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I Could Have Taken That Corner Faster

Blog Date - 25 January 2022

I recall several years ago Sharon said to me something along the lines of "I keep on thinking - I could have taken that corner faster." This struck a chord with me, it is something I've thunk to myself many many many MANY times.

A much younger me, full of vim and vigour, hormones and ego, trying his best to be brave and heroic, trying to prove to himself and the rest of the world that he's the big man because he can go around corner X at speed Y and lean angle Z. It mattered not the X and Y and Z, so long as they were MORE than his peer's X and Y and Z. The problem for this young me is he's a wimp with a strong sense of self preservation. He always knew he could have taken that corner faster. 

A switchback on a road through the Picos de Europa with beautiful scenery
You weren't scaping pegs and knee down here? Worra wuss!

Except for the odd times when he fell off, he then knew that he couldn't have taken that corner any faster. This would damage the motorcycle and the rider, leading to much distress.

Even today with over 32 years' riding and many miles under the wheels I still feel that ego driven urge to be fast. Admittedly the hormones ain't what they used to be and the bumps and scrapes don't heal like they once did. All this leads to an even stronger sense of self preservation. I still find myself thinking "I could have taken that corner faster", but today I append that thought with " - which means I dun it reet". 

I did it right? Yes. If I could NOT have done that corner any faster than I did I would by laying on/in the tarmac/hedge/wall/ditch, in some kind of distress be it small and annoying right through to life threatening and expensive. 

A country road with a green tick on the tarmac and a red cross in the wall and ditch
Ren's guide to as to where a motorcycle should be while riding.

Unless your motorcycle belongs to someone else who can afford for you to bend it, unless you are on a private track with run off areas and padded barriers, unless your protective gear is provided by sponsors, unless your medical bills and wages are met by the people encouraging you to go faster... exploring then finding the limits of both the bike and your personal abilities is going to be at the absolute minimum - problematic. The margins between I could have done that corner faster and falling off are infinitesimally small. 

Talking with Sharon more recently I was being a typical blabbering biker. 
"You know, if you lean like this and steer like that and and and... you could take that corner faster." 
"I don't wanna take that corner faster, I'm really enjoying my riding right now at this pace."

Oh yeah. Damn. Blast. Hell. She's right you know. Dagnammit. Grrr, I hate it when she does that. She's not as fast as she COULD be, but that's the whole point of this missive is it not? More importantly she's achieving the entire raison d'être of motorcycling - enjoyment.

Sharon poses by her bike in front of the tent on a tree filled campsite
When you're this cool you don't need to try to be fast, just enjoy the ride.

Advertise here - contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
You raise interesting points, but then again you normally do.
Roads have bends, sometimes lots of em, these are actually hazards, aren't they? But.......one mans hazard is another mans fun. But yes fun can and does very quickly turn to unfun.
The whole right speed thing is very hard to determine but safe to say if you're travelling upright around a proper bend then arguably you're a little over cautious.
Some of the fastest and safest riders I have ridden with exude the slow in, fast out mantra. It looks good, it feels good and allows a margin for safety; you know, what the heck went wrong there, bounce, ouch, please stop now it hurts incidents.
But........I do think tooooo slow just feels so wrong, but that's my too slow of course, which may in turn be someone elses too slow or too blummin fast. Strange innit.
I think if you get home and think that felt good, safe and you've got a smile on ya ugly mush then you've probably cracked it. If Er'Indoors on the back agrees then life is good.

25/01/2022 13:03:20 UTC
Bogger said :-
Last summer, on a camping jaunt to Dent I was astride my old R80RT. A mate was on his CB500, one of the old ones.

Well, as we pass Devils bridge and we're into the country proper the pace, err, ups a bit. Matey boy is in front and I'm chasing, sorry, following him, trying the keep up. We're not doing daft speeds by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I doubt if we we're up to the permitted speed limit.

So back to the chase....sorry, 'following'. I crest a Left hand bend, which then dips sharply and sweeps round to the right. As the front end goes light, over the crest, then digs in the suspension compresses and it all goes a bit Pete Tong.

I think I did about 30 mtrs in the gravel and crap right along the verge, with my heart in my mouth. All the time thinking OMG I'm in the *** now. Due to my skilful riding, ahem, I overcame the immediate problem and reverted to actually riding on the tarmac again and not surfing the verge. Can I just say the pace slowed considerably after that and I got to the campsite Physically if not mentally unscathed.

Thinking about it in hind site If I'd been on my other BMW, the R1200RT I really don't think I'd of had an issue. But on the old un it certainly was. Hopefully lesson learned?? Number one ride within your limits and number two, ride within the limits of the bike.

Bogger.....the intrepid
25/01/2022 13:36:27 UTC
Marv said :-
On my trip to Scotland last year, whist waiting for the ferry to Barra, I got chatting to a couple of friendly Scottish bikers on who were in their late 20s.

They said that we should meet up, as we were all heading in the same direction. I was a bit reluctant, as I thought with the powerful bikes they were on, they'll probably ride quite a bit quicker than I'm comfortable with.

A few days later, we met up at the Calanais Standing Stones on the isle of Lewis...Before we set off, I warned them that I'm on a much slower bike than them, and given I'm in my 40s I'm probably going to ride much slower than them too, so I'm just going to stick at the back while they zoom off towards the horizon.

Much to my surprise, they rode at about the same pace as me, were sensible riding through towns and villages and were perfectly happy at that pace.

I was surprised! I guess not all youngsters are hooligans on bikes...I guess I missed that bit, as I didn't get into biking until my late 30s.
25/01/2022 19:44:45 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I think my "comfort zone" gets further away from my "limits" the longer I ride.Rather than how fast I can get round bends I prefer to see how smoothly I can ride. Occasionally I might try the "how far can I go before I put my feet down" game which is very good for improving forward planning. Wasn't much use in suburban Brum but better now I'm in semi rural seclusion....
28/01/2022 16:28:21 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
Ian, How is your hip progressing? Will you be riding fit for this summer?
28/01/2022 18:56:12 UTC
Jim said :-
Ian - my comfort zone is my limit. Luckily having started biking in my 50s I missed the youthful overexuberance stage, the pleasure is all about getting the entry speed, position and gear right to allow brisk acceleration at the right point. I like plenty of spare brain capacity to enjoy the surroundings, if I go too quick that margin disappears very fast.
29/01/2022 07:22:12 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I hear you regarding brain capacity Jim. I still enjoy a good blast from time to time but I'm aware I can only focus on the road when I'm pushing. I believe every good road needs riding at least 4 times - both directions slowly to appreciate the scenery and both directions quickly to appreciate the road.

I've been finding it most useful to focus on my road position, smoothness and "flow" particularly when I'm stuck behind slower traffic. It helps prevent me getting bored or frustrated and when the traffic clears and I up the pace the slow practice has helped improve my general positioning etc.
29/01/2022 08:12:24 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Hi Rod, thanks for asking. Hip progressing very well (the surgeon said I had made a "phenomenal" recovery!) I haven't been on either bike yet but waiting for more clement weather. No rush.....

29/01/2022 10:38:24 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
I am pleased that everything is going well Ian. As you say "no rush".
29/01/2022 12:13:23 UTC
Borsuk said :-
As I came into motorcycling later in my life I never had the I am period of believing myself invulnerable on a bike and know all to well from the sports I did when younger and believing myself immune to gravity that self inflicted pain is natures way of saying you just did some thing stupid. The more pain the more bloody stupid. I find I don't need to ride to the limits of my bike as it's limits far exceed mine which will probably always be that way. The few times I have ridden at my own personal limit without coming a cropper have been enough to reset my riding to well below those limits for the rest of the day while the adrenalin clears my system and I can find somewhere to change my underwear.

Having said that I hope to get out on the Himmy this weekend, assuming the battery has not been killed by forgetting to switch on the maintainer 5 months or so ago before heading to work.


09/02/2022 14:00:09 UTC
Shuffling on said :-
When I was younger, so much younger than today.....I recall going fast round corners without really thinking about it. But then I used to ice skate and not think about falling over. Last time I was on the ice I was a wobbling wreck worried about breaking my arms.
Same with biking. Returning to biking in my mid 30's after a period of impoverishment I discovered a voice in my head, never previously heard. It sounded like "oohhhh s###". This got louder after a few spills (ice, diesel and a Jag) and was then accompanied my a fixation on on coming traffic, gravel, grids mouse droppings etc etc. This often resulted in sitting up, application of brakes mid corner and a twitchy bum muscle. Magazines were read, new techniques tried ( counter steering, leaning body, sticking knee out) but it only made me more tense and the oohhh s### voice became louder. Bike was sold and 4 years of being bike free resulted.
Fast forward 4 years and I succumbed to the itch and an Enfield classic was purchased. I was much more relaxed, the voice quietened and my cornering speed increased (except when I kept forgetting to lift the side stand) to the point that I was complimented by a friend on a 1100 Vstrom on the nc500 who struggled to match my cornering speed. The resulting big headedness made me think about cornering more and apply different techniques to go even faster. You guessed it, the oohhh s### voice came back and my cornering went to pot.
I'm now the owner of an interceptor 650, I try not to over think corners and now I've got rid of the huge mirrors in my eye line I often find myself going round roundabouts twice with a smile on my face. I get the occasional oohhh s### voice when I'm trying too hard or see gravel mid bend and often think I could have gone faster, but coming out of a bend on the right side of the road and still relaxed means I don't really care that much any more about speed or chicken strips.

04/03/2022 08:09:00 UTC

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