Got my 883 all comfortably rigged w/ EZ Clutch. Been practicing (4 or 5 times) in a small, mostly smooth, grass pasture (my back yard). Staying in first gear, smooth throttle control, ovals, reverse direction, doing figure 8s comfortably. Pleased with my progress.
Last wednesday my husband rode me double to local school with an oval driveway. Did well for 15 minutes. Then....at one end of the oval, knew I wasn't turning tight enough, knew I was going to jump the curve. Bike jumped the curb, so did I, but it went out from under me and over. Grazed the tank, broke my right mirror, bent the forward brake control. I torqued my ribs on my right side pretty badly...nothing broken, nothing cracked. Got some pretty black & blue & red & purple designs in a couple places on my bod. Wearing leathers, full face helmet and boots...so minmized the road rash. Husband laughed later saying I'm a true biker babe...first words out of my mouth were "is the bike o.k?" I did have to go to the emergency room and I'm very uncomfortable...worked from home Thur/Fri.
I know you weren't there so it's hard to say...but I'm looking to learn as much from this as I can. Retro..I know I needed to have my head turned further and to have been looking further down the road. But absent that, once set up in the situation...my question is about the concept of "fixation." I'm wondering if that's what happened... once I got the "notion" that I was going to hit/jump that curb? Or is it more likely that if I had had better presence of mind or more experience (or both), the instant I had the thought about hitting the curb, I would have assertively tightened the turn (swerved)?
I'm upset at losing this holiday weekend. Was all set to practice each day. It will be weeks, at this point. Ribs are really Torqued...so am I !!!
Glad to hear you're OK. I think you're on the right track about the cause. The racers say, "Pick your line". In other words - look where you want to go, not where you don't. By looking at the curb you were unconsciously steering towards it rather than working to avoid it. Like anything else it takes practice. Thankfully, practice is FUN! Go have some and keep us informed
Good to hear you weren't injured too badly. You are definitely on the right track - wanting to know what you did wrong rather than making excuses. As previously mentioned, take the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation - offered by most states) course if you have not done so. Awesome class.
What you experienced is very common. It is almost a reflex to stare at the ground and/or obstacles we intend to miss. As you are now aware, the bike tends to go towards what your eyes are trained upon. Its a brain/balance thing. Ask any tightrope walker where they look when performing. It ain't down, its straight ahead (intended path). So the real key here is to keep your eyes focused on the desired bike path and not obstacles. A seemingly simple task that ain't so simple.
In my MSF class the instructor stood on the inside of a curve and watched where our eyes were focused as we went through the turn. He was continually screaming "look up!" as the students focused on the ground instead of their intended path. I suggest you get your husband to do the same for you next time you are practicing turning. Turning is a skill you learn through practice so the more the better.
So good luck on your recovery and get back out there and practice!
"Got my 883 all comfortably rigged w/ EZ Clutch. Been practicing (4 or 5 times) in a small, mostly smooth, grass pasture (my back yard). Staying in first gear, smooth throttle control, ovals, reverse direction, doing figure 8s comfortably. Pleased with my progress. "
Personally, I would not think that this sort of practice will prepare you for anything usable in real life Road Riding.
Grass is lousy and has no traction.
First gear riding does not teach proper hand eye coordination.
If there is a large Mall like setting near your home, it would be better to get a lot of room and learn to get through the gears both up and down shifting. No set course or set turns at first. Just get a feel for the bike and how it performs. Once you have a better feel for that, THEN get into the turns that are more planned and set.
As you are riding in such a setting, you make up your own turns where they do not exist. This way you have a better feel of what to expect and how to maintain proper balance to negotiate a forced turn.
With practice and in time, you will learn how to accelerate in a turn to allow for better balance and traction. During the acceleration, the bike and rider will naturally lean into the turn at a tighter angle where negotiating is far more stable.
Gears and their proper use are important when negotiating a turn so my advice as a first step is to learn the gears FIRST and THEN start playing with the turns.
This is only my humble opinion and may be challanged by others here, but the practicing in first gear on grass is not properly preparing you for the curb you ultimately hit.
Best of luck to you and I hope you heal quickly and fully.
Hi torqued, my son wants to start riding, He has not shown any interest in bikes before, I let him ride my 1100 Honda last summer in a huge empty parking lot , from a local tech college, he jumped a curb, by letting out the clutch and not turning soon enough, He didn't drop the bike , but he understood what would have happened if a tree or car would have been there. He is taking the msc this year. Alot of us learned to ride in the dirt on 125 - 250 cc machines, if possible I think it is a good idea to spend a summer blasting around offroad. My advice to my son is to get a 450cc Honda for the first year, never assume you can be seen. There are a couple of reasons I would suggest getting a used $1000.00 Honda, lighter , easier to handle you won't get yourself in trouble as fast , and who cares if you drop it. safe riding rickpoco
"I know you weren't there so it's hard to say...but I'm looking to learn as much from this as I can. Retro..I know I needed to have my head turned further and to have been looking further down the road. But absent that, once set up in the situation...my question is about the concept of "fixation." I'm wondering if that's what happened... once I got the "notion" that I was going to hit/jump that curb? Or is it more likely that if I had had better presence of mind or more experience (or both), the instant I had the thought about hitting the curb, I would have assertively tightened the turn (swerved)?"
Generally target fixation is the result of focusing on something during a time of panic. In this case, the curb. This can happen to a seasoned rider as well if he forgets that this is a real danger.
One important part of your question is this... "...the instant I had the thought about hitting the curb,...." Too late because target fixation has set in. You should not get to the point of thinking about hitting the curb nor care that it is there. It is a non issue in that it is not a moving object nor is it in your planned route. As long as you focus on your planned route, you will instinctively, once you learn how to handle your bike, follow it and compensate for it properly.
Case in point. I was riding Mannys FAsTBOY the other day. I consider myself a good rider but the fact is I ride a RoadKing. The two bikes do not handle the same. (Fact is, the Fatboy negotiated the turns better but I had to get used to the balance difference first.)
While it did not take long, I decided to learn the handleing properties of his bike before I attempted any steam in the twisties. I laid back a lot on day one listening to the bike. I also got familure with Mannys riding style knowing I would be following him.
Day two was different. By then I knew by watching how he was brakeing and the sound of his acceleration in certain turns what to expect. In other words, once I knew the balance properties of the bike, the difference in brakeing of his over mine, the fixation became on his tail lights and the sound of his pipes. That worked out for a blast of a ride through Mountain twisties without guardrails. Miss the road and you were airborne long enough to crap yer pants before ya died! LOL!
So again I will say, learn the bike, it's balance, speed, brakeing qualities, and gears, and THEN start the figure 8's and things.
I've just read all the posted replys to my fixation question. Thanks to each of you. I appreciate your time, experience and support. Had to sleep sitting up last night...so your concern and help was well-timed encouragement.
Collectively your wisdom mirrored JimmyK's: As long as you focus on your planned route, you will instinctively, once you learn how to handle your bike, follow it and compensate for it properly.
As you read in my initial description, I already "knew" that from my saftey course. I can still hear both my instructors..."heads up, look where you intend to go." The distance between knowing and doing...ahhhh!! that's where I am.
So...put that together with JimmyK's further admonition: "practicing in first gear on grass is not properly preparing you for the curb you ultimately hit" hits home. No more grass...my 883 is not a dirt bike...no more school oval...too tight. Going to take the Texan's approach...big wide open spaces to practice in. See what 2nd & 3rd gear feel like, sound like, etc.
Only one word of advise I cannot take. "...suggest getting a used $1000.00 Honda, lighter , easier to handle..." I do understand and intellectually agree. But my Harley Babe heart won't let me do it. All the more reason I NEED to heed the rest of the valuable advise you've each given me.
Thanks again. I'll keep you posted of my progess!
Admitting you made a mistake & wanting to do something about it shows us older riders your serious about learning & improving.GOOD for you!!!
I agree with JimmyK,1st gear & grass just won't cut it.Your bike,any bike,will "talk' to ya if you "listen" to it.When you can do this & you become"one" with it,it's a fantastic thing!! This comes with practice & experience.When you're able to practice again & find the right spot,relax as much as possible,keep a nice relaxed grip on the bars,& be happy with even the smallest of accomplishments.Everyone learns & absorbs things differently,don't be too hard on yourself if you have a lousy practice session.
Good luck to you,& please keep us posted on your progress!
p.s. I like your style! (not wanting to give up your Sporty)
Glad you're alright and still thinking about what happened and how to improve. I agree with all the comments to date so I won't repeat them. My advice is that everybody learns diffenently. If you are like me and learn by reading or vizualizing and internalizing so you can "think the feel" then I can highly recommend a book called Proficient Motorcycling by David L. Hough. The first part of the book covers the physics of the motorcycle, countersteering and a lot of great concepts about what is really happening when you ride. It's basically a safety manual but is very well done and would make great reading while you're recovering and learning.
A few spills early on will give you the proper respect and will really get you focused on doing it right.
Hard to put these things in words, but there is much more to it then just target fixation.
The problem is that at the beginning people need to get the mechanical aspect of operating a bike down to where they can operate it in their sleep, ie without even thinking. Braking, power application, shifting, skid control, that sort of thing.
Once you got this down, you don't really focus on any one thing, it's more like a multi channel receiver that picks up a lot of stuff simultaneously without looking at anything in particular. Sure there is a priority order and mentally this has to happen automatically, but if something impresses you enough that you focus exclusively on it, you have a problem.
Ideally your mind is way ahead of the bike and you sort of pickup the flow of the situation and adapt to it, wether it is a piece of road, a particular group you are riding with or fast crowded freeway traffic.
Sometimes you will feel like you are a little out of synch with the flow, and then the best is just to stop for a while. It happens now and then and you need to be able to recognize it even if you don't know exactly why.
Another thing that people don't realize is that on a bike speed is your friend. On a bike you need to be proactive and assertive, ie to some extent control the traffic around you. Slow riders become reactive, ie they become a target.
Slow riders are by far the most vulnerable. You don't have to ride fast, but you have to be capable to be very fast.
The sooner you learn this the better off you will be.
As strange as it may sound, the capability of instantly being very fast is what will allow you to ride slow safely.
I agree with Hippo. Speed is one of the tools we have to save our butts with and shouldn't be forgotten. Bikes can out-accelerate, out-corner and out-brake cars (cars fall over better ... ;-) Use 'em all to keep a cushion of space between you and trouble.
I just got through the MSF experienced riders course (sponsored by Abate here in Indiana). Took my first rider's course in 1978, so this was a big-time refresher for me and well worth it. All the riding in the world doesn't replace having a trained instructer telling you where and how you can do better.
Was scheduled for the MSF class for the end of June. I got a call last Wed asking if I could make it Thur and Fri. Jumped on it. There were 13 of us, myself and 2 others had ridden previously and the other 10 had never been on a bike before. Four females, one attached to another class member. Four of the guys were on the younger side and they were getting "crotch rockets". One 22y/o kid was getting one from his parents that night. I was the only one to ride to and from. I found the classroom portion informative and the instructor was kind of funny which made it more enjoyable. The actual riding (practice and testing) was boring and it was hot as hell. And guess what old Fourhour did? Put his frickin' foot down in the figure eight test! Here in Mass, if you do that during an RMV road test you fail! But all in all, they give points for errors and thats the only points I received (3 with 21 resulting in failure) I would highly recommend this class to everybody new to riding and they recommend (of course) the advanced course after a couple years.
Ironically, Thursday night I stopped at my favorite adult beverage pouring establishment and approx 845pm this familiar face comes through the door, hand wrapped in towel and bleeding like mad. He just t-boned a car with his beautiful Harley right in front of the bar. She turned right in front of him and claimed she did'nt see him! He's got three freakin headlights and lots of shiny chrome! Because he admitted that he went over the hood of the car they strapped him to the board and took him to the ER. Don't know how he made out. Bike was wrecked but I guess repairable. Also that night there was a fatality nearby involving a crotch rocket.
One thing to remember about speed is , it is hard for people to judge just how fast a bike is going, they talk about that in the advanced riders saftey course , at least the one I took . If someone is going 0-60 in 4 seconds in an area with lots of driveways and crossroads and a car pulls out , oh well. Another thing I have seen over the years is riders on bikes that they are just not experienced enough to handle, a friend from high school comes to mind, his first bike a 900 Kawasaki, his parents had to build a room on there house for him after he went off the road at 110 mph. One other thing I see all the time is riders side by side on narrow roads, not enough room to manuver. saferiding rickpoco
I'm gonna keep saying it cause it gets truer and truer! the folks on this HDF site are fantastic. My ribs are feeling better and better and my "torqued 'tude" is getting less and less torqued as I'm absorbing all the good input. Wisdom, good writing, great humor....yadda yadda!
Hodlen, I'm going to seek out the book that you suggested...Proficient Motorcycling by David L. Hough...for good reading while I heal. And I'm going to print out and re-read everyone's responses. It's all bolstered my confidence.
By the way, I did take the msf course in Columbus just last month and passed. (peter james mcw, I hate to tell you but it was only $25 and they provided the bike.) I've been in touch with both my instructors since my crash. They echo what you've all told me...only you've gone into greater detail. (They gave their students their email addresses to stay in touch....how's that for caring about your students.?!) Their course was very very good...and really gave me the confidence to give this sweet Sporty a try. I know it's big and powerful for a new rider...especially one who is 5'3" and 120 pounds. But it's my style!
Guido, I want to know where you got that photo?? is that precious young biker YOURS? That has got to win a contest somehow, somewhere.
Hippo, you wrote: Ideally your mind is way ahead of the bike ... I know the concept. I'm a pilot and if you're not ahead of the airplane, you'd better be on the ground with the engines shut down. I consider the Harley as more challenging.
LOL, great riding country and while a lot of people have moved here it's still not as bad as other places. The environment keeps the real nimrod's away.
There are a enormous amount of parallels between riding a bike and flying, from the way you should treat your equipment to the mental approach.
Riding the California freeways is like flying a combat mission with empty racks.
Just choose your environment until you are ready, but if you make it too easy you'll never be good. Find your tolerance level and then push the envelope within it.
Real glad to hear you're healing and you 'tude is coming around. Cool that you're a pilot. As HIPPO said there are a lot of parallels to flying a plane and flying a scooter. Remember when you where learning to bank a plane? You crank the wheel (or stick) until you have about the right angle and then you back off to neutral to maintain that angle. Minor adjustments after that and playing with the wind get you around. It's the same with a bike. Look where you want to be, lean into the proper angle, back off to hold it and then make minor adjust as needed and roll on some throttle. Just like flying, once you do it right it feels right and is very satisfying.