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Even those of us who ride all year round sometimes lose sight of the fact that winter riding requires a different skill-set. Few street riders can use all the grip afforded by motorcycle tyres and suspension on dry tar roads - but it's all too easy to slide even the grippiest tyres on a streaming wet Cape Town road on a winter's night.
In winter you need eyes in the back of your head to keep track of the car drivers who come splashing up behind you at speeds that can only be described as foolhardy, while in summer you need to look at least three cars ahead because you're the one doing all the overtaking.
Which is why the annual Wheels Motorcycle Club Skills Riding Course is held as early in the so-called riding season as possible - it's when all of us, no matter how experienced, need to 'reset the clock' on our riding skills, revisit the elements and practice some basic survival skills - before we need them for real.
MORE THAN A RIDING COURSE
Over the years this partnership (it was started more than a decade ago as a private initiative by the club but is now run in close co-operation with Road Safety Management and the Gene Louw College for traffic officers in Brackenfell) has become more than an advanced riding course based on the K53 licence requirements.
The 12th annual Skills Riding Course is a multi-faceted look at what it takes to survive on two wheels in the heaviest (and, it must be said, most undisciplined) traffic ever seen on South African roads, from quick-and-easy checks that you can almost do in your sleep on the three pillars of safety (brakes, tyres and mirrors) before you plunge into the morning commute, to emergency braking, collision avoidance and even choosing the right safety gear.
TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
The first leg of the 2012 course will be held on Sunday 16 September at the Gene Louw Traffic College in Brackenfell Boulevard, with presentations on bike safety - including spine-chilling personal survival stories told by the riders involved - first aid and safety gear, followed by live exercises including precision steering, unscheduled lane changes and unexpected road hazards, all based on real-world scenarios.
The second leg, to be run at the Killarney race circuit on 7 October under the auspices of the Western Province Motorcycle Section's racing instructors, takes things to a high-performance level, with high-speed braking exercises, steering and avoidance techniques and, most of all, the opportunity to get back on terms with what, by any other frame of reference, is a astonishingly potent piece of machinery.
The cost is R100 for the first leg, or R200 for both; convenor Fred Arendse says the 2012 Skills Riding course is already oversubscribed, but you can contact him on 082-210-2238 or Colleen Arendse on 083-454-1961 to put your names on the standby list. However, you're going to have to be quick and you're going to have to be lucky!