TURN YOUR HEAD
Originally Posted by DAKEZ
A lot of riders- new, old, in between, get lazy with the neck and just track the line with their eyes. If they get distracted, they have to work to reacquire the target. Turn your head so your nose points where you want to go, then if you glance away (was that a deer?) it's easy to pick up your line again.
Smoother is better.
Practice doesn't make perfect- practice makes permanent. Make the effort to practice what you want to happen when it goes to shit, so you do the right thing automatically.
Anticipate. Most people call this "ride like you're invisible / they're out to get you". Google up Hanlon's Razor.
Practice some more. Operating the bike needs to be as automatic as walking, so what you think about is what's going on around you.
Do some reading. David Hough is a good place to start. Lee Parks and a bunch of others when you've got a handle on that.
Generalize. Some people will offer advice about what to do for the one in a million thing. ("Never ride beside a semi because a tire might blow.") Back off a little and see what general category that fits into ("be aware of dangerous things beside you"), so it's the one in a thousand or one in a hundred. Learn to recognizethat and prepare for it, because that's a useful thing to have and you'll use it. Otherwise you're trying to remember all of the millions of things that can go to shit... you won't be able to make up your mind.
Did I mention practicing?