This past weekend I had the pleasure of taking part in a Ride Forever Silver course.
Having thoroughly enjoyed my Bronze course in Auckland a couple of years ago, I was genuinely really excited about getting stuck into the ‘intermediate’ step of the Ride Forever training programme. I picked up a brand new Kawasaki Ninja 400 for the day and headed out to Mike Pero Motorsport Park for a 9am start on Saturday.
The day started with a rego and WOF check on the bikes before we headed into the classroom for some theory. Not to worry, nothing too heavy and videos were included!
Trainer, Dan Ornsby, covered off the three factors which are important while riding – the bike, the rider and the environment. Our group (comprised of five riders doing the course + the instructor) engaged in a fairly lengthy discussion about line selection around corners. Being a motorcycle racer, I’m used to having the whole track to myself, which produces a very different ‘ideal line’ to what is best on the roads. As a result from doing the Ride Forever training, I now definitely understand the value in selecting a line which can me help avoid mistakes from other road-users. The crew also had a good laugh at my terminology, using the words ‘apex’, ‘pole line’ and ‘trail braking’ far too frequently.
This is probably a good time to point out that I am not a daily road rider. A ‘fair weather’ rider some would label it. Although I have raced motorcycles since I was six years old and even worked in a motorcycle shop, my current busy schedule sees me driving a car full of gym gear or the race van to work each day. I do thoroughly enjoy road riding however, much more so than I ever expected given the speed limits on public roads!
After our classroom session, we completed a quick look over our motorcycles checking the basics such as tire pressures, chain tension and brake pad thickness. We then hit the road and put into practise some of the skills we had just learned. The two-way intercoms which Duncan (2 Drive Safe) had fitted to our helmets, allowed us to talk back and forth while on the road. Dan frequently reminded me to do head checks as we headed out to Tai Tapu for a lunch break.
After lunch we hit the road again, stopping another 15 minutes up the track to practise some urgent stops. This involved coming to a stop as quick as possible by squeezing both brakes in a controlled manner. A handy tool to develop for obvious reasons. The sooner we can stop when something unexpected occurs, the better!
Once everyone ran through the exercise a couple of times we hit the road again, this time tackling the tight, twisty turns on the way to Akaroa. It would be fair to say this was my favourite part of the day. Everyone took a turn at the front and practised the line selection we had talked about earlier, along with utilising some visual skills and hazard identification.
The day flew by and we had time for just one more stop on the way home for a cold drink. It was great to chat together about what we had observed as the day went on. By now I was feeling fairly fatigued and a cheeky ice cream went down a treat!
Once back at Mike Pero Motorsport Park just before 5pm, we had a quick de-brief of the days learnings before being presented a certificate in recognition of completing the Silver course. The great thing about these certificates is that they can be used to get $200 cashback on your motorcycle registration if you complete two (a silver and a gold) courses within a year. They can also be presented to Insurance companies who will give discounted levy’s to participants of the Ride Forever courses.
Find out more about the cashback scheme here: https://www.rideforever.co.nz/coaching/motorcycle-rego-cashback-programme/
More information about Ride Forever training benefits here: https://www.rideforever.co.nz/news-and-reviews/
Overall, not only did I learn and practise some great riding techniques, the day was also bloody good fun! Over the next few months I will be signing up for my CBTA full license test and then getting on a Gold course as soon as possible.
See you out there on the roads!
My top 5 favourite things about the day:
1) Meeting new people over a mutual passion
2) The urgent stopping drill. Permission to test the ABS? Yes please!
3) Riding behind the instructor and being able to absorb ‘best practise’. I actually enjoyed seeing an example of good, safe riding which I can assure you wasn’t slow in the twisty bits!
4) Learning new ideas and tricks. E.g. using the rear brake and therefore activating the brake light, rather than just using the engine braking to reduce speed, clearly shows other road users that you are slowing down.
5) The two way intercom allowing for instant feedback while riding, and providing great banter amongst the group!