How a day working on a new discipline can transform your riding skills
You never stop learning, so the saying goes. But surely if you’ve been riding a few years, your richest learning experiences are behind you? Well, not necessarily.
OK, for most people Day One is going to be up there. For me it was wheeling a red Yamaha RS100 out of CJ Bowers in Bury St Edmunds, learning to change gear in the cattle market over the road, and accelerating over and over again to a mind-bending 72mph. That was 1979. Since then I’ve made a complete pig of myself with race schools, track days, a few Nürburgring courses, advanced road training, and various try-out days for enduro, speedway, short track and trials. That’s on top of a couple of decades full-time on magazines, including speed testing, tyre testing, photo sessions and hauling bikes in and out of vans; plus a decade or so spannering, doing the odd race, and watching other people.
It all goes in, and it all helps. But the day during which I absorbed more new stuff than any other came, I reckon, after I’d been riding for 35 years. It was a trials experience at Leek in Staffordshire with Stu Day.
Stu is a very fine trials rider but his genius is to break it down into a step-by-step process for beginners. And trials is so strange and unfamiliar to a road bod that every single one of these steps is mesmerising.
He’ll show you something like a U-turn on a wet grassy slope, or riding along a concrete pipe, and you immediately say under your breath: “I’ll never be able to do that.”
Five minutes later you’re doing it. And it happens over and over again, all day. I just grinned my face off. I say this not because I think you should give Stu a call (though you probably should). But because learning is a state of mind, which gets easier as you get older. The logic goes like this:
- The older you get the more you realise how little you really know.
- Therefore, the more open you are to finding out new things. For me (thus far) it was Stu’s course.
For you it could be short track, a track day, whatever. It really doesn’t matter, because there’s more to learn about riding bikes than you can fit into a lifetime. Just enjoy soaking some of it up.
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