CLASS Student Feedback: “The fact that Reg is teaching safety on the track as well as techniques for riding safer on street was very appealing to me. When I left CLASS I felt as if I had learned years of information in a two day period. Things really started to make sense to me about body position & smooth throttle control.” – Calvin
By Reg & Gigi Pridmore
Consistency doesn’t come naturally. It’s learned. For instance, students might string together three or four good corners using the correct line, weight shift, and throttle control—but how many of them could do five out of five perfectly? How many of them could do the same corner perfectly three times in a row? It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Discipline is one of the keys to consistency. Being a good racer requires lots of discipline: the discipline to train and stay in race form, the discipline to do what it takes on the racetrack, and the discipline to stay as safe as possible. It takes discipline to hold back rather than try to pass when the stakes are too high. It takes discipline to stay focused and tell your-self: “This is where I need to be, in this gear, and this is where I begin my turn.” You need discipline to hit your shift and brake markers at the same place each lap. When you go beyond these markers, you do so deliberately, as a means to study the effects. In this way discipline provides a foundation from which to experiment—a path to self-knowledge. If you are disciplined enough to know your exact cornering line, then you can begin to experiment with a second or third line. In a race, this provides a means to pass or outwit your competition.
On the street, discipline means positioning yourself in a way that makes you visible to other vehicles at all times. It means always maintaining the right rpms to accelerate out of a bad situation. It means constantly painting a picture of what might happen around the next corner. In a blind right-hander, you need to imagine the biggest, ugliest thing possible waiting for you around that bend. This way, you can meet any challenge that’s ahead.
Focus is another key. Often on the road or track, our thoughts are in the wild blue yonder. We’re thinking about what’s for dinner, family matters, or our jobs. There are times when you can get away with this—but there are times when it will bite you. — © Smooth Riding the Pridmore Way, by Reg Pridmore with Geoff Drake.
The picture at the top of this post is of Miguel Duhamel, turn 9, Laguna Seca Raceway during our April ATS there. Miguel is a true champion, and the epitome of Consistency, Discipline and Focus when he’s riding. Now check out this video (@rnickymouse_ has posted it on Instagram). This is not to embarrass anyone, we don’t know who this rider is and there’s really no identifying him for our purposes, but his example serves a purpose.
As we watch this, we see a few things that are going on here. First, the riders body position is on the high side of the bike — he’s leaned over to the left but his head is over to the right. He’s pushing the bike down under him, losing ground clearance, and a stiff counter steer pushes it down even further so he touches the footpeg down. This in turn startles and distracts him. Then, instead of maintaining focus and looking where he wants to go, he looks at the dirt and heads straight for it.
What could have made a difference, besides looking through the turn and having a “can do” attitude? Those would be a great start by the way.
If his body weight and head were shifted to the inside, more smooth and light with his steering inputs, he would not have had to lean the bike as far because the center of gravity would have been lowered and the physics would have worked better through the turn. If he were more relaxed and focused on his turn, maybe even touching his peg down would not have sent him to the dirt. If he were in a lower gear, maybe the RPM would have had the suspension primed, keeping the motorcycle riding just a little higher. Who knows, maybe he even had his suspension settings too soft.
There are lots of track days now, and maybe this rider has even been to one or more. But he wasn’t working on doing it right, and it caught him out.
So back to Consistency, Discipline and Focus. How will these help this guy out? To start, let’s get rid of the bad habits and exchange them for some good ones. Because what good is consistently doing it wrong? So, now we’ve got our rider consistently in a lower gear, revs in the right spot, head over to the inside of the turn (and body if he’s ready) and looking through the turn. His steering inputs are smooth and relaxed, toes up on the pegs and the bike is not leaned to the absolute max. He’s relaxed and in control riding within his own personal limitations. Doing it consistently through each turn, disciplining himself to choose the correct line, knowing his gear selection and he is focused, ready for anything.
All these things would help any of us to be a better and safer on a motorcycle. We hope this prompts a discussion about being a more consistent, disciplined and focused rider, and that you’ll come on out to the track with CLASS — let’s work on it together!
Reg and Gigi
We’ve got some great track events coming up this Fall! Learn more and register for CLASS at www.classrides.com; 📸 top: Etech Photo
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DISCLAIMER: TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THE AUTHORS ACCEPT NO LIABILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES RESULTING FROM THE USE OF THESE TECHNIQUES OR RELIANCE ON THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THEM. MOTORCYCLE RIDING IS AN INHERENTLY DANGEROUS ACTIVITY, AND YOU USE THESE TECHNIQUES AT YOUR OWN RISK.