Whats holding you back?

Whats holding you back from feeling in control? Holding you back from being confident in situations? Holding you back from getting outside your comfort zone? Holding you back from having as much fun as you can on your motorcycle?

For most of us it comes down to three things…lack of confidence, lack of skill and lack of practice. Lets’ reverse that. Confidence comes from skills, skills come from practice and practice comes from, well…practice.

I have said this before, “riding a motorcycle isn’t hard, controlling a motorcycle takes a bit more work”. Let’s talk about skills building. I’ll think that most of us have gone through some sort of class program to get our motorcycle license. Great! Now we’re off. But wait, there has  got to be more to riding than just passing a simple test? There is.Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 5.44.25 PM

Over the years I have watched riders (new and experienced) struggle with certain aspects of riding and the most common is U-Turns. On the flat and, more so on a hill, but they cause stress no matter where. So how do we get over that and have the confidence to pull it off wherever and whenever we need to ? Skill Building.

Doing a precise and consistent U-Turn requires three things.

1; Body position. Understanding “look where you’re going” or as our clients hear me say all the time “Turn Your Head!!”. Look at the picture above…the rider is looking at where he is going, all the way to the exit of the turn.  Also look at his general body position, he is more upright while the motorcycle is underneath him, he is using counterweighting (we’ll get in to that later).

2: Power Management.  Mastering the ‘Friction Zone’ , I call it “The Golden Triangle”. Throttle, Clutch and Rear Brake. Developing a steady throttle hand ( it is not an on-off     switch), smooth feel with your clutch (soft and feathery), and your rear brake (again, not  an on-off switch).

To accomplish the ‘FEEL’ requires practice and this is something you can do anywhere. An empty parking lot, your driveway, the street in front of your house (provided it’s not a busy street), even at a traffic light. We have a small and simple exercise that really helps you get the FEEL. Sit on your motorcycle, put it in first gear and with just a bit of throttle let out the clutch, not all the way but just to a point the bike is moving. Pull the clutch back in.

The ‘Toe-Heel” practice. While doing this you want move the bike just enough to move you onto the ball of your foot, then when you pull the clutch back in rock back onto your heel. Just rock back and forth. This exercise helps you get a feel for where the throttle and clutch engage.  The important thing here is not just to let the motor idle and use the clutch to move, give it some throttle, you want to feel the balance between the two.  Practice it every time you come to a stop light. It’s fun and it really helps.

Next part…your rear brake. Lets look at the picture at the top again, see where his right foot is..resting on the rear brake pedal. Now, sitting on your bike (power off) put your foot on the rear brake pedal, feel the amount of free play there is…sometimes it’s easier to kneel next to your motorcycle and with your hand work the brake pedal…get a feel for where it actually engages. Like the other two components of the Golden Triangle these are not On/Off switches you have to know where each part of the system comes together. Practicing rear brake only braking is a huge help, get the feel for it…because this is what is going to help you make a smooth, confident U-Turn.Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 8.35.23 AM

Think about it this way, the motor is the power, the throttle and clutch control the power and the rear brake controls how much of that power gets to the rear wheel and the ground. You always want to keep power to the rear wheel because when there is no power to the rear wheel your motorcycle isn’t going anywhere except maybe onto its side. Practice this a lot.

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Counterweighting. No, not Countersteering, Counterweighting.It’s easier than you think, and if you think about it, it actually comes quite naturally. Lets go back to the picture at the top, look at the riders position on the seat, look carefully, his bottom is more to the outside of the seat (you can see more seat on his right side) and his bike is leaning while he is more upright allowing the motorcycle to turn underneath him. The key to this is turn your head, try to keep your shoulders square and you will find your hips naturally move to the outside which puts more weight to the outside and you can make a tighter turn.

Next time you’re out practicing, you do practice don’t you?, work on all these things. do them over and over again thinking about what you are doing each step of the way. When working with counterweighting feel how your bike moves underneath you and with good power management you’ll find that U-Turns get easier and you can do them more confidently.

Ride safe, ride far and go out and practice your skills.












My Friend says I’m ready


Over the years as a Motorcycle Coach I have heard this all too often. A new rider gets out of the MSF course, gets a motorcycle (often times the one the boyfriend / husband / best friend wants for themselves), maybe takes one more class and is ready to head off into the sunset. With the encouragement of the aforementioned.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 5.06.24 PMOr worse yet, boyfriend/husband/best friend gave them the basic lesson…this is your throttle (makes the bike go), here’s the clutch (for changing gears), here’s the gear lever (one down, four up…I think), here’s the brake lever (so you can stop), and the brake pedal for the rear brake (but you really don’t use that one) and because you know how to ride a bicycle and can drive a stick shift car this is easy. “OK, put it in first, let out the clutch…” we’ve all seen this before. Good for a laugh except when it ends up badly.

As soon as we all got our first motorcycle we just wanted to ride, to go somewhere, to feel the freedom of riding a motorcycle, to be a motorcyclist. But are you really ready to ride off into the sunset? How confident are you? Think about it.Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 4.59.08 PM

Recently I had a coaching session with a young lady who had only been riding a month, a friend convinced her to buy a 600cc Sportbike and signed her up for one session with me. Coaching session began with friend riding her bike to our location (doing a wheelie or two while coming into the parking lot) and she came in a car. He left in the car to go to work… and she is standing there excited as can be to be riding her motorcycle. The session begins…

Right off the bat we find things that she needs to get better at, much better! She understood most of the concepts but wasn’t quite able to put them into practice but we kept working on them. At the end of our time she asked if I would follow her home because usually her friend drives her home. Sure. On the way home It becomes obvious that she is not ready for the street. When we arrive at her house I tell her that and tell her I will send her some exercises to do before we meet again but that she should only ride in a parking lot for now. Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 7.53.40 PM

A couple of days later the friend contaced me asking me how much an on the road session would cost, I tell him she’s really not ready yet and needs more time with the basics. He said that he believes she is ready and he will work with her from there. I had video’d parts of our session so she could watch and improve, I also encouraged the friend to watch. I saw her friend a month later and he said she was doing great but still couldn’t stop well but he was working on it. I asked what he was doing to help her and he said “just getting her out riding, thats all it takes..”

So whats the point of this story? I have since learned that she has crashed twice, she wasn’t hurt badly either time but both times could have been avoided if she knew and had practiced some good skills. Instead, she was encouraged to just get out there and ride. If you are the person who is helping bring another person into the motorcycling life really really make sure they are street ready. Encourage them to get more training, get more training yourself  so you can really be of help but don’t let a new rider out on the streets with the only advice being “it just takes seat time”.

Ride Safe, Ride Far and love your motorcycle.


Changing the way you think about motorcycle training

So, the other day I was talking to a friend and he was telling me all about how grueling the workout was with his trainer at the gym the day before and how much he had to work on before he saw him again. My friend really wants to have a killer body, even though he says he is just trying to keep in shape. After our quick lunch together he was off to the gym. This conversation got me to thinking…don’t get used to it I don’t do it all that often…Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 1.58.30 PM

People go the gym to work out to stay in shape, some go for the social aspect and some just go because they made a New Years Resolution to get in shape or lose weight and remember that they paid a bunch of money to do it and the obligation/guilt factor kicks in…and there are those that take it seriously and pay even more for a private trainer that kicks your butt (sometimes literally) every time you see them and you’re happy afterwards. You lost an inch off your waist, gained some muscle and you look more attractive to the opposite sex. After all that work, you get on your motorcycle and off you go.

Wait a minute here, what about going to the motorcycle trainer? There are few, if any, consequences when you fall down in the gym but falling down on a motorcycle, well…thats different. A motorcycle trainer keeps you in motorcycling shape. A gym trainer keeps you healthy, a motorcycle trainer keeps you safe.

Getting good training is important in any endeavor so you can learn more, do it better, enjoy it more, be successful at it and in the case of motorcycling be safer. Motorcycle training isn’t just for beginners though, experienced riders also benefit from ongoing and more extensive training. Who are the best riders on the street? Motorcycle cops.Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 1.52.23 PMMotorcycle cops go through extensive training (five weeks 8 hours a day) just be a motor officer and nearly fifty percent don’t make it through training. After they are on the street or highway they go through refresher training every six months to a year. They work at it. Well, so should everyday riders.

A friend, also a motorcycle coach, once asked someone how many years riding experience do you have? 15 years was the answer. NO the coach said, you have one year experience and fourteen of doing the same thing over and over.  We all develop bad or lazy habits when it comes to riding, we figure that after a number of years and miles that we know how to ride and don’t need any training. Just because you have been riding a long time doesn’t mean you’re doing everything right. This is where a different set of eyes that watch carefully how you ride can help correct or modify certain riding habits.

A motorcycle coach will watch you ride then design exercises to help strengthen areas of your riding that could use some help. A prime example is the guy who has been riding for 20 years but is still afraid of making U-Turns, or parking on a hill this is where a good coach/trainer can help. Think about yourself, can you make a U-Turn in your own traffic lane? or do you have to make it a three or four point event? Be honest. How good are you at Threshold Braking, hills? There is a long list of skills that all of us, coaches included, could use some help with some of them. Sometimes it is just a matter someone pointing out something you already know but don’t use it. “Oh yeah, I knew that”. and then you start doing it consciously.

Motorcycle training can also teach you new skills. We have all seen a rider do something we can’t and say to ourselves “how did he do that?” Training and practice. Remember, you can’t use a skill you don’t have.screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-11-03-12-am

And lastly, the friend who was going to the gym but he had to work out at home too because the trainer expected it of him before he could go to the next level, well motorcycle training is the same way. After a coaching session you need to go home and practice and practice and practice. Repitition is mother of all skills.

Find a good coach or training class program and invest the time and money to be a better rider, it’s worth it. And remember, motorcycle training isn’t just for beginners, it’s for all of us.

Ride safe, ride far…and practice.



I can’t do it

As a coach I hear that many times. Here is what it comes down to…self doubt. You see a skill exercise, you walk through it, you watch a coach do it and for some reason you get paralyzed when it’s your turn. Why?  Self doubt and lack of trust in your motorcycle.

You can do it. Each and every time.  There are only three things you need to do to overcome this issue.

#1, Focus. Don’t think about what you had for breakfast or what you are going to have for lunch or what you have to do at work. Focus on controlling your motorcycle and your ride. Turn your brain off of everything but you and your motorcycle.

#2, Understanding body positioning. Look where you are going not where you’re at. In simplistic form it’s called “head and shoulders”.  When you start a turn look to where you want to be, bring your head around to the point the the chin bar on your helmet (I assume you are wearing a full face helmet??) is just about on your shoulder…keep it there through the turn until you are looking at your exit point and beyond to the next turn.Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 5.44.25 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-31 at 8.47.45 AM

Your shoulders. Keep them square. If you keep your shoulders level, or as level as you can, you can more easily maneuver your motorcycle underneath you. As you can see in the pictures here the riders are upright and and simply bringing the motorcycle around sharply and right underneath them. Here is the key…understanding counterweighting. Slide your butt over a bit to the outside and you have much better balance. Sounds easy and it is but it does some practice. There’s that word again. Practice.Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 5.36.46 PM

#3, Power management. Practice the Friction Zone all the time. Learn to love your throttle, clutch and rear brake. This Golden Triangle is magic when you learn to manage it. Developing smoothness with all three makes all skills a lot better and easier. These are not on/off switches. Learn how much free play there is in each control, free play is the space between nothing happening and when the control engages. When doing slow speed skills you want to have all three at the ready, your hand is comfortably on the throttle, you have your clutch just to the point of engaging ( this is where you can develop “Feathering” the clutch), and have your foot on the rear brake just lightly enough  that you can easily ‘control’ it and keep you balanced.

If you practice these three things regularly  you will have that moment when you say “I can do it”. And say it with confidence. Trust in yourself and your motorcycle.

Ride safe, ride far and love your motorcycle.


Felix The Cat…

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 7.14.42 PM“Felix the cat, what a wonderful wonderful cat…whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks.” You have to be a ‘Baby Boomer’ or raised by parents who are to get that.

…We as motorcyclists aren’t much different.  When we get in a situation (the “oh crap” moment) we need to pull what we have in our bag of tricks to save us. The bag of tricks comes from three things..skill building, practicing those skills and being aware of your surroundings. Being able to adjust instead of react.

Let’s take an all too common situation…a car turns left in front of you!!! Oh Crap!!! Now what? What do you do? Slam on the brakes? NO!!! Try to go in front of the car before they completely have you squared off? NO!! How about going where that car came from? Yes…maybe.

But wait…before all of that, lets put your ‘bag of tricks’ in place.

1: Awareness. When you are coming to an intersection start scanning. How is the traffic pattern going ? Stop lights, stop signs, left turn lanes, blind intersection?? This is the time you are planning your escape route.Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 1.10.43 PM2: Slow down. Coming to an intersection slow down. Here’s is the “DUH” moment, stopping distance is shorter when you’re going slower. If a car does turn left in front of you, you will have more time to adjust or react. When a car is turning in front of us we instinctively hit the brakes. Never a good idea…HITTING the brakes. Knowing how to really use your brakes is a vital skill that needs to be practiced a lot. Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 10.27.00 AM

3: Go where the car was. This is rather complicated but it goes back to awareness. Where am I? We don’t want to go in front of the car, we want to go where it was so I’m going to go to the left, right?  What about a car on my left side? Always position yourself to either have enough room to stop safely (this is where scanning the intersection well and slowing down comes into play) or make that swerve to the left to be behind the car that turned in front of you. In the photo below you can see where the rider can go behind the car.

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4: Look where you want to go. If you are fixated on the car, guess where you are going to go??? You guessed it..right into the side of the car. If you have been aware (always checking your surroundings), and you have slowed down for the intersection you can be ready to use your escape route. When coming to an intersection I like to either be in the left lane (if I am going straight on a multi lane road, as in 2 on each side) or the left side of a single lane. That way I can go behind the left turner quicker and easier. But wait!!! Will that put me into oncoming traffic???!!! It could. But…if you have slowed down before the intersection you’ll probably be able to stay in your own lane as you maneuver around the car. This is where having control of your motorcycle makes all the difference. Control takes practice and makes your riding much more enjoyable.

Don’t let this be you. Be aware, check your surroundings, practice your skills and always be prepared for whatever might get in your way of having a good day.

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Ride Safe, Ride Far and I’ll See You On The Road


It’s the little differences…

…in your riding skills and style that make a world of difference in your riding experience. It’s called control.

Learning control takes practice and discipline.  That is just plain boring. Riding around a parking lot doing Throttle Control stuff, tight U-Turns , 90* turns from a stop, pulling into a parking spot at Sears (does anybody go to Sears anymore?) Emergency Braking, Obstacle Avoidance…the list goes on and yes it’s boring. Until, you make it a game, either with a riding friend or just competing against yourself.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-7-39-45-pm

At Motorcycle Coaching 101 we have a number of exercises that you can do on your own. Let’s take the ‘Slow Race’, how slow can you go in 50 feet? This is all about managing the Friction Zone…the Golden Triangle’, Throttle, Clutch and Rear Brake. Go to an empty parking lot somewhere, and visually mark off about 6 parking spots (because most parking spots are 9′ wide) then go as slow as you possibly can controlling your speed with the Friction Zone. The key to this exercise is maintaining a smooth throttle hand and using your clutch and rear brake to control your speed. A big part here is keeping your head up and your eyes out. I know, we’ve all heard that a million times but we have to repeat it to ourselves another million times!

When we look down at where we’re at (our front wheel or the curb or the cones in a coaching session) we all tend to drop off the throttle and now we have less control of our motorcycle. Learning to trust your throttle takes practice. We can practice this in our daily riding…when coming to a stop sign or a traffic light slow down and practice the Slow Race as we’re approaching the stop. It’s easy and it helps develop “FEEL”. I want to always know when all three ingredients  (the Golden Triangle) start to work together.screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-10-13-31-am

This skill is not just for parking lots or coming to a traffic stop, it works perfectly in all traffic situations and on curvy roads where all the CONTROL FACTORS have to come in. Learn to use your throttle. Yes, it can get you into trouble but it is also the tool that will get you out of trouble once you have the understanding and understanding takes practice. So go out today and do some practice. That is where I am headed.

Ride Safe, Ride Far and I’ll see you on the road. Or, maybe in a parking lot sometime.



Tapping into your Inner Rider

The MotoWorld Blog

Many of us have read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence. I have read read it twice and still don’t get it. Robert Persig did a good job but I continue to wonder why it is as popular as it is. Doesn’t matter, a lot of people like the book.

screen-shot-2016-04-07-at-5-30-09-pm  There is a Zen to riding a motorcycle , whether it’s daily commuting , casual riding on a Sunday or Racing…you have to tune into your inner rider. Because you have to focus on everything around you,  the rest of the world fades away. Its you and your motorcycle.

What is your inner rider? It’s the person that has the flow and the feel… the connection between you, your motorcycle and the road. Looking ahead …where am I going?, not where I’m at.

The Inner Rider breathes deeply and smoothly and takes in everything around he or she.You…

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