Good write-up as usual PSlo! I have a couple of questions that maybe you can elaborate on or help with:
1. First off, are you saying that if I can't do 20 laps without feeling like I'm going to pass out, I have terrible BP? I'll be honest, I've never been able to do that. Best I've ever done, at any track was 15 laps and it was in my first race ever, and I'm guessing the adrenaline is the only thing that got me through it because I felt like I was beat up after those 15 laps, and I haven't done it since then lol. But I always attributed that with being an out-of-shape fatass, not so much that I have terrible BP.
2. I can say with confidence that my biggest struggle is and has always been putting too much pressure on the handle bars. I know that because not only that I just feel it when riding, but also because my hands/wrists are what fatigue the fastest. I've had to come into the pits a few laps sooner than I planned at times only because my right hand was so numb that I could barely feel feedback from the brake lever and throttle, and I was starting to make mistakes.
But the question is, HOW do I fix that? I know the problem, and I know what you're supposed to do (pretty much what you stated above), but I seem to have a big problem with actually doing it. It's sort of like with golf...I know exactly what I need to do to hit a good shot, but I can only do it about 1/5 times. So do you have any tips on how to actually fix that? Also, once you start turning into a corner, when you obviously need to apply some pressure in order to turn the bike, do you just back off that pressure and only use the minimum amount required to keep the bike leaned over? Thing of a longer corner, like a carousel type where you're at full lean for a good 5+ seconds. Can you elaborate in more detail on how you distribute your weight in longer turns like that? I think part of my problem might be that I'm not anchoring myself well onto the bike, so in longer turns at full lean it feels like I'm about to fall off the bike and I use my inside hand to hold myself on, which is less than ideal. Sometimes I wonder how I don't crash with as much pressure I put on the inside handle bar....must be because modern day front race tires are just freakin awesome!
EDIT: also to add to the above, what about bar input under WOT on straights? Am I the only one that feels like I'm doing pull-ups when going full stick on the straights? I feel like i'm holding on for dear life or else I fly off the back of the bike, and that's while at full tuck. It was especially bad with my liter bike, but even on the ZX6R is pretty close to that. Don't know exact numbers, but figure these bikes can pull at least 0.5 G on acceleration if you do it right (in the power band). So holding on the bars at that is like holding half your weight in your hands. So at 220 lbs, the hands are holding a force of about 110 lbs, or 55 lbs each hand. So basically on every straightaway, it's like holding a 5 gal bucket full of water in each hand for about 10-15 seconds or however long it takes to travel the length of the straightaway. Then on the brakes, the G-force is even higher since the brakes are more powerful, so now it's like bench-pressing 100-150 lbs and holding it there for a few seconds (duration of braking zone). Granted, you use the tank to distribute that force a lot more so only a part of that is actually on the hands, but still adds up.
My response was a bit tongue-and-cheek but there is absolutely a grain of truth to it. Of course it assumes some basic level of fitness. If you get winded walking up stairs I expect that you would be winded when riding. When you can relax on the bike and not be wound up like a spring the entire time, everything becomes a LOT easier. This is something I am personally struggling with as well and will be the focus of my next 5 days on the track.
Also, a bit of a tangent but when it comes to endurance riding, what you eat/drink before and supplements are pretty key. I have high protein breakfast with some carbs for long term fuel. About an hour before I ride I have a protein bar with water. 15 minutes before I ride I drink my pre-workout, and as soon as I am off I drink my post workout (BCAA's, etc). It makes a HUGE difference.
As to how to fix your issue: From what you have said I believe you are already on the right track; you know that you are not anchored onto the bike properly. Your body on the bike is a tripod. You require at least 3 distinct points to be stable; both legs and your butt with your legs doing the bulk of the weight carrying and your butt doing the stabilization.
Some things to look at:
1) Is your inside knee as far out as possible? The further out you can make it, the more stable you become. It is alright to bear weight on this leg, although it is preferable to bear the majority of it with your outside leg. On longer endurance races I will actually alternate which leg bears my weight turn by turn in an effort to give my legs a chance to rest. As a test to this, one of the things that we do with students is to have them stand normally and then I shove them sideways. Invariably they stumble. Now take your outside leg and point your foot sideways and bend your knee. When I shove them, they barely move. #becausephysics
2) is your outside leg locked into the tank? Your funmarbles need to be at least a fists distance off of the tank for this to happen and your hips must be perpendicular to the bike. The contact point should be approximately half way down your inner thigh.
Using your foot/calf muscles, raise up on the peg. Think of it like standing on your tip-toes. This should drive your leg further into the tank. When done properly, you should be able to hold ALL of your weight quite easily using just that outside leg, and the only real muscle strain is on your calf to keep your leg into the tank.
Once you verify those two things are happening, then you need to go out and practice it. Over and over, to the exclusion of all else, including lap times. You will go slower but it is necessary to condition yourself to ride properly and ultimately you will be faster for it.
There is no difference in my body position whether it is a quick snap turn or a long sweeper, the only difference is how quickly I tip in.
As to your bar input on the straights question: The point of being light on the bars during a turn is to make sure that you have the most traction available to successfully navigate the turn. When you are straight up and down, we do not really need that traction for anything other than going in a straight line. You could jump up and down on the bars and it wouldn't make much of a difference...we are not demanding anything of the front tire at that time.
Now, with that said, I do not experience the same issue you are having. When under hard acceleration I do need to hold on a bit, but nowhere near like what you are describing. What is the seat material? Are your leathers slick or conditioned? In a full tuck my butt and legs clamped onto the tank carry almost all of my weight so I have to do very little holding on with my hands. I am also, I assume by weight, a bit smaller than you and my tuck puts me mostly behind my windscreen. Are you being buffeted by the wind a lot? Is there any way to improve your tuck so that you are not fighting the g-force of acceleration AND the wind?
A year ago when I was straining to try to hold onto the bike I would have died doing 20 laps in a row. This year since I've found a position that lets me lock on the bike and relax, when I did the MCRA 20 lap race at Hallett the other weekend it was no problem at all. I was thirsty, but not very fatigued. There are a few people out there at the CMRA rounds that aren't exactly athletes, but they can do it and it all comes down to being able to relax on the bike.
I did have to build up some forearm endurance though! I'm using a 19x18 MC and EBC pads so if I really needed to I have a few options to dial up the power. But, it isn't really a problem any more.
That has been my experience at least.
Well said and this is exactly what we all should be striving for. You can be completely relaxed on the bike and still do 150mph...you need to allow the tension to leave your body except when it is needed...something I still struggle with.
It doesn't seem to be a problem on my 500, but any bike that's much faster than that, it becomes a problem. It's the hard braking and hard acceleration that gets me tired (at least my hands/forearms) and makes me put too much pressure on the handle bars.
Well again, bar pressure while straight up and down is nowhere near as bad as mid-corner. I apply a lot of pressure on my bars when braking hard, but I am always straight up and down so it is ok.
There's a reason that body positioning is the last thing taught and least important according to Ken Hill. It barely matters until you have mastered the other fundamentals
I am afraid that I do not agree with that method. Fine tuning body position will get you that last 2% when it is needed but if you have massive flaws in your riding position it can cause all sorts of complications much earlier in a riders career...I do not have exact statistics but I would say that the vast majority of crashes at a club level (think 90+%) are a result of bar pressure...something that can be alleviated with proper body position.
While it is not necessary to have perfect form, it is necessary to have a firm understanding of the basics of proper body position, and this is what we are working on here.