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Old 02-26-2016, 05:10 PM   #1
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Divide and Conquer | Riding Skills Series

Bradley Adams

Botch the entrance to a corner and the whole turn could go to waste. To avoid this, focus merely on the tasks in front of you, which include hitting your brake-application marker, brake-release marker, and turn-in marker.

The divide-and-conquer method might have been contrived in the political realm, sharpened on the battlefield, and perfected in the dating game, but an oft-overlooked fact is that this technique can also be used to a rider’s advantage on the track. Of course, what we’re referring to is corners and a rider’s ability to split each turn into three separate segments, those segments being entry, middle, and exit.

The reason why the divide-and-conquer method has proven so effective over the years is that it simplifies a problem. In computer science, that problem is a mass of numerals. In war, it’s opposing forces that far outsize yours. And in riding, it’s an abundance of reference markers that make up a turn. Breaking these problems (be it numerals, forces, or reference markers) into distinct, easy-to-attack obstacles enables you to exercise the skill set you already possess to solve the problem more efficiently. You already have an understanding for how to get through the entry, middle, and exit of a corner; now it’s about slowing things down so you can execute each action with absolute precision, sans mental overload.

Let’s start at the entrance of the corner, a segment that should include a throttle shut-off marker, brake-application marker, brake-release marker, and turn-in marker. As you approach the entrance of the corner, think only about these things. Not about where you’re going to start standing the bike up, where your corner-exit mark is, or what you’re going to eat for lunch; if you hit your markers early on, those things will fall into place as they should and you’ll land happily on the correct trajectory.

Picture, if you can, a checklist in your head, complete with an empty box for each of the above-mentioned tasks. As you spot your throttle shut-off reference marker and close the throttle…check. Next, spot your brake-release marker and let go of the brake lever…another check. Then, as you tip the bike into the corner at your turn-in point…check. (And yes, more experienced riders who trail-brake into a corner will have a different order for their markers.) Now completed, throw that checklist out and draw up a mental checklist for the middle of the corner. What’s behind you is behind you, and there’s nothing back there you’ll need to worry about until you have some time on a straight to think about what went right or wrong and what you will do differently the next time through.

Bradley Adams

Once you’ve got through the entrance of a corner, you have two jobs: to hit your apex and to open the throttle at your throttle-application marker. You know where and how to do this, but dividing the corner up allows you to focus wholly on these tasks, increasing the chance of perfect execution.

Now, as you enter the middle of the corner, focus on the apex and throttle pickup point. If you hit these points properly and as you’ve trained yourself to do lap after lap, session after session, you’ll set yourself up perfectly for the drive out of the corner. Check one box for hitting the apex, check the second for picking the throttle up at the correct time, and then throw that mental checklist in the recycle bin as you ready yourself for the exit of the corner.

Assuming you were mistake-free in the first two sections of a turn, exiting the corner will be only a matter of crossing your corner-exit mark, managing the throttle for grip, and repositioning yourself on the saddle for the next section of track. Approach these tasks accordingly for the best drive off the corner.

A lot happens between the time in which you jump out from behind the windscreen at the entrance of a corner and when you stand the bike up at the exit of that same turn, and allowing those tasks to blend together can overwhelm your senses. This leads to mistakes, which could potentially lead to a crash. Dividing the corner up, however, enables you to work through a turn task by task, essentially permitting your brain to focus on fewer things per millisecond. You already have the skill set required for quick laps at the track; now it’s about putting yourself in a position that allows you use them favorably, and that’s what dividing and conquering is all about.

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