Those are usually the first words that come out of the mouth
of someone being praised for their good work or heroism. It was practically the
only phrase Captain Chesley " Sully" Sullenberger uttered after safely landing his disabled
airplane on the Hudson River earlier this year, thus saving the lives of 155
people. He wanted to emphasize that it was not a coincidence that he and his
crew new exactly what to do in that situation because they had drilled for it
over and over again.
When the shit hits the fan, we rely on our training. If we
are not trained, then it is left up to instinct. I would bet on training over
instinct any day.
It is an exciting time for those of us involved in rider
training. There are so many new curriculums being developed, but if riders are
not taking advantage of the training, then the system fails. Threshold braking
is a common term used in new training systems. It is braking to impending skid,( just before
lock up). I probably do not need to get into why it is so important to practice
this skill on a regular basis. The same goes for cornering, and even braking
while cornering. We need to teach our muscles how to react in times of stress.
Contrary to popular belief, we are not born with any innate
abilities related to operating a motorcycle. Learning to operate a motorcycle
is best developed through professional training and education. If what a rider
knows comes from training then he/she will unconsciously go back to that
training in an emergency.
Repetition is the key to improving proficiency, it begins
with proper training as the foundation, but needs to go on through self
discovery and desire to refine the skills after class is finished. While I
commend those who have taken an MSF beginner or advanced course course, not many
riders pursue training beyond that. If your riding career extends beyond one or
2 seasons then so should your training and conditioning. Consider treating
motorcycling the way you would treat a job that requires you to be up to date,
sharp, and well conditioned.
If the skills are not practiced regularly, muscle memory
will degrade or even disappear over time. Don't forget bad habits have muscle
memory too. Practice correctly every time, this is why frequent practice/training
is so important. Equal attention should
be given to developing mental skills as well. This should not be too difficult
for us city riders, we are bombarded with stimulus which we are constantly
dissecting, and evaluating. MSF uses an
acronym for this, SEE. It stands for Search Evaluate and Execute, a strategy to
So for those of you out there who have accepted motorcycling
as a lifelong activity, leave the ego in the garage and remember, you can
always be a better rider. You can always
be a better anything. Motorcycling is a learned activity that may never be
mastered, but one's skills can continually develop and improve.
To be a lifelong rider, you need to be a lifelong learner.