by Liz Jansen
Investing in a motorcycle skills course every year is an investment in your safety, wellbeing and overall riding experience. Whether you choose the forest and fields for off-road riding, the parking lot for advanced rider training or the racetrack for fast skills isn’t as important as getting out there and doing something to sharpen your skills.
- Remove rust. Anything, including skills, gets rusty when it’s not used. Brush the rust off and refresh your skills after a prolonged absence from riding. After a month or two of idle time, spring is an ideal time to take a course. Don’t wait too long to sign up though. Many wise riders are already signed up and space may be limited.
- Learn new techniques. Completing the basic rider course is just the beginning. Best-practice organizations are continuously upgrading their programs, integrating new concepts and introducing new ways to make transfer of learning more effective.
- Get to know your new bike. Although there’s a lot of common ground, there are significant differences between bikes, which affect how you handle them. Models and styles vary in weight, horsepower, torque, weight distribution, braking, and suspension. Taking a course where you can learn on your own bike is a great way to reduce your learning curve and increase your safety.
- Increase proficiency. Qualified instructors know what to look for and how to coach you. Push your limits and increase your skills under the guidance of an instructor, rather than expecting that those skills will materialize at the moment you need them.
- Develop muscle memory. You’re developing it all the time, whether you know it or not, so make it right. There’s so much to learn in a course and with time, it’s easy to forget details and acquire unsafe practices. Use the opportunity of a course to have your skills assessed and recalibrated as necessary. Then practice OFTEN to develop the right kind of memory. Often you don’t have a lot of time to react to a hazard and you’ll need to depend on muscle memory as a survival skill.
- Gain awareness. Taking a course is a good way to refresh your knowledge of the unique hazards motorcyclists face, and how to handle them with poise and aplomb.
- Meet other riders. Riders are always looking for others with similar interests, riding preferences and skill levels. Where better to meet them than at a course that appeals to your interests?
Whether you’re riding year round or like many of us, have an enforced hiatus for a few months, take a recognized course of some sort during the year. Your friends and family with thank you. Most of all, you’re worth it!