So I came THIS close (you should be able to see about an inch of space between my thumb and forefinger) to binning it and throwing it all away yesterday, out in the Cascades. I thought about it all, afterward, and here are my conclusions:
After riding/droning the over two hours in cold/damp conditions to Newhalem, where the going gets really good, I was cold, stiff, and a little lethargic. Come the first few miles of fun stuff, I was off rhythm, not loose, not ‘connected’ to the feel of the bike and tires, and not ‘in my game’, but I soldiered on. After the first bridge/dam crossing, where the road starts to climb, I decided to ‘up’ the pace to a more sporting level (ahem), in spite of it all. The roads were dry and warm, and the sun was shining, but I was still just not yet ‘in the groove’.
First lefty, third gear sweeper, a right, and then another left. The third left, much to my chagrin, was a marked decreasing radius affair (I forgot that), and as soon as I noticed that – I freaked. I wasn’t really going all that fast (could have easily made the corner at that speed), but my brain screamed “you’re going too fast and you’re not going to make it!”!
That corner can be taken (if I recall clearly) at either second gear well up into the power-band, third gear just at the onset of it, or forth at a dogging rpm. In my cold-set stupor, I barreled into the corner at low rpm’s in forth, and was sitting square centered on the bike. Rather than clenching my butt, sliding off the seat and leaning over, further into the turn, the ‘image’ of that decreasing radius and all the rocks, ditch and cliff coming at me caused a wee bit of a panic mode and so I (SR) gently tapped the front brake on to scrub some speed, of course causing the bike to lift and separate (drift outside). I eased off the brake a bit, but panic still gripped my actions, and kept that brake on, all the while watching my trajectory edge closer and closer to the ‘edge’, until just at the point I knew I was out of room – at which point I eased off said brake, and threw the bike down into the turn for all I was worth.
Since you’re not reading an ‘I crashed’ thread, I obviously made it through by the skin of my teeth, surviving an unexpected “oh shit” moment …. Only to think “what the fuck did I just do there to fuck up THAT badly?” …
So, I came to realize that once again those in-your-head words “Awe crap – I can do better than this, I can go faster than I am with relative ease” caught up with me and bit me in the butt, scaring me straight but not smashing me up. Also – for years and years I rode without earplugs, but last season started wearing them and now use them all the time. Yesterday, I forgot to put them in, and never bothered with the spare pair I have in my bag when I stopped for gas, because I was too lazy. It dawned on me, that without the plugs in, the wind rushing past my helmet was significantly louder than it would normally have been with the plugs in, making me THINK I was going faster than I was.
Because I was nowhere near riding at any limit, and because I didn’t panic completely, or give up, or target fixate … but rather reasoned and acted accordingly – I managed to save the moment and carry on to smooth out my actions and reactions and enjoy a superb day of hanging off and strafing apexes (at the speed limit, of course). The moment woke me up real good, and I loosened and limbered up properly after that, got back into my ‘game’ and set into a groove.
And, I put my spare earplugs in forthwith!
Lesson learned – do NOT listen to that frikken 'ego voice' sitting up on my left shoulder (the one with the tail and the horns), and ease into any pattern and pace slowly and sequentially, warming everything up (tires, mind/reactions, and skills) as I do.
May this dissertation come as some use to other riders …