It’s good to learn and it’s never too late.
Sometimes it’s just not fair. Well, that’s how it seems. I’m following my hubby down some twisty roads in the winter season and he’s like a whippet on speed. He’s off. He’s at one with his bike, his BMW Adventure. Nothing seems to bother him, he just makes lovely, smooth, effortless progress. He makes that big lump of a bike, dance.
It’s a scunner, isn’t it?
The words (which my other half doesn’t like, so, sorry Edward) ‘suck it up, buttercup’ spring to mind. In comparison, I have been riding my motorbike for a nano-second. He’s been on a bike forever. He’s always had a brilliant sense of balance, and as a young child didn’t even have to bother with stabilisers on his first pedal cycle. He was off; his father standing there, mouth hanging open, stabilisers in hand, totally useless and just not required, the stabilisers, that is!
That’s how it feels when I ride with him. I feel humbled. It never, ever fails to remind me that I still have so much to learn about motorcycling. One thing’s for certain though, I’m not scared to ask. The difference is, I don’t always ask Ed! Everyone knows, (or if you don’t know, you jolly well should) not to ask your other half for advice especially not for driving or riding. You might not like what’s said.
I was at a dinner party not so long ago, and in our company were some pretty talented riders; all of whom know what IPSGA stands for and are also able to explain the physics behind cornering a motorbike. Given that IPSGA (Information, Position, Speed, Gear and Acceleration) is at the root of both advanced riding and driving. As passengers in a car with their respective wives, it must be a nightmare. For their wives. Apparently, the stock question is generally, “Darling, are you receptive to feedback today?” You can imagine the response. The second word would normally be along the lines of, “….. OFF!” The message is clear, or it should be; just don’t go there. Ever.
So, I have a challenging road. I have complete and utter respect for it because it’s technically difficult and also quite dangerous. I can count on one hand the number of times I have ridden this road in the dry. It’s the A816 between Oban and Lochgilphead. It’s a stoater of a road. Twisties galore. It’s a real test of skill, observation and reading the limit point of vision. I don’t ride it swiftly in the slightest, I ride it cautiously. Edward? He just gets on with it.
On a couple of occasions, I have had skittery moments, so this winter, I’ve been attempting to improve my riding / cornering techniques so I am smoother and more progressive in the less than ideal conditions. All credit to Ed though, he started to explain how he tackles corners… I obviously wasn’t very receptive…. he stopped pretty quickly and said, “Ask Rory.”
I did. The lifelong journey of learning that I will always be on, started with Ed giving me advice; until he realised I wasn’t ‘receptive’ any more. It’s not a good thing really, giving your wife motorcycling instruction. It was heading down hill. Fast.
That’s where ‘enhancing’ your riding is so important. It’s not only a skill for life, but also an opportunity to keep learning and keep improving. You gain a mentor and if you are very, very lucky they will help you to keep learning, keep improving and unselfishly continue giving tips and guidance. I consider myself to be in the very, very lucky group. I hope that the Associates I take through their Skill for Life will also want to keep learning and better their abilities.
So, my cornering? I have various techniques that I have been working on over the winter. The main thing though, isn’t necessarily about the techniques that have been passed on, it’s being relaxed. If you’re relaxed, then trying out different cornering techniques becomes amazing fun. Now it seems I am much better riding in damp conditions, but I know there’s still room for improvement.