AutoMatters & More: Safely learn or relearn the basics of motorcycle riding in less than an hour

For many years I was a member of the Motor Press Guild. Our many and varied events have exposed me to a wide variety of driving-related experiences and knowledge that I realistically could not have acquired on my own.

Recently the Motor Press Guild organized a driving day. As in previous years, this event included an opportunity to drive a wide variety of new vehicles that were brought just for us, on large transporters. Sometimes these events have taken place at race tracks – my favorite being Willow Springs. Most recently, our driving days took place at Calamigos Ranch in the scenic hills above Malibu, California.

This place is particularly well known for what many of us call sports car roads: two-lane, hilly, with lots of tight turns and with straights just long enough to “open it up” without too much risk of getting into trouble (unlike a racetrack). In addition, in the hills of the property there are trails well suited to put the off-road vehicles to the test. Together, these roads provide us with excellent opportunities to examine new vehicles.

Off-road ready at Calamigos Ranch

(Jan Wagner)

However, this year we had a bonus activity that I was particularly looking forward to. The Motorcycle Industry Council held its “Ride With Us” “Moto Intros”.

“Moto Intros are for anyone who hasn’t ridden a motorcycle or scooter yet, or hadn’t had the pleasure of swinging a leg over the saddle in a while. Motorcycle Safety Foundation certified trainers will be on hand to guide new riders through basic motorcycle controls and their first riding experience.

I fall squarely into the second part of the target audience. I’m a senior now and probably hadn’t ridden a motorcycle since I was a teenager. I never rode a motorcycle on the street, even back then. Instead, for a few summers I borrowed a touring bike and a “Tote Goat” that belonged to the owners of a fishing lodge my dad used to take me to on summer vacation. The lodge and surrounding small lakes were nestled among the tall trees of the interior of British Columbia, Canada. Frankly, I think I enjoyed riding those bikes more than fishing for trout. It was definitely more exciting, and I didn’t have to wake up before sunrise to make the most of what these experiences had to offer.

“Ride with us” banner

“Ride with us” banner

Fast forward to June 2022. I had just driven from my home in San Diego to Calamigos Ranch. In a fairly small, flat clearing between the parking lot and the station – where all the cars and SUVs were waiting for us to drive and review – were a few motorcycles, along with members of the “Ride With Us” crew. I must say that it didn’t seem particularly difficult. With all the roads and trails nearby, why was this training taking place on flat, dirt ground?

For those of you who have never ridden a motorcycle, think about what it’s like to ride a bike. Maintaining your balance is essential for both, but motorcycles are much heavier than bicycles and they have motors that propel them forward with very little rider input. If you don’t apply the throttle properly, you could quickly find yourself accelerating into trouble. So, you see, learning the basics of riding a motorcycle on a rather small, flat piece of land is actually ideal. My experience was quite exciting, and that was for sure.

Jan receives motorcycle training from the instructor

Jan receives motorcycle training from the “Ride With Us” instructor

(Jan Wagner)

After getting fitted with the required safety gear, my instructor covered the basics, from how to get on the bike, apply the front brake, gently twist the throttle and – I can’t stress enough the importance of this – look where you want to go! Use your peripheral vision to know where you are because where you look is where you will go.

As the video on AutoMatters.net will show, by the end of my lesson, I was confidently riding around the lot. Mission accomplished!

For more information on learning to safely ride street bikes, dirt bikes, ATVs and more, visit the “Ride With Us” website at: ridewithus.com/starting -out/

: At the end of our lessons, we rode

: At the end of our lessons, we were driving

(Jan Wagner)

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Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters and more #747

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