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Chasing The Ball
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otb
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Chasing The Ball - January 13, 2011, 08:04 AM

Have you ever been riding back roads or been at the track and felt "off"? You know, a couple of steps behind, a little off-kilter....corner entrances come up before you are "ready", you miss the apex, scallop the turn or have to make constant corrections, maybe even have to hit the brakes and stand the bike up mid-turn to keep from running wide?

I used to work for an ex-navy fighter jock who also rode; he called the phenomenon "Chasing The Ball". It's when the pilot trying to make a carrier landing in difficult conditions starts reacting to the visual aid on the back of the carrier that lets pilots know the horizontal and vertical orientation of the moving flight deck (the Ball). Rather than grooving down the flight path, the pilot focuses on the constantly changing visual aid. Because he's REACTING, he's always behind the changes, rather than developing a rhythm and practicing his fundamentals.

Chasing the ball usually results in a wave-off, a hard landing.... or a crash......

"Chasing the ball" usually happens to me when I really tired and or stressed or when I am group riding; either I'm trying to impress someone with my style and flair or when I'm running with better riders and trying to keep up. The admonition to ride my own ride goes out the window and my ego momentarily shoves common sense out the window.

I've been around long enough to (usually) recognize the signs:

A. I am holding my breath.

B. My elbows are straight and my arms are stiff.

C. My back is rigid and starts to get sore.

All of these physical manifestations are signs to me that I am over my head one way or another. If I'm on the road trying to make time, it's past time for me to stop, take a break and put this hurry in perspective (is being late for the meeting, appt. ect REALLY worth dying for?)

If I'm riding with a group, it's time to stick my ego in my back pocket, suck it up and know that I ain't no Rossi...and never will be.... and that the whole purpose of this ride was to have FUN.... not prove anything (like ER docs REALLY give a shit about how fast I WAS...).

If I've dialed it back and still are in that mode, there are a couple of things I can do:

A. BREATHE.... holding my breath literally is part of the fear response.... I can counter it by remembering to breathe slow and deeply...it counteracts the tension caused from adrenaline and also helps clear the lactic acid out of muscles.

B. Flex my elbows. Rigid arms feed back all the road bumps into the frame, amplifying wobble and weave which causes more tension, which causes more rigidity, which.....well, you get the idea..

C. Force myself to do the basics...curved, relaxed back, hold myself up by the lower abdominals, grip the tank with my knees.....I kind of do a little self-talk "breathe, relax, now shift , shift, downshift, brake, slide my butt, turn, shift , shift...ect."


Dialing it back, taking a break, remembering fundamentals all see seem put me back in the groove , again...



....which is where we all want to be, anyway, isn't it?


Riding fast bikes slowly since 1969....
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January 13, 2011, 10:11 AM

You hit the nail on the head with this my friend.

Being relaxed when riding is HUGE!
We stress this at Cornerspeed and Cornerspin.
Riding at Spin on a 150 lb bike really lets you know if you are relaxed.
Everything you do on those bikes is magnified, especially near the limits of traction.

I also really notice it when I give 2-up rides at VIR.
If the passenger stays relaxed, I can go pretty quick.
If they are tense, no way.
I was surprised the size of the passenger doesn't matter too much.
A small passenger that is tense really messes things up.

(BTW...I'd be tense riding behind me too.)


Steve
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January 13, 2011, 10:13 AM

Normally when I feel like this i do speed runs on the beltway.


-Fitz

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January 13, 2011, 12:14 PM

good post,

there is no shame in peeling off a group ride on days when you just don't feel it


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No one gives a fuck about your puff out your chest bravado.
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January 13, 2011, 01:03 PM

I always seem to be a little off after a couple days of not riding. Its like it takes me a couple minute to get back intouch with it.


-Not intended to be a factual statements.


I can't pull over......I forgot which ones the brake.


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Life is with your kids watching madagascar"
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January 13, 2011, 01:18 PM

On group rides i only get stressed when i see riders trying to Jihad me.
I think the worst crash is the one you didnt see coming from a Jihad bomber from the back.


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January 13, 2011, 04:37 PM

What is this shit? It's winter...you're supposed to be creating drama and whining about stuff.

Great post! I've definitely gotten better at recognizing these signs - now to work on doing something about them...
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