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IT’S A BIRD! NO WAIT IT’S A PLANE, WAIT …It’s knucklehead

Commitment; (as defined by the john bacic dictionary for pretentious bastards). to select a course of action where the outcome is limited to outright success or outright failure. My approach was as straight as an arrow. My speed was developing rapidly and smoothly. My mind was as sharp as a tack, as I processed the surface in front of me like a super computer. In short dear readers, I was about to experience the greatest moment of my life. Glory was mine for the taking, the vacant slack jawed gaze of dumb struck awe was the gift I was about to bestow upon all who were lucky enough to witness my awesomeness. The possibility of failure had never entered my mind . . . until I’d left the ramp, which , due to the poor construction techniques usually employed by eleven year olds had disintegrated pretty much as soon as I’d hit it. As my Malvern Star started to descend towards the other side of the drain I was trying to jump, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was woefully short of the height required to land safely and triumphantly on the other side and the possibility of failure was quickly becoming a spectacular certainty . So, as painful as it was, it was no surprise to me when my left testicle was catapulted into the back of my throat, as I hit the cross bar of my bike. The intense nauseating pain did however mask quite effectively the trauma of the dislocated shoulder I’d received as I hit the ground in the classic style of head first and arse last. Once again in my young life stupidity had triumphed convincingly over common sense.

Commitment is not a bad thing; in fact if there’s a trophy on the line I would say commitment is every thing . . . if there’s an outcome worth the level of risk then go hard or go home. I personally don’t think a trophy is worth dying for and that’s an attitude shared by pretty much all people involved in motor racing, one only needs to look at the design of any race track to see ample run off, clean surfaces with good traction, braking markers, etc. . . .In an environment such as a race track you have the opportunity to enter a corner with total commitment and risk a crash that has the likely out come of minor injuries although the risk of more serious or fatal injury exists the former is by far more likely. Public roads on the other hand do not cater for a totally committed entry into a corner. Imagine yourself coming up to a corner you know well, you’ve shut the throttle down, squeezed the front brake nice and hard, you’ve backed it down through the gears, you’ve just started to tip into the corner and the brakes are coming off smoothly you’re still taking off speed as you approach the apex of the turn, as soon as you hit the apex you’ll feed in some throttle and start to power out of the turn. Oh oh! There’s gravel on the road! At the point where you discover this unfortunate fact you are still in the process of slowing whilst still going as fast as you can in the corner, what you have in front of you is gravel on the road and only one option, slow down. Unfortunately you’re already using the slow down option so realistically you have no options. Glorious success or dismal failure such is the nature of commitment.

The problem with public roads is that dismal failure (read crash) very often involves a collision with a light pole, guard rail, or some other solid unforgiving object on the side of the road. The seriousness of your injuries will depend on your speed and angle of impact, the risk of serious or fatal injury is very high on a public road due to hazardous road sides and oncoming vehicles if you muck up a left hand corner. So . . . this brings me back to commitment. Imagine yourself coming up to a corner you know well, you’ve shut the throttle down, squeezed the front brake nice and hard, you’ve backed it down through the gears, and the brakes are coming off smoothly you’ve slowed down to a comfotable speed so that you can apply just a little bit of drive as you tip into the corner and approach the apex, as soon as you hit the apex you’ll feed in some throttle and start to power out of the turn. Oh oh! There’s gravel on the road! At the point where you discover this surprise you now have three options : slow down, speed up(probably not a good idea), or straighten up and brake.

At the end of the day there is no trophy on the line when we go for a ride up the mountain. The level of risk we’re putting on the table does not add up to the perceived pay off of going fast and apparently having fun. I’d be a bit of a hypocrite if I said don’t like going for a good scratch up a mountain, but for just a small change in your set up for the corner i.e. slowing down more and using the throttle earlier you can have more fun and still experience steep lean angles but with more control. Smooth on the road and hard on the track .