It’s difficult as riders to explain what we feel out on the open road. From the rolling asphalt to the motor’s hum, hopping on the bike grants a sense of serenity and belonging to loads of motorcyclists. But sometimes, it’s not that easy to get into the flow of things. During these times, some might find it difficult to focus, which dilutes the feeling of freedom that riding provides. It can even present safety risks. Luckily, learning to stay focused makes it easy to get back into the groove.
Focus Brings Flow
While it may be difficult to describe how riding makes us feel, it’s safe to say it has an effect on us in our lives; granting autonomy, centering living in the moment, and helping one gain confidence. Getting into the optimal state and focusing on the road sometimes comes naturally, as if it were second nature, but it’s not always that simple. Entering this flow typically happens when we feel present, meaning our minds aren’t meandering in the past or worried about what the future will bring, which for many people, can be tricky to stop.
The Building Blocks
The work really begins off the bike, by building the foundations necessary to promote concentration in our lives. From eating a healthy diet to exercising regularly, getting a good night’s sleep, or playing a mental sport. For example, professional poker players regularly practise such habits in order to optimise their concentration for better performance, due to the exhausting nature of their tournaments. These techniques may seem like a given, but often, people seem to think one is more important than the other. However, many have come to find out how sleeping, eating and exercising are intrinsically interwoven. Doing one without the other won’t produce the same effect as when they’re done together. Likewise, abandoning these long term health practices will weaken the effectiveness of any mindfulness exercise meant to gain better concentration.
It’s possible to train your connection with your bike and route before you ever plant yourself in the seat. Route visualisation is a technique used by motorsport professionals of all walks to better ingrain the track surface, corners and gear sequences across a lap or point-to-point. If you’re riding a route you know well, you can run through such a visualisation before riding it. Not only will this attune your senses to the task at hand, it encourages you to pay attention to the minute details of a route. This can even be achieved with a route you’ve never rode before. By looking at a map, or even making use of Google Maps’ Street View option, you can build a basic idea of your route in your head before you head out.
Tips for Staying Focused while Riding
As soon as the basic needs of optimum sleep, diet, and exercise are met, the next exercises will be much more intuitive. A simple, yet powerful technique is to perform a personal ritual before putting the visor down. For some, that might manifest as a quick clean before a long ride or reciting a certain mantra. Rituals might not look the same for everyone, and some are even downright strange, like Valentino Rossi constantly repositioning his pants. Whatever it may be, what’s important is that we have something to anchor ourselves back to so we don’t coast off the road daydreaming.
Another tip to stay in the flow of things is to focus on the senses. Many people practise special breathing techniques while riding to help them feel relaxed. The most common way is by inhaling through the nose for four counts, then exhaling through the mouth for eight. With each breath, the body releases stress and allows the mind to enjoy the experience fully. Similarly, there are also grounding exercises, which have to do with touch. Here, a rider can play with position, find the spot they feel best in, and give themselves miniature challenges such as seeking top improve coming on and off the brakes, or shifting gears smoothly.