Saturday, 5 June 2010

Self-Teach Advanced Rider Training

Post . . . 4? in the set

Over the next few posts I'll be adding the 'Games' content currently on the Cooper Bike Training web space.

These allow you to train yourself without the necessity of trailing an advanced motorcycling instructor or observer along behind.

Each 'game' is intended to work on a particular aspect of riding skill, awareness, or planning.

Games for grown-ups!
Playing games isn't just for children. Setting aside the "Football, more important than life or death" theory, there are a number of games you can play to help improve your riding.

Pick and choose from the list below. You will find that some of the games build on earlier exercises, so there are benefits to working through in order.

You may also find it helps to print this out and carry it with you for roadside reference, although there are 'armchair' exercises to do in the comfort of your home!

Spot The Difference
If you've taken any type of rider training, or driver improvement course, you will probably have been told 'Improve your observation'. Well that's easy, isn't it? Here's one way of 're-training your eyes':

Most of the time you 'see' things, particularly detail, with just the very centre of your field of vision. Around the edge, your peripheral vision, is very good for spotting movement. Are you aware of how much you can 'see' around the edge?

Sit comfortably, then look at a mark or point on the wall opposite. You will notice that most of what you see in detail is in a very small area. Without looking away from that point - although you are allowed to blink! - gradually be aware of everything around that point, and move your concentration further out.

When riding, use that peripheral vision to attract your attention to objects that are away from your main 'view'. But remember: where you look is where you go, so if you look at a hazard for too long you'll steer towards it! Look for an escape route instead.

Way out, man
It can be a good idea to have an 'escape route' planned before you need it.

This develops the 'What If?' theme, and rather than just concentrating on, for example, being able to stop within the distance you can see is clear, brings in those situations where you don't have enough time to stop.

So, if that car driver sat waiting in a side turning hasn't actually seen you, what are you going to do if he drives out? Can you stop, or swerve (do you know how to, have you practised?), or will you hit the car whatever you do?

Can you look for a 'soft' option? In 'car' terms this means the front or rear of the car, the crumple zones, rather than the mid-section crash-cage. Is there an escape route which might involve a hedge, rather than hitting a car?

How about jumping? This is likely to be a far better option than hitting the car! See elsewhere in 'Articles' for more on this.

To an extent, this is 'last ditch' stuff - but if you leave it too the last moment you won't have time to look for an option and put it into practice, so it has to be planned before you need it! You have to be a pessimist - expect trouble and plan for it, then be pleasantly surprised if the driver doesn't pull out. But realism says that drivers can, and do, pull out, so have a continuously-developing plan in place.

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