Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Power of the Look

Motorcycles gravitate to where we look. It's a bit of a phenomenon, but a fact none the less. It is also sometimes referred to as target fixation. Target fixation can be a positive, but usually it is a negative because our natural reaction is to look at what we are trying to avoid. Whether it's a four door sedan or a 2 x 6 full of nails, as we stare at an object our chances of hitting it skyrocket.

I remember reading somewhere that breaking target fixation can be somewhat like pulling velcro apart or ripping off a band-aid. Quick and very deliberate. As you approach an object at speed your adrenaline grows and it becomes progressively harder to look away. Trying to build a habit of staring at your escape path or flat out refusing to look at what you're trying to avoid is a major positive. Especially when that flatbed ford pulls out in front of you, sees you at the last minute, and slams on the brakes leaving only a 4 foot escape path between him and the curb.

The look can also help in turning. For instance, decreasing radius corners have a tendency to sneak up on us and leave us running out of pavement. Increasing head turn and pressing on the inside handgrip (counter-steering) can sharpen that turn and send you safely on your way...