SPEC

When riding, you don't think in an intellectual way, because intellectual thinking takes too long

Most other books follow SIPDE (Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide and Execute) situation analysis. I find this is too complex for motorcycle riding, which is a tight motor feedback loop. Riding is not an intellectual decision scenario. When riding, you don't think in an intellectual way, because intellectual thinking takes too long. You have to "think" with your practical mind, which works on a continuous feedback loop.

Real time motorcycle decisions favor the simpler SPEC approach:

  • Scan: Scan the world and recognize your situation.
  • Plan: Plan your action and position: be ready to act
  • Execute: Commit to an action and carry it out
  • Check: That the action occurred correctly. If not, restart the loop at scan, plan or execute, depending on time constraints.

SPEC is a riding action feedback loop - it goes around and around.

Loops within loops

"Thinking all the time" is the motto of the safe rider

SPEC is actually two feedback loops, the seond nested inside the first:

  1. Scan/Plan
  2. Exec/Check

The ScanPlan loop works as you ride along, apparently doing nothing much. If you ride at a steady speed in a straight line, your body doesnt do much, but ScanPlan means you are always looking and thinking. By thinking here is meant planning your next move, not pondering the meaning of life. "Thinking all the time" is the motto of the safe rider.

The ExecCheck loop operates whenever you do something, like turn a corner. This loop can be a very fast tight action loop, e.g. when you skid and recover. The main thing about both these loops is to let them work, especially the second. Both work best under calm conditions. Emotions like fear, hurry, anger, worry, resentment interfere with them. Bodily distractions like cold or wet, or itching or discomfort, affect them. Alcohol or drugs can affect these loops directly. The operate best when you are wide awake, giving dispassionate full attention.

Dogs

What you dont want is a collision with a stupid dog: It hurts the dog, and may hurt you

Dogs are a good example of the SPEC method. Dogs like to chase things. If you come along, they are likely to chase you. What you dont want is a collision with a stupid dog: It hurts the dog, and may hurt you. So, beforehand, you figure what you will do when a dog heads your way:

  1. Scan: You recognize a dog headed your way.
  2. Plan: Your plan B for a dog attack is to slow until your paths are close, then accelerate away. The dog will plan to meet you, but your acceleration will mean your paths dont meet.
  3. Execute: Just do it.
  4. Check: If it doesnt work, or something else happens, redo from 1, 2 or 3.

Animal run-outs

Given a choice between my life and the rabbit's, I choose my life

A similar problem is when a small animal, like ar rabbit, suddenly runs out into your path. Do you run it over, or try to avoid it? I will avoid it if I can, but my plan B is not to swerve suddenly, but to hold steady. If I swerve suddenly, the rabbit could live, while I could crash and die. Given a choice between my life and the rabbit's, I choose my life. You could say I ran over it, but you could also say it ran under me.