Training and riding is a balancing act…

18 Jun

Have you ever had those days where it just seems like you’re having a hard time staying in that optimal state of arousal?

When arousal is too high, we are unable to perform at optimum levels on the motorcycle. Often we can get too focused on something and begin to filter out relevant information/stimuli. When this happens we have poor performance. We may miss an apex, brake too late, too hard or lose our position on the bike to where something just feels off. At worst, it can have disastrous effects as the rider below experienced.

There is another theory that seems to be a bit more in line with what motorcyclists go through. It’s called Catastrophe Theory. It’s tough to explain, but essentially it states that once you go beyond the optimum level of arousal, there is no turning back within the event. Even if we were to back off and try to adjust our focus levels, we would not be at the optimum level of arousal and performance.

So it’s important to not (ahem) over stimulate yourself prior to riding. Too much caffeine, poor sleep, tension can all lead to over alertness to where you are focusing on things/stimuli that are not relevant to the task at hand. Part of me is wondering if that happened in the video above. Perhaps this guy was focusing too much on a single stimuli, creating a tunnel vision effect. Obviously he had enough space to the side of the other rider to miss him.

As he was not braking as early as the other riders in the frame, this would tell us something about his level of arousal. No matter what the cause, there is a lot information to take in when on the track. its a fine balance to take in all of the information coming at you without missing necessary stimuli.

To get acquainted with this skill, practice when you’re driving your car. Are you picking up too many details and “missing the forest for the trees”? Or perhaps you’re missing task relevant cues and changing lanes too late, having to rush passes and upsetting the flow of traffic.

Try it and see if you feel a little anxious while driving, a little relaxed, or if you feel like you are in the sweet spot, not too relaxed, but not too anxious. Once you begin to feel this on the road, take it to the track!

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