Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Avoiding the Ambush ( Part I )

I have had the privilege of training riders for a good part of my life, now. I have been riding for as long as I literally can remember. You've seen my passion for training and sharing riding knowledge spill out in this blog. I've seen thousands of students in my classes and interacted with many more riders in other venues. Still, though, my reach has been fairly limited, relatively speaking.

In contrast, a person who has had an influence over a great many more riders than I is Clement Salvadori. You've probably heard of him. Clement has been a regular contributor and columnist for Rider Magazine since 1988, if the official bio is to be believed. He's also famous for his ever present beret! Rider Magazine hasn't been the total extent of Clement's works. What I've always appreciated about his writing is that, despite being technically proficient, Clement always sees the humanity in situations. Clement has a book out that is a compilation of his Rider Magazine columns. His column is entitled "Road tales". Fittingly, the book is called "101 Road Tales".

Earlier this year, Clement and his wife Sue visited Oregon. It was a central location for a gathering of old friends. Of course, riding figured into things. Clement is an ST1100 fan like me which is another reason to like him! I'm not sure what he rode up here to Oregon.

Clement wrote about his trip to Oregon in his October, 2009 column in Rider Magazine. What I really appreciated was the comment about improving rider skills. I've written about the difference between riders with one year's experience repeated over and over and those who actually build skills to ever increasing levels. The column also deals with rider responsibility. It's our task to find information early and use it to our advantage. We can't just let things come to us.

I sent Clement an e-mail asking his permission to reproduce the column here on the blog. Clem graciously granted me that permission. Due to space considerations, I'm going to split it into two parts. What follows are Mr. Salvadori's words. Here is the part that sets the stage.

Avoiding the Ambush

Some riders go 100,000 miles and never learn anything new, just repeating habits, while others are constantly seeking to improve their motorcycling skills.

Our 20th anniversary was coming up, and gracefully I asked Sue what she might like to do to celebrate the occasion. I was thinking along the lines of a candlelit dinner at Chez Panisse, but she had other thoughts. "Let's go to Oregon," she said.

No complaint from me, as western Oregon in the spring is a delightful place to ride motorcycles, the countryside as green as emeralds. The Coast Range and the Cascade Range offer thousands of miles of great road, where traffic is light and the pavement smooth.

Also, we have good friends, Bob and Jann, who moved up to Corvallis last year, home to Oregon State University, which operates TEAM OREGON, the state-run motorcycle training program. Bob is now on the team, and we've also known Steve, the team captain, for 20 or more years. Plus other friends would come down from Seattle, and it promised to become a great party.

It rained like Noah's Great Deluge the first day on the way up, but then the clouds went off to soak other places and we had blue skies for the next week. We could not ask for prettier riding, with tall peaks in the Cascades still covered with snow, the valleys abloom with flowers. True, we did run into the occasional snow-blocked forest-service road at higher altitudes, but all that meant was a good run back to the nearest alternate route.

And food! It appears that the culinary arts amongst our friends are in great shape, who vied with each other to impress us, and we dined on deliciousness like chicken marsala with pesto spaghettini, or oysters with ahi tuna. As well as a BLT at Portland's biker bar and grill, Kelly's Olympian.

( to be continued )

Miles and smiles,



Stacy said...

Gee, if journalists keep writing about Oregon like it's motorcycling paradise, even more people will move here.

Oh, wait...

bobskoot said...


I love Oregon. You have the best roads and scenery. It's no longer a secret, someone let the cat out of the bag.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Richard Machida said...

Interesting intro. Many times, I feel like I'll be one of those repeating the first year over and over again and due to the short riding season, I don't see many ways to progress. Any suggestions beyond moving to Oregon (I've heard that it is really nice riding somewhere on the Internet!)?

Mike said...

Have you ever been to Kelly's Olympian? We should have lunch there sometime when you're in the downtown area, it's quite a place. Nice post - thank you. Looking forward to more.

irondad said...


You are a welcome addition! I don't care where you were before, I'm just glad you're here now.


I always thought New England would be a great place to ride, too. Although there must be a reason I've stayed here. I'll have to check out those links.

Take care,


irondad said...


That is a great question and deserves a blog post of its own. Watch for it coming up.

Take care,


irondad said...


No, I haven't been there, and yes, I would like to go. We will have to set it up.

Interestingly, I was posting a comment on your site at almost the same time you were commenting here!

Take care,


Anonymous said...

>I have had the privilege of >training riders for a good part of >my life, now. (BIG SNIP) Still, >though, my reach has been fairly >limited, relatively speaking.

Actually Dan, your reach may be more than thought. You teach individuals to ride on the weekends, that is your hands-on one to one reach as it were.

However your blog tends to reach a greater distance than you yourself may imagine, and your positive attitude and likable personality probably do more to encourage your readers to respond.

If I ever decide to return to riding a motorcycle, I think I may just book an aeroplane flight to where ever you are teaching and
just see how good or poor my riding actually is. Yes I have the endorsement on my driver's license for here in Ontario and always will have.

However to return after a haitus,
that will require some learning, on my part.

Then again I could continue reading your blog to get my motorcycle fix and never ride again!