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

Paul

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.

Paul

 

Learning is boring. Until…

Bueller?, Bueller ?…Ok , you have to be of a certain age to get that one.

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We all sat in Algebra class and asked ourselves what the hell good is this, I don’t need to know this crap. What good is it going to do me? It takes a while for us to figure it out. But, we at some point, get it.

Learning how to control your motorcycle, not just ride it, can be boring… until the moment comes that your motorcycle obeys you and not the other way around. Look at the picture above (it’s great movie by the way) but, on a motorcycle, leisure doesn’t rule. You have to be engaged all the time.

Being engaged with and to your motorcycle takes time and effort. I went from lightweight Sportbikes and an Adventure bike to a behemoth of two wheeled transportation. A Yamaha Stratoliner. Eight hundred pounds of…”what was I thinking?”. So, being a professional motorcycle riding coach I had to go practice what I preach which is…PRACTICE and then PRACTICE MORE. Off to the parking lot I went.

Where are the limits of this motorcycle? Where are my limits on this motorcycle? And where do I find them? It starts in a parking lot.  I set up my regular training course. The Slow Race, U-Turns, 90* turns, Obstacle Avoidance,Tight Circles, Counterweighting,and Quick Braking. Whew…No wonder my clients don’t like me, I don’t like me. screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-11-03-12-am

After nearly a full day in the parking lot my motorcycle and I were going steady. We got tight circles down to and even tighter than my Adventure bike (it’s really pretty cool to hear and feel the floorboards scrape the ground…I’m down to the point now that I can take one off my bike and shave with it!!!?), Stopping distance was, well..a little longer ( I also worked on “Threshold Braking”…right to the point of losing traction just to see how it feels on a bike this big), I did these exercises over and over until I thought I was going to be sick. My wife brought lunch to me and then I kept practicing.

Day two was up into the curvy roads. This bike is long!!! Even longer than a Harley Davidson Road King by 4 inches! With a bike this big, it takes a while for it to respond so I had to adjust my cornering technique. This was the day I really got to work on Countersteering. I was shocked…and in a very good way. The new bike is very light on it’s feet. She moves when I want her to and when I am light on the controls it’s almost like a walk in the park with a more svelte girlfriend. I rode that particular road (which I use for coaching a lot) for hours, pushing the limits within my comfort zone and then some just to see what I can do with my new motorcycle. screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-11-32-46-am

So, what was the point of this drivel? You can’t use a skill you don’t have. Good riding takes practicing the things you have learned and practice them regularly. Every now and then, instead of having a casual ride with a couple of friends, go practice. Challenge each other, make it a game but a serious game. You would amazed at how much better a rider you will be with a couple of hours of practice on a regular basis.

So on that note, I’m heading off to the parking lot.

Ride Safe, Ride Far and I’ll see you on the road,

Paul

Yeah, that’s me in the middle picture. I need to practice more…