Get On writes on September 28, 2012 4:16 PM
Once you’ve passed your test
It's easy to forget all that you were taught when you learnt to ride - even for those who passed recently. Keeping bad habits in check will help you enjoy your riding more so this quick reminder is worth reading.
there is a fantastic sense of freedom that comes over you and you can’t wait to get out and about and just ride. Everywhere. All the time. After a while you think you’re king of the road and often forget the sound advice your instructors gave you and fall into bad habits.Here we look at a few of the most common ones and hopefully you’ll be reminded of the right way to do things. 1. Panic Braking Grabbing a fistful of brake is possibly the biggest cause of avoidable rider crashes. A problem pops up and you panic, grab the brake and jam it on. Unfortunately bike brakes these days are good, very good and this sudden grab will stop the front end causing immediate weight transfer to the front which will overwhelm the front tyre and unless you release the brake down you'll go. The problem obviously is even worse in the wet.The simplest way around this issue is to not have anything ‘pop’ up unexpectedly. You need to look ahead far enough to be able to anticipate any issues and then you can react in time, smoothly and without causing the bike to react wildly. An instructor of mine once said to me ‘Spend as little time riding where your safety is determined by the actions of others’ eg don’t ride so close to parked cars that if a door opens you have to avoid it, ride in a position so that if a door opens you don’t have to do anything about it. Anticipate further ahead and you won’t have to panic and brake hard. 2. Tensing Up Tension is a real no no when it comes to riding. When you tighten up you affect the steering and handling of your bike - you effectively work against it and your previously smooth riding style goes out the window. This is often the case with new riders especially when it’s wet (and right now when isn’t it?). You can tell you are getting tense when you feel your neck and jaw tighten, you may also feel your arms straighten too and your hands ache from gripping the bars too tightly. At this point take the time to stop, get off and stretch. Visualise yourself riding through corners, gently throttling on and picture a relaxed person enjoying their ride. When you get back on you’ll actually be more relaxed, therefore smoother and you’ll start to enjoy your ride more. 3. Target fixation
We’re sure your instructor has told you about target fixation. When you focus on a problem and not the way around it. A patch of diesel in the road or a brick dropped by a lorry. If you focus on it you’re bound to hit it. Always try to see the problem, obviously, but then immediately look for the best way around it, past it – that way you'll focus on a better route and not one which involves the problem. Once you see problems consciously look ahead through a line that misses them and you’ll find that’s the line you take – easily avoiding the issue all together.More tips next week. But feel free to add your own nuggets of wisdom too.