Tuesday, August 17, 2010

DVD Review: Ride Like a Pro: The Dragon

I made a promise a while back. I am admittedly late in fulfilling it, but the promise is hereby kept, nonetheless.

Back in the early part of March I won a trivia contest over at Jay Green's blog, Road Captain USA. The objective was to match 18 bloggers listed by Lady Di with their occupations. The prize was this DVD that I am writing about today. Being still possessed of investigative skills I went to work. Putting the matches together required a lot of digging. I submitted my answers to Jay and Lady Di, pretty sure they were all correct. I don't know if I'm the only one to get all 18 but I was the first. You can see the post here.

Jay honorably followed through and sent me the video. On it was a note asking me to write about it on my blog. While not specifically writing back to make a promise, I didn't send anything saying I wouldn't. Thus, it became a case of implied agreement. So, Jay, I'm finally catching up.

This is the DVD. Literally. It's a photo of my copy.

I had seen a previous video by Jerry Palladino. Jerry comes from the background of a motor officer. The video I had seen before covered low speed control skills. I thought the video presented the material in an easy to understand and logical manner. So I had similar expectations for this one. The quality of the presentation manner did not disappoint. I really appreciate that Jerry keeps himself in the background. It's about the instruction, not him. As good as he is, the video is about the riding. A tip of my helmet to Jerry for that.

As to content. You might have guessed that this video is about cornering correctly. You would be right. The viewer is allowed to watch riders as they corner, both correctly and not, by means of a helmet cam. The footage is courtesy of a guy who specializes in filming riders at Deals Gap. He's called Yellow Wolfe after the name of his production company. Yellow Wolfe is a big guy who rides a big yellow Goldwing GL1800. More on that later.

I'm not going to give you a blow by blow account. That would negate the urge to go out and buy the DVD, wouldn't it? Here's some highlights.

A lot of emphasis is on proper cornering technique. Part of that correct technique is riding at a pace that is correct for the individual rider. Riding your own ride is a hugely valuable piece of counsel. Another aspect that gets attention is being prepared for unexpected emergencies. You won't believe some examples shown on the video! Riding smart is essential anytime, especially in a place with a lot of curves.

One part I really enjoyed was watching Yellow Wolfe following a couple of guys on sport bikes. Remember, he's on a Goldwing! It's interesting to watch a really good rider using proper technique and honed skills run down the sport bikes. What's even more intriguing is to watch the way the sport bike riders let their egos rule. They are reluctant to let the big bike pass so they ride harder and harder to stay in front. Unfortunately, as they push themselves they start to ride over their heads. They don't crash but it's a miracle.

There's several very valuable lessons in this footage.

I do have a couple of areas where I think things could have been done either differently or stated more clearly. As a person who trains motor cops myself, I feel qualified to offer this feedback.

Firstly, it's probably a semantic issue, but there's a couple of statements that I think can give riders the wrong idea.

Jerry talks about the proper line through a curve. Outside, inside, outside. In the narration, Jerry states a couple of times that the proper place to enter a corner is to the "extreme outside". I don't feel a rider should be right on the edge of the road. Doing so takes away room for a Plan B, just in case. I'm sure that Jerry wasn't telling a rider to hug the fogline, but that's what it comes across as.

The video stresses having braking done before the curve. However, a statement is made to the effect that "just before we enter the curve we let off the brakes and roll on the throttle". I'd be happier making sure riders know that they should be back on the throttle before they lean the bike. What Jerry says is workable for more experienced riders. They change the basics for a specific reason, not just to be sloppy. I'm pretty sure a lot of riders watching the video either aren't experienced or as good as they think they are. Some could go away with the wrong idea or feel justified in being sloppy from hearing the sequence stated this way.

Part of the footage deals with crashes. Some are as they happen and some show the aftermath. At first it seemed like the footage was backing up Jerry's statements that the consequences of screwing up can be costly. After a while, though, I began to wonder if some of it wasn't just gratuitous titillation.

All in all, I would recommend watching this video. There's value in reminding us of the need for practicing what we already know and learning something new. In addition there's some entertainment thrown in if you like watching motorcycles. Who of here doesn't, after all?

I believe you can purchase this and other videos by Jerry "Motorman" Palladino at the Road Captain USA store. I have no deal for commissions or anything. I simply feel that Jerry goes a good job of covering some skills riders need. We can't learn enough when it comes to getting it right on a bike.

Miles and smiles,



Anonymous said...

Deals Gap, obviously in the "south" or at least on the edge of the south. Many former motorcycle friends have ridden Deals Gap both on their motorcycles and on four wheels (Miata). The adhesive dragon on one's motorcycle attests to having ridden the ride, or wearing the T-shirt. I can't fathom either riding the Gap or even going there to do so.

When I first heard of the location, realized "oh there was a railway into Robbinsville." My primary interest has always been railways, and in particular pinoneering railways in areas of logging and mining.

Have watched on-line videos and the road twists and tirms amd is a hot bed for those who think they can ride and for the local constabulary.
The penchant for the use of radar to procure funds still doesn't sit well with me, but then when you're in the company of dare devils, it is difficult to remove some of that spirit.
Would I now ride the Gap, if it were possible? Nope, no desire to do so on two, three or four or more wheels.
Leave that for those who do so. Me? Would much rather just go there for the scenery and try and ignore the racing machines.

As to doing the curves on a GL1800, we maybe should keep in mind the rider is smaller (but then anything is, compared to me) person and hence is not outsizing the Goldwing as it were, which I would surely do.

Both the GL1800 Goldwing and any Harley-Davidson are just way too small for me. Maybe down the road and around the bend a Spyder might do. We'll see.

Dave said...

Have you seen Howzit done with Capt Crash?


He has a style that’s informative with a bit of humor thrown in.

Sound like any one we know?
I think you two would hit it off just fine.


Road Captain said...

Thanks Dan for posting this. Glad you enjoyed the reward for your research effort. It turns out there are Ride Like A Pro Schools in both Maryland and New Jersey so I'm thinking I might be getting some personal instruction in the near future. Should make for a good blog post.

Richard Machida said...

I've always wondered if these videos were any good. Thank you for the review.

It looks like the background for your first picture is asphalt. Appropriate...

Richard my blog

Charlie6 said...

I've watched Mr Palladino's Ride it like a Pro DVDs, excellent training material!

Good review Irondad.....someday I'll watch the dvd AND Ride the Dragon....

Dean W said...

Capt. Crash is an instructor with the Idaho STAR program. His "other" job is a high school teacher, teaching video production.

bluekat said...

I haven't seen any of Jerry's videos, though I've seen clips online. I've always heard good things about them. I infrequently visit a forum that is run by his wife, Donna.

I love the Capt. Crash videos that Dave mentioned. Very funny! I haven't watch them in a while. He totally gets my "cone phobia". May as well throw in David Hough as a favorite too. No vids that I know of, but good books.

So Dan, when are you going to start your video series? Bobskoot could come down and follow you with his camera! :)

david said...

Sounds like a good dvd. Out here we have "ET", the Eastern Transvaal, where in about a 300km radius there are several small town among the mountains, and lots of nice twisty tar.
Isn't the problem that these types of videos are always aimed at those who wish to be faster, not safer? Your comment on the use of the extreme edge of the road points to that.
Most of our roads are in bad condition, so first for me is finding the safe line, a car tyre track is usually best, left or right, and holding that line comfortably. In the middle of the road is the oil, and the edge sand and gravel. IMHO it's more difficult to hold a car's line than to go with the ideal biker line.
But it does give you the most "wiggle room" if anything happens.