Here’s a cool scientific experiment you can try at home kids. The next time you’re out cruising around on your motorcycle, find an empty parking lot or deserted road. Place a plastic cone, empty soda can, etc., on the ground. Get about 100 yards away from the can or marker while getting up to 20 or 30 mph, look right at the marker and try to hit it. You should find that you can hit it every time, regardless of your speed, if you keep looking at the marker.
Why? Because your hands naturally follow your eyes and your hands will steer you right into whatever you’re looking at. This will work on your motorcycle, car, skateboard, ski’s, etc.
This phenomenon is both good and bad news. The bad news, if you’re on your motorcycle coming around a curve and you look at the double yellow line, you’re going to run across that double yellow line.
The good news about this phenomenon is if you look where you want to go, which in this case is towards the end of the curve, you will go there. The problem, your instincts tell you to look at the very thing you don’t want to hit. The only way to correct your instinct is repetition. You must practice turning your head and eyes to look ONLY where you want to go.
The easiest way to do this on your motorcycle is to find an empty parking lot and begin turning big 100’ circles in both directions. Do not use any markers and make sure there is nothing to hit such as concrete parking space markers or potholes. A good way to do this is to circle around a light pole. Two big circles to the left then two big circles to the right. As you get comfortable, start tightening up the circles. When you get down to about 30’ circles, move away from the pole and just keep turning your head and eyes over your left shoulder, then your right shoulder. In essence, you’re looking behind yourself like an Owl throughout the circle.
I’ve heard people say this is difficult because “I feel like I’m not looking where I’m going”. That sensation occurs because as I stated, your instincts are wrong. If you’re turning a circle to the left and your head and eyes are looking over your shoulder to the left, you are looking where you’re going.
It’s your brain that’s telling you to look straight. Since there’s no straight part to a circle, obeying your brain will cause you to turn your head and eyes straight ahead and since the hands will follow the eyes, you will wind up pulling out of the circle and going straight ahead.
As looking over your shoulder gets easier, draw an X on the ground with chalk or duct tape. The idea is to start making big figure 8’s. You want to run over the X. Every time you run it over turn your head and eyes and try to find that X again. It doesn’t matter how big your figure 8 is, the point is to train yourself to look at where you want to go. In this case, where you want to go is right over the X you drew on the ground. The sooner you find that X, the tighter your figure 8 will become. You will also get very good at transitioning quickly from left to right and right to left.
With an hour of this type of practice, you’ll get darn good at looking only where you want to go. Soon, technique will overcome instinct.
Till next month, get out there and practice.
Jerry “Motorman” Palladino