If you have taken any motorcycle training at all, I am sure you have been told to keep your eyes up. Unfortunately, unlike at a 2 Day STAR Motorcycle School, many schools say it; very few spend quality time teaching you how to improve this skill. So, let’s talk about how important it is to get your eyes up and focus your attention on where you are going starting with some very important questions.
- How do you gauge how far you look down the road or track?
- How much are you taking in that can help you make your next decision?
- How much different are we as track day or street riders to the elite of our sport as far as visual goes?
Our eyes play such a pivotal role in everything we do; this is something that most of us take for granted. What if your vision was impaired by 20, 30 or even 50%, how much would that affect everything you do? Now think about that on a motorcycle.
I have had the privilege to race the biggest endurance races in the world and all of them go into or through the night. I have been asked the question, “how much slower do the top guys go at night”, more than once. The answer is always the same, they don’t slow down, some even go faster though there vision is impaired due to darkness. Why is that? As we start to dissect the things that are going on the answer becomes obvious.
Visual Aids Slowly Disappear
Visual aids are everywhere during the day but then they slowly disappear once night falls. What ever level rider you are, street, track day or racer, you should constantly monitor where your motorcycle is pointing. When you do this it allows you to make the decisions you need to from lean angle, throttle control, turn in points to exits. The more consistent you are during the day with all these steps the better you will be when some of those reference points get taken away. This is where being a consistent rider is so important.
All the top riders have practiced and worked on their technique so hard that when the visual aides are taken away while racing at night they are not thinking about body position, shifting, braking and the physical things we have to do on a bike. Now, they are able to get their eyes up and focus their attention on where the bike is going and hitting their marks.
What’s that Bridge Say??
When I work 1on1 with people one of things I always ask them is to tell me what the signs say on the pedestrian bridges that go over the track? Why? Because I am trying to get their eyes up and not focus on just the tarmac. Most couldn’t tell me what the signs say even though they may have ridden that same track dozens of times. For people new to a track its maybe the most important first step we do.
Signs are one of the best reference points. Lining myself up under letters has been something I have always done and I have made it a point to pass this down to every rider I work with. Getting your eyes up and taking in things like signs on bridges helps make everything bigger and slows down how fast things are coming to us. When we are looking down at the ground things appear to be going a million miles per hour, get those eyes up and things will slow down. Don’t get me wrong, I use reference points like curbings and color variations in the track surface to help navigate around a track as well. The difference is, I take in things on the ground so early and far up the track that they come at me very slowly. This is a practice that you will get better at with repetition.
I am so lucky to call Josh Hayes a friend. As I was thinking about what to write to you concerning this subject I recently talked with him after his race weekend at Indy. One of the things he mentioned to me was how hard the track was to learn because there were so few visual aids to help him. The track is so flat that even looking up track it was hard to distinguish where the edges of the track were. But with laps and repetition this process became easier. Josh’s biggest issue here was how little time he got on the track, he didn’t get the advantage of riding around a track all day long like some of us at our track days. Even a 4 time Superbike Champion has to think about his riding sometimes.
At STAR Motorcycle School we spend valuable time in the classroom as well as on track drills that are designed to get students eyes up. We teach you how to find things in the distance that will determine more than just where the bike goes. It determines how much we open or close the throttle, where our bodies will be set, braking and shifting.
STAR has a great schedule ahead where we can help you achieve all your riding goals. Getting our eyes up will be one of the things we will talk about on Day 1 and when we do our track walk on Day 2 this stuff will really hit home.
Now think, if someone turned out the lights on your track day, how prepared would you be?
Maybe we should do a STAR night school huh? 🙂
I love to hear from you so let me know what you think in the comments below.