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Review of this week’s course by Sophie

It’s always good to get feedback from training (good or bad, as it happens – if I get something negative I try to see if it’s possible to change what I do), but here’s a  nice write-up by Sophie after taking the Performance:BENDS course earlier in the week..

As Sophie mentions, she’d done some training with me before. The first was a short two hour session that really just ensured she could go home steering (see what she says about grass tracking!) and negotiating corners and junctions. The second was an introductory session in France, which covered the basics of cornering along with riding on the wrong side of the road.

As with all my training course, the first few minutes incorporated an assessment to see her current standard, and it was good to see how much she’d been able to incorporate the previous sessions into herr riding – particularly the crisp, positive steering… the contrast between the first session all those months ago when she didn’t know about countersteering and how Sophie was flicking the bike into turns and putting it exactly where she wanted was quite remarkable!

Anyway – over to Sophie:

“I had a good day out with Kevin yesterday working on bends, reading the roads, dangers, stopping techniques (in an emergency kinda way) and general everyday biking stuff many of us take for granted. Most riders probably don’t consider they need tuition or advice once they have passed their test and with the costs involved in doing the tests now, it can be an expense that many people just can’t accommodate. However, it is definitely something beneficial that members could consider for themselves.

I passed my test more than 20 years’ ago, jumped on a 125, passed my theory and practical within 5 days, rode an RD350 for less than a month I think and then jumped on a brand new Ducati 748. I had probably ridden less than 1000 miles all in and I still wonder to this day how I didn’t kill myself.

Tests these days are much harder, traffic is worse, congestion, irate and ignorant drivers, twisty, broken up roads, low speed limits and the need to get everywhere yesterday are all things we deal with in everyday life.

I did some training with Kevin when I returned to biking this time last year and with the help of Miketiger [forum manager where I first ‘met’ Sophie], found and purchased my SV650. I joined up with KSB [] to refamiliarise myself with biking, find friendly bikers to go out riding with as after 12 years of not riding at all, I felt a little out of my depth. I dropped the bike the day I got it. That didn’t help!

I did some motorcross over a grass verge on the way to the training session and knew then that I had made the right decision to seek help!! It was the making of me really as I learned how to countersteer and not use physical strength and energy to move the bike around. Suddenly it was fun to ride out again and nice not to find myself in a self induced coma upon return home, due to being utterly exhausted.

I also did a training day in France last year with Amber and Kevin was good here too, I would not have had the confidence to go straight over to Europe and do a rideout without having some support from somewhere first or on the day. Although I think both myself and Amber were nervous on the day!!! As a result I am going on Steve King’s Original French Frenzy [a KSB forum rideout to France] next week and looking forward to it this time, rather than being sick with nerves!

Yesterday, the progress I made was again, good (apparently!). Having only been back to riding just over a year (some months of which was too damn cold to ride!) I feel that I have made some real difference to my own riding and enjoyment.

So, for any newbies who are in need of a little confidence boosting or wish to know how to enjoy biking rather than it being a means from A-B….get in touch. Similarly, oldies and experienced riders can probably still learn something too……….. Just a thought.

V glad you enjoyed the day y’day too… the big changes to your riding in corners on the course were:

1) improving your focus on what to look for – you already mostly knew ‘what’, it was just a case of fine-tuning how and where you looked, and how you interpreted the information about the road ahead 2) raising the bar in terms of how far ahead you were looking and planning. Once you had a clearer idea of where to pick up the vital info about the bend, you automatically started looking for it further ahead. That was obvious on the final ride back to Rye where you were on an unfamiliar road and reacting to hazards pretty much as they became visible as you came out of a bend, often before I could actually see them myself from that bit further behind you 3) taking away the worry about “can I slow down if I approach this bend too fast?”. After working on reading the corners we then practicing braking into corners. That doesn’t mean you have to do it on every bend, but if you know you CAN, you won’t roll off the throttle too far out “just in case”… and that made a big difference to the progress on that final ride.

Put that all together and you were no quicker IN the bends (and didn’t need to be – the right speed for any bend is still “can I stop in the distance I can see ahead?) but carried the speed for longer on the straights and that’s what made the really big difference.

An excellent and enjoyable session for both of us… all I need to remember now is that it takes 50+ minutes to get to Rye from Canterbury, not the 30-odd minutes it used to – I was 25 mins late meeting Sophie in the morning!

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