There was a very clear moment, back in the 70’s, when I realized that others weren’t experiencing the same joys of riding I was. I honestly felt that they were being robbed. Not wanting to be a snob about it, I earnestly thought: “Come on, don’t you see what you’re missing here? You’ve got to push it some. You’ve got to challenge yourself. You’ve got to taste some danger. You’ve got to forget about the cool accessories on the bike, just find the passion button and push it. You aren’t a mushroom digesting the seat, ride that thing!” I wanted to instantly transfer to them the passions of my world, my impressions and senses of riding. What can I say, I was naïve.
The obvious solution was to teach them how to ride. Big problem. You couldn’t just do a Vulcan Mind-Meld and transfer all of your touchy feely impressions of what it should or should not feel like. It’s hard to relate what the curtain of red mist creates in you when it takes over your senses. There weren’t even accurate descriptions in English for either the mistakes or correct procedures. Riders were smooth or choppy; brave or chicken; they had rider DNA genes or were squids. “Ride more and you’ll improve.” that same old vague advice, used commonly enough, was boring and useless to anyone smart enough to know they could be better.
I figured that there were two parts to my job. First,figure out how to ride then pass it on. Second, give riders an environment that would allow them to discover they had wings and really could fly; to ride for themselves and no other reason. That required getting them out of the urban and two lane jungles and into some kind of riding paradise.
Riders like to hear stories of riding adventures. They desire to grasp a piece of that potential, even if only vicariously. “Near misses”, “got my knee down”. Daring feats for the soldiers of fortune in an urban jungle, war-zone kind of stuff: “ran from the cops”, “smoked the geek in a Porsche”. That sort of thing. The problem was those were pretty much all connected to street riding. Solution: Even for riders with no interest in getting a knee down, only one place fit that riding paradise description, The Track.
On the education side of things, the “just ride and you’ll improve” crowd would believe I’m daft to say there are 52 points that affect your riding position; up to 72 things that riders tend to notice when they corner a motorcycle; that there are 18 definable senses which we rely on when we ride, and that there are 37 laws to how you approach a corner. They would honestly think I’m being quite pedantic about it all. Well, everyone knew the earth was flat for thousands of years.
Shaping riding into an integrated package of practical skills and drills which produce quantifiable good results seemed the right way to go. What really began to blow my skirt up was figuring out and testing things to see if they really worked to improve riding. I was so excited when I came up with my first riding drills in the early 80’s I nearly peed myself.
Once a rider has enough savvy about the core technical skills it opens many doors. But students still had problems and uncertainty. Later in the 90’s I began to understand and catalog the 8 instinctual “Survival Reactions” that impeded their abilities and that discovery opened up even more avenues to approach riding. Now, we have 30 well defined technical points of riding and each can be drilled or coached with anyone who rides.
Nothing matches the feeling of working with a world class rider and watching them improve by drilling and coaching them on the very same technical skills that are lacking in the average rider. And that’s the whole point, these skills are understandable, they can be practiced, they provide a solid foundation. They are vital to success and they do build confidence and control at all levels and for all purposes that riders ride. Even somewhat misguided training is better than no training at all. And if it’s done at the track, your opportunity for success is immeasurably improved.
That urge I had, way back when, has unfolded into this amazing array of techniques. The greatest part for me has been figuring them out, writing them down and sharing them. Start planning now to get out to the track.
Keith Code, 2011, all rights reserved.