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Yana Da Silva on a Confidence Builder Course

Yana (AKA Quicksilva on Visordown) has done a couple of courses with me over the years. This is her write up of the first course she did with Survival Skills, a Confidence Builder course where we sorted her basic cornering issues out, which had been troubling her for months since passing her test.

“Decided to go and spend the day with Spin before I ended up decorating a lorry!

“First off clearly I knew even less than I thought I knew because the stuff he showed me about hazards and road signs had just never been on my radar before. Road positioning for better visability of the road ahead was also new.

“But here’s where I now have to accept that whilst the good lord blessed me with a face that won’t scare small children or grown men, he clearly forgot to hand out common sense.

“Basically when following a right hand corner and you’re over on the left you gently countersteer right – the KEY BIT is to STOP applying pressure to the countersteer to STOP you CONTINUING to lean further and therefore [crossing] over to the white line.

“If you apply a gentle pressure it will turn the bike enough to do the job – CLEARLY this is common sense to EVERYONE ELSE so WHY OH WHY has it not registered with me in ten months of riding!!!

“You can imagine Kevin’s face when I was describing how in the middle of a right hand bend I was having to countersteer left to keep the bike to the left —- it was at this point that the penny dropped, even if it had taken all day because I couldn’t articulate exactly what I was doing!!

“My only defence is that i have never understood the dynamics of two wheels (pretty poor i know!!)

“Anyways – tried it out again when I got home and am delighted to say I enjoyed a great ride on some twisties that have always scared me due to my poor road positioning – and this time i never once tried to use left countersteering on a right hand bend!

“So many thanks Spin for the advice and training – it was well worth it and I am very glad that I followed the advice of VDErs on Survival Skills about training to get it sorted.”

Yana worked very hard on the day so I was extremely relieved we finally got to the bottom of it!! It was a case of both of us listening to the other – and then asking the right questions!!

After passing her test, Yana had heard all about countersteering from other riders and read up on the technique, and understood the general idea of pushing the bar in the direction you want to turn (push left, go left / push right go right).

Unfortunately because the dynamics are not often fully explained (or recognised by riders for that matter), she hadn’t fully grasped that there are three stages of countersteering:

  1. the initial push to generate the lean angle

  2. a relaxation of the push but maintaining reduced pressure to hold the line

  3. releasing all pressure to let the bike use it’s self-correcting steering to return to the upright

What she was trying to do was to push all the way through the turn – so the bike leaned beyond the angle she wanted and in consequence turned harder than she intended, and part way through the turn, she was countersteering in the opposite direction to correct the oversteer.

The result was a weird zig-zagging line round the bend that was as disconcerting to watch as it must have been to ride!

And the training paid off – towards the end of the session, she was able to take prompt avoiding action by means of countersteering to dodge a cluckwit rider on a red VFR who was on the wrong side of the road mid-turn… excellent reaction!!

In many ways this was one of the tougher courses I’ve had. It’s the weird problems like this that are really difficult to identify. It reminds me of another woman who’d had an accident on the brakes and lost confidence.

I could see something wasn’t right about her braking, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It took me around 45 minutes of following her and trying to get a view from different positions before I spotted it – she was braking rear first / front second and doing most of the braking on the rear brake. It turned out she’d been braking like that since CBT – she’d clearly mis-heard or mis-understood her CBT instructor and it hadn’t been picked up by either her DAS instructor, or the DSA examiner!

Half an hour’s chat over a cuppa explaining the dynamics of braking half-convinced her she had got the wrong end of the stick, and another 30 minutes spent doing every type of stop from gentle drifts to a halt to full-on emergency stops showed her how to use the brakes effectively in al situations.

It’s incredibly rewarding when a course like those two gives a good result.

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