Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sometimes it IS the bike.

A poor carpenter blames his tools. I've always been hesitant to. But I can also recognize the limitations of my tools. Saturday I reached that point.

I've been reading Twist of a Wrist II I'll have a lot more to say about the book in a few weeks... but for now, without going into too much detail... the book delves into the mental and physical interface of going fast on a two-wheeled machine. The basic question it provokes is what does it take to go faster. Keith Code's style always provokes thought! A good portion is controlling survival reactions. Survival Reactions are things like grabbing brakes when you feel fast. Stiffening up on the bars in tight turns. Not turning the bike purposefully (and running wide) because you fear traction loss. And many more. At it's most basic level it requires trust in the machine.

As I rode around Warda on Saturday.... one of my mission was to be aware of my own survival reactions. I know they exist, but in what form?

I noticed some very important characteristics. First, my survival reactions came late; rather than on the approach of a trail feature. As I approach a turn, or a drop I want to be aggressive on -- I had no tension. No stiffness. No sense of limit. It isn't fear of "making it" causing my survival reactions to kick in and want to go slower. This is atypical. As fear-based reactions typically happen in anticipation of the event.

It's after I'm deep into the trail feature when my survival reactions kick in. But why late? Simple. They are kicked off by my bike acting unpredictably. It's the loss of trust in my machine. After noting this I could actually predict the points where my survival reactions would kick in; and link them to specific things the bike was doing.

It isn't news that my bike is a liability. The Stumpjumper FSR is definately not a race bike. It's trail bike that doesn't like to be pushed. This frame's never tracked well for me. I been unable to get the weight distribution I'd like. The list is pretty long.

However... linking those limiters to specific riding patterns is new to me. Understanding how bike weaknesses raise survival reactions on my part is important in choosing the next bike. As well as giving insight on becoming a better rider.

The next bike decision has been made. More on that later.