Learning doesn't stop once you've passed
Motorcycle Safety: Stay sharp after you’ve passed
16 June 2009 09:27
So you’ve got through it. Decades of blissful riding stretch out in front of you.
Well, I’ve been riding for decades, and spent almost as long studying what makes people good, happy riders (or lousy, miserable ones). So here’s my two penn’orth.
You might not think that some of the stuff below looks like training, but it is.
1. Do your own thing
Every so often when you ride, take yourself slightly out of your comfort zone.
It could be a dash across France, a deliberate attempt to learn to brake harder, or riding a long way with a more experienced person.
Make sure you do something like this a couple of times a year.
2. Do regular miles
I reckon 5000 miles a year is a minimum.
Maybe you could get away with 4000, but below that and you’re consigning yourself to being a serial novice.
3. Be humble
The best riders seem to have three things in common: – Having a humble, forgiving attitude to life – Being completely realistic about how good (or bad) they really are – Being familiar enough with their bike to control it instinctively, even in a panic situation.
Have a look in the mirror every so often and see how you match up.
4. Try a track day
It’s not for everyone, and many track days are frequented by goons with tyre warmers and an aggressive attitude.
But pick a day for beginners, or where the oafs have been screened out. You’ll learn more in a day than you would in a year on the road.
And you’ll absolutely, totally love it.
5. Go off road
Unless your best mate has several square miles of country estate, you’ll need to find something structured.
Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and BMW offer off-road days for beginners.
Some dealers do too. My favourite is Geraint Jones’ days in Llanidloes, Powys.
Hoofing around 10,000 acres of Welsh forest on a WR250 is paradise. You hardly notice the side effect of doubling your riding ability in hours.
6. Find an instructor
Now the pressure of the test is over, working with an advanced instructor can be serious fun. Some are wonderful, others less so.
Unfortunately there’s no easy way to tell, bar word of mouth. So do your research. I spent 20 years not taking any advanced training, but I love it now (I use rapidtraining.co.uk).
Apart from anything else, it gives you an objective measure of your skills. More than anything, enjoy your bike.