I have been riding motorcycles and scooters for over 47 years, but recently I have made a small but important change to my practice that has made such a difference.
I watched a few YouTube videos by Motorman and I realised, being 60, I had developed a fear of cornering, and this was detracting from my pleasure in riding. I was trying to keep the bike upright as much as possible to avoid a slide, so my tyres had huge ‘chicken strips’ on each side – unused parts of the tyre that are not being worn down by contact with the road surface. Eventually the tyres develop a square profile and feel really unstable when you do lean – the bike suddenly feels like it might throw you off as the tyre reaches the margin of the square section. Bad habits are able to be unlearned – I have proved it recently. The question was – how do I stop fearing and lean with more confidence?
The answer was incredibly simple – look where you are heading and let the bike do the leaning automatically. Looking down and seeing these steep lean angles felt really strange at first, but then I stopped looking down and focused on my exit route; the bike just went where I pointed it, regardless of lean. Essentially I stopped worrying and started to enjoy swinging round bends , rather than fearing them. I also understood that bikes can only go round bends by leaning – the handlebars stay straight for 99% of any ride – you only need to move them at slow speeds. The wheels act as gyroscopes and keep you planted in most road conditions.
My fears went back to when I first rode my BSA Bantam 47 years ago – I had come off on some ice and really hurt my leg – and pride! This fear had become hard wired into my system. To overcome it, I had to focus my attention on where I wanted to go, to not worry about the process of getting there so much.
My riding pleasure has improved dramatically as I have slowly learned to relax and enjoy the ride more – I am even beginning to enjoy leaning and cornering.
What’s all this biker stuff got to do with therapy? Letting go of fear, choosing to focus your attention on your goals, and letting the unconscious do its job of keeping you upright is what I have learned.