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Euphoria - when our riding is just too good to be true

I got thinking after I got an email from one of my regular correspondents: "Riding home after work, I felt in the mood for 'pushing on' a bit. I was congratulating myself on the swift progress I was making through the traffic, some drivers seemed a bit more aggressive than usual, but, what the hell, that was all part of the fun. The prat who pushed in too close to me and got a stare in return was just that, a prat. The close-ish encounters with traffic islands were just good timing, as was the manoeuvre to avoid the cyclist I spotted a bit late as I filtered rather wide and swiftly along the road."

"However, when I went through the red light I realised maybe I wasn't riding quite as well as I thought. Didn't realise, in fact, that the light was against me until half way across the junction. Luckily it was clear, because if it hadn't been I'm not at all sure I'd have realised."

He went on to say that perhaps after a stressful day at work he was a bit wound up.

Anyone recognise the symptoms? I have to admit to having days like that when I was a courier, and occasionally on other rides too.

It used to hit me towards the end of a long day. Partly tiredness, partly boredom with doing what became as routine as any other job. I'd get into a groove. In town I'd find myself slicing through rush hour traffic, filtering at high speed, overtaking through small gaps, running amber lights. Out of town I'd be zooming through bends, using big lean angles and engaging in heavy braking. It wasn't as if I was in a rush to get somewhere either, in fact I'd feel more relaxed than normal. As the risky manoeuvre came off, I'd try them again for fun. It felt all so easy.

All TOO easy.

This state of euphoria is a close cousin to, but not the same as, red mist. The problem is that what's happening to us usually only becomes evident after something scary or an obvious mistake snaps us out of it. Whilst red mist is characterised by obviously irrational behaviour - usually massive risk taking - in this euphoric state, we really believe we're doing our normal thing, but in reality we are eating much deeper into our safety margin - maybe even exceeding it.

The bad news is that it's almost addictive. And there's a massive temptation to push towards the limits and enjoy the buzz as nothing seems to go wrong whilst we ride quicker and quicker, closer and closer to the edge. But sooner or later we WILL push too hard and cross the line. So riding in this way and waiting for the big mistake to tell us that we were actually in over our heads isn't such a great idea.

Personally, I got to recognise the symptoms on those despatch jobs, and have been able to rein myself in before things get too out of control. I'd make a conscious decision to slow down, take a break or even turn off the radio and go home early!

One of the questions I ask myself as I ride is: "did that look dangerous to other road users?" If I have to say to myself: "yes, it probably did" then it's time to dial down the fun and head, rather more slowly, for home.

Kevin Williams
Survival Skills Rider Training

...because it's a jungle out there


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What is Survival Skills all about?

How are Survival Skills Courses put together and taught?
The Making of a Good Instructor - musings on my Driver Education course

Would a National Standard for advanced training be appropriate?
Writing a riding tip - what detail is necessary?
What to do if you've had an accident
Accident Statistics - dispelling some myths

Improver or advanced, pragmatism or perfection?
Piling on the miles
Compartmentalisation & Practice -  the key to learning new skills
Countersteering - Question and Answer

Braking Rules and Tips
Over-confidence and Riding at the Limit
Practice makes Perfect
The Danger of Misunderstanding
Learning from your Mistakes
A Moment of Inattention
Staying Warm
Staying Awake
Don't just ride for yourself, ride for others
Filtering - what's legal and how to do it
Cornering Problems 1 - Lean or Brake?
Springing into Summer - polishing off the winter rust
Group Riding - Rules and Tips
Awareness of Risk and Risk Management
Cornering Problems 4 - Stability and the "Point and Squirt" technique
Cornering Problems 3 - Staying out of trouble! Pro-active Braking or Acceleration Sense?
Cornering Problems 2 - Staying out of trouble
What is Risk?
Avoiding Diesel
The Vanishing Point - is it enough?
Posture - the key to smoother riding
When the Two Second Rule is not enough
Riding in the Dark
Roundabouts - straight lines, stability and safety
Slow Speed Control
Aquaplaning - what it is and how to deal with it
Rear Observation - when to & when not to!
Staying upright on icy roads
KISS - 'Keep it simple, Stupid' or Low Effort Biking
Overtaking Safety - avoiding vehicles turning right
Proactive versus Reactive Riding
Living with  Lifesavers
Which Foot? The Hendon Shuffle - Question and Answer
Carrying a passenger - Question and Answer
Riding in the rain
Riding in strong winds
Sorry Mate, I didn't see you - an analysis of SMIDSY accidents
Ever gone into a corner too hot and had it tighten up on you?
The Point & Squirt approach to corners
A time to live...
Target Fixation - Question and Answer
The Lurker, the Drifter and the Trimmer
The five most important things I learned as a courier
Overtaking - Questions and Answers
Precision riding - or keeping it simple?
Wide lines, tight lines, right lines - the law of Diminishing Returns
Surface Attraction
Euphoria - when your riding is just too good to be true
Straight line -vs- trail braking
Sit back, close your eyes, relax... and hope for the best
Before you overtake, do you...?
Do you need to blip the throttle on a downshift?
Holiday Riding Tips 1 - Dealing with hairpins (a new occasional series)
Holiday Riding Tips 2 - The (drive on the) Right Stuff
Why SMIDSYs happen
Avoiding dehydration - riding in hot weather
Riding errors - and avoiding them
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - riding in fog
Where does Point and Squirt come from?
Overtaking - lifesavers and following distances
Offsiding - what is it, and why you should think before you do it!
Anger Management - dealing with "red mist" and "road rage"
That indefinable gloss
Overtaking on left-handers - experts only or best avoided?
Apex or Exit - what's important when cornering?

Developing 'Spidy Sense'

Armchair Riding - how to improve summer skills in winter

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 1

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 2

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IMPORTANT: The information on the Survival Skills website is for your general information and personal use and should be taken as a guide only. Survival Skills Rider Training provides no warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness, clarity, fitness or suitability of the information and materials found or offered on this website for any particular purpose and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements and you acknowledge use of any information and materials is entirely at your own risk, and that neither Kevin Williams nor Survival Skills can accept responsibility for your interpretation or use of this information or materials. The content of these pages is subject to change without notice. 

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