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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 06/24/2009 :  2:39 PM                       Like       
Mental attitude is arguably the most important aspect of Roadcraft, and has been referred to numerous times in other Roadcraft threads. Nigel, would you please elaborate on that?

Edited by - aidanspa on 06/24/2009 4:44 PM

Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 06/24/2009 :  4:26 PM
aidenspa,you have started what is probably the most important thread of all. That is because, in my opinion, there are basically two aspects relating to all of this. One is the mechanical side; that is what you physically do with the vehicle, or motorcycle as in vary the speed or position cum direction, check the mirrors (beforehand, of course), change gear and all of that. The second is, indeed, the mindset or attitude, because I believe that attitude determines behaviour and, therefore, everything is driven from the brain. So, it matters not what people know it is how they put it in to practice and also when they put it into practice which is the important point.

It was Derek Van Petegem who was some twenty years plus an Advanced Wing Instructor at Hendon (The (London) Metropolitan Police Driving School) who succinctly said that, The art of going fast is knowing when to go slowly', and that takes a particular mind-set to do it well. Also, in the overtaking thread, I made mention of Pat Forbes (again a former Hendon Advanced Wing Instructor) who said that the mental makeup of a good driver consists (to parpaphrase)primarily of self discipline and restraint, and that coming from one who taught police officers how to drive as fast as possible with safety.

On the face of it that must seem like a contradiction, but when you analyse it it isn't. I have been very fortunate is spending time with these superb drivers and the one thing which stands out is that they are emotionally very detached from the (driving) operation. Being dispassionate is vitally important. The moment one becomes emotional one loses the plot because one no longer has the ability to neutrally evaluate all the information and that is critical, particuarly in the case of overtaking. The other thing about them is that they appear very calm, even when travelling at very high speed. I made reference in another thread to the superior aviator who uses his superior brain to avoid having to take superior action/s. That is particularly so with road driving and riding. However, all this is only possible with very good (what we call) forward observation; looking as far ahead as possible and thinking out Plan A and Plan B long before you actually get to the hazard, so that everything happens in a calmly organised fashion. Yes, primarily it is all a brain thing. Many people can become safer, at least to some degree, just by having a better mind-set which one can consider the foundation on which all the mechanical aspect (System, positioning etc) are placed. But when you put the two together then the safety factor really starts to escalate.

The 2007 Roadcraft has an excellent first chapter on Mental Skills for Better Driving and there are a whole raft of sub-headings to go with this. This section is based on the excellent work of Dr Gordon Sharp who spent some time with the Scottish Police Driving School at Tulliallan Castle and wrote the book Human Aspects of Police Driving, which I would also highly recommend. One source is:
http://www.whsmith.co.uk/CatalogAnd...1568004.html
but I can get them from the Road Safety Scotland. The book costs UKP 9.75 not including postage.
Not all chapters are suitable for civilian driving, of course, but the ones which are pertinent are: Advanced Driving Skills, Limitations to Brain Processing, Attitudes and Driving Behaviour, Vision and Observation and, finally, Hearing and Communication. Most of this is incorporated into the 2007 RC but it is a book well worth having anyway.

I would also recommend Chris Gilbert's DVD ( http://www.driving4tomorrow.com/). Chris was also an Advanced Wing Instructor at Hendon and, amongt other things, taught Princes William and Harry to drive. The DVD is not in US TV format so can only be played on a computer. I undertand from Chris that Eddie Wren of Advanced Drivers of America ( http://www.advanceddrivers.com/) has bought the US copyright of the DVD.

Hope this helps to get this very important thread going and thanks again, aidenspa, for putting it forward. You are right on the mark.
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 06/24/2009 :  11:10 PM
Nigel, thank you for your reply and the references to Human Aspects of Police Driving and Chris Gilbert's website (good site!). To a casual observer, it may appear that discussing the importance of an "excellence" mindset in mastering the Roadcraft system is a "no-brainer" (pun intended). However, it occurs to me from reading your posts and research on other sites that Roadcraft requires a different kind of thinking...an entirely new set of mind muscles that in many drivers and riders are atrophied from lack of exercise. It is work.

It seems to me that the only way for a rider to achieve the level of expertise you describe...emotionally detached, relaxed, in the "flow", while being aware of and reacting to potential problems before they exist...is through mental exercise. Getting in the habit of doing commentary every time we hit the streets, voicing a plan A & B for scanned hazards, and congratulating oneself aloud upon successful completion of a maneuver all go to developing the mindset that will reinforce and "let fly" the physical training.

I have the impression that the physical skills training in Roadcraft is the easy part. The mental training requires a big commitment, and I would venture a guess that it requires a larger effort than many riders are interested in providing.
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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 06/25/2009 :  12:11 AM
Robert, Yes I think you make some excellent points there. Getting good takes effort, but then it does whether you are riding, driving or, for example, playing golf, tennis or, whatever. Many people will spend inordinate amounts of time,effort and money on improving, say, their golfing skills but that is not a life skill. Being safe on the road is. Equipment cost is nil. Extra time taken - nil, because you practise every time you hit (pun or no pun?) the road. So, yes, few people will make the real effort. Most will settle for the complacency based on 'I haven't had a crash, therfore I am safe', which completely and conveniently overlooks the fact that they may still be highly vulnerable to a crash.

You say, 'I have the impression that the physical skills training in Roadcraft is the easy part. The mental training requires a big commitment, and I would venture a guess that it requires a larger effort than many riders are interested in providing.' I think you are probably absolutely right, but then, when they are lying in hospital in a mangled mass don't let them come back and say, it was an unavoidable accident (crash). Most are highly avoidable but, you are quite right, it takes the mental committment to develop the skills to get to that level. In the introduction to one of the earlier Roadcrafts it effectively says that crashes are primarily caused by humans and therefore can be avoided by humans. Yes, I am being brutal but life and death can also be brutal and I would rather be brutal to be kind than the other way around.
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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 06/25/2009 :  5:19 AM
There is a difference pointed out in Roadcraft between motorcycling and say tennis. In tennis, a lack of skills is quite evident when playing a better player. It's different with riding.

"Because errors go unpunished - that is, they are not always followed by an accident - they develop into bad habits which increase the risk that one day the rider will be involved in an accident."

Learning the skills in Roadcraft is a lot like an exercise program. Progress is very slow and results are not seen immediately. Eventually, one might give up the effort thinking they are finally safe enough. But when one does that, they start to lose the skills.

For myself, I find small doses of training done every ride. Five minutes of commentary riding at the beginning of the ride makes me sharper for the whole ride. If I feel like it I'll do more. I'll spend a few minutes in the twisties consciously gathering information and trying to nail the track. Once I get in a groove, I can back off on the effort slightly.

Reading 5 pages of Roadcraft a day would get me through the book about once a month. It doesn't have to be Roadcraft. It can be some of the more interesting threads from this board or a few pages in Proficient Motorcycling.

A tangible goal can help one become focused. A long tour, a special ride, qualifying as a leader in a good riding group, making a thoughtful post on this board. Or even a not so thoughtful one that you delete prior to posting.

Much of the mental attitude in Roadcraft is simple enough and I feel most here have the attitude.

Evaluating progress is very difficult as there is not an outside observer. I like to review any situation that requires more than normal braking or acceleration or more than a normal adjustment of position. I consider these as a prelude to a crash and I also consider them as my fault regardless of the actions of another driver.

Vidoetaping rides has been an invaluable aid. I play up to the camera a lot. I don't want anything documented that is not a demonstration of my best safe riding skills. I've learned a lot from reviewing situations I thought I handled well, but found they could have been handled better.
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 07/30/2009 :  10:03 PM
aidanspa, I debated opening this as a separate topic but I believe this continues your mindset thread. I do not want to hijack your thread so please move it to a separate topic if you feel it is inappropriate here. I would have titled the new topic "Roadcraft the book".

Ray

I had ordered the Roadcraft book and after almost 2 months it arrived last week. Here is my initial impression prior to reading the book. Let me briefly explain that when I use the term scan below it means I look at every word in the book and look at every illustration. I do not try to "understand" what I see. When I use the term read I mean that I stop to smell the roses and put meaning and context to the words and illustrations. I scan books fairly quickly while reading takes much longer.

My initial reaction in opening the packaging was that the book was unremarkable. I would say 192 pages (cover to cover) of 6 by 8.5 inch pages. Plenty of illustrations so in terms of words it is minimalistic in comparison to the other motorcycle books I have read. I have scanned the book "twice" and have decided it is worth reading. My initial scans have made me feel that I have read the book before. IMO, much of it's content I have read before in the other books this site has recommended. I have developed the impression that I can break it into two parts which at times are intermingled. I think of them as the mental and the mechanical. Moving a bike from a right track to a left track is mechanical. Knowing when to make that move is mental. The mental portion is the one that has caught my attention. It seems complex in a good way but at the same time has an appealing simplicity. My opinion my change when I actually try to analyze what is being said.

Here are a couple of quotes from "the police rider's handbook to better motorcycling". The lowercase title is theirs and I will refer to the book as Roadcraft for short since on the front page it also has "Motorcycle ROADCRAFT".

"Every near miss and accident needs to be seen as an opportunity to re-evaluate and improve your riding technique".

"Most riders involved in accidents do not accept that they contributed to it".

I would be very interested to hear the forums thoughts on those 2 statements.

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Niebor
Ex-Member

Posted - 07/31/2009 :  10:36 AM
quote:
Originally posted by rayg50

"Every near miss and accident needs to be seen as an opportunity to re-evaluate and improve your riding technique".

"Most riders involved in accidents do not accept that they contributed to it".

I would be very interested to hear the forums thoughts on those 2 statements.



You hit two key concepts the aurthor is attempting to get our arms around. From there, it's all about training yourself to properly evaluate the road ahead. What it is not about is seeing how fast you can negociate the next turn. Indeed, it stresses being able to STOP within the distance you can see. What we have discovered in the process is that, in most cases, this is exactly the advisory limit speed. A 'math brainiac friend has run all the numbers, all I know is in the "real world", it works.

I understand easily there are many areas with turns that give excellent visibility. In Colorado, the twistie we cherish seldom offer the wide field of view you see. In the Texas Hills, it may well be appropriate to run a 35 mph advisory at 50 mph, that's not up to me to criticize. Make your choice, I support that.

Until I know a given section well, I tend to run at "at face value". Indeed, close to home, I can show example where I rode the same stretch several times before I recognized the legitimate reason behind the seemingly unreasonable advisory limit. The Excursion "coming out of nowhere" brought that lesson home. We were running a nice leisurely pace that morning, right at the advisory coming out of the bend. Making the appropriate correction was, well, casual. Convincing, indeed!
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1695 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 07/31/2009 :  1:04 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
quote:
Originally posted by rayg50
"Every near miss and accident needs to be seen as an opportunity to re-evaluate and improve your riding technique".

"Most riders involved in accidents do not accept that they contributed to it".






My only crash occured with a left turning car. She was stopped, turn signal on, and waited for about 8 cars in front of me before turning just in front of me. Clearly her fault, but as soon as I was on my feet again, I vividly recall mentally thinking how could I have allowed that to happen. I swore a left turner would never surprise me again. This accident was many years ago, and at least for left turners, I haven't allowed it to happen again.
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 07/31/2009 :  1:13 PM
quote:
Originally posted by rayg50

"Every near miss and accident needs to be seen as an opportunity to re-evaluate and improve your riding technique".

"Most riders involved in accidents do not accept that they contributed to it".

I would be very interested to hear the forums thoughts on those 2 statements.

Ray - I think your post and these statements are very much about mindset. I agree that much of what is found in the Roadcraft materials is not "new". SIPDE, for example, is quite similar in intent to IPSGA so there is that familiarity.

I believe that what separates Roadcraft from any other rider training I am familiar with is the mindset. The mechanics of preparing for hazards and making appropriate adjustments may be common to other programs, but the mindset that the rider is completely responsible for his own safety may not be.

Get into a near miss? It was the rider's responsibility. Crash? Rider's responsibility. How can it NOT be?

To suggest that a rider is not completely responsible for "incidents" in which he is involved is to say that he does not have complete control of his bike, himself, and/or the riding environment. If that is true, than by extension he cannot take credit for arriving safely and incident-free.

One of the main causes of crashes is the failure to recognize hazardous situations. If you fail to see the potential danger you cannot take actions to avoid it. And who is responsible for that?

Edit: grammar

Edited by - aidanspa on 07/31/2009 2:50 PM
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 07/31/2009 :  3:46 PM
quote:
Originally posted by rkfire

Clearly her fault, but as soon as I was on my feet again, I vividly recall mentally thinking how could I have allowed that to happen. I swore a left turner would never surprise me again. This accident was many years ago, and at least for left turners, I haven't allowed it to happen again.

This is exactly what I perceive the Roadcraft mindset to be. Determining that "fault" and "responsibility" ofter have nothing to do with one another. Yeah, the driver was at fault, but the responsibility was yours. Excellent.
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 07/31/2009 :  5:00 PM
quote:
Originally posted by aidanspa

...but the mindset that the rider is completely responsible for his own safety may not be...




+1 That is a key point that has drawn me in.

What drew me into this site was the proposition that one must be in control of oneself and ones bike at all times. IMO, this site is unique in the consistency of it's support of that concept. I am not at all saying that that is all there is here, I am saying that that is what drew me in and has caused me to remain (and that bad information gets torn apart quite quickly).

If you can maintain control of yourself and your bike you will be safer. The mindset part of Roadcraft seems to require that you actively control your situation in your environment.

I will paraphrase what has so nicely been said. [You] are completely responsible for [your] safety. While the exercises in the book IMO favor the experienced rider the mindset is valuable to everyone. If anything, new riders should take to it easier since they do not have old habits to modify.

Quote from Roadcraft pg 5 "Once we have learnt to do something routinely we are very reluctant to alter that routine, whatever the evidence that it does not work". Put from a different angle and not from Roadcraft - you cannot follow the same procedure multiple times and reasonably expect different results.

I am curious to know from those riders that either had accidents or near misses what action(s) or lack of actions on their part were a contributing factor. What changes have you made in how you ride in order to make sure that you will not again make that same contribution?

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