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Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

  1. #1
    xxaarraa
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    Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash


    Question for the experienced riders/racers - how do you get back at it after a crash and get your head in the right place? Any practice rituals, tips or techniques that help? Or is it just a matter of getting enough seat time to work it out?

    I had a really good rhythm going this season, was making good improvements, the new bike felt very natural and everything was going well. Then I spilled. It was by all means an easy low speed lowside (Turn 1 at NYST, after I had scrubbed all the speed and got distracted by an inside pass). I wasn't hurt, bike only suffered minor scuffing and I even rode it back to pit at the end of the session; I got right back on and did two more sessions on my other bike. I thought it was a non event.

    But for 1 race weekend since then and two track days, my pace has been completely off. I have been inexplicably slow in tracks that I know pretty well, and people that know me have said "dude you looked uncomfortable out there" I wonder if the crash got in my head and how to remedy quickly.

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    Last edited by xxaarraa; 08-21-17 at 08:18 AM.

  2. #2
    Lifer Chippertheripper's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Step 1 is to know what you did wrong.
    Step 2 is to not make that error again.

    That's really my simplistic approach.
    Bikes don't crash themselves, so if I'm on the ground, it's 99.99% certain it's my fault.

    Uptown or downtown?? As I recall, t1 uptown is tricky in the sense that it slopes away pretty hard.

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  3. #3
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Crashing a LOT helps speed up the recovery phase.

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    Is this thing on? Mr. Kurtz's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Chip's steps 1 & 2 are definitely key. If you know what you did, and know how to avoid it again, there is no reason to be concerned, you just need to remind yourself of that.

    Also, having reference points to fall back on when you may "feel" off helps.

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  5. #5
    Lifer Kurlon's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    So, yeah, it absolutely sounds like you're in your own head. As for how to remedy it, it's all individual. For me knowing exactly how I crashed helps eliminate some of the 'unknown voodoo' jitters and establishes a plan to avoid the same mistake again. Seat time helps as well, which it sounds like you're getting but if you're just going out there with a plan of "Ride FASTAR!!!!" I don't think that'll cut it. Pick one thing, entry speed into a specific corner, roll speed on one corner, hitting a specific brake marker, and go out with the intention of dialing in that one task to perfection. Be analytical, focus on the task. Other stuff will slip due to your focus and that's ok. Accept it and continue to focus on that one goal. See if that doesn't drive out the jitters?

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  6. #6
    TRACK RAT!!!!! Pigman's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    I would crash easy and be so happy to get it out of the way......then, I could ride hard with clear head

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  7. #7
    xxaarraa
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    Crashing a LOT helps speed up the recovery phase.
    That's funny. But you may have a point. I have a very low crashes to miles ratio, and it could very well be that I just haven't crashed enough. Of course, now that I have jinxed myself, I am probably going to have some spectacular crashes. Josh, you are racing unlimited supersport with me right, watch out!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Kurtz View Post
    Chip's steps 1 & 2 are definitely key. If you know what you did, and know how to avoid it again, there is no reason to be concerned, you just need to remind yourself of that.

    Also, having reference points to fall back on when you may "feel" off helps.
    Can you say more about reference points? You don't mean physical sight markers, but more reference points for "feeling" ??

    Fact of the matter is, I really don't know why I crashed other than a general lapse in concentration. I scrubbed speed, tipped in and leaned well over, all the while watching very closely the rear tire of the guy who was passing me on the inside. Then I went down and slid off track. Thinking hard about it, all I can come up with is I was probably fixating on his rear tire more than looking at the line, and maybe was hard on the inside bar, thereby causing the front end to wash? The second one is purely speculation, as I often deliberately and consciously lighten up on the inside bar during protracted corners.

    I can't think of anything else and I can't blame it on anything obvious - his pass was clean, tires were warm, bike was running great, I was running some of my best times that day and feeling great overall.

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  8. #8
    Is this thing on? Mr. Kurtz's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Quote Originally Posted by xxaarraa View Post
    Can you say more about reference points? You don't mean physical sight markers, but more reference points for "feeling" ??
    No, I actually mean physical markers. If you have strong markers, I believe you're much less susceptible to "feeling" off in cases like this.

    If you don't already have strong reference points, make that your goal next time you ride; find them, building one corner at a time with basic brake/turn/gas points. Just the process of doing this will likely help to pull you out of "feeling" off.

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    Lifer isaac_'s Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    Crashing a LOT helps speed up the recovery phase.
    There is *some* truth to this. From my point of view:

    1) acknowledge crashes will happen, we can't avoid them. Only post pone them.

    2) and 3) see Chip's post

    4) don't get stuck inside your head. It's good to analyze your crash, to a point.

    5) if you're not going back out with confidence, are you doing yourself and others a disservice?

    6) put it in the past... focus on what's ahead

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  10. #10
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    People who ride by feel tend to be more affected by crashes. Developing your cognitive map of a track to the highest level of detail possible is what allows an expert to get back on the bike after a crash, or a long winter break and get right back on the pace. When I teach intermediate to expert riders, we mostly work on cognitive mapping.

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  11. #11
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    People who ride by feel tend to be more affected by crashes. Developing your cognitive map of a track to the highest level of detail possible is what allows an expert to get back on the bike after a crash, or a long winter break and get right back on the pace. When I teach intermediate to expert riders, we mostly work on cognitive mapping.
    A certain balance is necessary.
    Especially in the instances of being passed/passing where somebody may be on your line, or in the space that your reference points tell you you're supposed to be in.

    I don't want to start a pissing contest, but feel and data are not mutually exclusive. .02

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  12. #12
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    No, I wouldn't start that match either.

    Feel has it's place, but it is by nature emotional and unstable. We are talking about how to re-establish pace when your feel has taken a knock. This is the PERFECT time to rely on data. The feel will return with confidence, knowing the track well enough to get back to speed by riding precisely cuts the time to zero.

    Or you can try pushing pins in the head of a voodoo doll. I heard that works too.

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  13. #13
    xxaarraa
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    People who ride by feel tend to be more affected by crashes. Developing your cognitive map of a track to the highest level of detail possible is what allows an expert to get back on the bike after a crash, or a long winter break and get right back on the pace. When I teach intermediate to expert riders, we mostly work on cognitive mapping.
    Paul, you and Kurtz may be pointing out something insightful that I have thought a lot about but never could articulate, something unrelated to my OP about crashing.

    For example, I have not been able to explain why my learning curve on some tracks is a lot shorter than some other tracks. e.g., I started running fairly decent times at Thompson and Loudon within 3-4 trackdays, but it took me a lot longer to gain ground at NYST. I run a good pace at NYST, but for how many times I have been there, I should be running a LOT faster. In fact, I find it disheartening to watch folks show up at NYST only their second or third time and run 5 seconds faster than me (cough cough ) and I couldn't explain it. I should know that track, I have only been there 50 times damn it!

    It could be that I ride NYST purely by feel and never really mapped out the track for myself. The other tracks where my learning curve was shorter, I had the benefit of doing a track walk with an expert who explained each corner and showed me the line and showed me what to look for.

    Which then brings me to how the hell do you do "cognitive mapping" without someone breaking the track down for you step by step? I can walk NYST anytime I want, but I personally can't relate to sight markers when I am not at pace. The tree I pick out while walking my dog either disappears or looks completely different or magically shifts its location when I am on my bike at pace. And when I am at pace, I don't have enough time to pick out sight markers.

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    Last edited by xxaarraa; 08-21-17 at 10:35 AM.

  14. #14
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Keith Code's Twist II has a good primer on how to develop a cognitive map.

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  15. #15
    Lifer RyanNicholson's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Yea I'll agree 100% with Paul on this. Literally anything can be used as a reference point around a track, cracks, cones, paint markers, trees, etc. Making note of what you're doing as you pass them gives you something to fall back on and gives you an analytical way of making incremental improvements where you need to as well. It also gives you a frame of reference to break down what happened when you find yourself surfing the pavement while watching your bike rack up your credit card balance.

    An old trick I was told was to use a stop watch and close your eyes, start the timer and visualize your lap around the track knowing exactly what you're doing as you use each reference point. In theory you're visualized lap time should be almost exactly what your actual lap times are if you've mapped out the track properly.

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  16. #16
    Lifer Pittenger5's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Quote Originally Posted by RyanNicholson View Post
    Yea I'll agree 100% with Paul on this. Literally anything can be used as a reference point around a track, cracks, cones, paint markers, trees, etc.
    Beware of using things like cones and paint and stuff that can change between rounds. Dont want to get dependent on something that might not be there next time. And definitely dont just look on or near the track. At cota one of my reference points is a radio tower thats probably a mile away. Aim at that, and youre going through the esses without any problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pookie View Post
    My favorite was you going through T2 with your eyes closed.

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    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Cones and paint are generally good reference points as tracks have provided them for exactly that purpose. Usually, they paint markers down so that the cones are placed in the same spot every meet. Of course, they *might* move so pay attention to that, but use them. Often, if the cones get moved experts will spot that right away and get it rectified. Paint usually doesn't move. If you see NEW paint, pay attention.

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  18. #18
    Lifer capitalcrew's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    I've only ridden NYST, but I will say if you're not using certain land marks on the track you're definitely gonna get a little lost with all of the blind corners. I don't know what it is like on other tracks, but learning certain reference points made a big difference for me.

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  19. #19
    Lifer backinthesaddle's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    First time back on the track after my low drama low side in June at nyst. Rode street plenty since but was so tight yesterday at palmer that I got a couple blisters on my hands. Took a while to get a groove but then it's nowhere near my most comfortable track. Finally when woody mentioned t*ts on the tank was I relaxed. Then I bumped elbows with an S1000 rider which was more bruising and dramatic but at least kept it on two wheels. So maybe i got too relaxed too quickly and decided to go around the outside of a rider who I feel is sketchy uphill into 5.

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    Last edited by backinthesaddle; 08-21-17 at 04:43 PM.

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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Take a break, or go to different tracks to get back into it. I had four simple crashes last year, no injury or anything, and just could not make any progress at all. Must have been in my head, I don't know. Had the winter off and this year I came out of the box 3 seconds quicker right off the bat. I have no explanation for that, other than time off and excitement to get back on track.

    I also find going to a different track can rebuild you confidence with different style corners rebuilding your confidence with out the trepidation of going into the "crash site". So when you get back to the crash site you might be slow for a lap or two through there, but then you get right back up to pace.

    I won't lie through that it took me probably two or three years before I got over my first ever crash in turn 6 at Loudon. The more crashes under my belt, the quicker I get over it now, lol

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  21. #21
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    As you know, I have had two big crashes in two years that required hospitalization. My first time back to a track was that day I saw you at Thompson. Coming back, I told myself..just ride.. who cares how fast I am..relax and have fun. And I did, might have run wide on the hairpin at turn four...but who cares.. I am on a bike on a track after a second concussion, beats work.

    I did a fishtail day at nhms, first time back since getting knocked out there at round one. Thought I would be nervous. I was not at all.. My reference points helped me tremendously. I was back in full swing and clicked off a few low 27's.

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    Lifer union's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    For me Chip nailed it. It was always key to figure out what happened. 95% of my crashes I was able to come back in download what I was doing at the time to someone else and then we could figure out the most likely cause. The ones I couldn't figure out I still know what happened but could never figure out why. It also helps to have someone more experienced with you to chat with at the time.

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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    All of the above comments are great points. One thing that has worked for me in the past is going into an acquisition and analysis mode mentally. If I try to force myself to get back to pace, it goes backwards and I become sloppy and slow. I will dial my effort back to a 70% - 80% and start to focus on that cognitive map that Paul speaks of. Becoming familiar and comfortable at a slower pace, refreshes that map and adds more points to it. Rote memorization is really the best way to build that familiarity and with that, I have found, the comfort and pace return. Without that strong foundation of track presences, corners become disjointed and lack flow. Flow is smooth and smooth is fast.

    And the voodoo doll method.

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  24. #24
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Quote Originally Posted by Chippertheripper View Post
    Step 1 is to know what you did wrong.
    Step 2 is to not make that error again.

    That's really my simplistic approach.
    Bikes don't crash themselves, so if I'm on the ground, it's 99.99% certain it's my fault.

    Uptown or downtown?? As I recall, t1 uptown is tricky in the sense that it slopes away pretty hard.
    Completely agree.

    And the ultimate key is NOT RIDING BY FEEL! Reference points, reference points, reference points. Ride a FORMULA, not a feeling. Fucking go out there & hit your points.

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  25. #25
    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Shaking the cobwebs off after a crash

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    People who ride by feel tend to be more affected by crashes. Developing your cognitive map of a track to the highest level of detail possible is what allows an expert to get back on the bike after a crash, or a long winter break and get right back on the pace. When I teach intermediate to expert riders, we mostly work on cognitive mapping.
    Yeah, what Paul said. And Mike, since he brought up reference points first.

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