure that you get to where you want to go.
Conversely, some riders can get fixed on looking at a certain spot and no matter how hard they try, they just can’t seem to snap their look away or move the motorcycle in a different direction. If this is you, please pay attention to this phenomenon. Practice make perfect and some folks (like me) must practice all of the time.
Then there are other folks who have a natural knack for this and just jump on their bike and ride with everything falling into place just like a natural skill.
Get out in that empty parking lot and practice avoiding some potholes (or just different colored asphalt patches in the lot. If you can, place some orange traffic cones and weave thru them using your peripheral vision on the cones and your main vision on the path you want to take.
Looking where you want to go is a reality of motorcycle riding. You must master this before you get out into the traffic. Does that mean putting in 10,000 miles in a parking lot first? No, but it does mean that you absolutely must understand this and do it enough so you get the feel for it. Do not wait until you are in a critical traffic maneuver to learn how to go where you are looking.
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