Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Riding is an ART!

I'm catching up on a post I wanted to do last week. It's from Monday when I worked an Advanced Rider Training ( ART ) course. We work on some accident avoidance skills. Stopping quickly in a corner, straight line maximum braking, and swerving. Swerving moves up to braking then swerving, or swerving then braking. Never both at the same time, mind you. Speeds approach those found in urban settings since we have some room.

We mostly concentrate on corners. Yes, those glorious corners! Students get to work on their lines, linking curves, and making smooth transitions before the turns. The problems that plague riders the most are not looking far enough ahead and not having all the transitions done before they actually lean the bike. Most riders brake far too late. As a result, they're still braking in the turn. They end up coasting in and powering out. Riders should enter the corners already under power.

Check out this great head turn from a student! This one was showing fine form.

Pay no attention to the rider behind the BMW. That's Dave. He's one of the instructors and the V-Strom is headed for a shortcut to another part of the track. Clear in the background is Balisada. You'll see more of her in a future post.

In an interesting parallel with the ART theme, most riders tend to "paint" their corners. In other words, instead of coming out of one corner and heading straight for the entry point of the next one, they'll move clear over. For example, if they come out of a right hand turn onto a short straightaway leading to a left hand turn, they'll turn right to go left. A standard line is "outside-inside-outside". For linking corners successfully, think "outside-inside-entry to next corner". That's a whole post by itself. In fact, I did a post a while back on this very subject. You can read it here.

I love teaching these classes for a variety of reasons. How many opportunities do we have to get paid to ride a track? Not only that, but get reimbursed for mileage? It's also like going to a bike show sometimes.


These are some instructor's bikes with the morning group's mounts in the background. Sophie's in there somewhere. This was a smaller crew. Lined up on the other side of the fence are the afternoon group's bikes. We ended up with 15 riders.


Once in a while we have something more exotic come through. Such was the case this time. If you look just behind the first two bikes you'll see something that looks different. Ok, I'll be kind and give you a closer look.


One of the students brought this MP3 by Piaggio. It's the first live one I've seen. This thing is pretty versatile. Riders just have to remember that the front end is a little wider. Going through the swerve gates, the guy would often wipe them out with the front wheels!


The owner's on the left. That's my good buddy Ray in the Hi Viz 'stich. So the thing looks interesting. But can it corner? Well, take a peek for yourself.


Looks pretty cool, too! The rider's a great example of popping the balloon on a stereotype I hear oft repeated. This guy has some great skills. So many times I hear riders of bigger motorcycles deride scooter pilots. The common theme is that people ride scooters because they don't have the skills to ride a "real" motorcycle. I have to laugh my posterior off. I see so many of these so called real riders come to classes with horrible skills. I also see many scooter riders with awesome skills. Riding a scooter is a choice, not a second class ticket. Jeez!

It was all in all a really fun day. I even got to appear in a video! The fellow on the BMW put a camera on his bars during a practice session. We run the track backwards to allow the riders to put their cornering skills to work in a new environment. There's two laps on video. Ken was kind enough to send me the link. At the end you can watch as he catches up to Sophie and I. It looks kind of strange because I have a passenger.

We follow students, watching their lines and transitions. Sometimes we have them follow us. Other times, when it seems they just aren't relating it to their bike, we have them ride a couple of laps with us. Such was the case with me. I'm not being caught because I'm slow with a passenger. It's because I've already caught up with the tail of a group in front of me! Besides, the passenger can better get a feel for what's happening if you're not riding at breakneck speeds. I learned that after I scared a few!

You can see the video if you click here. It's not super fascinating or anything. It just gives you an idea of what the track looks like from the rider's viewpoint.

Look for another Sharin' the Road post tomorrow or Friday. You'll get to meet Stacy and her new Suzuki!

Miles and smiles,

Dan



13 comments:

Bill Sommers said...

Wow, I'm impressed with the gear that the MP3 rider was wearing. The guy looked sharp.

Did you get a chance to throw a leg over the Piaggio?

Have fun,
Bill

Mad said...

They're probably marketed differently over there but that's a Gilera Fuoco over here not an MP3. If I remember correctly the MP3 is a 125 and the beast in your pics is a 500cc parralel twin. Piaggio owns Gilera so presumably they rebrand them for the US market. I wouldn't mind a go on an MP3 but I'd love to have a go on a Fuoco. I suspect it's the perfect winter hack.

Bryce said...

Invasion of the alien motorcycle!

The three wheelers sold here in Ontario very quickly. They look odd
if you're not familiar with a
three wheel Morgan with the engine
hanging out on the front. A most interesting design.

However as with any and all scooters
or moped far too small for me.

--
And am surprised there are as many trees near the track in the photograph. Was thinking deviously first time round; has any tree jumped out at a passing trainee and caused an accident?

In my Volvo rally days the comment
about such things went something
like this...the tree became a pedestrian and wouldn't move because of the oncoming traffic and subsequently was struck. Tree is OK
however the car is not.

Bryce said...

Invasion of the alien motorcycle!

The three wheelers sold here in Ontario very quickly. They look odd
if you're not familiar with a
three wheel Morgan with the engine
hanging out on the front. A most interesting design.

However as with any and all scooters
or moped far too small for me.

--
And am surprised there are as many trees near the track in the photograph. Was thinking deviously first time round; has any tree jumped out at a passing trainee and caused an accident?

In my Volvo rally days the comment
about such things went something
like this...the tree became a pedestrian and wouldn't move because of the oncoming traffic and subsequently was struck. Tree is OK
however the car is not.

Stacy said...

I really need to take that class. My cornering is atrocious.

The MP3 looks like a fun ride. For those of us in the the US, there's a review of the MP3 500 in this month's Motorcycle Consumer News.

Balisada said...

I have always respected scooterists. Those dudes are hardcore.

You see them in all kinds of weather. When the weather is simply rotten, they are still out there, motivating along on their scooters.

I saw that scooter 'waiting in the wings' for the afternoon track session at ART, and it looked like a hoot to ride.

Balisada

irondad said...

Bill,
Didn't get a chance to ride it. We kept the students on the bike most of the afternoon. Besides, I think there would have been a long line!

Mad,
That always drives me crazy when the manufacturers use different names everywhere. How do they even keep it straight?

Bryce,
It's usually the hay bales that become pedestrians.

Stacy,
You'd benefit either way but I'd recommend getting up to about 12,000 miles in first. You'll be better able to absorb the training.

Balisada,
You prove my point. Hard core is as hard core does, scooter or motorcycle.

Take care,
Dan

Steven said...

the video made me think of something - you've undoubtedly seen videos online from guys (or gals) with helmet-mounted cameras. I wonder if some footage like that, though from an instructor, help with "look through the corner" and "no target-fixation" parts of class?

Mad said...

Ah I get it now, it's sold in the US as an MP3 500. I'd guess that's because there are no Gilera outlets in the States? My first bike was a Gilera I loved it though it fell to pieces regularly.

Conchscooter said...

Whichever market the MP3 is aimed at its not for me. I found stopping upright and taking off again without putting a foot down took some skill but it still seems like an engineering solution to a problem no one has yet discovered. On the other hand the fact that one rides (and take classes!) is what counts. MP3 is just another scooter to me and good looking to boot.Piaggio sells 250, 400 and 500 (Fuoco)as MP3s in the US, for want of Gilera dealers.

Krysta in Milwaukee said...

"people ride scooters because they don't have the skills to ride a "real" motorcycle"

:P to that nonsense.

I started out on a 125cc scooter, reasoning that I'd learn to ride without having to bother with all that messy shifting, then once I was comfortable I could move up to a larger bike with gears. That's exactly how it worked out, too.

Scooters are in some ways trickier and more responsive than larger motorcycles. In one day (and fairly close succession) I rode my 125cc scooter, 1000cc sidecar, and 1150cc sport motorcycle. They're VERY different beasts, and I found handling the scooter to be the most touchy.


Karl & I want to go to the 'local' (50 miles away) dealer for those 3-wheelers and take some test rides. They look like lots of fun.

Did the rider have experience on 2 wheels, to talk about some of the differences (if any) in handling?

Dean W said...

Dan-

Ken was on an FJR. Last time I checked, those were still built by Yamaha, not BMW. :)

irondad said...

steven,
TEAM OREGON has actually played with a prototype system that tracks eye movement of the rider. There is a video camera on the helmet and two smaller ones fitted to goggles. The smaller ones are focused on the rider's pupils. What you end up with is a video of the ride with a dot where the rider is looking.

We're looking for funding to do a study. One thing to look for would be a baseline. In other words, what kind of scanning skills would we typically see in riders of varying experience? The other thing available would be for the rider to see for themselves what their scanning actually looked like. It's a great thing to explore.

mad,
Don't know about the Gilera outlets. Now I'll have to take a rde to find out! Conch says there aren't any in Florida.

conchscooter,
I agree that riding and training are the foundation. What you ride is the trim!

Krysta,
The rider did have two wheeled experience. We instructors were so busy with things that chatting time was restricted. I'd love to have that conversation sometime, though.

Dean,
Thanks for the correction. All the new foreign bikes look alike to me. Or maybe I'm just jealous because there were so many newer FJR's!

Everyone, Dean is a fellow instructor and good friend. He's the one in the video standing right in front of the bike. As you can see, his memory is probably better than mine!

Take care,

Dan