Spring marks the unofficial arrival of the new riding season. However, there are lucky riders in the southern states who get to ride all year long. For the rest of us three-season riders, this time of year is very exciting. Winter has meant our motorcycles have been parked for months.
Now our winter dreams of long rides in the sunshine beckon us to the roads. Most experienced riders know a motorcycle that has sat idle for months needs a thorough inspection and possibly some service before riding. But what about the person at the controls? Our riding skills need to be refreshed, too.
A well-marked and empty parking lot is the best place to practice. Check schools and colleges, shopping centers, and large businesses—all likely have suitable paved parking lots for practice. However, always ask permission when using private property.
Remember to watch for surface hazards such as oil spills, concrete curbs, and potholes. Also be aware of light poles and other structures. The ideal location would be a site used to teach motorcycle safety courses.
The parking space markings can help you determine distances to measure your practice and progress. A few water bottles can be used as markers to lay out your practice lanes, too. Remember to take them with you at the end—it’s nice to leave the parking lot cleaner than you found it.
There are three major areas of riding skills that are critical to practice: braking, turning, and swerving. Separately or in combination, these skills are used to avoid hazards and maneuver your motorcycle through traffic on a daily basis.
You might think braking is a simple concept, but there are variables to consider. Practice all types of braking by performing these actions:
Next up on the to-do list is to practice your motorcycle turning skills. Allow for some room, watch for any traffic, and perform the following:
3-Obstacle avoidance and swerving
No matter where you ride, there’s a chance there will be something in the road you want to avoid, or a reason to take evasive action. That’s why it’s important to practice the following:
Skills that you should practice are based on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) rider education courses. If you haven’t taken a MSF-certified basic rider education course, it’s definitely something to consider. You’ll learn a lot of great riding skills and strategies in these courses.
The experienced rider course is a great way to sharpen your skills and learn updated information. Rider education classes also will help you better structure your ongoing rider skills practice sessions.
It’s really true: on a motorcycle, the more you know, the better it gets. Schedule a class now, as courses fill up quickly as the weather improves.
The MSF also offers a wonderful online resource for riders of any skill level.
Till next time, ride safe!