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!
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,