One of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard someone say to me was, “What I don’t know can’t hurt me.” My immediate response to this statement was, “What you don’t know can kill you.”
Almost conversely to the 7-P Principle, lesson #4 teaches us the value of awareness and knowledge. As we learn to plan properly, and as our planning is ever refined to be more and more proper-the motorcycle teaches us that it is our knowledge base, combined with creativity that become the tools with which we overcome the inevitably uncertain.
In cooperation with the 7-P principle, lesson #4 teaches us that we can only plan properly and create proper habits by having an extensive knowledge-base. If you don’t know about counter-steering, you certainly can’t plan to do it, and thusly cannot make it habitual.
In this way lesson #4: What You Don’t Know, becomes much like the final drive of the motorcycle-all the way through to traction of the tires. This lesson is “where the rubber meets the road”, and in that effect, it is responsible for both forward progress and engine braking.
One little piece of information can completely change everything. After a 1.5 decades of riding, I finally made it to the racetrack. One single piece of information, “to always choose the higher gear in a turn when you aren’t quite sure”, completely changed the way I ride. Interestingly enough, learning this piece of information sent me into a series of further research into the reasons behind WHY to make that choice. Those learnings continued to help me refine and improve my cornering skills everywhere I ride, AT ANY SPEED!
Even more interesting is to note that because of what I learned, I now have dramatically more fun on my motorcycle at low speeds as well as high speeds. I’m more confident as I ride, because I know why things are happening.
The nature of motorcycling is that the motorcycle operates in the world of “extreme physics” by our everyday standards. The gyroscopic stability of the motorcycle produces forces greater than the force of gravity, which is why the motorcycle can do the amazing things it does. It’s part of why the motorcycle seems magical. While the magical nature of the motorcycle can be debated, the physics to understand it can be learned by a high-school student.
Usually, when it comes to learning, all you need to do is care. If you care, then you’ll put in the effort. If you are actually interested, then it won’t even seem like much effort.
Motorcycling teaches us to never stop learning. The fun of the motorcycle keeps pushing us forward, and deep inside there is something we sense when we see a great rider operating the machine that viscerally tells us, “I don’t KNOW how to do that.” Great riders have that controlled, confident, smooth, and razor-sharp way about their movement that seems to highlight the fact that it is not something supernatural about them, but rather their knowledge and experience that are giving them seeming superhuman riding skill.
I know it’s true, because I used to not know.
#311, Matthew J. D'Anca, Sr. shares the life lessons he's learned since he became a motorcyclist in 2005. Though the knowledge he has gained has been paramount to improving his skills behind the handlebars, it has been even more critical in improving his life.