I recently realized something I was taught in flight school translates perfectly to riding a motorcycle. Its called a 360° awareness. If you're into long rides, you may have had this happen to you naturally. It's helped me tremendously so I thought I'd share. It took a while to translate it to motorcycles because in a helicopter, there are no mirrors. To get the feeling on a bike, I needed to use (or not
use [I'll explain later]) the mirrors. Regardless, it worked.
Have you even been riding and made your mirrors part of your overall vision? You don't glance at them to see what's behind you so much as make them a part of your sight overall. Your mirrors become your eye's looking behind and around you but you never lose sight of what your real eyes see looking forward. Wow Ok, I'll try to do a little better than that.
Ok, say you're bending around a pretty tight right turn. You wouldn't look in your left mirror for a sense of what's behind you, right? That would likely show grass and nothing else. You'd look in your right mirror, right? That would more likely yeild a view of the road behind you and the curvature of the bend. Here's the thing: you don't necessarily have
your mirror. While looking forward, try to feel your way around it. You can know what's in it while concentrating on the road ahead. It's more of an instinct or a feeling than anything else. You still have to make sure you know what you see in the mirror but you don't have to stare directly at it to do so. Even in a car: have you ever held a turn, looked in the center rear-view, and seen the road ahead and the road behind simultaneously? Ever notice the curves are indentical? That's the beginning of having a 360° awareness. That can be developed. Admittedly, this is more difficult on a bike because the bike doesn't have a center mirror. It's still totally possible though.
Ok, the turn ends and we're back upright cruisin'. Now both mirrors are working for us once again. When it's safe, still while looking ahead of you, try to feel them. I know that sounds weird but bare with me. After some practice you'll be able to know what's in them while looking forward AND staying focused! Try not to mistake this for peripheral vision, it's not exactly peripheral. The first time it happens, you'll know it right away. You'll feel like you really do know what's going on around you in a full 360°. It takes some getting used to. If you're going to try it, please remember one very important thing: while practicing this, you NEVER lose sight of what's in front of you. You're always looking forward. If you feel what's ahead becomes secondary to your overall awareness, stop, refocus, and look ahead. If you get good at this and you find a nice twisty road, you actually feel
more at one with it. When you're aware of what's going on in 360°, the whole environment takes on a new dimension. It can actually make riding more enjoyable.