Slow riding training report with pics (2008/11)

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I arrived at HMS Collingwood and after being "checked in" by staff was directed to a car park where the day's activities would be taking place. Alec and some of his assistants were busy setting out the traffic cones for the six different exercises we would be tackling on the day. After a nice cup of coffee and some biscuits Alec proceeded to explain and display what was expected from each of us at the different stations. We would spend around 20 minutes at each station and then move on to the next with a coffee break halfway through the morning.


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Alec briefing riders on the days events

Essentially the exercises are as follows.

The first station was split into 2 exercises. The first is simply coming to a controlled stop next to four traffic cones spaced in a straight line 5m apart, then for the last cone spaced 15m further down its up to second, down to first and a nice controlled stop.

The second exercise involved doing the same, coming to a controlled stop but in a circle, ie. stopping while turning, putting down left or right foot, depending on which way round we were riding.

Alec had some interesting information for us on this station. First, the three phases of braking, being as follows:

·         1) An initial take up of a little brake, this phase is used to ascertain what is under tyre, i.e. do you have a good surface to brake on.

·         2) A phase where most of the baking is achieved, then 

·         3) A final phase where the pressure on the brakes in relieved somewhat so as to avoid the front of the    bike diving.


Alec also informed us that when coming to a stop, you should strike the ground with the heel first and then roll the front of the foot down as you finally stop. No tap dancing with the foot as you come to a stop and the foot is not to be used as a handbrake for the stop!


The second station was also split into two exercises. The first exercise was a slalom. The cones on this exercise are spaced in a straight line 3,4m apart then a nice u turn into a second slalom spaced 4,5m apart. Now I have to tell you this was loads of fun, at first you approach this exercise very tentatively but then as you gain experience and skill you start to enjoy. At one stage I did manage to drag a cone e few metres down the track only to have Nigel replace it to its correct position. The second exercise was a tunnel of cones with a start and finish line spaced 20m apart. The idea behind this was to get to the other end as slowly as possible. I managed a measly thirtyish seconds.   One chap with an R6 did it in about 1 second; I think he misunderstood the slow bit!  The record for the day was 46 seconds and to top it off, with a pillion!

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Negotiating the slalom

The third station involved making a 90 degree left turn and then coming to a controlled stop followed by a 90 degree right turn from stop to stop. Then making a U-turn and coming to a controlled stop. Although this sounds deceptively simple a lot of serious faces where to be found on this station.


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Now for the u-turn

 At the fourth and final station our group was split into two. This exercise was my favourite and involved following Alec or Sam around cones placed in an oval with another two cones in the middle for the dreaded figure of eight. Initially we simply went around the outside of the cones in circles and after a few laps it was up to second gear and then clutch hand off ;  only using the throttle hand to control direction. In the mean time Alec would be telling us to stay as close as possible to him, not easy at all. We also had to make our way in and out of the cones and through the figure of eight. We then took a break and the other riders in our group had to do their bit.

When they were done we were back in action and now things became a little more complicated. Look, lean, roll was the instruction, Alec explained and then demonstrated, and once again we had to keep up to him. Simply put, on the circle at the 10 and 4 o’clock marks, you look where you want to go to, lean the bike over and then roll on the throttle until you get to the next mark where you brake before repeating the exercise again. At the end of the exercise the smile on my face was from ear to ear, it was really interesting to see just how far over you can lean your bike. Also an important note is to realise that if and when you are in difficulty during a corner or you feel you will not make it, applying this exercise will help in this situation.  The lesson to learn is that the throttle is your friend and will help you pick up the motorcycle or drive it through a corner.


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               Alec demonstrating                     The ladies showing how its done                        Look, lean, roll


 On behalf of all the people who attended all the slow riding training this year I have to say a huge Thank You to Alec for his time and expertise. I feel we all learned a lot and feel a lot more confident about slow riding. To Colin for once again providing us with the facilities, drinks and snacks and to whoever ordered the weather because we could not have asked for a better day. Also a big Thank you to all the people that assisted Alec with the slow riding training, their time and input is much appreciated.


My advice to anyone who has not done the slow riding training is to make sure your name is on the list because it is invaluable and will make a great difference to your confidence and skills. The next course is scheduled for the Spring. Lilian will provide details when the time comes.


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