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Just as the state of the world around you can change, so can your state. When your state changes, be aware of it and adapt accordingly.
Know you've changed
Isnt knowing your state impossible, like a finger pointing at itself?
When your state changes, "you" change. So how can "you" be aware that "you" has changed? Isnt knowing your state impossible, like a finger pointing at itself? It is possible because your brain is not one thing, but many. For a start, your two cortex hemispheres are physically much the same. When doctors cut the nerves joining them in serious epileptics, each side of the "split-brain" patient did its own thing. It was like there were two "I"s in one person. Each hemisphere also has further parts, for vision, hearing etc. You are like a "society of mind". This means that one part of your brain can "look out" for the rest. This more "conscious" part can be the "whistleblower", wo warns when all is not well in the kingdom of "You". Whether the rest of you listens, depends on your attitude.
Have not ridden for a while
Give your mind time to adjust by avoiding pressure when you start to ride
Just as it is a good idea to warm up machinery, so it pays to warm up your mind. In practice, this means when you start riding, for the first minute or so, take it easy. If you have not ridden for a week or more, then take it easy for five minutes. It takes time for the “riding mentality” to kick back in. Give your mind time to adjust by avoiding pressure when you start to ride. If you come to an intersection, and are unsure whether to go or not, then err on the side of safety. If pulling out and it looks tight, then wait. Until your mind is up to speed, keep your bike speed down.
It is not a good idea to drive drunk. Alcohol affects your mind by:
When you drink, your skills go down but your emotions go up
Exactly how it lowers your coordination is not clear. One theory is that it affects your information processing rate (your "tick" rate), so you see less in a given second. As your processing rate changes, your connection between time and space is disrupted. The end result is your skill goes down. Unfortunately at the same time alcohol makes you feel better emotionally. When you drink, your skills go down but your emotions go up, and you feel more confident. When drunk, not only cant you take that corner, but you feel more strongly that you can! This is a fatal combination. Most people "know" alcohol impairs their ability to ride. If it were just this, and if people really knew it, alcohol would be not be a problem. However it is a problem because at the same time as it lowers your skills, it also raises your confidence.
Usually two or three drinks has an effect on our driving, and four or five drinks and you're over the limit
How much is too much? Most laws find you intoxicated at a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% to 0.10% Usually two or three drinks has an effect on your driving, and four or five drinks and you're over the limit. These numbers are less for a small person or for women. It also depends on how long you are drinking. If you wait for an hour, you lose about one drink from your bloodstream. Coffee and suchlike has no affect at all on your blood alcohol level.
If you go somewhere and get drunk, sleep over or take a cab home
If you have any sort of accident you will most likely be tested for alcohol. If you are found over the level, first time penalties range from fines to six months licence suspension. You will have to pay lawyer costs, and spend time on community service and/or attend an alcohol education course. Plus of course maybe the accident hurt you, and maybe someone wants you to pay their damages. So drinking and driving a motorcycle isnt worth it. If you go somewhere and get drunk, sleep over or take a cab home.
If you imagine your awareness as a bubble that surrounds you, then when you are fatigued the bubble gets smaller
Fatigue reduces your awareness of things around you. If you imagine your awareness as a bubble that surrounds you, then when you are fatigued the bubble gets smaller, and when you are wide awake the bubble gets larger. When you are tired, you get "tunnel vision", which is like riding with blinkers on. Needless to say, this is not a good idea. However like all conditions, if you are aware of it, then you can just take more care. However in the modern world, people are often not aware they are tired.
If the mind doesnt want to sleep, but the body does. Eventually the body just takes over and turns out the lights
Fatigue, like intoxication, is something that can creep up on you. If you are hyped, either with stimulants like coffee, or an intense desire to get somewhere, you may not realize how tired you are. Plus the problem may build up over days, as you accumulate a "sleep debt". Normally, as people tire they become more sluggish, and eventually stop to rest. On a motorcycle, they pull over and take a break. However some people fight the tiredness. As children, such people get more active as they get more tired. At nap time they deny they need rest, and run around in frantic circles until they finally collapse and sleep. Its a strange thing to watch. The mind does not want to sleep, but the body does. Eventually the body just takes over and turns out the lights. This is exactly what you never want to happen on a motorcycle. If it does, you fall asleep on the bike!
Falling asleep "at the handlebars" is unlikely, but on long trips it can happen
A surprising number of people fall asleep at the wheel in cars, usually with bad results. They are not lazy people, but more likely the opposite - hard working, in control people, who push their bodies around. One day they just pushed too hard and lost. Falling asleep "at the handlebars" is unlikely, but on long trips it can happen. You really want to press on and get somewhere, and dont feel like stopping for a break. You know you are tired, but if you stop you might not start again. Maybe the weather is also bad. Do you listen to your body or go against it? If you always listen to your body, it can run you ragged with its endless desires. If you go against it, remember that ultimately it, not "you", controls your "on/off switch". If the body flicks this switch, then "you" disappear. You decide, but if you feel your awareness is less, I suggest you take a break.
Naps dont waste time, they save it
If you are tired and stop, maximize the power of your break with a nap. Naps dont waste time, they save it, as the first part of sleep is the deepest, and gives the most rest. Napping is a skill. The key to effective napping is to rest deeply but briefly. You will be surprised how short a nap can recharge your body's batteries. There are two parts to napping:
If you sleep for hours, then it isnt a nap
If the weather is fine, I find a clear grassy area, like a park or outside a highway road-stop, and lie flat on my back. Then I forget the stupid world and "disappear" from it. You rest best when you are horizontal. In bad weather I find an indoor place where they let you sit, like a cafe. I order coffee, then sit upright, close my eyes, and drift off. I find it easier to nap sitting upright than slumped. You of course will have your own ways. The second part of napping is waking up again. If you sleep for hours, then it isnt a nap. I find this depends on your surroundings, and choose a place with people around. If there are people moving or talking round me, I dont nap long.
Give your anger a rest while riding, because anger is unsafe.
Riding a motorcycle while angry is like riding while drunk or fatigued. The problem is that only half your brain is attending the road. The other half is getting upset about whatever made you angry, concocting elaborate schemes for revenge, or plotting ways to "fix" them. When you ride a motorcycle, you have to tell that half to "get with the program", because you need all your brain. Give your anger a rest while riding, because anger is unsafe. If you want, you can pick it up again when you arrive.
A negative cycle is when negativity cumulates
Many of the above state changes produce negative cycles. A negative cycle is when negativity cumulates. For example:
If you value freedom, avoid negative cycles!
Watch out for negative cycles, because as you go down them, you lose choice. The classic example is the drug addict. They begin being able to choose to take the drug or not, but in the end, have no choice at all. They are driven to take the drug, like a sheep to the slaughterhouse. People who ride motorcycles value freedom. If you value freedom, avoid negative cycles!
|© Brian Whitworth, 2004, 2005|