A month or two back I decided it’s been a couple of years so it was about time I did another riding refresher course, with the bees-knees of courses being the Ride Forever Gold as it’s an 8 hour jobby and all for the miserable sum of $50, or comparatively, a tank of gas (if you’re riding an empty ST and filling with 98).
On the last occasion I did one of these, One chap was sent packing from the start because he didn’t have a current WoF, Rego and dare I say it….licence! (It takes all sorts) and the other guys covered a huge range of skillsets, so the instructors attentions were focused more on the others and I came away thinking I hadn’t got the most out of the day…my bang wasn’t quite up to the buck, as it were, so this time I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could arrange a Wgtn Ulysses course as that would even up the playing field.
That was all good and yesterday, 8 old Farts met up to get a tickle-up from Roadsafe.
We assembled at The Family Bakery in Porirua for an 0900 start, where we shared intros, backgrounds and expectations over a coffee, before heading back to the Linden Community Centre for some classroom stuff. Last time I did one of these, there was none of that and this time I was expecting more road-time, but the classroom did offer a great opportunity to see some vids along with other training aids and sharing from the participants. In fact, one of the concerns I have had and that has been niggling me about my riding was specifically mentioned…and all was made clear….and that is all I am going to say about that…on the grounds it might incriminate me!
With clear heads and renewed focus we adjourned for lunch back at the bakery, then headed for the Porirua Train Station Carpark for some handling and emergency braking practice.
The handling dealt with keeping one’s head up, eliminating distractions and having confidence to push the machine around using things like, clutch on friction point and rear brake combo at slow speed, body position and weighting the footpegs, counter-steering and so on. Braking dealt with the aspects and finer details of coming to a stop, then emergency braking at 50kph, up to 100kph and throwing in and emergency get-away to avoid the clown behind you.
That was all good and I was pushing the limits of the ABS as well as destroying my economy.
Next we were off for some cornering and road stuff, whereby we pootled down to Johnsonville, then around Ohariu Valley and up and down the Karori Hill…and I might have got myself into a little trouble here!?
Scenario was: After finding any and every opportunity to poke the borax at AndrewT throughout the day, the group had ridden over the Ohariu Valley and out past the Karori Golf Club with 5 riders following Andrew and 3 following Lynn. I had settled appropriately in the more sedate Lynn group, but as the ride was taking off for the return in on Sth Makara Rd, it looked like two riders were dropping from the Andrew group, so, to keep things even, I bolted for the Andrew Group, only to find that Geoff must have been dithering, so I ended up as TEC on that group. After a relaxed no-brakes climb up the Karori Hill, the group were fumbling around, turning around at the top with Andrew waiting at a lay-by, so Conehead that I am, I just threw a U’ee and pulled in behind Andrew to wait for the others. After re-assembling the group, it was now still no-brakes, but going down the hill, and Andrew cruised down the hill in his usual easy, smooth, relaxed fashion…somewhat akin to a cut-cat….with me in hot pursuit.
On arrival back at Makara School, Andrew hopped off his bike, licked his forefinger and proceeded to touch my front disc, then proceeded to do the same along the row of bikes as they pulled up.
A couple of riders were congratulated but Andrew had the audacity to ask me why I had used my front brake…to which I replied, “I didn’t! I used the rear, but it’s linked!…and I had to because you were going too slow!!” (ouch)
Rebuttals and further questions then elicited another response from me to the effect, “I had to use my brakes to keep up and ensure you didn’t use yours!” (… A step closer to the truth perhaps?)
After another run and further discussion, one could possibly make a case that Andrew, with me not even almost up his date, was riding absolutely on the edge, arse puckering and sucking onto the seat, sweat from his brow obscuring his vision and drenching the inside of his helmet and running down his spine along with the cold shiver associated with a near death experience…but he was determined not to wimp out and use his brakes….but truth be known he was just puttering along at the speed limit. It would make good reading if, at this point I finally admitted, “I had to use my brakes, you were trying to lure me to certain death!” …but truth be known, I’m lacking skills and overcooked a couple of tightening radius corners!! After all …..all this was in a 50kph zone!...albeit a very tight and twisty 50kph zone!
I will now await and see what the consequences of my folly are. No doubt there will be some sort of fine at the next meeting for being a wimp / using my brakes / being confused / being a liar / Gamesmanship / all of the above?
All in all it was a fun day and I must say I feel much better having done the refresher and having all those things I know brought back the fore, so I’m more aware of them when I’m riding. I certainly highly recommend these courses, especially at the price. I also note that the courses do vary and this one was catered to the old farts that were attending and the info supplied by them on the application.
For those that aren’t familiar with the Karori Hill, I am referring to the road that heads out of Karori to Makara and here’s a couple of vids recorded a couple of years ago.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.