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Bikers' five rules

Chief Ring instructor Hans Heinz Dilthey suggests that anyone riding at the Ring follow five rules. Ring instructor Jon Taylor was kind enough to email them to me and to obtain Hans' permission for me to publish them here. The rules are Han's and the words are Jon's.

1. Realistic self-evaluation

Imagine three cartoons. On the first there is a rider leaning about ten degrees from vertical. In his thought-bubble you see him leaning like Mick Doohan, right on the limit. This rider, when he comes to a corner that is sharper than he initially thought, or needs to tighten his line, thinks I'm over as far as it's possible to lean and to lean any further would be impossible. So he straightens up and brakes in the corner, causing him to run wide and off the road / track. This is the most common scenario when riders run out of bends.

The next scenario is his brother. This time the cartoon shows the rider leaning as far as it's possible to lean and yet in his thought-bubble you see him leaning about ten degrees from vertical. In this case the rider's self-evaluation is that he has plenty of lean angle left, and when he comes to a corner that is sharper than he initially thought, or needs to tighten his line, he leans further -- but as he is already at his limit, he just levers the wheels off the ground and once again crashes out of the corner.

You then see a third character whose lean angle is about twenty degrees and his thought-bubble is about twenty degrees. When this rider comes to a corner that is sharper than he initially thought, or he needs to tighten his line, he knows exactly how much bank angle he has left, and just leans the bike over sufficiently to make the corner.

Obviously with the three diagrams portrayed this is very straightforward and obvious, however, to describe it in text is rather cumbersome. I hope you get the gist. The important point to put across is: Know your own limits and your safety margin and ride within them.

2. Ride relaxed

Sometimes easier said than done. Carry out relaxation exercises prior to setting off. Dynamically tension the major muscle groups, by holding first your fists tightly clenched for about ten seconds then relax; then doing the same, in sequence, with your shoulders, (raising them as if to close your ears) then clenching your buttocks tightly, then tightening your legs against the bike, then lifting your toes as if to touch your knees, and finally by tightening your face muscles tightly by screwing up your face; all for about ten seconds and then release.

Writing this down now it sounds absurd, but I suggest you try it out for yourself while sitting on the bike. I actually was introduced to this in 1986 and applied it to the start line when racing. I found it really worked for me. The few minutes spent lining up for the start of a race are about the most nerve racking of the whole race IMHO. When actually riding on any track, you cannot react to your best if you are tense. All this may sound trite but for me it works.

3. Separate line of view from bike

This refers to the need to separate the vision from the longitudinal axis of the machine. If you look at any GP / Superbike riders as they corner you will see their vision is towards the exit of the corner. Effectively, this results in the rider bringing the machine back in line with his vision as the corner straightens out. It also means that with his vision being to the exit of the bend, if the bike momentarily loses grip or gets out of hand, he is still mentally aiming towards the exit of the bend and therefore likely to continue in that direction.

All too often when a novice rider gets in too deep into a corner through misjudging the bend on the approach and entering at too great a speed, or if he momentarily loses grip in the corner, his vision comes down, he goes rigid, and the bike then tends to go in the direction he is looking, which is often towards the kitty litter or the armco. Separating your vision from the axis of your machine means you are less likely to freeze your concentration on the "enemy" (the outside of the corner, kitty litter, Armco, lamp post or brick wall etc) and therefore less likely to hit it. Keeping your vision to the exit of the bend tends to ensure that you eventually end up going that way.

It's like the house-brick lying in the road scenario: if you look at it, you are almost certain to hit it; if you look to one side of it, you will probably miss it.

4. Right rest at the right time

The body is like a battery. If it's just a little run down then a small re-charge will bring it back up to full capacity. If however it gets really run down it takes ages to become fully charged again.

When people think "Oh, I'll just have one more lap" all they really think about is the next four or five miles, they tend to forget just how long, exhausting and tiring the Ring is. Then, just as you are getting tired and your concentration is going (about two-thirds of the way round), you come to the most demanding part of the track (after Karrussel) so any tiredness here becomes a real problem.

If you are thinking "Just one more lap" that's the time to rest. The right kind of rest also plays a part. No cigarettes or coffee, plenty of mineral water but only light food, and plenty of stretching.

5. Mental training

This is the exercise shown in other publications such as the Keith Code book Twist of the Wrist (known as TIT or 'thinking it through'), where the rider memorises a certain track or piece of road, and goes through the mental process of riding along that track / road in a time similar to that which he rides it normally.

On a track like Brands this is not too difficult, but if you imagine doing it at the Ring, this takes tremendous circuit knowledge to get anywhere near your normal lap time. Normally the time is less than you actually take due to the fact that your knowledge of that track / road is not sufficient to accurately assess every feature / corner accurately.

One very often sees GP / Superbike riders doing this when the interviewers come along wanting to speak to them on the startline!




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