Learning from the New Rider

How quickly do we forget what it’s like to be a new rider? The accumulation of experience can eventually drown out the novelty of riding and wonder of what a motorcycle can do and represent. We kick ourselves for not throwing a knee down in the corner, we twiddle suspension settings looking to eke out a hint more traction and speed, we forget to take in what we ride by with fresh eyes. Sometimes it’s nice to strip all that away.

There is no returning to riding’s nascent state, time and experiences progression ensures that, but we can visit it. For my part, I’ve taken to Adventure riding, finding the constantly changing dirt surface a new and fresh challenge and noticing more every time I ride past a provocative side road wondering just where it goes. There’s another way we can visit, working with new riders.

Jennifer Priest is now gracing our pages with an account of leaning to ride. Luckily, Jennifer is doing it right by going to a well respected local ride school, rather than duking it out in the school of riding hard knocks. For new riders, this series offers an experiential guild covering what to expect from a riding school and what a solid curriculum has to offer; loaner bikes, safety gear, classroom sessions, training sessions in a lot, road sessions complete with radio communication from the instructors and dry runs of the actual test. In short the type of support and professionalism not offered by the “learnt from a friend over the weekend” school of thought.

A proper school is a path I wished I’d taken, rather than lying bleeding in a crumpled mass in the Home Depot parking lot and spending a couple months recovering as the result of my first day riding.

For experienced riders, the series is a chance to revisit the wonder of being a new rider. It’s a chance to remember that leaning to ride is a process, one that maybe we shouldn’t rush, but instead focus on doing properly. You can always learn more after all, so perhaps we should all take a page from Jennifer’s book and look into an advanced riding school, a track course, or adventure school. As important when potential new rider’s come to us looking to take up the sport, knowing what a school offers helps us point them in the right direction.

Neil Johnston

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