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Question About Looking Ahead.

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Okay, for starters I wanna know how far I should look ahead. Secondly, when I look ahead and spot a real skectchy section, I like to look closer to my wheel when I'm in that section just so I can see what its like and how my bike reacts. Should I just try to trooper through or is it alright to look like this sometimes?

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I'm no expert but I always try to look at least 20-30ft ahead.When you get to a difficult section that distance drops and I always think"pick a line" and follow through.

I have trouble when I get off my line or when I lose concentration of where I want to go.

This is for sigle track in the mountains on tight rocky trails and usually second gear is the highest I can get.

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spending too much time looking at my tire for me= loosing my line and leaving the trail.

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I adjust my visor as high as possible. I really just try to look as far ahead as

possible and make a mental note of the line I want to take. Sounds weird, but

your brain should be constantly recording and deleting sections as they go by.

If you pick a line and look in front of your fender, you'll be surprisingly slower.

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I generally look ahead as far as I can see(which may be 5 feet:D)--just because I always have to look out for people coming the other way(one way trails would be SO cool!). SO try this

on a long tricky corner that's rough, when you get to the corner look to the end of the corner and beyond, then do it again looking in front of your fender. Which one will you get through smoother and faster? Which one will you save better if your wheel washes out? The one where you're looking ahead(well at least it works for me, I was really impressed by the difference:D). I was thinking about why that might be, (get ready for some hippy dippyness) and I think it's in the end because riding is so much instinct--if you concentrate and think too much about how to get over something, bam it's passed already before your brain can literally think the words. That's where the best riders traintraintrain, they know the concepts of good position, the physics of the bike and technique, and beat it into their bodies till they don't think about it anymore--the subconscious handles it much faster and more efficiently because it's balance and muscle twitch(I can miss the rock by leaning left just a tad), not words or equations(crap there's a rock, it looks tippy, if I hit the rock square on just right I will not bounce off it sideways, maybe, oh crap!).

If anybody reads Tom Brown, I think his concept of soft vision(you don't focus right in front of you and you're able to use periphery vision) for seeing movement and noticing more overall detail/information improves observation and reflexes. I think that's what's happening when you look way ahead, you're still seeing the trail in front of you, but you're accessing the part of your brain that controls reflexes on a more primitive level(fight or flight), since biologically for us peripheral vision catches movement, and we respond without thinking(RUN! from the bear). So you can use that to respond to the trail, without thinking too much.

It really is easier/more efficient to look ahead!

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Thanks so much, definately gonna have to drill this everytime I ride.

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when I was 6 my uncle teach me how to ride a bicyle and I remember he told me "don't look at the wheel, look ahead"...

In motorcycle racing driving you have to look the 2nd corner you're going to ride, not the first corner...It's difficoult, I know, but you have to try

Zac

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Okay, for starters I wanna know how far I should look ahead. ?

As far as you can see.

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You will always drive towards where you are looking. Thats how people plow into a car changing a tire on the side of the road.

Look where you want to go not at what you want to avoid. This is something most people really have to work at. It is kind of counter-intuitive, but definitely works. I know it in my head, but it is not instinct yet. I can focus ahead of my immediate line normally, but when something unexpected pops up I tend to focus on the hazard intead of the escape route. That leads to running off trail, running into something or falling.

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When people say they look ahead I don't think they mean that they don't look down every once in awhile.

My eyes are moving all the time. I look far down the trail for a second or two then look closer to me to pick a line or avoid obstacles, then back down the trail.

When I look up, I look at the entire trail as my eyes move from close to the bike up the trail, then look at the entire trail as my eyes return to the bike.

It's not like you just look far away , then close. You scan the everything in between.

The faster you are traveling the further you should look down the trail. It really doesn't make sense to try to look far down a trail when you are in 1st gear squeezing through trees.

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I ride "sections" of the trail, and keep my eyes on the end of the section. I trust my peripheral vision to deal with anything closer.

Sometimes the end of the section is close, sometimes it can be 1/4 mile away (on a straightaway in an arroyo). In turns, on approach the apex is the end of the section. After I have the bike on the line I want through the turn, the end of the turn (or even further away) is the end of the section, and I look there.

I've noticed that I can trust my peripheral vision. I don't hit too many rocks or roots on the trail; I can only speculate that your peripheral vision understands that the rock is only 6" wide so you only need a small correction to avoid it -- whereas if you're staring at it, it looks much more ominous and there's a tendency to make a significant overcorrection.

Riding "sections" seems to improve my odds of staying ahead of the bike and the terrain, and better able to anticipate what's coming next.

Works for me.

--

Mark

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I put a piece of Blue painters tape on my front fender, on it I have arrows pointing forward.

Just a "reminder" to look forward, I too am guilty of "target fixation" right in front of my fender.

Helped me...might help you

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I don't look at the wheel or fender, it's just in the line of vision that's all. I look at each upcoming event wherever it may be. Each situation requires a certain actiion. When you look ahead, your look should tell you, do I need to stand up, move up on the seat and so on. And when! A good rider alters his position and balance frequently.

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As far as distance as an example. It is usually several bike lengths at least. From there I follow it in while executing the maneuver. Remember that as you are looking ahead what is directly in front of you should not be problem for you. If it is, then you didn't look ahead and figure it out. If your looking at the front wheel, you better slow down, because your going to get yourself into trouble!

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I got my first real taste of how much looking ahead helps this weekend. We rode some down in Central Kentucky and near our camp site was nothing but old, dry creekbeds filled with rocks and sand. Everytime I'd catch myself getting fixed on a target, I'd look ahead and zoom through the section with no problems.

Thanks for all the help guys. (New Looking Ahead Pro)

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Seems that many of us have this tendency to look down when we're on a bike and in the heat of the moment. The focus or intensity of what's happening distracts us I believe (as someone put it, much like someone changing their tire along side of the road getting plowed). I deliberately try to THINK about looking ahead (and I'm getting better with more and more seat time) yet still I find myself looking down. Oh no, here comes a rock, better not hit that rock - BOOM - sheesh, I just hit that rock. Shoulda' looked where I DID want to go, not where I DIDN'T.

It IS a mental thing no question. Do we stare at the highway directly in front of us when we drive? NO! Why? CONFIDENCE? RELAXATION?

What IS auto pilot when I'm in a car and why can't I do that on the trail?

An arrow or something on the front fender just to jog my brain and my eyes back up towards where I'm really going just may a good idea for me.

How far to look ahead? Looking far enough ahead is about being able to react to the terrain and others in front of you for the speed you happen to be going at that point in time. When it comes down to it it's really no more complicated than that! RIGHT!?

Crfuzz - you race in the Kentucky scrambles?

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Looking ahead is a technique that i've been working on my last few rides and it seems to work, i find myself being able to go faster. I do glance down right in front of me sometimes but i continually scan ahead. Very good thread topic, this should help alot of people.

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I look as far ahead as I can clearly see. AND KEEP LOOKING AHEAD. When you notice a bad rut or a tricky section force yourself to look beyond it. Your mind will take care of business if you let it. For example, when climbing a big nasty hill, just look at the top, thats where you'll end up. On tight single track I am looking to where the trail is dissappearing, constantly looking for "new trail", meaning I keep looking ahead so I am looking at new trail all the time, not fixating on one section of it. I find that the first indication of fatigue is 'target fixation'. Thats when I know I am getting tired.

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The general rule is to look 2-3 bike lengths ahead per selected gear that you are in, as long as you have a "healthy" throttle setting for that gear at that moment. What we mean is if you are in 1st gear you look 2-3 bike lengths ahead, if you are in 4th you look approximately 8-12 bike lengths ahead. But if you are slowly rolling down a hill in 6th gear doing 10 mph that does mean you look 12-18 bike lengths ahead. At that speed you'd have a "healthy" throttle setting in 1st, or more likely 2nd gear thus you'd be looking approx 4-6 lengths ahead.

Looking ahead drastically improves your balance and control of the bike.

You want to look at where you want to go, not where you DON"T want to go.

Your focal point will constantly being changing up and back on the trail depending on what, if any, obstacles are approaching. If the trail is clear you will continue to focus ahead, if there is a major obstacle approaching then your point of focus will be scanning back and forward on the trail. That is, when you first see the obstacle you'll focus on it to gain all the necessary infomation about it. You'll then decide it's level of importance. From there you'll take the appropriate action whether that be to slow down accordingly or to not worry about it. While doing this you'll focus past the obstacle to see what is approaching further down the trail. As you get closer to the obstacle you'll focus back on it if you deem it necessary and to re-evaluate your previous information about the obstacle, and then focus back down the trail, continuing to do this scanning back and forward as necessary. During this whole time you are also using your peripherial vision to gain information on the areas surrounding your focal point, in front and behind.

Just before reaching the obstacle you'll glance at it again momentarily for any final decision making and then focus your eyesight ahead again down the trail. From experience you'll then use automatic body actions and muscle movements to execute your planned action to conquer the obstacle, relying on all of your senses to give you feedback on your progress over the obstacle, and to initiate any corrections that may be necessary for body position etc.

This scanning back and forward happens no matter whether the next major obstacle is 50 yards ahead or 5 feet, just that the furhter the distance between obstacles the less the need for scanning back and forward.

Shane Watts

Dirt Wise Instructional DVD

Dirt Wise Academy of Offroad Riding schools

www.shanewatts.com

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Great answer. I think racers will get more out of that than the beginner that asked the question. If you are just learning what your bike is doing when going over different terrain, it helps to ride behind someone your speed and watch their bike and then feel your own as you go over the same stuff. Looking ahead is similiar learning to drive when the farther ahead you look the straighter you can keep your machine. Looking ahead on a bike makes it easier to go faster, and speed makes you more stable. Don't underestimate your mind's ability to remember what you briefly scanned and react to it. I would say to inexperienced riders to look ahead as much as possible unless you are wrecking from not paying enough attention to the close stuff. Make sure your visor is up all the way.

For your experience, you should always go back and look at what made you wreck. This will help you understand your capabilities and decide how to conquer it next time.

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