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Crappy streets lead to bad habits?

  #1  
Old 03-24-2010, 08:36 AM
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Default Crappy streets lead to bad habits?

Hey all.. havn't posted here in awhile but I'd thought I'd ask a question in the new forum that many new beginner riders, like myself, might be wondering about.

I live just north of Boston and like many New Englanders, I find the roads here complete ****. (I'm originally from FL btw)

Now, obviously when riding, your eyes should be looking ahead and where you want to go and such.. not downward in front of your tire.

But the problem I keep having is.. the ****ing huge craters and potholes that scar all the roads up here keep my eyes busy looking right in front of my forks!! Sometimes I feel like I'm on a goddamn gymkhana course!

This is especially true in taking the turns and corners... I try to look through the turn and look ahead where I want to go.. but I find if I do that, then I'll inevitably run through some bumps or go through a pothole. I cringe every time I do because it jams my forks and suspension hard and sometimes its bad enough to really upset my steering and control of the bike in general. You guys from around here know exactly what I'm taking about.. some of them are so big and deep even the jeeps and hummers go around them!

I basically feel like the condition of the roads here are creating really bad habits in my riding skills. I mean when I'm on a nice road I constantly remind myself to look more forward and ahead, but most of the time I'm weaving around trying to not hit the holes and bumps in the road, which means I'm looking only a few feet ahead of my tire. no good..

any tips or advice on how to get around this problem? How do you advanced riders do it up in the northeast?

Thanks for any and all advice, replies and help!

Kaz
 
  #2  
Old 03-24-2010, 01:36 PM
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Honest answer? Practice more. If you're field of vision is so short that it's concerning you, you need to practice more to increase it. You should be visually scanning the road for dangers anyways as you look ahead. A perfectly paved road can still develop a sudden case of 91 octane.

Do you drive as well? If so, perfect. That's what you practice in: your cage. Try driving while looking 2 lights / stop signs ahead. Your field of vision at that distance should be a cone that covers the entire street, any driveways, intersections and the sidewalks. Glance at objects in that cone as they enter your field of vision and classify them accordingly. Permanently fixed objects, even the potholes, as they enter that cone are safe. They cannot maneuver. If they're in your path, begin plans to change your path right then.

As you travel, you should know where those safe things are and have already planned for them. They should only require glances as you get closer to verify the size or nature of the obstacle. Its the objects that you didn't evaluate as safe that are your concerns. They can force you to adjust your path of travel. But you should already know where the obstacles are and only have to include their locations in your new planning.

You want to practice this in a car because it is far more forgiving than a motorcycle if you misjudged an obstacle. Other things to try while practicing is not to maneuver around the pothole. But to split your car's left and right tires with it. And do it smoothly. This will work with your depth perception and planning ability.

For corners, you should be doing as they taught during the MSF: Trying to straighten the turn as much as possible. That means for a left hand turn, you should be on the far right of your lane for the turn in. This will allow you to see obstacles in your turn earlier and plan for them.
 
  #3  
Old 03-25-2010, 03:02 PM
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North Shore of Boston eh ? ya could say I know it very well ........om here everyday.
Yeah the roads are in **** at the moment .........rule of thumb .....take as many main
routes as much as you can MASS Highway does a better job than "broke" Cities &
Towns do and the reason the local Govt's wait so long before repairing anything
is .....#1 no money and #2 it can snow here all the way to May .....so they wait.

As for the actaul method of riding this lunar landscape ...well contrary to summer
riding you end up riding center lane .........but that has it's own issues with oil slicks
etc.... so basically you end up using the whole lane from centerline to curb !

My 2 cents
 
  #4  
Old 03-25-2010, 08:41 PM
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And I thought our roads were bad....
Heck, penndot is known for their terrible roads...it's like a national joke.... but they don't seem too bad down here. Worse up north, though.

As far as how to handle crappy roads, you still have to keep scanning ahead. I know what you mean by finding yourself looking too close to your front tire, but you should still be able to watch for the clear route far ahead.
Along with that, you have to train yourself not to fixate on the potholes because it will not only pull your vision closer to you, but it will make you hit them.

Keep scanning, and don't stare at the potholes!!
 
  #5  
Old 03-25-2010, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by kilgoretrout View Post
And I thought our roads were bad....
Heck, penndot is known for their terrible roads...it's like a national joke.... but they don't seem too bad down here. Worse up north, though.

As far as how to handle crappy roads, you still have to keep scanning ahead. I know what you mean by finding yourself looking too close to your front tire, but you should still be able to watch for the clear route far ahead.
Along with that, you have to train yourself not to fixate on the potholes because it will not only pull your vision closer to you, but it will make you hit them.

Keep scanning, and don't stare at the potholes!!
Thanks for the tips everyone.. I guess its gonna take more practice but at the same time... Its not that I'm staring at the potholes... its the fact that there are so many that my vision and "route planning" are shortened as a whole...

does any one get what I'm saying...??
Yes I look ahead and try and pre-plan where I want the bike to go but there are so many obstacles in my path that if I look too far ahead, my brain can't process that many things that are in my way...

I guess its my habit of preferring really smooth pavement to anything else is throwing me off... like even when I'm caging, I'm swerving all over the road to avoid even small bumbs and holes.. I really, really hate bumby and un-even roads.
You could say I'm prob too picky when it comes to line selection on the street... you know what I mean? Like I'll go really out of my way to stay on a smooth part of the street and in that sense, I think that in of itself is making me shorten my vision up.

thoughts?

Kaz
 
  #6  
Old 03-25-2010, 10:59 PM
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Still more practice, I'd say. And possibly having your suspension set up.

Minor bumps you should be able to handle. You know about rolling off / on and raising up off the seat to let your legs absorb the shock right? If even minor bumps are fully compressing your front forks, you might want to have you suspension checked / setup. I've never had my forks fully compress and pretty sure if they do on a pothole, I'm coming off with a bent rim. Could be your forks are set too soft.

Oh and OCD is really bad to have with a motorcycle. You'll never smooth the street out completely. You're gonna have to hit some bumps. Or you might end up making your trip more dangerous trying to avoid a simple bump.
 
  #7  
Old 04-01-2010, 12:13 AM
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Wisconsin roads are sh*t too, but a few things I've noticed:

#1- City streets are WAY worse than country roads. Try getting out of the city if possible, when you want to do your more serious riding.

#2- In the city, keep a decent following distance from the cager in front of you= less surprise potholes. Also, (and I know this is hard to do) but obeying the speed limit within city limits almost guarantees that nothing will appear before you have ample time to react and adjust to it.

#3 At this time of year, the frost is coming out of the ground, and the pavement pays the price with an increase in "speed bumps". These will mellow out as the weather stays warmer for longer

#4 most big cities in cold climates have a plan for fixing potholes (believe it or not), which is fixing the Major ones first, (i.e. the ones that will throw you), yes, they will get to them eventually, and probably before June.

#5 and lastly (thank God, right!) keep your eyes moving all the time! We need three reference points in order for our brains to process where we are in the Universe, (much like a GPS works with three satellites required to know your location), so keep your eyes moving. Target Fixation=Crashing.
 
  #8  
Old 04-15-2010, 09:18 AM
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Dude i live in NYC so trust me i feel your pain. All this damn snow we had this past year DESTROYED the streets. They're getting to most of them but its still horrible. Even the highways are pretty much unrideable. I just take the small bumps with my a$$ off the seat n absorb with my legs. And look out for the monster ones while trying to dodge cabbies and retards cutting in and out of lanes at the same time so i got my hands full. My best advice is just take it slow and enjoy the ride.
 
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