One of the biggest problems a beginning rider will have is training themselves to look down the road instead of three feet in front of the front tire. Nowhere is this more apparent than rolling through the twisties; beginners who are staring at their front wheel are often surprised by a sudden dogleg turn.
Then they wobble and boggle, and most times get back on track. If they don't, it can ruin your day as well as theirs.
Everybody knows the coyote won't fall when he's standing on air until he looks down. The key, then, is don't look down!
I don't know what they're hoping to see. Making a roadkill survey? Looking for valuables that have fallen off a truck? Suffice it to say, enough beginners make this mistake that the DMV has included a mention in their motorcycle handbook.
Imagine you're walking across a lumpy open field with a bird on your hand. You're looking far ahead, scouting for game for your hawk to hunt. Falconers have a unique ability to maintain their balance while never looking at the ground. Surefooted, they don't stumble. It takes practice, but nobody wants to trip and fall on an angry squished hawk. They don't take it well.
Now imagine you're poised at the edge of a 300 foot cliff at the edge of the ocean clipped in to a hang glider. If you look down, and you're relatively new, you are going to say “Holy cow” and scoot away from the edge. If you look out to where you're actually going to be going with wings, it's a whole different perspective, and one that students have to be taught. Everybody looks down at the edge. Everybody but people with flying toys, that is. They have learned to trust their wings and look out and away.
Here's a fun fact observed by pilots and drivers; you will hit what you're fixated on. So we see reports of roadside accidents involving a car pulled off to the side of the freeway as somebody staring at the car piles into it for no apparent reason.
This is why people are urged to get their families out of the car and off to the side in a safe place. Inside your car is not a safe place. The freeways; here there be morons, drunks, and just plain old people not paying attention.
In part, this tendency we have towards fixation on an object can be detrimental to your riding session. Stare at the car on the side of the road, stare at the one tree in the landing field, and chances are good you will wind up having close personal contact.
Knowing this very human tendency to drift towards things we fixate on can save your life. Like staring at your front fender, it's something you can train yourself to avoid. Car broke down on the side of the road with fifty clowns standing around? Don't stare. Keep going. You so don't want to wind up in the back seat of a clown car unless you're a clown.
How many times have you read about a car on the freeway slamming into a car parked on the shoulder? Ever wonder how somebody could do that on a clear day with great visibility? Simple. You stare at it, you hit it. With contemporary human nature, you have to wonder; feature, or bug?
Now, nobody likes surprises when out riding on a nice day. Twisties offer the worst surprises riding has to offer. They might offer a smooth, sweet curve that ends in a jerky dogleg turn, or a bunch of tight, snaky twists so tightly packed you can't see the road ahead.
This is where staring at your front wheel gets dicey. Sudden changes in direction might have you scrambling for the brakes if you're not looking ahead. I've been on rides with people who nearly bobbled every turn on Palomar Mountain because every curve was a surprise. I try to squirt past them whenever possible. I don't want to be the guy behind the guy who blows a turn. I'd have to stop and help, and that can really screw up your day. I've saved a couple lives by being first on scene with first aid skills, but that doesn't mean I like it. It's more of a duty than a favor. If I didn't stop it would bother me forever.
So don't make me do that, okay? They used to train young ladies to hold their heads up proudly by putting a stick under their chins. I'm wondering if something like that would be a useful clip-on accessory for helmets? I know two guys who would probably benefit, but I don't ride with those guys. They make me nervous.
If you are having problems with navigating the twisties, perhaps you should take a look at your riding strategy.
Don't look down…LOOK OUT!