Look Where you Want to Go and Everywhere Else Too

Street riding means twisting the “Look where you want to go” mantra

For me, surviving the commute to and from work means twisting that teaching a little. I’ve read that racers say ‘if you can see your bike, then you aren’t looking ahead far enough. Racers only have to contend with other racers on a magnificent track and maybe that is why this mantra works so well there.

In the real world riding is a little different. If I follow the common mantra of looking far ahead I may miss closer obstacles. As a matter of survival on the street I have to observe it all. I have to watch for the guy encroaching into my lane on the right to kill me. I have to spot the puddles, 2 x 4’s, tar snakes, gravel, ice and full 20 oz bottles. If I follow this ‘mantra’ then I could miss those obstacles early in the curve I didn’t see. Those obstacles previously unseen are now ready to try and take me down.

I’m not dismissing that you should plan and locate the entry, apex, exit. I also believe that you should try to focus one step ahead as the road allows. Meaning that as you enter the turn try to keep your eyes on the exit. However, you should also be prepared for constantly changing and unpredictable surroundings.

My street version

The street edition of this teaching should say something like: Look a step ahead, watch your butt, where’s the emergency, check your flanks, keep an eye out for crap in the road, keep your head up, and get through your turn. Long but I think it is more realistic to what you should be aware of while riding with distracted drivers and insecurely loaded trucks.

Take this morning for instance, as I rode to work in north Dallas with temperatures around 20, I realized that tar snakes look just like ice. Then as I was a couple miles into my ride I realized some of what I thought were tar snakes were actually ice. Streaks of ice formed across four lanes from lawn sprinklers left on to freeze last night. If I only practiced looking where I wanted to go I might have missed that I was leaning into a turn streaked with ice. Instead, after examining all areas within my sight, I noticed the ice, adjusted my  posture, and never experienced any panicky moments crossing over it.

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