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[The Last 1%] Feeling fast vs. being fast
Feeling fast doesn't always mean you're going fast...
Over the summer, I had a couple of clients message me while they were at the track. Their messages were similar: “I feel like I am on the edge and going as fast as I can, there is no way I can get a better laptime…” And they were right — there was no way they were going to get faster based on the conviction of “I’ll just go faster.” They felt they were going faster than they really were. In fact, this feeling produces a hard limit that quite often can prove to be difficult to overcome. Fortunately, I had reference data on hand from riding/driving their vehicles at a quicker pace and we were able to look at the data to see why they were feeling overwhelmed and how to fix it.
But, before we get into these techniques, let’s look at a few things that impact the feeling of being on the limit, feeling fast, but having a laptime that’s slower than your PB or slower than what you or the vehicle are capable of.
Ever been in flow state while riding or driving? Everything is slowed down and feels easy. Why? Because your mind has proactively taken over control of your techniques and everything is getting done on time, your brain slows down, allowing room to intake other information. The opposite happens when we are reactive. Reactive happens when we get off line, are swoopy, lose grip, are late (abrupt) with the controls. Suddenly, we are in default mode, i.e., we default to whatever response we have available and what technique we are most comfortable with. It feels fast and out of control. Feeling fast thus typically happens when you are out of your comfort zone — basically, your hair is on fire — and enter a reactive state rather than a proactive state.
Let’s look at a couple AIM data graphs that tell the tale.
Graph 1: This is a simple AIM GPS speed graph that shows the reference lap in Blue and the client in Red. The arrows highlight where the client was rushing corner exit — trying to go faster in the middle of the corner and not getting slowed and pointed, which increased the radius and in turn forced an increase in lean angle to try and stay on line. Of course, that is scary! The solution is to slow down, at the right time, in the middle of the corner and ensure that you are pointed appropriately for the exit to maximize acceleration. This feels slower, but in reality is the opposite.
Graph 2: In this AIM graph, the reference lap is Red and the client lap is Blue (we also had steering wheel data, which was key to figuring this out). The client complained the car was loose and getting on apex was hard. The arrows indicate where the client was turning in later and quicker, which resulted in the car transferring weight too quickly, getting out of shape, and not hitting the apex. It felt fast, because the car was pissed off, and adding speed under these conditions was not possible. The solution was to turn in earlier and at a lower pace, which feels slower initially, but ultimately allows you to exit the corner faster.
If you want a deeper dive into this topic, check out Podcast #54 – Feeling Fast vs. Being Fast.
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