Real-world motorcycle riding schools

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IOL mot pic aug13 Killarney Riding Schools 1

Dave Abrahams

A participant in an advanced riding course at Killarney hits the brakes hard as the instructor gives the signal for an emergency stop.

If there is a time when a novice rider is most at risk, it's right after they pass their motorcycle riding test. The world beckons as the brand-new card in your wallet gives you permission to go anywhere you want.

But the truth is that all the K53 qualifies you for is relatively uncomplicated trick riding in a closed environment. Any experienced rider will tell you that you really only start learning to ride after you get your licence.

In any confrontation between a motorcycle and another vehicle, the biker loses. Motorcycle rider safety is predicated on avoiding those confrontations, partly by reading the traffic and anticipating the danger before it arises and partly by using the motorcycle's superior agility to go around the problem.

That's also a pretty good description of what happens on a racetrack, which is why the racers of the Western Province Motor Club offer up their time on Sundays to teach these life-saving skills to both new bikers - or scooter riders! - and more experienced riders who want to hone their skills, practice avoidance techniques away from the road users who make them necessary or, in the case of riders returning to two wheels after many years, sharpening old reflexes.

NO PUNCHES PULLED

This Sunday, 19 August, they'll be hosting a beginners' riding school at Killarney racing circuit, aimed at riders who have a licence but haven't previously had any further training.

It'll start with no-punches-pulled lectures and demos about staying alive on two wheels and progress to personalised, one-on-one instruction on riding techniques, and real-world riding on the circuit - not at race pace but at the speeds a new rider would normally be doing on the street.

Then, by setting up simulations of everyday road hazards such as a car pulling out in front of you or a taxi stopping without warning to drop off a passenger, riders will be shown how to avoid them, and given enough practice to ensure that these skills become intuitive, with individual monitoring throughout.

ADVANCED RIDING SCHOOL

A second school, for more advanced riders, will be held at the circuit on the following Sunday, August 26. The advanced sessions are aimed primarily at riders who feel their 'safety radar' has become rusty over the winter months, who have recently acquired new bikes or got back on two wheels after a number of years away from riding.

These riders are so much at risk that UK insurance companies have invented a whole new category for them, referring to them, accurately if unflatteringly, as 'born-agains'.

Riders will be seeded into slow, intermediate and fast groups and, once again, the emphasis will be on personalised instruction, starting with a safety seminar for the slow group while the intermediate and fast groups warm up their bikes and their reflexes.

The advanced riding school is about technique, stability under braking, when and how to turn in, and all the things that make motorcycling so much more physical and so much more fun than driving a car. Instructors will be on call all day to follow individual riders around the circuit and then debrief them on riding techniques, with the emphasis on road safety.

LISTEN AND LEARN

The cost is R400 per rider for either school; registration opens at the circuit on Potsdam Road, Milnerton at 8am on the day.

Both these schools are about improving riders' road skills, say the convenors. If you're not there to listen and learn, you're there on the wrong Sunday. There are also track days at Killarney for aspiring racers or sportsbike riders who want to stretch the legs of their machines beyond what is legal or safe on public roads For more information or to book in advance for either school, contact David Bolding (083 255 3484), Wayne Arendse (071 866 8399) or Tony Sparg (082 651 5681).

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