RIDER SKILLS?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Heatery, May 26, 2020.

  1. Heatery

    Heatery Worry free by mile 3.

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    I was thinking today about rider skills. Now, I didn't just straddle a bike yesterday. I rode off road from age 5 to 13. I got a street bike at 15 and rode another 10 years until a back surgery scared me off while building my life.
    20 years later I couldn't hold out anymore. I bought a scooter to see if I could still ride. The answer being yes, I upgraded to a Tiger 800.

    Now, growing up there were no professional riders on YouTube. No professional riding schools, not even cable TV that carried motorcycle racing. In short, trial and error taught me to trail ride, hill climb, deal with obstacles, loose terrain, rocks, mud, pavement, traffic, and every thing else that terrifies mothers all over the globe. Decades later, I am learning that, some things I learned, and some things were just pure guts and glory.

    Now with the benefit of the internet I am seeing that my skills are not quite as grand as I thought they were back then. I'm probably not alone in that. Even though I rode everywhere and anywhere that wasn't "hard enduro" and I still have many of those skills I wonder if they are enough for a 500lb bike.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I never thought I was on a professional level, but I could hold my own enough to have fun. Now, I am learning about balance, clutch control, break control, traction and all kinds of things I never thought of.

    Being older, softer, wider, weaker and skeletonly compromised, I seem to be completely overwhelmed by the idea of balance. Break control, traction and clutch control are decently developed. Today you see pro and very skilled riders doing wheelies, endo's, slow riding to almost a standstill and all without ever touching the ground!!!

    When I was growing up I rode in any terrain I wanted and never gave balance any thought. I didn't have better balance back then, so why is it holding me back now? I never cared if my feet touched the ground. I didn't care if I waddled through deep mud, ruts, or loose terrain. I had fun and I rarely dropped my bike.

    I know the bike is much larger, and the thought of getting it upright is daunting, but I sit here wondering why I feel inadequate because I can't wheelie, skid turn or have true balance on a 500lb motorcycle. I didn't feel inadequate then. Why do I now? I have no delusions of being a pro rider at 48 years old. I just want to have fun and see a few dirt roads.

    Should I care? Do you?

    Mr. Munch
    #1
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  2. Emmett

    Emmett Been here awhile Supporter

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    Go take an off-road riding course. You'll learn something, and you'll feel more confident.
    #2
  3. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

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    I think its three things;

    Most importantly, what you can do on a 250 lb dirt bike. A hell of a lot more.

    Second, you now sense your fragility. That is a weakness but also a strength potentially.

    Thirdly, the wisdom and judgement to "balance" these factors.

    I'm with you, but in the big scheme of things , if at age 55 I can ride well enough to have fun and not get hurt, I'm happy. Stunts, showing off, extreme jumps - not happening at this stage.
    #3
  4. Gone in 60

    Gone in 60 Been here awhile

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    Heatery brings up a very good point. Now that I'm over 50, as much as I stay healthy, the ravages of time are taking their toll. I've been wanting to take an off-road riding course to hone my skills a bit and to help define limitations that I probably have now, but would never have thought about in my younger days. Searching for classes online, here in California there are a few, but some look like they cater to kids. I'm looking for one that will fit my needs, and provide a bike, since I don't own a bike that's dirt-oriented.
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  5. Daboo

    Daboo Been here awhile

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    Sal has several good points. You're older and wiser. Emmett has a good point. He recommended an off-road course. I was thinking of an MSF Advanced Rider Course. When I took one years ago, it was amazing to me that almost immediately they spotted things I was doing wrong. The one that comes to mind, is how I was looking only a short distance ahead of the bike, not out where I wanted to go.

    I don't like to ride slow. By that, I mean doing things like turning around in the width of a street. I can do it, but I don't like it. And if necessary because there isn't much room, I have no issues with walking the bike through that turn. Could I get better? Sure. I could spend a couple hours in a parking lot making turns in a tighter and tighter area. That also leads to the potential to eventually drop the bike. And I don't like that. So I'm comfortable with my "limitations", and I just enjoy riding. And when I make a tight turn at parking lot speeds, I feel pretty good. :D

    Chris
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  6. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    Probably totally off topic, but...

    Gotta say learning by the seat of the pants when I was young kind of "taught" me how to fall. You know, once you know you're going to fall you learn how to minimize damage. Has helped me probably hundreds of times over the past 40 years, slipping on ice on the porch steps, slipping and falling on my butt while shoveling the drive or when digging while doing landscape work, any number of things. I just learned how to minimize damage. Can't describe how it worked out, just that it's the way it is. Once I know I'm gonna hit the ground it isn't about not falling, it's about how to land and roll or whatever.

    Just did it the other day - did the heave ho on the shovel only to find the decorative grass roots are really dense, shovel doesn't dig in and I'm going down backward. Hit the ground starting to roll backward, did a somersault over. Got up, swore a bit at the grass, dusted off, thanked off roading for the early life lessons and cut that damn grass apart going on with the job. :D
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  7. st3ryder

    st3ryder Long timer

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    Isn't this why there are no old, bold riders? Even if, even if you had a swelled head about your skills and an unflinching desire to rip it up...guess what? Your survival skills have gotten stronger to protect you as you age, so your mind won't write as many cheques as it use to, that the body can't cash. Just ride as best you can. Your limits will be self regulating. :-)
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  8. Big John Sny

    Big John Sny Long timer

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    I learned riding aggressively when I was young. When I was older and needing to get my license in a new location, they had the option of trying to get a bike transported/trailer-ed over to where you would take the test, or alternatively you could take the MSF course and it would count as your riding test. For the simplicity, I decided on MSF course. I remember having the thought, that what i had learned previously was focused on what to do when things went right, and that the MSF course was more focused on what to do when things went wrong and that I could see the value in learning that under controlled conditions. Not that the course was perfect, but it did get me doing more training. I have learned much more doing small displacement racing. I saw Gymkana the other day ad had the thought that would probably give me even more confidence on heavy bikes in tight conditions.
    The more you can train for the extreme in controlled conditions, the less chance of something worse happening in a really bad condition. Just my opinion.
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  9. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

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    Yeah, well early on we learned to " lay er down" on the dirt which meant falling off to the side throwing the bike away and sliding like you were coming into home plate. Sometimes you rolled. Never got hurt doing that. People that stayed on too long broke their collarbone or leg.
    #9
  10. Gone in 60

    Gone in 60 Been here awhile

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    "The more you can train for the extreme in controlled conditions, the less chance of something worse happening in a really bad condition. Just my opinion."

    That is true. On my ride home, there's a stretch of an industrial street that dead-ends, but allows a tight squeeze for a bike to get through. Since it's otherwise unused, I use this street to check my panic stop skills from time to time. Neither of my bikes have ABS, and as I pass a certain spot, I look at my previous skid marks and try to make them shorter on my next practice stop. I thought I'd gotten pretty good at threshold braking on both bikes. Never had a need to use this skill until this February, when someone turned left in front of me a block from my office. She saw me at the last second and panic stopped dead in front of me.

    This is where time starts going very slowly in your mind.
    First thought: Oh crap, not enough room to go around, grab brakes
    Second thought: Use what you've been practicing.. control your stop!
    Third thought: This is going to be close, but I may be able to stop in time...
    Fourth thought: Nope.

    I was able to haul it down enough that I thumped her fender a bit, but didn't fall over, and didn't hurt the bike visibly. It wasn't needed, but thanks to a witness, police showed up and took a report. Out of caution, I had the bike checked over at the expense of the left-turner's insurance. The investigating officer, looking at the scene said "No skid mark. If that bike doesn't have ABS, you did good."
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  11. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    I've found that as I get older, I enjoy riding more. While there are more challenges these days, I've gotten better at mitigating them, have more reasonable expectations about others and myself, I'm more willing to learn from incidents rather than trying to assign blame, and just take things as they are rather than how I think they should be.
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  12. Big John Sny

    Big John Sny Long timer

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    I don't ever consciously think of letting go, but the bike and me tend to separate when I have an unscheduled dismount on the track. I always say that when I am doing it right, my knee is on or near the ground anyways, so it is a lot like sliding into base. The bike slides differently and seems to take off away from me.
    Watched my son pull off a pretty impressive save last race digging his knee in and staying on the gas and pulling out a rear slide that looked way too far gone.
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  13. Johann

    Johann Commuterous Tankslapperous

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    My definition of a good rider (street riding): somebody that is realistic enough to appreciate their limits and rides within them, do that and you don´t need to have wildly advanced levels of machine control. For street riding having the ability to avoid being in a bad situation in the first place is IMO the single most important skill to develop.
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  14. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    That was the one thing I never did learn, even in short track. If I was still on the bike it was about trying to find the way to not "lay 'er down", but rather to ride around or through a situation. If I slid out that was life, but it was never intentional. It just meant I reached the limits of traction in my attempt to deal with corrections in a given situation. Flat out "laying it down" was not an option, it was an unintended occurrence in trying to deal with the situation. I have bailed off once or twice intentionally, but no "lay 'er down". You don't place well in races when you "lay 'er down"... which brings up one of the more interesting Jay Springsteen stories he told.

    Seems Jay Springsteen, well known pro flat tracker, actually learned to not give up. He had gotten into a corner where he slid out and had his XR on the clutch cover, sliding sideways, back wheel off the track. He thought briefly about it and thought why not ride it out and roll on the power as the rear wheel came into contact continuing the slide. He did that and saved it. Slid out on the clutch cover rear wheel off the ground, held the slide lifting the bike until the tire contacted again and continued the slide and onto the straight.
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  15. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    Been there and done that in some circumstances like encountering gravel in a corner and another time when going into a corner too hot. Time does seem to slow down when you've rehearsed actions or the thought of actions. The variety of choices goes through your mind so fast it is amazing, but it happens. It's been described by racers, including Ken Roberts.
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  16. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    When talking about racing, Freddie Spencer once talked about hanging off and knee out. He said riding as hard as the top level riders have to ride if they don't save the bike at least once a lap with that "outrigger" knee they aren't racing at the limits.
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  17. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

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    Never placed, never raced. Managed to crash without injury and that's a skill but not one I'd like to try at this age.
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  18. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore "You ain't black!"

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    Imo you'd be better off bringing your bike to Jennings GP on a Monday (like June 1st, for instance) and doing a track day in the novice group. That's where you really learn how to ride a motorcycle. Who cares if you can't do a u-turn? Go around the block. High-speed cornering. That's the ticket.
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  19. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    The internet gave us forums, and a whole world of armchair heros and experts.

    I ride a big bike on the street. My lack of wheelie or stoppie skills just doesn’t matter.

    Were I a boulder hopping trials rider or a stunt rider, that would be different. But I’m not.

    I may not be great in deep sand. But I am darn good on wet steel plates. I encounter a lot more steel plates than deep sand.

    Be good at your ride. By all means, practice and improve.

    But ride your ride. Not someone else’s.
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  20. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    I did a bunch of track days, and a couple of novice racing classes many years ago. I learned some riding skills I wouldn't have otherwise, but found most of it doesn't translate to street riding.
    #20
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