IM­PROVE YOUR MO­TOR­CY­CLE RID­ING SKILLS

Rid­ing a bike is a beau­ti­ful affair; how do you make the most of it?

Fast Bikes - - RIDING -

From new riders to pros, the per­sonal en­ergy we de­vote to our rid­ing is one key to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ac­tion and the joys of this sport. This is the in­tensely per­sonal side of mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ing and nat­u­rally has many facets when it comes to rider im­prove­ment.

Those who rely too heav­ily on in­tu­ition are guided by feel alone and can’t see how it could get much bet­ter in a short pe­riod of time. For this cut of rider, seat time is the stated route to bet­ter rid­ing. Oth­ers wish to be told di­rectly where their er­rors lie and how to fix them; they have lit­tle in­ter­est in un­der­stand­ing the un­der­ly­ing the­o­ries or tech­ni­cal rea­sons for tried-andtrue rid­ing tech­niques. This is the an­swer-hun­gry fac­tion that tends to ac­cept what­ever ‘good ad­vice’ comes their way – ac­cept­ing a su­per­fi­cial fa­mil­iar­ity with tech­niques to sat­isfy their de­sire to im­prove.

There are some who op­er­ate solely on el­e­vat­ing per­sonal in­ten­sity as the ul­ti­mate so­lu­tion to im­prove­ment, ap­ply­ing their psy­chic en­ergy to smooth things out for them­selves. For them, the in­ten­sity of ef­fort is its own re­ward. Still a smaller per­cent­age of riders seek to have it all: bet­ter feel plus an un­der­stand­ing of the fun­da­men­tals while col­lect­ing all of the psy­chic perks from it they can. Which­ever cat­e­gory you might fall into, a de­sire to im­prove is the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor and is a credit to all.

In sport cor­ner­ing, the chal­lenges are real and have a pro­found ef­fect on those who par­take. From thou­sands of con­ver­sa­tions about cor­ner­ing, riders of­ten de­scribe a kind of en­ergy, a sort of di­rect hot-wired line con­nect­ing to their very essence. It en­com­passes, and pos­si­bly even re­lies on, the doubts and fears of dan­ger for the en­ergy to en­gage them in those mo­ments with such mag­netism. Like a moth to flame, those so af­flicted are at­tracted by the sexy al­lure of cor­ner­ing.

Rac­ers are steeped in this at­trac­tion. Track­day riders are charmed by it, and even week­end street riders catch its scent once in a while – more so, I’ve no­ticed, af­ter a few key un­cer­tain­ties are re­solved through good coach­ing.

In 40 years of coach­ing, I can see that the gross er­rors of cor­ner­ing have re­mained the same, a gross er­ror be­ing any that re­quire sub­se­quent con­trol cor­rec­tions to rem­edy, such as turn­ing in too early, get­ting on and off the gas, over-brak­ing, turn-en­try speed er­rors, poor line choices, in-cor­ner steer­ing cor­rec­tions, lazy steer­ing inputs, and rider ten­sion and over­con­trol re­sult­ing in rider-in­duced bike in­sta­bil­ity. That is the short list of usual sus­pects. Each of these er­rors re­lates to a rid­ing tech­nique that has de­fin­able fun­da­men­tals and its own cat­a­logue of ad­van­tages gained from cor­rect ap­pli­ca­tion as well as pre­dictable prob­lems, such as listed above, that will oc­cur if not done prop­erly.

While good ad­vice on han­dling mis­takes might be ac­cept­able to the ‘just tell me what to do’ crowd, it rarely, if ever, re­sults in ei­ther per­ma­nent or widely ap­pli­ca­ble im­prove­ment. You could say that good ad­vice tends to rem­edy symp­toms but lacks the core un­der­stand­ing nec­es­sary to ad­dress the root of most prob­lems. For many riders that seems to be suf­fi­cient.

It’s un­der­stand­able for riders to not want to be bur­dened with com­pli­cated tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tions of rid­ing skills and their fun­da­men­tals. It seems too com­pli­cated to ap­proach some­thing in that fash­ion that’s as per­sonal to an in­di­vid­ual as rid­ing. It is also one rea­son some back away from rider train­ing. There is no de­gree of ex­pe­ri­ence or skill level of rider who can­not im­prove. The sim­ple ques­tion you should ask your­self is: How en­joy­able would cor­ner­ing be if I knew what it took to find my groove and knew how to get that from any bend in the road, to have each curve be­come a trans­port­ing ex­pe­ri­ence?

It’s all about en­ergy...

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