Here is a picture of a pretty sweet road, lovingly hijacked from Wikipedia.
See if you can spot what’s off in the following image of the same road:
This is what’s happening when you lean your head out sideways while turning on a motorcycle. You’re effectively convincing your brain that you’re about to have a nuts-first encounter with dear old mother earth, mediated by the warm caress of tarmac searing its way through your protective gear* and into your memories forever. Now, obviously, this is going to trigger some pretty heavy chemical responses in your think pan, and you’re going to end up backing off or doing something tremendously stupid like locking up or hitting the brakes if you’re not adequately trained and conditioned.
One of the first things any competent riding school is going to tell you is that it’s pretty damn important for the horizon to remain horizontal, and while getting all out in the air over the side is a great way to spend a turn or twenty, you’ll want to keep that brain-bucket as upright as possible. It helps you balance; it helps you accurately judge your lean; it helps you keep your eyes on your line, instead of on the blurred grey surface threatening to belt-sand your pert behind right off that pretty japanese crotch-rocket. For instance, that image up top is only about 30 degrees off center; imagine a turn like the one in the image to the right, where the bike is somewhere around 60 degrees off vertical. Your machine can handle it, no worries. You’re the real limiting factor.
Imagine my shame when I started riding again after coming back from Thailand and realised I was making this mistake.
So yeah, this post’s more of a reminder to myself on one of the basics, written on the principle that having put it out there, maybe that squishy mess between my ears will pick up the hint. Or I’ll just start paying a bit more attention again.
* You are of course wearing protective gear, right?