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Rider Evolution

New Rider: Now What?

As if you thought we actually knew what we're talking about. Here's a look at a scenario that may have had an entirely different reply ten years ago. Today things are different. Let's find out why.

Inquiry: I have a friend who is joining the sport, a complete newbie, eagerly awaiting the arrival of his new Ninja 250. We both live in Oregon. The question is - when is the appropriate time for him to participate in his first track day?

My thoughts were� 'since you completed Team Oregon and are endorsed, go ride 1,000 miles on the street, then go do a track day with one of the schools that caters to new riders (2 Fast, Motofit, PSSR, to mention a few).' I talked to my buddy, and he said 'tell him to get a motocross bike and ride dirt for a year first, before getting on the street.' I talked to another pro, and he told me - 'the track is the safest place to learn to ride, no intersections, no cars and instruction.'

As you can see, opinions vary. I'd appreciate some suggestions?

Response: Newbies typically need about 1,000 miles under their belt before moving to the next level. That's about the time it takes to digest what they learned in the basic course and get used to the bike. This will vary from one rider to another. Don't head out to the track on day one, please.

Riding a motocross bike for a year will simply shore up the throttle, shifting and braking abilities, but it's not real-time street experience, so he'd be a babe in the woods when he hits the pavement later.

But why jump into a track day as the next move? In the Northwest there are many other courses more suited to bumping up to the next level. Team Oregon Intermediate and later Advanced class, Lee Parks Total Control (PSS), On Street Skills Course (PNW Motorcycle Safety, WMST), Advanced Street Skills (PSS).

Since your friend rides a sportbike, when summer rolls around Sportbike Northwest is loaded with seminars and road clinics over the 5 day event. All of that for $109 ( www.sportbikenorthwest.com ). Check out the schedule page. Other local riders will be there so you'll get some real social time in, too.

And a good book makes sense too. Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough, Smooth Riding by Reg Pridmore, Total Control by Lee Parks and Sport Bike Riding Techniques by Nick Ienatsch each offer gobs more information than a single track day for about 20% of the price. Living in the Northwest is a plus because you can experience so much of what is discussed in these books in real time on the multitude of twisties the region has to offer. All these books and more are available in our online store .

As an aside, it's worth mentioning that many track days are simply free-for-alls. Go around in circles as fast a you can and if you make it out alive, all the better. Unless you're very skilled and don't mind being around a lot less-skilled riders, it's best to stay away from these kind of events.

Ten years ago, a track day may have made more sense because it was about the only option, but today there is so much more information available in so many other ways.

We're firm believers in continued education. Continuing to learn riding techniques throughout your riding years is key to staying safe. Not only will you become a better rider, but you'll take the same skills right into the car with you and be able to predict what drivers in front of you are going to do next, often before they know what they're going to do next.

SR!/Spring 11


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