Bust rid­ing rust

Get your bik­ing brain back in shape af­ter a win­ter spent sit­ting on the sofa

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - Ru­pert Paul MCN rid­ing ex­pert

If you’re any­thing like 98% of rid­ers, your win­ter trav­els have been ac­com­plished be­hind the wheel of a nice warm car, and in be­tween jour­neys you’ve sat on the sofa eat­ing cream buns.

Noth­ing wrong with that. But as a way to pre­pare you for a sea­son of fun and games on a mo­tor­bike it falls a bit short. So...

1. Ad­mit you’re rusty

If you’ve been us­ing a car for months, your senses are dulled. By its na­ture, a car can be op­er­ated with next to no con­cen­tra­tion. You can’t see very far ahead, and even if you could it wouldn’t make any dif­fer­ence be­cause you’re in a 52mph queue be­hind an Ed­die Sto­bart truck. So ig­nore your ego. In­stead, go into the bath­room, look in the mir­ror and say out loud, “I am a re­cov­er­ing couch potato. My con­cen­tra­tion is there­fore rub­bish. So is my judge­ment of speed, dis­tance and tim­ing. They will get bet­ter again – maybe bet­ter than ever be­fore. But I need to re­build them slowly.”

2. Get your bike ready

If it’s even half way mod­ern, your bike is un­likely to need more than a few psi in the tyres. How­ever, clean­ing, pol­ish­ing, check­ing and lub­ing are bond­ing rit­u­als that re­mind you mo­tor­cy­cles are heavy, and fall over if un­sup­ported. It gets your bike ready and it gets your bik­ing brain ready to.

3. Keep it sim­ple

Road sur­faces and side en­trances per­mit­ting, a good rider nat­u­rally ap­proaches left-han­ders on the right-hand side of their lane, and vice versa. The for­ward vi­sion is bet­ter. But if rid­ing like that is a con­scious ef­fort, just sit in the mid­dle for the first few rides. Your brain – the thing that keeps you safe – is a com­puter, and if it’s go­ing to deal with the sud­den de­mands of a nun run­ning out in front of you it doesn’t need to feel over­loaded just yet. Or any time, in fact. Rid­ing a mo­tor­bike should give you a fun, light feel­ing in­side. If it ever feels stressy, there’s ev­ery chance you’re try­ing too hard.

4. Prac­tice

Over your first 10 rides of the year, give your­self some drills in the three most im­por­tant things: brak­ing, di­rec­tion chang­ing and read­ing the way into bends. If you live some­where nice, you can in­cor­po­rate them into a ride. Oth­er­wise, seek out some quiet tar­mac and get re-ac­quainted with stop­ping quickly and con­fi­dently, mak­ing the bike turn ex­actly when you want it to, and head­ing into cor­ners with­out get­ting it wrong.

'IF rid­ing ever feels stressy, there’s a chance you’re try­ing too hard’

Re-ac­quaint­ing your­self with the art of read­ing the road is an es­sen­tial act

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