After reading over my article on Why your mate seems to disappear after the first few corners; Clifford Chapman, a rider who also does Sim Racing online competitively sent through some great advice on where your eyes should be looking when riding. So I have decided to use his great advice and mash it up with my own for another article that will hopefully be useful to you. Clifford talks about the Vanishing Point. The Vanishing Point is the point of the road that keeps “refreshing” with new things as you’re looking at it. It is the furthest point ahead that you can see through a corner. Your head should be pointing towards it and your eyes should be watching it like a hawk. That’s where your bike will go.
Average speed through the corner
Clifford says, “you may find that your friends are leaving you behind as they are holding higher average speeds around those tighter slower speed corners. This could be one of those 45kph orange highlighted corners (in 100kph zones) where they are travelling at 70kph or 90kph, they are not speeding and are still leaving themselves some room to safely realign or adjust mid corner but they are holding an overall faster mid corner than you because they have their eyes further up the road, or corner, and can therefore register with sufficient time, when and where, to position the bike. Ready for that next corner entry”.
How the road code spoils us
As riders, we tend to assume that what we do is what everyone does, but this isn’t guaranteed to be the case. This could be due to how we learn to drive, with much emphasis on road code, when to indicate and what to do at a roundabout to pass a test, it’s little surprise in driver training or those early stages that we hear about advice where to be looking and where to have our eyes. As such bad habits form, where we are looking at the boot of the car in front of us most of the time. This is a bad habit and does not help when it comes to riding through the twisty corners.
How motorsport helps us
Clifford says, “as a rider of two years and passion for motorsport, I have learnt that having eyes up is an important part of motorsport and I have used this in my riding and feel the benefits. Riding with your eye line as far around the corner as possible is advantageous. Not only can you see oncoming traffic and other hazards, but you give yourself more time to react and judge a corner entry line and ensure correct gear and speed for that faster overall mid corner”.
How having your eyes looking ahead will help
Having your eyes where the boot of the car in front of you is, or would be, leaves little time for your brain to register speeds, corner angles, road condition and this reduces your time to react. This can then help explain why some riders are more prone to panic breaking – rather than seeing a sharper corner or off camber pot hole seconds in advance where you can plan around it, its possible riders with eyes down don’t see this until they have less time to react.
Next time you’re riding, consider scanning your eyes up as often as you can, it took me around 2 weeks to really notice a difference. It’s worth it for a smoother, safer, and more enjoyable ride.