Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Street Skills at the National BMW Rally

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When Sandy and I showed up to the Street Skills tent outside the rally we dismounted and walked around the bikes sizing our classmates up like cowboys in the Old west.   Two Iron Butt license plate holders (Pete and myself) and my riding brother:  Sandy triple digits Marincic.   Finishing the foursome was Tracy, a lady rider of 6 months that had focused on training to rapid launch her riding career. Quickly Tracy became one of the crew, whatever butterfly's she had were contained somewhere deep inside her.  Her jaw tightened and her brow revealed her intense commitment to the skills.  Tracy was all in.  
Within the first few minutes of my Street Skills course I felt like something was being taken away from me.  Our instructor: Jon DelVecchio a local New Yorker began to deconstruct riding a motorcycle.  When I ride my 99 R1100RT it feels like I am water skiing.  I sit tall and straight to carve and lean in the same plane as the bike.  It feels good and natural and it has become my habit.  Jon was describing how that was all going to change.  
Back at the campsite when I told my friends I had a course in the morning they asked me what I was teaching and if there was more room for them. “No”  I said, “I am taking a course".   "Why" they asked,  "You know how to ride?".  “I want to be safer and have more fun riding”: I told them.  The MOA foundation sponsored this course lowering it's cost after a rebate to $90.  This is another example of how the MOV’s own Paul B Scholarship has reached out into the masses.   From multi day track based riding schools to now half day clinics,  the foundation continues to drive for safe proficient riders.   Foundation President George Rice was reached by phone adding: “The Foundation’s mission is to make sure people don’t injure themselves on motorcycles and have a good time riding.   We think riders can both have a good time and be safe and we are committed to that goal.”
There are three primary types of kinesthetic learners: watchers, thinkers, and doers.  Although I would like to think I'm a thinker I am much more of a doer.  To this point Jon's first exercise involved all of us standing in front, facing him with our feet less than our shoulders width apart.  We tipped at the waist moving our heads and upper body to one side past our imaginary motorcycle grip hands and we "kissed the mirror".  When we got it right our center of mass moved outside the center of rotation and we tipped over catching ourselves by taking a step.  This separation of upper and lower body in relation to cornering made me smile.  I was headed into new territory. I truly committed to do everything that Jon instructed.  I bought in putting my water ski technique on the shelf in exchange for an expanding flat plate, where the rubber literally meets the asphalt. .
The flow of the course developed as Jon laid out each new increment of each combined task and reviewed it with us until we understood it.  We then immediately put it in the progression on the curvy back roads of New York farmland.  Our stops were busy and information loaded exceeding the value that I had anticipated.   Jon put us to work.  Each stop we leapfrogged having the tail become the head, changing up the order so that each of us could have a look at the skill that Jon was modeling.  Jon fine tuned the group with precision.   He laser engraved Street Skills on to our motorcycle minds.   We picked up speed and built confidence for encountering hazards in corners.  Sometimes performance riding is safer.  For me the wrap up was at a stop sign after our last set of twisties. I pulled alongside Iron Butt Pete with an ear to ear grin. " I can't believe what a difference kissing the mirror makes!"  "I know" he said smiling "I know".

If you go:

Street Skills LLC
(585) 802-9859

To donate to the MOA Foundation: