Monday, April 4, 2011

Advanced Rider Training...Part 2.

After two cancellations due to weather, I was finally able to complete my second lesson. I will admit that I was just as nervous the second time as I was the first.  This was obvious by forgetting to shift the bike into first at the first set of lights we came to...d'oh...gonna be a long afternoon I thought.  Not off to a good start, surely things can only get better.

Part One in Review.

For those that took the time to read part one,  you will realise  that I ended up going back and covering some very basic biking skills. Skills that I had let lapsed or was simply not paying much attention to.   I can say in all honesty that some of those skills are still being worked at, and are not yet encased in my riding.  I am now though, braking better and smoother, paying greater attention to my blind spot, and feel like I am  controlling the bike far better when it comes to slow speed manoeuvring.  I am far more aware of what is happening around me. I feel confident that all of the things covered in my first lesson will become second nature to me.  The blind spot, and the technique of really looking before moving has probably all ready saved me from a nasty incident.  Last week as I was travelling along the motorway I passed a car doing only about 70km', I continued along, and was about to move back into the inside lane, I checked my mirrors, and it was clear, I turned and double checked over my shoulder and there he was sitting right on my rear wheel, and buried in my blind spot.  The shoulder check is some thing I have diffinitly paid a lot more attention to since my first training.

Par Two

The second lesson involved left and right cornering, road position, counter steering and of course understanding    IPSGA,


Of course this all sounds rather basic, but is in fact a lot harder  to do properly and smoothly.  I am well aware of some of what I was taught, but the reasons why and the theory behind such techniques have never been taught to me.   As Dan  covers so well in his blog, there is always room for improvement, and in my case, a whole Lotta of room!  Perhaps it is just a case of what you don't know doesn't bother you, once you begin to understand that you in fact know stuff all, you are then opening yourself up, to learning.

Just bear in mind that as I describe what I have been taught , that we drive on the left side of the road, so for those that read this blog and drive on the right side of the road things may seem 'back to front".  (just turn your computer upside down and it will all make sense)

We spent some time looking at diagrams and explaining position 1, 2, and 3 on the road. Position 1 being as far left as possible,(or picking daisy's) 2 the centre (or command position)  and position 3 being as far right, or as close to the centre line that is considered safe. (this applies to right hand bends)  I always thought that I pretty much stuck to the left on right hand bends pretty well, but once following Tricia I realised how much further over I could be, and unless there is gravel or crap in this area, this is by far the best place for me to enter right handers, and the clear benefit of seeing further around the corner, and following the vanishing point became far more obvious .  Clearly the same can be said for left hand bends.

I have always been guilty of coming off the throttle mid corner, this causes a great deal of instability and shifts the down force to the front of the bike.  It also cause's you to lose your line and the consistent need to re adjust it.    The concept of the physics and handling of the bike mid corner has become a lot clearer to me.  Having done plenty of KM's over the years, I found my self understanding and relating to many of the issues that Tricia was explaining to me. I have also at  time been guilty of not keeping hr throttle on through the corner.

While I am on the 'vanishing point', or what ever term you like to use, it came out in discussion how if the vanishing point is moving away from you quickly then the bend is opening up, if it is coming closer to you or not moving then the bend is tightening, and you need to adjust your speed  to compensate.  The skill required in reading the corner is something  that I will forever be working on and training my mind to understand and comprehend more and more.   It is something I was familiar with and did understand, but still something which was made clearer to me during the training.  Continuing to focus on this point sounds easy, but the fact remains that it is or forever moving and changing means total concentration at all times. 

Following Tricia along East Coast bays road gave me a valuable insight into her lines, and reasons why she was in the position she was.  When the roles were reversed I became very uncomfortable.  I do not enjoy being followed, especially when I am aware that my every move or action is being scrutinised.  My first run along this road, was in all honesty a complete disaster.  I was riding tentatively, yet, as I was told,consistently above the speed limit, and I made some fundamental errors. 

The second time I rode through, I told myself to relax, forget who was behind me, forget trying to do everything right, and concentrate on correct lines, speed and gear.  I think there was a vast improvement from the first to the second run.  I still felt as if I was weaving from side to side, when in fact I was constantly changing my position for the next bend.

Counter Steering- The mystery unravelled.

Well not quite.  I am aware of what counter steering is, and I do in fact do it, but it was excellent to cover this topic, and to realise that  what I was feeling , and how the bike reacted was in fact normal and natural.  Again I emphasise, that as no one has ever taken the time to show me, and explain to me in detail the concept and what actually happens makes a great deal of difference to your confidence.  That uncanny feeling of the bike's speed actually increasing when counter steering is quite a buzz.  The concept of going around a right hander and pushing the right handle bar away from you is cetainly weird but so much fun.  I put into practice what I had learnt on some slow speed bends, and it was fantastic.

I am not going to go into all the details of what we covered, the information that I have shared barely scratches the surface.   But since I have embarked on this training I have become very much aware of my short comings as a rider, gaps in my skills, and my some what relaxed attitude to some road rules.   A humble yet honest and frank admission.  Saying all this though, I feel some what empowered that I am doing some thing about it, and have all ready progressed from where I started.  I have another pile of stuff to learn, and another pile still to come no doubt. Continuing to monitor and review my riding and technique, will be a life long job.  I was in no doubt that if I attempted to sit the advanced rider  course now I would fail.

Looking back, I am convinced more than ever that the training required to attain a bike license in New Zealand is completely inadequate, and far from from what is required to become a good and competent rider. We need to seriously look at how we are training new bikers, their skill levels, and technique.  I hope this blog encouages all bikers, regardless of skill to continue to seek improvement in there riding skills.


  1. Well done Roger and an excellent, honest post. Yep, I've written to all sorts of authorities in the last 18 months about making basic training more comprehensive rather than the pointless exercise of simply raising licensing fees which does nothing to solve the root cause of poor riding. Not one single reply which is really disappointing.

    Nice one mate!

  2. THanks Geoff. I am looking forward to working on the new skills.

    Thanks for inspiring me to get off my arse and seek out some training, the benifit can not be counted in dollars

  3. Good stuff,well done. It is so true that you cant teach someone who knows everything,I,ve been riding bikes for close to 40 years and am still learning.East coast bays used to be such a good road too.:-)

  4. Hey Rodgey, good stuff love. I am getting some Trish input soon. Nothing wrong with getting a constructive critique of your riding and some good advice to fix you errors.

  5. Sounds like you are learning a lot Roger.

    As a newer rider I find that I roll off the throttle to slow approaching a corner and I am good at throttling through, but find sometimes I slow too much prior to getting to the corner. I think it is a matter of learning how fast I really can take a corner.

    It is always good to increase our skills and keep on learning. Every time I am out on the bike I "get it" a little more.

    Have fun practicing.

  6. Godbother: East coast bays rd is still good. You never stop learning. Thanks

    Anon: Any training is good traing. Let me know how youget on I would be interested.

    Trobaritz; I am learning a lot, I think I need to rde more, so it becomes more ingrained, the problem with riding only every few eeks is you are continually going back over the basics.

  7. Bravo, Roger. I am learning (or refreshing my memory) while reading your post. Rider training is crucial, and I hope that it will be mandatory everywhere to attend proper training before getting on the road on two wheels. Training for advanced riders does not hurt either, but might save your life one day. Thanks for making the effort and writing up your experience.

  8. Being followed by your instructor - I'd be a nervous wreck. (Maybe a bad choice of words!) Fortunately when I took my class, there were other students around and I wasn't aware when being followed until after the fact. Much better that way.

    I thinks it's important to continue to take classes periodically to keep the bad habits at bay, and to remind me of the good habits that maybe be forgotten over time. It's something I love and dread. Love it because it's so dang rewarding and I get so much out of it, dread it because it's hard to put my poor skills out there for critique, and I get so nervous I practically make myself sick. Sometimes we have to get uncomfortable to learn and grow.

    Great post. I love this kind of stuff! :)