Excellent Video from Keith Code and well worth the time it takes to watch!!
Archive for May, 2012
Being cynical by nature, I always scoff at “self help” or “inspirational” books. I feel that bookstores and digital media are bulging with inspirational books but the world in which we live seems so gritty and unchanged by this phenomena. I knew Tamela was a rider but also an outsource communications specialist and I wondered just where this book containing life lessons from those faced with breast cancer would take me. Well, it took me all the way!!
Tamela goes the distance presenting tales from women who have survived cancer, those that did not, the family of those fighting cancer or those left behind. She does this in an amazing celebratory style, with gorgeous photographs throughout the book belonging to both her and Christina Shook whose book “Chicks on Bikes” beautifully portrays women riders.
Live Full Throttle, is a celebration of life that begins with Tamela’s personal journey while joining a group of Canadian and American motorcyclists raising money for breast cancer research. After two years of hearing stories from people she met along the way and feeling their pain and joy, she decided to put it into a book hoping to inspire others both ill and healthy to re-examine their lives. Within the pages, at the end of each chapter, are a series of exercises that stimulate illumination of the previous read chapter. The exercises also allow us to apply the thoughts found in the chapter to our own lives. All the while, it’s written in a casual friendly manner that makes its reading a true pleasure.
Aside for the pleasurable reading, it’s full of absolutely gorgeous photographs both large and small making it a visual feast. It also succeeded in suspension of disbelief by transporting me, the reader, straight to the back of Tamela’s motorcycle as her pillion on this momentous journey. I wanted to laugh and cry both during the reading and at once I realized I was not only moved by the stories, but by Tamela’s personal quest to find and re-define herself along the way. The book provides a true celebration of spirit bursting with joy!
I LOVED this book. I found it both stimulating and moving and one I will pick up again and again and just open and read. Thanks, Tamela and Christina for your energy and beauty. It radiates from Live Full Throttle.
I had an afterthought to this article, in my own mother is a breast cancer survivor. I believe I’ll be contacting Flo creator of The Conga Riders for some future volunteering!
I am fortunate to have some very talented rider pals that have contributed some wonderful information to put to print. The object is to make new riders aware of potential problems as well as keep ua experienced riders from becoming complacent. Stuart Pauly is an avid sportbike rider that rides both street and track. He has had years of experience and hopes that his experience can contribute to our safer and better riding skills.
Stuart’s subject it target fixation.
One of the things a new rider has to learn to deal with and something that can still bite a veteran rider is target fixation. What exactly is target fixation? Simply put, target fixation is the act of the brain using the eyes to lock in on something and focus all of your attention on it to the point that you ignore the rest of your surroundings. This can occur from a situation that is, for the most part, harmless up to an extreme situation that is life threatening. So what are some of the situations and how do you learn to not fixate?
A simple example of target fixation is riding down a quiet country road. Your eyes are looking ahead scanning to enjoy the view and to also be on the lookout for potential danger. Two things are going on here. One, your eyes are jumping from target to target. The eye is not capable of scanning smoothly but locks in on objects in small increments of movement. At the same time, your brain is processing the input. The brain is very good at ignoring what it perceives to be normal such as trees going by, the sky, the yellow lines on the road, etc. What the brain is also very good at is isolating visual input that it does not perceive to be normal. So in our scenario, we are riding down the road and our eyes see a dead squirrel in the road. It is perceived by the brain to be out of the ordinary so your eyes tend to continue to look at it. Now two other things come into play. Things happen quickly when you are moving on a motorcycle and you go where you look. These things combined lead you to run over the squirrel again because of target fixation. Harmless enough being that it was a small animal, but the danger becomes very real when it’s a large rock or a pot hole in the road. This type of situation is something you are likely to encounter every time you ride and is pretty easy to deal with because you usually get a lot of notice but it does require a conscious effort to train yourself. Learn to keep your eyes up and down road and to also use your peripheral vision instead of letting your eyes look at everything but keep your eyes moving. Each time you are out, take a few minutes to practice breaking your stare. Pick a spot in the road and pretend it’s an obstacle you need to avoid. Break your eyes away from the object and look where you need to go to miss it. If needed, give yourself a verbal cue to “Look Away” and as you adjust your path to where you need to go, keep your eyes down road and proceed safely past the obstacle. If you do this each time you are out, it will soon become automatic.
An extreme situation for target fixation is brought on by panic. When the brain interprets a visual input as a life threatening situation, it will intensely focus all of its attention to the source of the danger often to the point of your peripheral vision and surroundings being completely ignored and proceed to dump adrenaline into your system. This is what’s commonly referred to as tunnel vision. This response is a survival instinct that has been part of humans since the beginning. If they came across something life threatening, the brain concentrates all of their attention to the danger and then dumps adrenaline to assist in escaping. This worked very well when man was walking or at most running along at a few miles per hour. In modern day when you add a motorcycle to the equation introducing speed, it now becomes a problem.
One very dangerous situation is a vehicle turning left in front of you. In the milliseconds it takes your brain to calculate that your forward speed will likely cause a collision, you will encounter a sense of panic which will cause the brain to react to the danger and by instinct will intently focus (target fixate) you on the danger which is the car. The end result is if you don’t react, you ride directly into the car.
How do we avoid target fixation in a panic case? When I was in law enforcement and training for life and death situations, there was a saying that was always repeated over and over. In an emergency situation you will automatically react how you trained. If you don’t train, you won’t react. This is a very true statement and one of the reasons why so often when a motorcyclist strikes an object, at times there will not be skid marks as they never touched the brakes. The panic caused them to lose all awareness of everything except the vehicle in their path up to and including operating the brakes. That is why we envision and practice emergency braking so when an emergency happens, we react automatically without thinking. But emergency braking may not be enough so we also have to train ourselves not to fixate but to avoid. When you are riding and see a car about to enter the road ahead of you, imagine it pulling out in front of you and going through everything you would need to do for avoidance. The first step is to look away from the target and for an escape path. If you have to, verbally cue yourself to look away. Once you find your escape path, you will then follow that path as you are now looking in that direction. I battle with target fixation on the track. When I’m riding behind and to the outside of someone in a corner, and if they lowside and cross my path, it is very easy to fixate and run into them or follow them off the track. I use a verbal cue to myself to look away every time a crash happens in front of me. I also never stare at the bike in front of me but I’m looking ahead or through the corner.
So in review, keep in mind that target fixation is something that can impact every level of rider. It’s a little more difficult to deal with as it’s not a technique like clutch control, braking or stopping on a hill. To avoid it, you have to train yourself to overcome the natural reflexive action of the human body when it goes into self preservation mode. Just remember to keep your eyes up, moving around and use your peripheral vision instead of trying to look at everything directly. Practice looking away toward a safe direction when you encounter something in your path or a sudden panic moment occurs. Ride toward safety!
Thank you, Stuart for taking the time to put this awesome article together!! I know I’ll be putting the skills to use.
I purchased a new helmet this season, a Bell Revolver, which now has been replace by the Bell Revolver EVO helmet. The EVO worked out what the manufacturers considered the bugs in the first rendition of the Revolver, however must say, other than the fact it’s noisy, I have no complaints. I always wear ear protection, so the noise for me is truly a moot point. I have used it on one long distance trip of nearly 3000 miles and have really enjoyed the fit and features, however it’s white “see me” color rings a bit boring. Though I’m not usually inclined to wear gear that screams I am female, I just couldn’t help but farkle up my new helmet in fine girly fashion.
My rider pal Pam, sent me not only an angel bell for my new Versys, but several reflective stickers to place wherever I desired them. I couldn’t wait to get them on my helmet! I had also purchased a grinning cat decal that was green to match my bike with full intention of placing it on the back of my helmet for trailing riders to grin at in return. Well, this was the day, so lets give this helmet some gender!!
Before…how dull! 😉
The first decals placed and they immediately made me smile!
Next for the front…
Now, so you can see the reflective quality, I took the helmet into the darkest room so that the flash would be forced. The image provides an equivalent to how it would look at night.
Needless to say, I am thrilled with the end result and if I wasn’t it would be an easy fix to remove them! It’s bright and reflective and offers full face protection. I believe that anything we can do to protect ourselves and to be better seen on the roadway, is a asset!
Many of the motorcycle forums including the two where I tend to post, Pashnit and Two Wheel Females have wonderful reflective stickers that members are able to purchase. They too, look awesome on a helmet. Looks like a good time to join a forum!
Ride Safely, my moto pals!!
Ever now and again, I feel the need to share a music video that I truly adore. Gotye-Hearts a Mess is no exception. I hear shades of the Police, with a modern melodic touch. I’m a huge fan.