High level motorcycle racers ride not only to their own limits, but also to those of the bike they are riding.
At the edges, things can get squirly really fast. A bike can spit you off, under or over, with the slightest mistake or twitch, and the riders of these machines are pretty much holding on for dear life whilst at the same time physically forcing these high strung machines round the track as fast as is humanly possible. As you might imagine, it is very exciting to watch.
Interesting thought this from the races last weekend.
A guy who rides in AMA Superbike - the highest national class, on a bike that is a basically a (highly) modified road bike, got a chance to ride a MotoGP bike - the highest international class, basically a prototype bike, a one off, made to be the fastest machine that is possible to make.
There are limitations to what is allowed of course, but mostly regarding the extent of electronic and computer intervention in the traction controls for instance, but basically these prototypes go faster, brake harder, hold the ground better, turn quicker, and accelerate faster than any other motorcycle in existence.
These bikes are quite different in feel and response, and require a whole new level of skill to ride.
So the AMA guy rides around the track on the fancier bike, and of course at first he is working on getting a feel for it, and he certainly does not want to wreck this brand new machine worth millions (yes, millions) of dollars. He rides around the track in a free practice session, probably 20, 30 times, and his time round the track is just about exactly what it would be on his Superbike (from the lower class).
Never really changed over the hour, despite the fact that the new bike had way more potential.
His speed was so consistent, I got to wondering whether his nervous system had some kind of memory, some sensory input speed that felt comfortable ... or at least defined for him his perceived limits .....
This was reinforced the next day when he was on track with more riders on their prototype bikes. By himself, same thing, times as before, but then he got behind a rider he could follow, right up close, following his cadence, the lines he chose, the braking points etc ... and suddenly his times got measurably faster.
I've always been a proponent of practicing with people 'above your pay grade' and here was a perfect example of why.
Yes, you can learn from anyone, and yes, you can improve skills with less skilled people ... and yes, you should be able to use teaching as learning ... but .... gotta say, you can really jump levels by crossing hands/swords/whatever with the highly skilled. Just the experience of what is possible, and the kinesthetic feeling you gain from moving with someone really good, is priceless.