Spring is finally here. It’s time to get out and ride, and a great time to get some exercise. With that in mind, I’ve got a way for you to improve your riding skills, get some physical exercise and to overcome your fears, all at the same time.
I’m assuming you already have a motorcycle, so, all you’ll need is a bicycle. Any kind of bicycle will do. By now you must be thinking, “bicycle, overcoming your fears, what the hell is this guy talking about?” Alright, here’s the story. I’ve noticed in my riders’ skills classes that many of the students have a fear of leaning their motorcycles, especially when it comes to leaning quickly in one direction and transitioning quickly to the other direction; in other words, a left to right or right to left transition. That quick transition is exactly what you’ll need when you have to avoid a vehicle that suddenly pulls out in front of you. The reason people fear this maneuver is because they’re afraid of dropping their motorcycle. So, to avoid that drop, the student’s slow way down, lean as little as possible, and then attempt to steer the bike as slowly as possible from complete left to complete right.
Since they barely have any forward momentum, they wind up putting a foot down and having to abort the maneuver. While training in a parking lot under controlled conditions, this is no big deal. However, out on the road, aborting the maneuver can get you killed. In the course, after three or four tries, most riders realize that a little speed is all that’s needed and that the motorcycle will not fall over as long as you have some forward momentum. It even feels good physically when it’s done properly. The reason it feels good is because they now are maneuvering the bike the way it was designed to be maneuvered.
With that said, here’s where the bicycle comes into play. Since the bicycle has two wheels, one in front of the other, it reacts exactly like a motorcycle. Since the bicycle is so light, you don’t have to worry about dropping it. In other words, with the bicycle, your fear factor should be zero. Having no fear will allow you to try all kinds of maneuvers you wouldn’t try on your motorcycle. Plus, the sensations you’ll get as you lean, turn and swerve the bicycle will be exactly the same as on your motorcycle. When you realize that nothing terrible will happen to you when you turn those handlebars from side to side quickly, and it actually feels good to dip into the turns, you will be able to duplicate the maneuvers on your motorcycle. You’ll then be a better, safer, and more confident rider.
You’ll also understand exactly how it should feel when you get it right and through muscle memory, everything will start to fall into place on the motorcycle. While you can set up specific exercises, (you can download a practice guide free at www.ridelikeapro.com) to start with, just get out on a straight road and start weaving back and forth. Get as aggressive as possible with the weave. Keep you head and eyes up and look straight ahead as you row the handlebars back and forth. That motion will teach you the dip.
Next, try a few U-turns to the left. Aggressively dip the bike to the right side of the road and snap your head and eyes all the way to the left. You can even put a little pressure on the rear brake as you pedal through the U-turn. That’s the same thing you should be doing on your motorcycle. A little pressure on the rear brake while applying power to the rear wheel with the pedal stabilizes the bicycle and the motorcycle. Lean aggressively as you make the U-turn.
Next, try the quick left to right transitions. Think of it as a quick U-turn to the left in half the lane, then a quick transition to the right in the other half of the lane. Again, do it quickly and aggressively. The more you lean in each direction, the better. In 30 minutes you’ll have a much better understanding of the dynamics of a two wheeled vehicle and you’ll be getting some aerobic exercise at the same time. When you transition to your motorcycle, you should be able to repeat the same maneuvers and little by little get more aggressive on the motorcycle—-while at the same time, gain confidence in your abilities and lose your fears.