Ever heard of target fixation? It’s where your eyes focus on an obstacle and you end up riding your motorcycle straight into it.
My wife had a big case of target fixation on her learner course: she saw the fence, thought she would hit it, didn’t take her eyes off it and … she hit it!
Riding experts talk a lot about how to avoid target fixation, but it is really difficult to stop fixating on a target or ignore impending danger.
However, target fixation is not necessarily a negative thing. You can use it for good instead of evil, like steering your bike toward a corner exit, or around an obstacle.
Have you ever gone into a corner too hot? Yeah, all the time, right? What happens next is you tend to look at where you think your bike is going to go and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But what if you shift your gaze toward a more appropriate target? Say, for example, the exit of the corner. Chances are your body will shift stance slightly and you will steer toward the proper exit.
Similarly, if you see a pothole or a rock on the road and you stare at it, you will hit it. But if you see the harmful obstacle and then re-focus your eyes to a harmless sport nearby, you will steer there and avoid the danger.
It’s all about picking another target. One that is not going to end in tears. I’ve done it on several occasions to avoid danger, but it takes a bit of practice.
So how do you practise refocusing on harmless targets? It’s easy.
Pick a spot on a quiet stretch of road and then find something like a mark on the road to act as your “obstacle”. Then find something nearby to refocus on.
Ride by and focus on hitting the first target. It won’t be difficult to hit it. Then ride by and focus on the first target, but refocus on the new target and see if your bike follows your gaze.