In this article we give the microphone (ok, in this case the pen) to some of Ontario's leading Rider Training professionals. Some common themes run through their submissions. First, the best way to learn specific maneouvres is under the direct supervision of a professional trainer. Second, learning and practicing are activities that are ongoing; even Wayne Gretzky practised. And practised. And practised. With coaches. Third, motorcycle riders who took Advanced Rider Training rode away from the course with more confidence, the kind of confidence built on a solid base of greater skill and more knowledge.
So read what these infinitely experienced, dedicated, and focused professionals have to say.
Jennifer Martin of the Georgian College Motorcycle Training Program, had this to say about Rider Training for experienced riders in general, and about the Georgian College experienced rider course in particular:
"Anyone who comes to our Experienced Rider Course shares a love and passion for motorcycling. You can never practice too much. Those motorcyclists who say that they have been riding for so many years and do not need to practice need to listen to world champions in all sports who talk about how much they are, and can, still learn. Whether someone comes to us that has ridden a lot over the years or has taken a hiatus from motorcycling and are getting back into it, advanced rider training can take them to a higher skill level. Everyone needs to ride intelligently. Every time you ride, and really ride correctly, your skill and confidence level will increase – we refresh those skills. The tips that we give make our riders more competent on their own motorcycle.
Feedback from our course is always extremely positive. A sampling:
“I learned a lot. It was a great review and skill builder!”
“A very worthwhile course – I could not believe some of the bad habits I developed over the years!”
“I strongly recommend this course to anyone. I will probably take it, or something similar every year! Thanks for a great day!”
“Thanks, your lessons will make me a much better rider. You will be recommended to others”.
We like to reiterate that those that have already developed some bad habits need to rework their muscle memory. They may not have been in an accident, but if they are riding with some bad habits, unfortunately sometimes it is just a matter of time that they are put in a hazardous situation. We want to stay on top of that."
Donald Broadfoot of the Surviving the Streets Advanced Rider Training Course also makes an airtight case for riders needing to take training courses beyond the initial licencing courses:
"Everyone can become a better rider or driver. Many people complain that other riders lack skill, but have difficulty seeing their own limitations. The Surviving the Streets Course will decrease your personal limitations and increase your confidence. Do you know how your body position can affect your cornering clearance? In my part of the world if I go looking for corners I'll only get 8 of them in a ride.
Imagine a place where you can experience 12 different corners in less than two minutes, where there are no oncoming cars to worry about,and no gravel in the turns. In less than 15 minutes I can ride over 100 corners and practise, practise, practise on the closed course.
We also teach emergency swerve and emergency braking techniques all in a closed course environment. The college licencing courses are just the first step. The only way to be comfortable riding a corner at highway speed is to practise cornering at highway speed, for which a parking lot environment does not allow. We have had riders with 40 years experience come away from this course with significantly improved skills, and smiles from ear to ear. Riders with limited experience are also served well as they can learn proper technique before bad habits become ingrained.
You don't learn all there is to know in a sport without coaching, and riding a motorcycle is no different. Make riding more fun when you understand the mechanics of maneouvering your ride."
"Here are a number of comments made by students after having taken our "Pro" (Professional Rider Training Course):
"Thanks for teaching this course- It saves lives!!!" by DV
"Most significant skill or thing that I learned: MORE CONFIDENCE" by HL
"Most significant skill or thing that I learned: CORNERING" by NJ
"Most significant skill or thing that I learned: Slow speed" by AP
"Increased my ability to handle my bike. Made me feel comfortable when I was nervous. Thank you so much!" by LC
"Confidence in my handling of the bike" by CC
From my perspective there is nothing worse than not refreshing the skills needed to ride a motorcycle. Its an ongoing learning experience. Any time that you spend being coached, from your comfort zone, incrementally having the bar set higher and higher you become a more skilled and safer rider."
Sharron St-Croix of the Rider Training Institute has been a mainstay of the Ontario rider training world as well. See what she says about Advanced Rider Training:
"Rider Training Institute's Technical course is designed for students to become more comfortable on their own motorcycle.
Our students range from the newly licensed M2 rider, to the rider who has 30 years experience, to the rider who is coming off a 20 year hiatus. No matter what your skill level is, or what type of motorcycle/scooter you ride, everyone will leave with something new in their riding repertoire.
The sign of a skilled rider is not someone who can ride fast, rather a rider who can control their bike at slow speeds. RTI stresses the importance of this skill throughout the one day course. The day starts with slow speed control riding in keyhole and clover leaf patterns emphasizing the use of the rear brake and clutch control. As the morning progresses riders practice higher speed braking exercises. In the afternoon constant higher speed turns are introduced, followed by emergency manoeuvres. The day wraps up with the riders feeling much more confident in their abilities on their bike and they understand how their machine will react in everyday riding situations.
Repeat students use this course as a Springtime refresher and some take advantage of the supervised training to get use to a new motorcycle."
An excellent article in the August 2011 issue of Motorcycle Mojo Magazine describes the Experienced Rider Training Symposium that took place near Cayuga, Ontario at Toronto Motorsport Park in May 2011. This inside look at trainers from all over the world sharing their knowledge and expertise out on the pavement is a must read for every motorcycle rider. Ken Morgan of the Canadian Safety Council hosts the event, and the article shows that Canada is easily one of the most progressive and active countries in the rider training sphere. Ontario motorcycle riders can be proud of this distinction and, more importantly, should take advantage of this fantastic resource.