Keep telling yourself

Keep telling yourself “I can do this” and your body will begin to believe you. So will your motorcycle.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-11-03-12-amToo many riders when challenged tell themselves “I CAN’T do it“…why? My thought is because they haven’t tried it or, because they tried it and it didn’t go as planned. So they just give up. Maybe not give up riding, but give up learning and developing skills to be better riders, they just go ahead and ride.

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-12-57-17-pmDeveloping that kind of faith in yourself and your motorcycle takes practice. Practice is the key to becoming proficient at all skills. Baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis….motorcycle racers….the list goes on…Doctors, Nurses…Motor Cops, everyone of these professions require practice. Some of our Motorcycle Coaching 101 riders watch You Tube videos and think that will make them better riders, well…if you take notes and actually go out and practice what you have seen, then Yep…watch them , put them to use and practice.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 5.36.46 PMThe best way is to get a professional coach to work with you one on one, guide you, encourage you, help you correct mistakes and help you see riding differently, safer. If you are going to do it on your own here is the best way I know of. First off think about your riding, and take this very seriously, where do you think you could be better? Is there a skill you don’t have but want? A common one is U-Turns (actually it is thee most common), tight slow turns, starting and stopping on a hill cornering skills, whatever.  Then, make a list, have one of your riding friends look it over and maybe make other suggestions (it will also make them think about their own riding) now that you have your list go find the You Tube video that provides the skill information that you think is important. While watching the video take notes. Now go out and practice. Find an empty parking lot. You don’t need cones like class sessions, you can do this by either marking off parking spaces or use sidewalk chalk, it washes off in the rain. Next most important is to take a friend a long to video you while you are practicing, developing skills. Stop once in a while and review your notes and the video of you riding, then do it again and again. Don’t wear yourself out though that is when things can and do go wrong.

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 8.35.23 AMThe biggest thing here is thoughtful practice. Pay attention, be focused on what you are doing, push yourself. Learn to be best friends with your throttle, yes it can get you into trouble but it will also get you out once you know to to control it. Think about your body position. Watch the videos of yourself and see how you look on the bike, are you comfortable? This is where a coach comes in. We watch your body, check the ergonomics of you and your motorcycle.

Think about what you are doing but don’t overthink.screen shot 2016-04-29 at 6.50.37 am

Ride and Ride Far…

Paul

 

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To go fast you need to learn to go slow

How do low speed skills translate and become valuable in higher speed (as in normal traffic, freeways, canyons and track day) riding? It’s all in how well you use them.

The concept here is learning how to place your motorcycle anywhere you want, whenever you want and how you want…at whatever speed you want depending upon the circumstances. It’s Power Management, Body Position and Feel. And then there is PRACTICE. A skill is only learned if applied.

When you practice skills,  You develop “Muscle Memory”, your body knows what it needs to do and how to do it to control your motorcycle. Going slow teaches you control, the soft feel of smoothness with all your controls…including your brain. . How many times have we all gone into a corner on a canyon road and had the “AH CRAP” moment ? I would have used another word but this a family friendly website….Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 12.51.56 PM

When you really practice slow skills being mindful of what you are doing with the  Throttle, Clutch, Rear Brake and how they all work together, the soft feel of your motorcycle starts to come alive. When you get good at the Golden Triangle at slow speeds you begin to feel more comfortable higher speeds because you really know how your motorcycle is going to respond.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 10.27.00 AMLearning how and when to use your front brake at slower speeds is again very valuable because you develop feel. At Motorcycle Coaching 101 we work on Braking exercises that focus how effective the rear brake is alone, the front brake alone and then both combined. Learning  the power of your front brake and how and when to use it and not use it vital.

Going slow can be boring but it is a regular part of riding and when you are confident at slow speeds you’ll be happier riding faster because you have feel. And lastly, go out and practice skills.images

Ride safe, ride far and I’ll see you on the road

Paul

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

Ok??

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.

Paul

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.

Paul

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