Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Riding School

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Riding Tip: Why Slow Works!

We have a hard time explaining, especially to seasoned riders, why our drills are slow and so controlled. “I never ride that slow, so how is this going to help me?”

To break it down so you can wrap your head around our teaching style, and for one to understand how it really works, we have come up with an analogy. Look at it this way. If you hop on your motorcycle right now and head out on a traIl, you are riding. Just riding. Lots of people can even “ride” fast. Some even tell you how to do this. But it does not mean they are doing it correctly.

Let’s imagine Jimmy playing the violin. Jimmy has little or no musical talent. But, he can pick up a violin and use the thing (called a bow, BTW) and rub the bow on the strings, and that violin will make sounds. Most anyone can do this. But is he playing the violin? Is the sound coming out music? But what if Jimmy keeps playing, maybe for many years. Eventually, through practice and patience (perhaps from tips from other violin players), he actually gets good enough to play sounds that are appealing to most ears. Doing things over and over, whether they are right or wrong, he has developed his own technique. Some may even say he plays well. Enough so that an orchestra offers Jimmy a position due to his skills on the violin. 

So on the first day at the symphony practice, the conductor hands Jimmy a sheet of music… Jimmy responds, “What is this?”

That sheet of music symbolizes the key concepts and necessary foundation that is needed to do the skill correctly, to play the music the way it was written. The equivalence is the ability and skill of balance, which is one of the essential foundational skills for riding well and safe. We see many (yes, most) riders who never took the time to understand rider balance on the bike, and balance of the bike. They don’t know the difference and can’t even begin to practice it because they don’t know where to start. It is the underlying fundamental, like sheet music in the analogy above, but can be a foreign language until you understand how important it is. Yes, you can ride without understanding balance, but that disability will prevent you from improving at whatever level you identify yourself. Balance is at the core of anything you do, no matter the speed. But slow speeds safely reveal the core of the problem and allows us to work with you–so going forward you are not masking the real issue in your riding skill set.

Knowing this and understanding balance is why we can see and point out problems even before the problems exist. It is why our school can take such a wide variety of skill levels, and all riders will improve. Novice and expert riders will both improve because most are always out of balance and don’t even realize it. We do not have an advanced class because the advanced skills are doing the basic skills to a very high level which requires even more balance.

If you don’t believe us, then ask yourself this. If the last time you had difficulty, and it didn’t start out with the explanation, “I was going a little too fast and…” Which means one of two things. You were riding above your ability level, or you were scared to slow down because you’d lose momentum and fall over. The second a direct result of the state of balance you were in. Then we’d wager that the reason for your difficulty in any riding situation is a direct result of your balance or the balance of the motorcycle, no matter the speed involved. It is the first problem and compounds anything else that you are trying to do. 

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