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Had an interesting experience yesterday that has me wondering and would like some input from those that have been there.

First my background-dirt racer umpteen years ago-haven't ridden on the street until my Glee last year. We now have about 3500 miles on us.

I was riding highway 14 yesterday from Walden, CO to Fort Collins, CO. It is about 90 miles of intense downhill twisties following the Poudre River down the mountains through Cameron Pass.

A friend with a lot of experience was leading on a GS1200 BMW, he was riding hard and I was trying to stay with him and quickly falling back, couldn't (or wouldn't) hang. Then a young guy on a Ducatti came blasting by all of us, totally in another league.

So the question is when do you know if you're riding outside your abilities (other than the obvious)? Do you press the envelope and acquire new skills as you go, or wait for experience to teach you?

Appreciate.
RR
 

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If you're scaring yourself at all, you're going too fast.
It's the street, not a race track. No runoff, no ambulance 30 seconds away. Being smooth and comfortable is lot better goal than being "fast" IMO.
 

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Had an interesting experience yesterday that has me wondering and would like some input from those that have been there.

First my background-dirt racer umpteen years ago-haven't ridden on the street until my Glee last year. We now have about 3500 miles on us.

I was riding highway 14 yesterday from Walden, CO to Fort Collins, CO. It is about 90 miles of intense downhill twisties following the Poudre River down the mountains through Cameron Pass.

A friend with a lot of experience was leading on a GS1200 BMW, he was riding hard and I was trying to stay with him and quickly falling back, couldn't (or wouldn't) hang. Then a young guy on a Ducatti came blasting by all of us, totally in another league.

So the question is when do you know if you're riding outside your abilities (other than the obvious)? Do you press the envelope and acquire new skills as you go, or wait for experience to teach you?

Appreciate.
RR
Depends on you. Do you want to enjoy the ride by having a leisurely ride or do you need to be first down or up the hill to have fun. If it's the latter practice and buy appropriate bike & gear. If you have fun watching the road and scenery go by at a nice comfortable pace then let your hot rod friend wait for you to catch up. Forget the street racer there is always someone faster and better than you on any given day.............Mike Just my $.02
 

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I've run CO 14 once and it is as you say, intense. I am guessing it's a new road for you too maybe? As you could imagine, those curves have probably eaten a lot of riders. You have to ride your own ride. Maybe your friend and the Duke rider have been down that road many times. Or they could just be better riders. Anyway, that road is twisty and potentially dangerous, I wouldn't push beyond my comfort too much there, nor would I feel bad about it. Perhaps next time it will feel different.
 

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For me it's all about "margin", riding smoothly with room for the unexpected in terms of speed, obstacles, traffic, or even a brain fart of your own.

Yesterday we rode 140 miles of rolling curves in the Arkansas Ozarks, probably more curves than the last 5000 Illinois miles combined! Very few cars but many bikes. Out of the hundreds of bikes, only two were pushing really hard. The others rode with margin. I commented to my wife afterwards that this was both the most satisfying ride of my life and the safest. IMHO if you choose to ride without margin you should expect to crash eventually. That doesn't preclude getting your lean on, going fast, or really accelerating out of turns - just preserving some margin for error at all times.

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The "Ride Your Own Ride" thingy comes to mind. Some days I can hang with the fast guys for a while. So I've learned that when I start to feel like I'm pressing it, I slow down to where I am comfortable.
Nothing gained wiping out following a guy with more ability.
I can pass some folks and am a mirror watcher to allow the faster guys the to have the road.
 

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Its important to be able to know your limits and ride within them. You don't want to take the approach of he's going that fast so I will to. Remember it is you and your bike against the road and traffic and not about keeping up with your riding buddies.

The problem comes in when your limits approach the bikes limits. If you want to explore your bikes limits you need to do that in a controlled environment.

On an unfamiliar road it is very easy for those limits to be exceeded. Even by an experienced rider. The faster you go the easier that is. A rider that is slower then you will seem faster if they are very familiar with a road and you are not.

With experience you will recognize what your current bike is capable of in different scenarios. Be careful while you build that experience. Your dirt experience is a good foundation.

My survival (so far) has been that for the most part I have gently bumped the limits and have not crashed through them.


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Ride your ride.

Years ago and new the street I was trying to keep up with my friends on a bike not suited to keeping up with sport bikes let alone my inexperience on an unfamiliar rode. THEY made it to the end of the road. I made a new trail through the bushes...

That said I think the best way to get better is to push yourself but its also the best way to f yourself up.
 

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Your group leader is screwing up. Don't ride with a group that pushes anyone up to the limit of their abilities, much less beyond them. Take a class in advanced riding skills. You need to know you are practicing correctly. All the practice in the world won't help if you are practicing badly.
 

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For me it's all about "margin", riding smoothly with room for the unexpected in terms of speed, obstacles, traffic, or even a brain fart of your own.
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That's a good way of saying it. CO Hwy. 14 is a blast, one of the most exhilarating and fun roads I've ridden. But demanding of one's full attention and most definitely, not a lot of margin.
 

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It's not uncommon for our group of 2-4 to get strung out over a couple miles, but it's made clear beforehand no one will get left behind. General rule of thumb is to have sight of the person behind you when you get to the long straights.

I once tried keeping up with 2 vfr's and 2 other sport bikes on a northern AR road. With every turn, they widened the gap a little further. Dragging boot soles and pegs through turns up to 80 mph doesn't leave any room for error on my spaghetti suspended strom. I won't be doing that anymore.

Any bike sportier than yours is capable of leaving you, given good road surface. As the surface gets uglier, that's less the case.

CO 14 is a great road with very little traffic, at least the few times I've been there. Several rest stop areas right on the river that it follows. Can't wait to run it again.
 

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Get street bike training. I'm not a dirt rider, but I understand that there are several major differences between good dirt riding and good street riding. The Lee Parks' Total Control clinics around the country are one good training school. There are others in many regions of the country.

I know enough about good riding technique that if I feel close to my limits I know what I want to work on to get smoother. I stretch my envelope very slightly several times before it is ready for another slight stretch. I try always to be able to react to unexpected situations, whether it is road condition or my judgement of the next turn.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
A Familiar Thread in Your Responses

It's DON'T-don't ride over your head dummy.

RICHDESMOND & CHEAPBASTARD- I'll work on smoothness and yes, I was scaring myself, but I guess I didn't realize it too much until I read your response, because I was focusing and not thinking.

TINMAN2-your $.02 was good stuff.

JOHNV, BRUCEATK & ILLINOIS-yes, it was my first time on 14 and I hardly saw any of it and certainly wasn't enjoying myself. I was refusing to believe I couldn't hang and was trying different things to close the gap. Just dumb. I should have forgotten the ego and thought about that pretty lady waiting at home.

DKAYAK1-Margin-yea, I certainly wasn't thinking about that, and that could be a fatal mistake.

6:45 ORANGE SUNRISE-thanks for taking the time to send me THE PACE. I saved it to my desktop and will reread it many times and pass it on like you did.

BKT & NOTACOP-Ride your ride, a good way to say it, and that new trail through the bushes thing, yikes. I didn't even have bushes, just big rocks and cliffs, with a nice dip in the river to drown you if you survive the fall.

GW & PTRIDER- you know, it's never even dawned on me to look for an advanced riding course. I will. That practicing the wrong thing hit home.

You know, I didn't really pass on another interesting thing that happened that day, cause I didn't think it sounded believable. Remember I mentioned the Ducatti hot shoe that was running over 100 on the straights and flat flying everywhere else, and using both lanes? Well a half hour or so after we passed him the leader yelled Cop, Cop in the intercom and guess what-the Ducatti Guy was chatting with a police officer with blue lights flashing. The odd part was they were both smiling and talking. I don't know. Don't know how he got him stopped, don't know why the officer didn't have him in the back seat. But that's what happened.

Thank you all.

RR
 

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Maybe it was the young state trooper who pulled me over a couple of summers back who himself rode...a Ducati!

RR, I bet if you go back there by yourself on a warm, sunny weekday and go your own pace, you'll completely enjoy that road. Take scenery breaks; there are many great places to stop and take it in.
 

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So the question is when do you know if you're riding outside your abilities (other than the obvious)? Do you press the envelope and acquire new skills as you go, or wait for experience to teach you?

Appreciate.
RR
Myself, I DO push myself, but only a bit at a time. And I push myself based on my surroundings. A familiar road with little to no traffic, I will push harder. An unfamiliar road I keep it within what I feel are my limits.

I do take an MSF course about once a year (hey, it's free in the Army and a day off from work, so why not?!) and I push myself HARD in that course. Get told to slow down a lot while doing the weaves and curve exercises. lol. But there's not a much safer environment to push your limits than a closed off course with marked off runoff spots in an exercises where each bike starts staggered!!!

Yes there will be a limit to how fast I feel I want to go, but the reason I push myself is not necessarily to be able to keep up with others (it's rare that I speed much anyway), but so that when I DO ride a spirited pace on a real road with real traffic, I want to know I'm well within my capabilities instead of at the CUSP of them.

Alexi
 

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A lot of good advice so far and I second the need for advanced riding courses. I took Lee Parks Total Control and I learned more about riding to your limit than any other course I've taken. We had a mixture of bikes and riding skills in my class and everyone was amazed at how much their skills improved by the end of the day.

Whenever we have several riders of mixed skill going together, we always have areas that we stop to let everyone group back up. I have ridden with many people that were above my skill level and I learned not to try and keep up with them. I enjoy pushing myself to improve my skills, but there is a time and place for that.

You should always ride at 90% of your ability, this gives you a 10% buffer just in case. If you are riding at 100% of your ability and something happens, you have nothing left to try and get out of the situation.
 

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If you do get in over your head, just push a little harder on the bar -- beats the hell out of hitting the guardrail, or worse.
 
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