9 Riding Skills Teach Lessons on Personal Power
Proficiency and confidence go hand in hand with learning how to access personal power. No matter what skill you’re learning, developing it takes patience, practice and persistence. Every time you’re faced with a new challenge, there’ll be a learning curve as you discover increasing depths of power. The outcome is greater confidence, advanced skills and higher effectiveness.
When learning to ride a motorcycle, you begin with the basics: balancing and braking. Once those are mastered, it’s time for new lessons, each building on the skills of the last. Skills can determine how much power you use, but they don’t decide how much is there.
You’re not ready to venture into freeway traffic or mountain switchbacks just yet though. There are more lessons to learn, each one pushing a comfort zone while discovering more of the bike’s power and teaching you more about your own. As you advance, the previous lessons become a way of life.
9 riding skills teach lessons on personal power
- Pushing. When you’re pushing your motorcycle accessing none of it’s engine power, as happens when moving it in your garage or parking spot, it can be a chore. Accessing its power by starting it, putting it in first gear and using good clutch and throttle control makes life easier. It’s a simple life lesson. There’s no point struggling when all you have to do is tap into a little of your power.
- Throttle control. This is the key to how much power you access. Learning to use it smoothly and coordinate with other controls keeps you in control. Novices are often (thankfully) timid when learning how to use it, but there comes a time when you’ve got to get moving. There are frightening times when keeping the throttle on and your eyes focused on where you want to go is the only way you’re going to make it.
- U-turn. A sharp U-turn requires coordination of eyes, clutch, throttle and rear brake – while keeping both feet on the pegs. Trust the power that’s there. The bike can easily do it, but lack of confidence in your own ability gets in the way. Sometimes in life we head off in the wrong direction and have to turn around and do something differently. There’s no shame. Turning around before you get too far down the wrong Road saves energy and gets you going on your way sooner.
- Braking. You need to know how to brake. Whether there’s a sign telling you to stop or slow down, or you decide it’s the best option given a change in your Road, braking keeps you from harm. The power is still there, but there is a reason you need to slow down.
- Swerving. Although it’s not always possible, swerving around an obstacle is usually preferable to stopping. You don’t get run over by the truck behind you, and you maintain momentum towards your destination. Keep your eyes on where you want to go and use the power that’s there to get you around and away from trouble. Slowing down to look at it risks you getting embroiled in it.
- Rear wheel skid. One reason a rear-wheel skid occurs is that you’ve panicked and applied too much pressure too quickly. Your rear wheel loses traction and you feel out of control as the bike fishtails under you. There are times in life when you react inappropriately, leading you to feel overwhelmed and out of control. Ease up the pressure on yourself, keep your eyes where you want to go; you can steer through without crashing.
- Shifting. It’s a long way around the block if you only use first gear. Knowing how and when to upshift and downshift to adjust for changing conditions is a critical skill. Knowing how to adjust your own power to adapt to change is an important life skill.
- Turning. Navigating corners safely at speed requires you to make specific decisions, including repositioning your body, judging your entry speed accurately, counter steering and leaning the bike. Use the power of the bike to propel you safely and smoothly through curves. You can’t see what’s around the corner so judge your speed and ability to respond accordingly.
- Slow speed corner. It’s hard to slow down in life, and the temptation is to use the same techniques as when you’re moving quickly. Use the front brake on a slow speed turn and you’re likely to kiss the pavement. It’s too powerful for what you’re doing. Learn to adapt to the situation and use your power wisely.
Tests of faith and challenges to power occur in some form, every time you push your limits or rise to a new level of awareness. Whether you’re a novice or experienced, the principles are the same. The difficulty level just increases.
Learn the skills and trust your power. There’s more there than you’ll ever use. Not using it is self-sabotage and you risk getting stuck or hurt.