Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Will Never Get Good Enough at Riding a Motorcycle

We're getting our gear packed up to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Beginner Rider Course (BRC) Saturday and Sunday. It's an introductory class to teach you how to ride a motorcycle, so that you can get that endorsement on your driver's license.

But wait, don't we already have the endorsement?

Yes we do, but neither of us ever finished the BRC when we took it. Tesla sprained her wrist manhandling a stiff clutch and missed the second day, and I... well, I overslept on my second day. In both cases we went to the DMV and passed their riding test instead, and got our endorsement. So why go back to the BRC? For several reasons, actually.

Tesla wants to get some practice with a clutch, since her scooter has a centrifugal clutch (IE: she doesn't have anything to do with it working). She's planning on buying a big motorcycle, and doesn't want to have her clutch and throttle mistakes be made on her own bike! I'm taking it to get some clutch practice as well, and also to learn all the cool stuff they focus on during Day 2, like how to safely run over a 2x4. However those aren't the core reason we're taking the class. The main reason we're taking the class is this:

You will never get good enough at riding a motorcycle, but you can get better.

In other words, the process of learning doesn't and shouldn't stop once you have your license. Since I started riding scooters a few years ago I've taken the BRC (well, part of it), read all the way through Proficient Motorcycling, More Proficient Motorcycling and Total Control multiple times, watched Twist of the Wrist II several times, done tons of reading on the Internet about riding techniques, and run practice drills on my own to try out new ideas. And that's just for riding a scooter! Of course the same techniques used on a scooter translate over almost perfectly to larger bikes, but the point is that I did all that reading and research because I think that I can always work to be a better rider. In addition, I believe that as a better and more educated rider I get more enjoyment out of the riding than I did when I wasn't so educated. On my scooter I've gone through corners faster than bikes ten times my size, rode on routes other motorcycles hesitate to approach, and in weather no one else wanted to attempt. I did these things not because I'm an amazing rider, but because I'm an okay rider who's practiced and educated myself so much that my level of "okay" has gone up over time. I'm still no pro, but I feel comfortable doing things I would have walked away from a couple years ago. I'm not good enough, but I am better.

If you're a rider who's been riding for two days or twenty years, I encourage you to check out some of the books and videos listed above, and to deepen your education about riding. You may find that you too learn how cool it is to push your knowledge and technique a little further every year. We'll never be Valentino Rossi, but we can find new enjoyment out of pushing ourselves to a higher level of "better". And who knows, maybe in a few years I will be scraping my knee around racetrack corners... on my scooter. :)

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