Archive for December, 2009

Riding in the Future

December 2, 2009

One of the most common questions we hear from our Stayin’ Safe rider students is, “just how far ahead am I supposed to be looking?” My response? “Far enough to be able to predict the future.” In other words, we really like to get our eyes up and looking well ahead. In effect, we want to get beyond riding in the present and project ourselves into the future. You see, so often we look just far enough ahead to get information about the next curve or the next hillcrest. And while that’s great, we are often missing out on some very helpful information that’s available if we just get ourselves to broaden our view. Take these images for instance.

Looking ahead, we see the road crests a slight hill.

In the first photo (above), the camera shows us the view we often have as we ride along. We can see the road ahead until it disappears at the slight hill crest. And while this is a good place for us to focus most of our attention, we may be missing opportunities to see a bit farther into the future. Such as in the second image found below.

But when we widen our view, we can see into the future!

Here, just by widening our view and turning our head a bit to look across the fields, we have a good bit of information available to us. From where we are at this moment, we can see at least 20 seconds into the future. And even from our distant vantage point, we can see that the road dips to the right, rises to another hill crest near a house on the left, and then drops to what appears to be an intersection surrounded by several houses before the road rises again. We can predict then that there may be crossing traffic from side roads over that second hill. And we can begin to formulate a loose plan, just in case. But if we miss this opportunity to take in the big picture, this sneak preview will quickly disappear as we crest the rise immediately ahead. As a result, we will be limited to riding in the present. Or at least the very near future. And, while we do need to keep our primary attention on the section of roadway we can see directly in front of us (we surely wouldn’t want ot ride off into that field to the right as a result of fixing our attention on the distant houses), it’s important to recognize that a glance farther ahead or across a valley may just give us a glimpse into the future. So, on your next ride, try to become more aware of just how much information is available to you when you widen your view. And see how well you can begin riding in and predicting the future.  ET