Doing Your Thinking Ahead of Time

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Technical Editor Kevin Cameron shares his wealth of motorcycle knowledge, experiences, insights, history, and much more.Cycle World

In 1980 Kenny Roberts told me, “My reflexes aren’t all that fast so I have to get a lot of my thinking done ahead of time. I think of my mind as a big Velcro board, and stuck to it are all these packets, one for every situation that’s likely to come up on the track. When something happens, I don’t have to think – I just do what’s in the packet.”

I just read a particularly pointed example of that very method of mental preparation. A veteran pilot was making a ‘routine’ take-off in a C-119 “Flying Boxcar” some time in the 1950s. Well into the take-off roll the prop regulator on the #2 engine malfunctioned, resulting in “uncommanded beta” – reversal of the prop pitch on the engine.

Instantly the pilot reversed pitch on #1, arresting the sudden yaw to the right before the heavy airplane could run off the concrete. He wasted no time trying to correct the problem on #2, but did the one thing that had a good chance of promptly restoring control and stopping the airplane.

This is why racing motorcyclists and others who must deal with a variety of possible sudden emergencies spend a fair amount of time rehearsing in their heads. They may seem to be daydreaming or even sleeping, but they are in fact busy preparing themselves – loading those Velcro packets with carefully pre-planned responses.