Spring marks the arrival of the new riding season. There are lucky riders in southern states who get to ride all year long, but for the rest of us three-season riders, this time of year is exciting!
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. Be aware of light poles and other structures.
Of course the ideal location would be a site used to teach motorcycle safety courses, but not everyone has one nearby.
The parking space markings can help you determine distances to measure your practice and progress. Water bottles or cones (if you have some handy) can be used as markers to lay out your practice lanes, too. Just remember to take any markers you used with you at the end!
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.
Braking is a simple concept, but there are variables to consider. Practice all types of braking by performing these actions:
Normal stop in a straight line
Quick stop in a straight line
Normal stop on a curve
Quick stop on a curve
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:
Sharp turns without stopping
Sharp turns from a stop
No matter where you ride, there’s a chance there will be something in the road that you want to avoid, or a reason to take quick, evasive action. That’s why it’s important to practice the following:
Swerving around obstacles
These 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, and meet fellow riders in your area.
The experienced rider course is a great way to sharpen your skills and learn updated information. The MSF also offers a wonderful online resource for riders of any skill level.
On a motorcycle, the more you know, the better the ride gets. Schedule a class now, as courses fill up quickly.
Till next time, ride safe!
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*Data accuracy is subject to this article's publication date.