The Next Step!
Over the years many students have asked me… ‘What next? I’ve passed my test but I want to take my riding to the next level.’
In designing this course I had a long think about what a rider needs. Understanding the theory is all well and fine but gaining the skills to execute that theory can be difficult and haphazard.
While I’m not re-inventing the wheel with this course I’m taking a different view of it. Over the years I’ve gained a lot of road experience but also a lot of track and off-road skills have gone into developing, not just my personal skills but also my understanding of bikes and how the rider interacts with them. I’ve read every book I can find on the subject and taken numerous courses in order to understand and develop my own skills a rider and an instructor.
Traditionally advance rider training focuses on road craft and how the rider interacts with the environment but often overlooks developing the rider’s skills further. The emphasis is often on observational skills and hazard analysis but without proper rider skill development. It still leaves the rider to his own devices if things go wrong. The focus on prevention overlooks the cure. It’s a bit like putting the cart before the horse.
The Next Step course is not an advanced riding course in the traditional sense. While there is little doubt that avoiding a problem is the ultimate aim it shouldn’t negate the riders need to cope with one should it occur.
In The Next Step I’m going to break the rider’s skills down and work from the ground up. We’re going to get very specific about how you ride your bike. We’ll challenge some conventional wisdom and bring it up to date, and perhaps even add a little of our own into your riding.
The Next Step is about developing your skills to allow you to improve your personal
performance on and with the bike. Whether you’re a 25 or 75 years of age
it doesn’t change. The principals are the same – you choose how you apply them and at what level to use them.
So what’s involved?
- First of all, I’ll go back to basics. Is your posture correct? Are you working with, or against the bike? Can you access controls properly? Does your bike need to be adjusted for your body size and shape?
- How do you interact with the bike? Are you efficient, or is there a delay that could cost you valuable time in an emergency? Do you over react in an emergency?
- Do you know how to brake in corners? Yes, you can do it if you know how! Do you know how to brake properly and efficiently? When was the last time you practiced emergency braking? How hard can you really brake?
- Is your aware of counter steering and how to use it to avoid an obstacle or a hazard? Have you learned how to swerve and brake at the same time?
- How do you interact with the environment? What are your observations and position like? Do you adapt for different environments or just use the same process for everything?
- How do you tackle traffic and junctions? Are you defensive, assertive or aggressive? Are you efficient or indecisive? Are you sure you have it all properly covered?
- How do you tackle the rural environment? Are you aware of potential dangers? Can you read other aspects of the road that could warn of upcoming hazards?
- How do you corner? Can you set up bends early and do you combine bends so they flow from one to the other or do you treat them in isolation? What do you use as reference markers? Are they good, bad or even dangerous? Have you ever run wide in a bend?
- How do you relate to motorway traffic? Lane discipline is all well in fine in an ideal world but real world situations often require real world solutions. Dealing with the common motorway problems and being aware of the potential dangers and how to read them.
- What to do when it all goes wrong?
This course is not aimed at going fast, quite the opposite. I’ll often slow things right down to isolate a problem and fix it as slow speed where we can develop the new skill safely. Staying within your comfort zone is the best way to learn new habits. Pushing the envelope will just force you back onto old ones. Learning to be a better rider is one of the enduring joys of riding a motorcycle, so we won’t rush it!