The Fourth Dimension | CODE BREAK

Over my many years coaching riders—37 and counting—I've come to the conclusion that you can approach any riding problem in multiple ways. Not surprisingly, some ways are better than others. Typically, the deeper the advice dives into the dual realms of understanding and application, the more useful that advice is. With that in mind,** I've come up with four categories—or four dimensions—of instruction.**

One-dimensional instruction is simply advice: "Keep the rubber side down," is an example of one-dimensional instruction. It's mostly superficial or social and largely useless. Two-dimensional instruction: "Keep the hard parts off the ground," adds specificity but still lacks any element of technique. Three-dimensional coaching is better: "Approach corners on a line that requires only one steering input." Instruction like this adds both scope (advising you to consider your line through the corner) and defines the necessary action (steering input), but it's still incomplete.

Four-dimensional instruction is comprehensive and descriptive: "Choose an entry point that routes you through the corner with the most open radius possible, straightening the corner out. This will minimize your steering input, reduce the required lean angle, increase the potential speed, improve your line of sight, and support good throttle control." Four-dimensional coaching uses qualitative measures to give the information structure and flow. In this case, it gives the rider six elements to consider and also defines results he or she should expect.

In practical terms, time and attention are our greatest assets. We've all had our attention riveted on one aspect of cornering at the expense of all the rest. An unanticipated slide can instantly redirect all your attention to the wheel that slipped, leaving the other aspects of cornering unsupervised.

Riveted attention also compresses your sense of time, often making you feel rushed. Slowing down time—not speeding it up—is crucial because most corners are completed in just three to five seconds, so there's not much time to act. Just like money, our attention is a limited resource that requires careful management. Riveted attention has an effect similar to target fixation, distorting and compressing time and space, and confounding the cornering process.

A good coach is able to help the rider improve without overwhelming him. The key to this is helping that rider focus on one aspect of the task at hand without completely releasing his mental grasp of the others. The trick to this is to break the task down into its component parts and work on each of these separately, one at a time. Just like learning to juggle, you begin with one ball, then add another and another in sequence.

Coaching is an art. It requires an in-depth understanding of the technical skills necessary for the student to succeed. You don't have to be a great rider to be a great coach. Proof: I've successfully coached dozens of winning racers who are much faster and more skilled on a motorcycle than myself. Knowing what to observe when watching someone else ride, and then being able to provide a step-by-step framework for the student to follow in order to understand the process at hand, is far more fundamental.

Demand for good how-to-ride information is always increasing. Seeing my A Twist of the Wrist instruction books translated into Chinese, Czech, French, Japanese, Italian, German, Estonian, Spanish, Polish, Russian, even Turkish, tells me there is a global demand for credible information that reaches beyond just superficial advice.

Truth be told, my research into riding and coaching has taken on a life of its own. I may steer the ship, but momentum carries it along. New developments on how to teach and what to teach are emerging faster than ever before. There's so much information out there now. Some of it's good; much of it is not. Any time you come across new information, do what I do and put it to the four-dimension test to decide if it's worth following.

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Coaching happens on and off the bike. No matter where the student sits, if the information doesn’t address understanding and application, it’s not useful. (Photo: Greg Alter)