I’ve spoken in the past about what I believe makes a rider a good one outside of what the numbers read on your mate’s stopwatch.
One of those things is consistency.
Jorge Lorenzo is one of the best examples to look at when talking about the art of consistency in track riding. Regardless of what you think of the man himself, his ability to put together tidy and consistent laps is some of the best you’ll ever see.
If you’ve watched MotoGP for a number of years, you’ve no doubt heard commentators on a number of occasions talk about how he’s at his best when he gets clear track ahead of him and is able to get into a rhythm. That’s because he’s then able to utilise one of his key strengths that makes him difficult to catch – Incredible consistency at very high pace.
Here I want to talk about how we can begin to obtain a sliver of what Lorenzo is able to achieve, but first I want to quickly cover what exactly I mean by consistency.
Quite simply, the ability to perform the same actions in the same places, and the ability to hit the same spots on the track lap after lap.
Now it goes without saying that there will be many instances when you’re not going to do this, either because of traffic, or maybe because you’re trying different things at a given corner.
What I’m talking about here is being able to consistently hit the right spots once you know what those spots are, and you have clear track ahead of you.
It’s a trait I think a lot of people are striving for, so here are some points for consideration in your quest to build this trait into your own riding.
The biggest impact on consistency comes from your visual skills.
Finding solid reference markers and then correctly using your vision to connect them up will give you a massive boost in your efforts to consistently hit those spots.
It’s where the term “you go where you look”, or the more accurate “you go where your attention is focused” comes into play.
If you’re making the effort to look at the exact spot where you want to put your bike and you keep your attention on it until you’re sure you’re going to hit it, without anything untoward happening it’s highly likely that you are going to hit that spot.
If you haven’t taken the time to find any reference markers for the corner you want to navigate and you’re not proactively looking at the spots you want hit, you’re riding using a “big picture” view and largely on how you feel in the moment.
People can still go very fast like this, but their consistency suffers.
If consistency is something you’re after then you should be looking to take the following couple of steps:
Having a braking, steering, apex and exit marker for every corner is the ideal, but it’s not always achievable or in some cases, necessary.
If I can, I will try to find them for every corner. Unsurprisingly I am more consistent in the corners where I have solid references for every stage.
This means looking at the markers in the right sequence (a little obvious perhaps), but also using the correct timing in when you look at them.
It’s all about being one step ahead with your eyes compared to your position on the track. That means looking ahead to the next marker you want to hit before you’ve actually hit the previous one.
The exact timing will be different from rider to rider, but as long as you’re comfortably aware of where you want to be in advance and you’re still hitting the previous marker accurately, you’re doing ok.
This skill comes from using both your immediate and peripheral vision together to keep track of where you’re heading, and where you want to head next.
Being mentally one step ahead of your actual position on the track does wonders for consistency, and as an added benefit you’ll also see big improvements in how you feel too.
Once you know the spots you want to hit, it then comes down to your physical ability to be able to put the bike there.
It’s one of the reasons why I feel riders should really study how we steer a bike and how we can steer effectively.
Being confidently in control of how you get the bike to change direction will mean you can more easily put the bike where you want to put it.
This in combination with your honed visual skills will mean you’ll be hitting the spots you want to hit with ease.
Brake and throttle application are also things to consider. Even though they may not have as big an effect on your direction of travel, knowing the effects that these controls have will go a long way to helping you figure out why you may be missing a particular spot, or a number of them.
Missing an apex because you’re rolling on the throttle too early and too hard is a good example, but if you don’t know the effects of throttle application it can leave you confused.
Learning about the effects our inputs into the bike have on our direction of travel and then consciously practising to improve those inputs is going to leave you feeling like you’re fully in control and able to place the bike exactly where you want to.
For the most part consistency comes down to knowing where you want to go in good time, and having the ability to put yourself in that spot.
However, there are a few couple other issues which may mean your consistency suffers.
First could be a poor body position setup which affects your ability to use the controls. If your poor body position is leaving you stiff on the bars you’re simply not going to be able to steer as effectively as you’d like.
Fatigue will have a similar effect. If you tire quickly you’ve not doubt experienced how your riding becomes sloppy.
In the end if you’re effectively looking at the right spots and the right time, you’re confident in putting the bike where you want to and your body is letting you do the things you’re trying to do, your consistency is going to come on leaps and bounds.
And if you’re anything like me, once that trait starts to show through you’ll take pride in just how tidy you’re able to ride.
Photo by Corentin Foucaut