Rid­ing Clinic Your rid­ing skills guide

‘ They talk about hard work. Ap­pli­ca­tion’ Ru­pert Paul

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents -

Òlook at that Valentino Rossi. Tal­ented b*****d.ó Weõve all heard peo­ple say that.

And itõs delu­sional. Be­cause if you lis­ten to Valentino (or any racer) ex­plain why they won, they never men­tion tal­ent. They talk about hard work. Ap­pli­ca­tion. Rep­e­ti­tion. Ev­ery time. So for those of us who want to be good at rid­ing a mo­tor­bike, there is no short cut. We have to prac­tise.

But prac­tice is quite un­fash­ion­able at the mo­ment. Not only are we all short of time; weõve got used to the idea that our in­for­ma­tional needs can be sorted with a swipe or a click. But the fact is our bod­ies and brains are largely the same kit that our an­ces­tors had 200,000 years ago. To get good at some­thing, whether itõs throw­ing a spear or turn­ing a bike ac­cu­rately, we need to do it thou­sands of times. You want to prove it with a lit­tle test? Get a pen and pa­per and es­ti­mate your an­nual mileage ev­ery year since you started rid­ing. Next, write down the ap­prox­i­mate date of all the crashes you can re­mem­ber. Now you can see how your crash rate changes over the years. For me, it started in 1979 at one crash ev­ery 13,000 miles, then sud­denly dropped in 1987 to one ev­ery 90,000. So I reckon it took me eight years and 150,000 miles to learn to ride rea­son­ably well. The turn­ing point for me was start­ing work as a mag­a­zine road tester in the mid 1980s. My an­nual mileage did­nõt in­crease much, but sud­denly I was rid­ing dozens of dif­fer­ent bikes on road, track and dirt. I did­nõt think about it at the time, but I was prac­tis­ing.

To­dayõs life­styles mean most rid­ers av­er­age less than 10,000 miles a year. But thatõs OK, be­cause, as my own record shows, road miles on their own donõt get you very far. What seems more use­ful is ex­pe­ri­ences that take you a lit­tle bit out of your com­fort zone, but not too much, and these days we have masses of choice: Track day. Short track school. Mo­tocross try-out. En­duro school. Tri­als school. Ad­vanced road. Com­pe­ti­tion. I man­age 8000 miles a year, plus at least three of the above Ð enough, I think, to make up for my lack of tal­ent. How about you?

Go­ing be­yond your nor­mal rid­ing will help sharpen your two-wheeled skills Rossi didn’t get this good by ac­ci­dent. He works hard, ex­tremely hard

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