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Old 08-06-2007, 11:45 AM   #1
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MISTAKES: A common theme in crashing

One very important thing to remember and practice: MISTAKES aren't usually what leads to an accident, YOUR REACTION TO THAT MISTAKE is.

Iow, when we lose the rear end, that is not what causes are accident, rather our reaction to that action is what puts us on the ground. It's our reaction to something that happened different from what we expected. There is a method to help with recovering from mistakes/ unknown quantities and that's not focusing on what just happened, but what you WANT to happen next.

If we blow a DY corner and end up in the other lane, it's far past the time to concentrate on why we blew the double yellow, how stupid this must look, or getting back on track as soon as possible. What should happen is a process for all mistakes/ unknown quantities (by that, I mean a car pulling out in front, etc). Once the DY is blown, it's time to evaluate the best course to safety. 99% of the time it's going to be riding back to the correct side of the road. Some situations may dictate that's not the best course of action (perhaps you're so far over the DY, you'd be best to pull off the far side of the road and stop if possible). So first, evaluate where you are and what your best course of action is. A common mistake in blowing the DY is to keep the speed up, yet try to get back to the other side of the road as fast as possible. This can exacerbate the issue of an accident as your closing distance from oncoming lane traffic is decreasing quicker not due to oncoming traffic, but due to the overexuberance to get back into the correct lane.

1. CUT YOUR SPEED IF IT'S THE SAFEST COURSE OF ACTION. Modern brakes on cars/ bikes work very well. Opposing traffic will cut their speed as well if they have good reactions. There's no need to accelerate towards opposing traffic if that can be avoided.

2. DO NOT FOCUS ON WHAT JUST HAPPENED. I can't tell you how many times I've instructed/ followed riders who ride off track and back on, shaking their heads and slowing down. The fact of the matter is, there is little danger now that they're back on track. The incident is over and there's another turn coming up. Some will crash in the very next turn due to focusing on what just happened and not what is going to happen next. Once a mistake is made, it's made. Don't rehash the mistake until you're on safe terms. We can't take back time, we can control what happens in the future.

3. FOCUS ON YOUR PLAN FOR SAFETY/ RECOVERY. Many times, depending on the situation, this will be reactionary/ instinctive. When the rear slides, we roll off a tad and try and hook the rear tire up, listening to the engine note as we do so. It's mostly instinctive it happens so fast. When we blow a corner, we have a much more complicated recovery plan, where we need to scrub speed, look for our turn in/ look for our exit, and look for other bikes (this is a track scenario).

4. SIGHT YOUR PATH TO SAFETY. Find a route to safety, by avoiding the biggest risk factor (usually this is an auto). Collisions that are multi vehicle are something I'd avoid at all costs. Spot a clean route and go for that route.

5. ACCEPT THAT YOU MAY CRASH, BUT NOT INTO THE MOST DANGEROUS OBJECT. This is likely going to be a highly controversial point, but there are times when there is just no chance you're not going to crash. Aim to put your bike/ trajectory away from the most dangerous objects. Some people speak of "having to lay it down". This is NOT that ridiculous statement. Your bike will stop far better with brakes than on the ground sliding. However, if you've blown a DY so bad that getting back to your side before hitting opposing traffic is a reality, it may be best to continue on across the stream of traffic. Horrible thought, but if there's runoff on the other side, it may be worth the chance. Yes, you will crash your bike there too, but with less variables. You can (and many many racers do...if you watch moto racing) ride out a run into the dirt. You cannot ride out a collision with an auto/ bike head on.

6. PLAY OUT SCENARIOS IN YOUR HEAD. Play out the "what would you do if..." scenario. Train your mind to respond only to the most important stimulus when in a panic situation when going about daily life. Accident recovery is about being a prepared rider and a mind that can assign critical tasks while avoiding non critical ones. If we blow the DY, let's not panic and lock up the rear brake...instead let's focus on using the front brakes (the bike's still under control) and sighting our escape route.

7. LEARN TO MOVE YOUR HEAD IN PANIC SITUATIONS. Move your head and eyes...take it all in, so you don't target fixate. Mentally assign your brain to handle the most complex task. We don't care about how our friends view us now, nor how embarrassing this is. We care about making it back to safety. let's ride!
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Old 08-06-2007, 11:57 AM   #2
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you got mojo - great post. I'm sending this to all my two wheeled buddies.

Also, I think you can apply this to both street and dirt riding!
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Old 08-06-2007, 12:26 PM   #3
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if may add to what holeshot has given is to.

#1 relax your body especially your elbows.

#2 look as far as you possibly can. I would say 99% of the time your incorrect reaction to your mistake will be significantly reduced. And possibly be reduced low enough that you can react "correctly" to get through it.
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Old 08-06-2007, 12:31 PM   #4
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Excellent point. Relaxing and breathing out the tension can make a huge difference. Bike's just don't steer with a tense rider.
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:02 PM   #5
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Excellent write up. Thanks for taking the time to put this all down. I hope all new riders see this and experienced riders review it.
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Old 08-22-2007, 11:31 PM   #6
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The best advice I ever got regarding blowing a turn, DY etc. was "You won't make the turn if you don't try to make the turn"(very Yoda like I guess) Many riders before you have made this turn faster than you are now preparing to blow it. If they could make it through, perhaps you can too. If you don't at least attempt it, your failure is guaranteed.
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Old 09-02-2007, 03:01 PM   #7
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great post! mojo count has reached upper bound.

excellent tips on recovering post-dy crossing.

yup, bullet no. 5 is the final line of defence. diving off my bike as it was laid down saved me from a being part of t-bone collision (but not my bike) in the city.
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:31 PM   #8
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Originally posted by billswim
The best advice I ever got regarding blowing a turn, DY etc. was "You won't make the turn if you don't try to make the turn"(very Yoda like I guess) Many riders before you have made this turn faster than you are now preparing to blow it. If they could make it through, perhaps you can too. If you don't at least attempt it, your failure is guaranteed.
I have made turns before that I thought there was no way by not giving up. I think that is key, when you are on a track you have a more room than you might think you have. When I watch Moto GP racing they do it all the time. And by doing so that helps you learn the limits of your brakes and front tire grip, just hope that there is no one there on the outside of you when you go flying by up on the front wheel.
Just thought I'd add my 2cents
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Old 10-06-2007, 07:48 PM   #9
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One other thing. Trust your bike. Unless you are going at truely insane speed, you can probably make the turn. So many crashes of "don't make the turn" style could have been made if the rider didn't panic and just leaned a little farther.
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Old 10-14-2007, 10:14 PM   #10
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Smooth throttle control is key. Don't rush into corners but work hard on your exits. Learn how to get your knees down on the track and not the street.
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Old 10-17-2007, 08:23 AM   #11
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Was just reading the latest crash post (rear wheel lockup, bike down in Moraga) and thought I'd add my $0.02 to this thread, on "common mistakes." I posted this in another thread - surprised no one reacted to it.

Based on an informal analysis of the posts in this topic (this is a crash analysis topic, right??) , I would submit that the vast majority of crashes people write about could be attributed to one of the following:

1. going too fast for the situation (even 15 mph can be too fast for some situations).
2. failure to look where you want to go (aka target fixation)
3. improper use of brakes (i.e., locked up the rear)
4. improper use of throttle
5. failure to anticipate

So while it is helpful to figure out why we crashed after it happens, I am a big fan of being proactive, and figuring out what I can do to reduce the chances of me crashing as much as possible. Ideally the result is I never find myself doing this post-crash analysis stuff, because I've paid attention to and worked on the skills that contribute to keeping it upright.

Therefore, the approach suggested when I posted this was to go to the track and learn how each one of these works for real, get past being a n00b on all of them, and then go practice them every time you ride on the street for the rest of your life. I personally think it's a good approach, or at least a place to start after you've taken your MSF BRC (or advanced for that matter).
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Old 10-31-2007, 07:10 PM   #12
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Have a plan and be cool. Doing it is the tricky part. good stuff! Thanks, you got me thinking.
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Old 11-07-2007, 02:25 PM   #13
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Great post, Berto!

The only thing that I'd add is that all new riders should practice their maximum braking (sometimes called 'panic braking') until they can safely stop at maximum braking capacity up to the higher speeds that they are likely to go at.

They should also practice counter-steering maneuvers until they can do them without thinking.

All riders should work at developing their trail-braking skills over their years of riding.

This also applies to experienced riders who should make sure that they keep these skills fresh and not rusty.

These skill-practices could help maximize the execution of what Berto detailed out in the OP to give riders the best possible chance of coming out of a bad situation with the best outcome.

Just my
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Old 11-08-2007, 11:11 PM   #14

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Thats true Relaxing your self reduces a lot of Mistakes
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Old 03-03-2008, 06:19 AM   #15

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Originally Posted by Holeshot View Post
Excellent point. Relaxing and breathing out the tension can make a huge difference. Bike's just don't steer with a tense rider.
Yes, your tense point is accurate. For the last few years I've been on a WR, in the dirt, about everyday. Riding everyday forces one to figure out a few things, like NOT being tense. This is very true in sand, as the bike feels like it wants to go everywhere, but in reality it wants to go straight. The bike got messed up if I was tense and over powering the thing. But if I rode 'weak' the bike fixed itself everytime, it just took awhile for me to over come the fear factor of a goofy bike. Also, remain balanced in a tricky situation with most weight on the pegs.

I just came back into the street after about twenty years. I can't believe how much better this fazer is compared to my hurricane of 1988. No comparison.

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