Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a training junkie. I’ve taken all four levels of California Superbike School, attended the Yamaha off-road riding academy in mid-Wales, learned to wheelie under the tuition of ex-stunt rider Paul Millhouse and, naturally, completed Bronze, Silver and Gold Ride Forever courses. And still I search for more. Next will probably be Adventure bike training.
Why attend so many courses? Two reasons, basically. The first happens during training itself: it’s simply the most fun, rewarding and stimulating day imaginable. I’m riding a motorcycle, which is a great start. I’m concentrating hard, learning a new skill or taking a skill to a higher level, whilst enjoying the company of like-minded fellow riders. And at the end of the day, exhausted and exhilarated, I feel an enormous sense of achievement.
The gift that keeps on giving
So any day training is a great day out. But the benefits don’t end there. Having acquired a new skill, or a new level of skill, your riding improves. Whenever my riding has improved, I enjoy riding more. So I get more out of it every time I ride. (Conversely, whenever my riding has taken a step backwards, say after an off, say, or a longish break, I feel like I’m riding like a chump and don’t enjoy it so much). The feeling becomes self sustaining: the more you enjoy riding, the more you want to do it. And with a catalogue of techniques and training to call on, you apply them and back comes the feelings of enjoyment and accomplishment. It’s a high, and I can't get enough of it.
The bad old days
It wasn't always like this. When I was a teenager learning to ride on the road, there was no training at all. Car drivers could, and in the UK usually did, go out with an instructor. But on a motorcycle, where you're many times more likely to crash, get injured or die: nothing. You learned from your mistakes. And, as I have subsequently learned, you sometimes learn mistakes. Also, as for the adage that ‘practice makes perfect’, that too can mean you practise a bad riding technique until you do it perfectly.
A cornucopia of coaching
The contrast with today couldn't be more stark. The change might have started humbly, with a Basic Handling Skills test and attendant coaching as part of the licence regime. But, my, how it’s grown. Look at any of the training providers contracted to Ride Forever and you’ll see the variety of additional courses they offer. Track training days, personalised tuition, gravel-road riding, courses for scooters, cruisers, adventure bike riders, the choice is immense.
Undertaking any kind of motorcycle training, so long as it’s delivered by experts, can help your riding. It will make you focus on the inputs you apply to the machine and their effects. It can sharpen your senses, improve machine control and enhance awareness of important things like vision, stability, grip, weight transfer and body position. Plus, training will improve your confidence, which is nearly always a good thing (overconfidence excepted).
And, while all of these courses represent great value for money, it does highlight what an irresistibly good deal Ride Forever training gives you.
Top training, bottom dollar
The Ride Forever courses have been designed to give the best all-round tuition for riders who spend most time on the road. And road riding is about as complicated and challenging as it gets. For a start, you’re always sharing the road with other users, sometimes a lot of them and sometimes they do unexpected things. Unlike ripping round a track, you never know what’s around the corner even when you know it like the back of your hand. Everything's changing, all of the time, and coping with that is a monumental task. So, in road-orientated training, the emphasis is on strategies and skills that will let you deal with the unexpected.
Ride Forever coaching is delivered by top instructors and they cover all skill and experience levels, from the scooter-riding newbie to expert riders who want to raise the bar even higher. Best of all, they’re massively subsidised by ACC. So a full day's Bronze course costs just $20. Then, depending on your insurer, you may be able to get the course cost or even $50 knocked off your insurance. Effectively, you're being paid to do it! And it’s a hell of a way to recoup the rego money you pay to ACC. Not that this has any effect on the quality of training you’re getting. Rigorously selected, the instructors get paid as much to do a Ride Forever course as anything else. There’s no lack of motivation or ‘second-best’ treatment. You’re getting training worth upwards of $250.
Lock it in
With value like that, there’s no reason not to do at least one Ride Forever course. If you then decide it’s not for you, fine: it hasn't exactly cost much. Or maybe you’ll err towards some other kind of training: for the track or the gravel trails. Again, good training is good training. More likely, your one Ride Forever training experience will lead to another. We know, because that’s what’s been happening.
Either way, do give training a go. Lock it in at the Ride Forever website and look forward to the most fun you can have with kevlar pants on.
Ride Forever coaching courses