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Discussion Starter #1
I was taught to look far out through the turn with my head turning both on road and on track and to utilize the vanishing point as a point of reference for safe and effective cornering. I've been practicing looking extremely far ahead ever since last year's track day. Both in my car and just recently on my new bike which I haven't got to ride much yet, anyways, I can't help but occasionally feel like I'm not paying enough attention to what is directly in front of me during steady state cornering due to looking so far ahead. I have never gone off road due to this and as far as I can tell my driving / riding has improved since I started looking very far ahead. Am I alone in this? Should I just overcome the slight uneasiness by putting more trust in my peripheral vision? Has anyone else overcame this barrier?

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I was taught to look far out through the turn with my head turning both on road and on track and to utilize the vanishing point as a point of reference for safe and effective cornering. I've been practicing looking extremely far ahead ever since last year's track day. Both in my car and just recently on my new bike which I haven't got to ride much yet, anyways, I can't help but occasionally feel like I'm not paying enough attention to what is directly in front of me during steady state cornering due to looking so far ahead. I have never gone off road due to this and as far as I can tell my driving / riding has improved since I started looking very far ahead. Am I alone in this? Should I just overcome the slight uneasiness by putting more trust in my peripheral vision? Has anyone else overcame this barrier?

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I know exactly what you're talking about. If you're always looking ahead of you... You should have already scanned the road for obstacles and hazards. Easier said than done - I know! Hopefully someone has some good advice for us.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I know exactly what you're talking about. If you're always looking ahead of you... You should have already scanned the road for obstacles and hazards. Easier said than done - I know! Hopefully someone has some good advice for us.
It's just when I'm going through a corner, I'll pick up a glimmer of a tire iron or a patch of gravel in my peripherals and it just makes me uneasy. It's by no means frightening like a sudden mechanical issue or deer jumping out. I still hold my line and try my best not to target fixate. I just recognize this as a barrier and it's a bit frustrating for the beginning / intermediate rider. I'm not speeding by any means when I do this, it's more like a pass the time while driving \ riding excercise.

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This is a skill that just takes time to get used to.

You will realize that over time your vision will pick up what is in front of you, and as you pass it, your vision will already be on what is ahead.

Think of it like the picket fence theory. If you look far enough ahead, you can pick out a single fence post and follow it back until you pass it. If you try to pick one out though to your side, it will be too difficult. So once you learn to look far enough ahead, and pick out that one fence post, you will learn to follow that fence post back to where you are with your peripheral vision.
 

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This is a skill that just takes time to get used to.

You will realize that over time your vision will pick up what is in front of you, and as you pass it, your vision will already be on what is ahead.

Think of it like the picket fence theory. If you look far enough ahead, you can pick out a single fence post and follow it back until you pass it. If you try to pick one out though to your side, it will be too difficult. So once you learn to look far enough ahead, and pick out that one fence post, you will learn to follow that fence post back to where you are with your peripheral vision.
Sort of what I thought. Haven't heard of the picket fence before, but it make sense. Thanks Anthony.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
This is a skill that just takes time to get used to.

You will realize that over time your vision will pick up what is in front of you, and as you pass it, your vision will already be on what is ahead.

Think of it like the picket fence theory. If you look far enough ahead, you can pick out a single fence post and follow it back until you pass it. If you try to pick one out though to your side, it will be too difficult. So once you learn to look far enough ahead, and pick out that one fence post, you will learn to follow that fence post back to where you are with your peripheral vision.
I'm relieved it's a practice makes perfect thing. Thanks for the advice. If anyone else has similar experiences or advice, don't hesitate to post!

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In Sport Riding Techniques (page 29), Nick Ienatsch suggests:

So you want to get your eyes up and look further up the road, but how far? After all, you can't simply focus on the horizon, because there are plenty of nasty things like bumps, diesel fuel, sand, and spare tires waiting to trip you. Street riders can't count on a perfect surface like roadracers can, so you need to scan the pavement, not just jump your eyes to the horizon. Scan constantly, moving your eyes from the path immediately in front of you to the farthest point you can see in the corner; as the corner unwinds in front of you, continue to scan to the furtherst point. Never look so far up the road, that you miss potentially dangerous obstacles in your path.
I find that it helps, at least psychologically, to flick your vision from the road ahead to your immediate viccinity to make sure that you haven't missed anything, or that nothing has changed. It does make it harder to follow a consistent line though, so I'm not sure what the best approach is.
 

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Yeah....Nick pretty much said it best. It's so much easier to do on a racetrack where you're not too worried about obstacles that can potentially throw you down.

A short while back someone dropped an entire mattress from the roof of their truck in my lane and I had to dodge it quickly. You have to practice the scan always when you're riding the streets.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It's surreal how scanning forward changes your sense of speed. I always go faster when someone faster is in front of me, able to use them as a reference point.

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Be careful with trying to keep someone's pace. I do understand what you mean about the reference point. I actually feel slower if I'm behind someone else for some reason :dunno
Sometimes feeling slower doesn't equal being slower.

Some of my fastest laps have felt slow and controlled, and then other times when I am on the ragged edge, slipping and sliding the bike all over feeling like I am on a super hot lap, it is 2 seconds off pace.

For example, the first time I did 29's at NJMP, I was in traffic during a track day. I was just riding my ride, passing the other riders when it felt comfortable, and I wasn't pushing the bike much, just carrying lots of corner speed to get around the slower riders.

But then, during a race weekend at the same track, running a 1:30 while battling with someone felt a shitload faster to me, even though the lap time didn't reflect it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Exactly, the feeling of being "in the zone" using your reference points for me At least feels like being in a tunnel, with the grass and sides of the track being the edges of the tunnel, and me looking far enough ahead autopiloting the machine. Its definitely slower feeling when you're going consistently faster. It feels a bit just like riding a rollercoaster through a tunnel in slow motion, with you being a passenger calmly looking at the horizon.

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Two different environments. You scan closer on the road because A) there is a lot more in the way of garbage, debris and surface irregularities to hit and B) you're hopefully going a lot slower!

The "vanishing point" thing? I don't like it. Doesn't adjust for speed.

Try this. Your eyes have to be telescopic. 60mph = 88 feet per second. It's said that you need two seconds to assess a situation, make a decision, implement that decision and have the bike react to your input. So if you're not looking at least 176 feet ahead at 60mph, what you are looking at has essentially already happened. Now how far do you need to look ahead at 120mph? 180mph? Realistically, you can't see detail that far ahead at those speeds. You're looking more at the track in general, the flaggers and the bikes ahead of you. Then you come to a 35mph, bottom of second gear corner and you're probably only looking 50-75 feet ahead as you approach the rumble strip at the apex. See what I mean about telescopic eyes? It's about looking at where you need to be aiming next while leaving yourself enough time to make decisions and implement them.

Good job practicing visual skills in the car! I purposely do it every day to keep my mind right. It's no good even on the highway to be staring numbly at the car 50 feet ahead of you.
 
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