Practice What you Preach


The New York International Motorcycle Show has come and gone. If you missed it, it was held in December at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. Most of the major motorcycle manufacturers were there, displaying their new models. Bike buyers will have lots of new choices this year! We are now well into winter and the longing to ride has already set in. While some may choose other activities such as skiing and snowmobiling to keep active in the outdoors, others will simply dream of the first warm spring day when they can take their machine out for a ride.

The motorcycle show is always interesting. I represented the Big Apple Motorcycle School at our booth and got a chance to talk to many existing and prospective motorcyclists. A couple of things stuck out for me this year. One was that interest in motorcycles has never seemed to be higher. There was real excitement at the show about not just the new models but the desire to be riding. Enthusiasts seem to want to travel and explore. They are interested in destinations but also in the experience, people, history, culture and the feeling of moving through the environment.

The other thing that I observed at the show was the lack of desire for additional training from existing riders. Many riders feel that they know how to ride and don’t think they could benefit from additional education. That’s unfortunate. Some of these people have never had any formal rider training and don’t realize what it is or how it can help them. Others may have taken a beginning riding course and continued to ride for years. They may have developed habits that may be keeping them from getting to the next level as a rider. They may also have been lucky enough to not get themselves into situations which required an immediate and effective response.

As motorcyclists, we are challenged every day by our riding environment. Other road users, the roadway and the weather are the primary hazards we face. To avoid hazards, we utilize our motorcycle’s capabilities and limitations, our riding skills and our available time and space cushion. In any circumstance where we are threatened and need to react quickly we tend to revert to our learned and practiced response. If we’ve never practiced hazard avoidance skills like swerving and quick stops then our reaction in the face of danger is unknown and may contribute to a crash.

With proper training and practice, motorcyclists can lessen the risks they take. Learning to look far ahead to search for hazards, identify them early and predict what will happen gives you more time to decide what to do and execute your plan of avoidance. Knowing and practicing how to use your brakes in a progressive manner to stop quickly or how to swerve around an obstacle can literally save your life. These are perishable skills and may be lost if not practiced regularly.

So if you are really serious about motorcycling and consider yourself a safe rider but have never taken formal training, maybe this should be the year that you take it to the next level. Take an experienced rider course and discover what additional small things you might do to improve your safety margin. You will also get to practice the important hazard avoidance techniques to help hone your skills. Practice what you preach, continue to improve and be a lifelong learner. It can only help bring more safety and fun to your travels. Ride safe!

By George Tranos

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