Welcome to another installment of the BST© (BrakeSteerTurn) riding skills series.
It is Paramount and in fact is the key skill to absorbing and processing information. And when you are riding a bike at any sort of moderate to fast speeds we are talking about absorbing and processing within fractions of a second. Given that velocity and stimuli trigger a visceral response, it is imperative that a rider remain deliberate in their focus.
At 16 mph, a rider and bike are covering 24 feet per second. At 22 mph, it is 32 feet per second, at 30 mph it is 44 feet per second AND at 40 mph, a rider and bike are traveling 59 feet per second! That’s like falling six stories in ONE second folks. BAM. You think you can react in time without 100% focus and concentration? It is very doubtful.
Keeping your concentration sharp should entail the Situational Awareness skill of ‘Anticipation’. This anticipating mode of thinking should also be accompanied by ‘Recognition’ and (pro) ‘Reaction’ rather than being an afterthought. It’s a term we at Leanin Cornering have coined; Anticipate, Recognize and React or “ARR”
A rider should also be constantly anticipating what’s coming next rather than waiting for something to occur and THEN ‘over’ or ‘under’ reacting. In this state of heightened awareness, things are sometimes perceived almost as occurring in slow motion.
A riders attention must be 100% focused on the task at hand. This includes the immediate and future path, not only directly in front of the wheel but the path beyond. The field of vision must extend as far up the road and-or pathway as possible. As well as taking advantage of the 170 degrees of peripheral vision to the left and right. Focusing on the background is more important than fixating on the foreground, but most important a riders eyes should be constantly scanning, never fixed.
Dealing with Distractions
There is a direct connection between the Mind and Body with regard to physical and mental fatigue. Once a riders physical state becomes fatigued, the brain also becomes fatigued, the two cannot be separated. Fatigue is often the main cause of riders lack of concentration, focus, the dropping of the head and consequently their vision. This bad habit can be dangerous and even fatal and it is thee cardinal sin of riding a bicycle. Head up, eyes up, always.
Fatigue and the resulting lapses of concentration along with the inability to focus at the required maximum level has consequences and they are not positive. ‘Spirited’ type riding and-or racing a bicycle is not a social activity folks, it is serious business and requires serious attention. Focus and concentration are a must and need to be continuous for the entire time that the bike is in motion.
Vision and where a rider is looking is obviously a critical part of riding. It enables better reaction time, increased control and helps to avoid panic situations. Good vision technique begets smooth transitions in braking effort, steering, corner entry speed and above all consistency.
Other aspects to think about are the simple things like breathing and the level of grip on the bars, doing it incorrectly can contribute to rider fatigue as well. So It is crucial to keep these practices in mind and be cognizant of all the ancillary contributors to being an efficient AND safe rider.
The Take Away
Unless you are by riding yourself wandering about, going very slow a riders focus and concentration should be the main thrust. It shouldn’t be worrying about pedal cadence and other inconsequential nonsense. If you are riding in a group, whether it’s 2 or 20 you have a responsibility, not only to yourself but especially to the others around you.
Now because we are all human and flawed it is not always possible to focus and concentrate 100% at every given moment. Therefore it is imperative that a rider refocus their attention often, and more so as the pace increases. Vision, Awareness and Concentration. Make it a priority today and make it a priority always.
He or she who focuses the mostes, will avoid the hocus pocus…
Now get out there and ride! 😉