For most of us, when we have spent enough hours on a motorcycle, riding becomes an activity that is second nature to us. It's sort of automatic, right? As we have often noted here, riding a motorcycle is not one of those activities that should become involuntary -- the risk is too great and the need to perceive and make decisions is too urgent.
When I am trying to learn or hone a new skill or idea at the racetrack, or in a complicated situation in traffic, I find that I start talking to myself. This takes of the form of spoken acknowledgements of the perceived world. Look at that cyclist; he looks dodgy!" As well as spoken confirmations of decisions, I think I need to slow down a little bit and I'll pass him with the throttle closed."
Turns out, there is a solid biological reason to actively do this. Talking to yourself focusses the brain to stop doing everything else and pay attention. Score! So when the situation seems to slightly out of control, or you need an aid to cope with an unfamiliar environment or speed, talking helps immensely.
This is also the reason why I choose not to listen to music on the motorcycle. I do not need one additional stimulus for the brain to have to spend attention on. Human beings are very good at blocking out the irrelevant layers of our sensory experience -- the butt ache disappears when that cow's trajectory seems to be on an intercept to yours, for example. But not having music running simply cancels out one more decision that brain has to make before it can focus on more important things.
The point is that if you don't already, start talking to yourself consciously. Remind yourself to be smoother, Open the throttle so that the suspension extends without a jerk." Remind yourself of approaching hazards, Potholes! The auto rickshaws will jink to avoid them without checking their mirrors." The talking will prevent you from getting distracted as well as from allowing riding to become secondary so that your brain can drift off into the to-do or shopping list.
I should know talking is second nature to me!
For more tips from our Better Riding section, click here