Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Look Where You Want to Go" Works for Some Things Other Than Motorcycling

I was recently perusing websites of motorcycle riders in the Carolinas, and I found FastFred's Motorcycle Rights E-zine. In it, Fred Ruddock writes that
"This ezine covers South Carolina, southern, and national politics from a biker's [perspective]. Subscribers receive the latest motorcyclist news and alerts when politicians threaten motorcycling."
Fred's website contains a number of good articles about local attractions, product reviews, trips, and especially about legislative activity related to motorcycling. He rides a FLHT (Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard -- I had to look it up), and has put 175,000 miles on it since 2003, so he is far from a newbie. He sells stickers like this to support his website:

Hmmmm, I think I have heard the "Don't Tread on Me" part somewhere before, maybe in that long-ago history class where I didn't pay enough attention to the teacher.

His is not a bad thought, considering that most legislators these days don't seem to have the best interests of their constituents in mind when passing laws. To them, more government control is better. It almost never is, and it would be far better for the government to get out of the way and let freedom and free enterprise work unfettered.

Activists like Fred help prevent the politicians from running roughshod over our rights, in his case, related to motorcycling.

Anyway, Fred also kayaks, and he has written lots of reports on rivers he has run.

FastFred at Double Trouble on the Ocoee River (October 4, 2009)

He sounds as though he is quite experienced at it, and in one of his writeups, he includes something that got my attention. It is in his article called CCC [Carolina Canoe Club] Clinic Trip Report: First Descent of Ocoee and Wilson Creek.
"Upon leaving Ocoee’s small put-in eddy the Class III fun begins with ferry from river right to river left above Grumpy’s Ledge. After completing this ferry there was a long delay as one of our classmates failed to make the eddy and became separated from his boat and paddle; his paddle traveled a considerable distance before friendly boaters found it.

"During this delay I lost focus as I eddy hopped down river left; I bumped a rock in a hole but rather than look where I wanted to go I looked at the rock. This resulted in a flip in shallow water; I missed a few roll attempts as I was drug across the rocky bottom and took a short swim. Thanks to Trent’s timely assistance I was able to enter the first eddy; this was my only swim of the weekend."

Did you pick up on what he said, the part that I underlined? "...rather than look where I wanted to go I looked at the rock." He paid for his moment of lost focus by being dragged along the rocky bottom and taking a swim in turbulent waters.

Sounds as though motorcycling skills and kayaking skills run parallel.

I first learned about looking where I want to go back in the MSF Basic Rider Class, and wrote about my class experience just before I bought my Ninja. The instructor repeatedly encouraged, then admonished us if necessary, to look where we want to go. It certainly works -- you will go exactly where you are looking, whether that is a good place or bad.

I recall reading a story about an MSF instructor, Irondad, whose student had target fixated on a portable outhouse set on the edge of the class course for the day. The rider was headed straight for a collision, despite the fact that the outhouse was the only hazard around. There were unlimited opportunities to miss it, anyway. In an effort to divert the student from certain disaster, he yelled to the rider "Look at me." The rider did so, and easily missed the hazard, steering safely back toward where he was looking -- at the [I imagine red-faced, hoarse-voiced] instructor. There is no word on whether the student avoiding hitting the instructor, however. That student fixated first on a bad thing -- the outhouse, then on a good thing -- missing it.

I can relate to fixation. My own "off-road" experience is one I don't wish to repeat.

Here is a pretty good article about target fixation, both good and bad. The idea is that you don't want to fixate on what you want to miss, but rather on where you want to go to avoid the hazard. That website also has a bunch of other good articles about riding.

Here is a guy looking where he wants to go on his motorcycle.

Photo from RoadRunner Motorcycle Touring and Travel

Here is another guy doing the same, but in his kayak.

Photo from article by Ken Whiting

J.R. Patten, on the Hey, I'm J.R. blog, (also here) has some interesting words about kayaking:
"Quit looking at the rock. If you look at the rock, you’ll hit it. Know the rock is there, but instead of looking at it, look where it is you want to go instead. If you look where you want to go, you’ll go there, and you won’t hit the rock.
"They were right. We were concentrating so hard on the rock that we unconsciously steered the boat right for it. The harder we tried to avoid the rock, the more likely we were to run into it. Once I stopped looking at the rock and focused my attention on where I wanted to go, my skill improved dramatically, and I had a lot more fun. And I stopped running into the stuff they told us to look out for. Finally I was going where I was trying to go instead of getting stuck on obstacles."
J.R. is in his mid-twenties, but has drawn some good conclusions here:
"I think the parallels to life are pretty obvious. When you’re working at something — be it a business, school, a hobby, or a personal goal — there will be big rocks that you’ll have to avoid. The key is to not look at them, not dwell on them. If you spend your time thinking about them, you’ll run right into them. Instead, just know they’re there. You don’t want to be oblivious to them, but don’t dwell on them.

"Focus your attention on where you want to go, and you’ll stop running into the obstacles and start moving in the right direction. You’ll get a lot better at whatever it is you’re doing, and you’ll have a heck of a lot more fun, too. I guarantee it."
So, look where you want to go, whether on land or sea, or in life!


Brian said...

Regarding legal threats to motorcycling, don't doubt the influence you guys can have in educating politicians about your issues. The SC legislation on bicycling was revised in 2008 and to my astonishment was almost entirely positive to bicyclists. Just by reading the text of the changes, it is clear that it must have been very much guided by the input of competent bicyclists as some of the changes run entirely counter to motorists impressions of cyclists (i.e. that we are safest off the road on a separated path).

bluekat said...

Hi Bucky,
Good post!
But this is too weird...I just read another blog comparing rivers and riding. I left a long comment there comparing my experiences with kayaking and riding (not whitewater). Gee, all these great minds thinking the same thing! Cool! :)

I don't know how to post links in comments, but you have it listed on your page...musings of an intrepid commuter.

It really is a skill to learn to keep my eyes up and look where I want to go. I'm pretty good in the straights, but have to remind myself in the corners...look for the exit...eyes up. It's one of the more stubborn bad habits.

Bucky said...

The link that Bluecat is referring to is "Reading the River," posted 3/11/2010: Musings of an Intrepid Commuter

irondad said...

Looking where you want to go also applies to personal goals. Amazing how so much of motorcycling applies in real life. Like when facing problems, the counsel to "separate your hazards" is great advice. Nice post, and thanks for the indirect mention. No, the student didn't hit me!

Bucky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.