Joining Is For Suckers…Or So We Once Thought (AMA)

riding soloAdmitting our mistakes and learning from them are part of the growing up process.  As motorcyclists, we’ve proven that we’re willing to take more risks than the average person.  But if we have the choice to easily reduce risks, shouldn’t we?  As the line goes, “There are bold riders and there are old riders, but it is doubtful you’ll find an old, bold rider.”

At the tender age of nineteen I was told by a riding mentor to pick up an American Motorcyclist Association membership.  I found that information odd as I wasn’t going to be racing.  Didn’t they just handle the domestic racing series and do stuff in Washington DC that doesn’t apply to me?  I ignored the recommendation and told myself, “Why join?  Joining is for suckers.  I don’t ride in groups because I’m independent.  The last thing I want to do is join a group and get mired in political shenanigans.”  Ahhh to be young and idealistic.

motorcycle-towingFrom the time I was told about the AMA,  I was stranded on the side of the road three different times.  Once it was for a blown rear tire.  Another time it was for a broken clutch cable.  And another time it was for rider error (we won’t get into that here!).  Each time I was left to figure out how to get myself and motorcycle home.  Without my gracious friends, I may have been stranded permanently.  The last time my riding mentor said to me, “Ya know, you could have called the AMA and they would have towed the bike home for free.”

Free?  They would do that for me?  I just had to listen to my mentor this time.  With a big cross country motorcycle trip coming up and a lot of unknowns in the mix, a free tow just might come in handy, so I joined the AMA.  A mere five years AFTER the initial recommendation.

Sure enough, two months later and 2,000 miles from home, I found myself at Daytona Bike Week and learned firsthand what it meant to be an AMA member.  I lost my key in a field of motorcycles.  I called the AMA, they arranged to pick me and the bike up, took us to a local dealership, and two hours after the dealership was supposed to have closed, I was sent on my way with a new key.   That was the power of the AMA.  They won me over.  I thought about the Daytona Bike Week incident when I renewed my AMA membership in June for a 17th time.

2014-01-AMA_Cards_WomenAs the world’s largest motorcycling organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists’ interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion.  They also make available to us discounts from several key suppliers in the motorcycle industry.

Meaning, they work to support us.

What that 19 year old “independent” rider didn’t fully understand is that we’re all in this together.  We represent such a small percentage of the motoring public and if we collectively fail to join together to retain our rights to ride, we have the potential to lose or greatly diminish this activity we so dearly love.

So here’s the rub.  Join me.  Join TEAM Arizona.  Join thousands of American Motorcyclists across this land.  Sign up today, because together, we’re better.

Join AMA

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

TEAM Arizona Riding Tip: Training with Motorcycling’s Elite

American Supercamp

Fifty seven year old TEAM Arizona owner, Ron Arieli, working on his one-handed cornering skills while at Danny Walker’s American Supercamp.

This June, TEAM Arizona owner Ron Arieli, his son, and two of his Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic Instructors headed to Ft. Collins, Colorado, to attend Danny Walker’s American Supercamp.  Collectively, the riders represented more than 100 years of riding experience and nearly fifty years of rider coaching experience.  What did they have to gain by attending the camp?  Everything.

YOU CAN’T BE YOUR BEST IF WE’RE NOT AT OUR BEST

When participants attend a TEAM Arizona training course, we make it known that riding a motorcycle well requires a life-long dedication to maintaining and increasing skill level.  Practice is important, but how do you know if you’re doing it properly?  That’s where coaches come into play.  Even the best athletes in the world acknowledge the importance of a good coach.  That is exactly why we invested time, money, and risked bodily harm to attend the American Supercamp.  We knew their coaches would help us improve our riding and be the best we can be.  Simply:  You can’t be your best if we’re not our best.

Steve PaladiniEvery RiderCoach and Instructor at TEAM Arizona understands the importance of checking our egos at the door and occasionally placing ourselves in the role of student.  It helps us empathize with our course participants.  It helps us identify areas where we as coaches can improve.  The bi-product of this additional training also means we’re  better motorcyclists with more tools in our tool box.  With so many advantages, why wouldn’t we seek training?

At this stage, not just any training course or coach will do, so who do we look to when we want to improve our riding skills?

MOTORCYCLE RIDER TRAINING ELITE

Funny enough, when RiderCoaches seek training, they start right here at home.  TEAM Arizona offers more than just the Basic RiderCourse.  In our coaching stable we have plenty of experienced folks who can raise the level of most, if not all, motorcyclists.  We encourage our coaches to learn from each other and use our training facilities for their self improvement.

Externally, we have a few gurus who have upped the game for all of us.  We seek out these particular rider training specialists because we know we’ll learn a thing or three about riding AND coaching.  If you want to improve your riding skills, we encourage you to check out these individuals.

LEE PARKS

Lee Parks Total Control Track Clinic

Lee Parks provides coaching to help Ron Arieli overcome a challenge on the track

Lee is the creator of the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic curriculum.  Lee has been racing for more than 25 years, and won the 2001 G.M.D. Computrack National Endurance Series Championship in the Lightweight class. He also finished 2nd in the 1994 AMA 125GP national championship in its exhibition year. He spent five years as the editor and chief test rider of Motorcycle Consumer News where he road tested every new street motorcycle available in the U.S. and became one of the top performance-testing journalists in the world.  Lee wrote the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic book.  TEAM Arizona is the sole provider in Arizona of Lee’s Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic.  It is the highest level of training offered at TEAM Arizona.

 

NICK IENATSCH

Nick Ienatsch instructor

Nick providing some insight at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.

Nick is a former American Motorcyclist Association race competitor.  Ienatsch was the lead instructor for twelve years at Freddie Spencer Riding School.  He later created and is lead instructor at Yamaha Champions Riding School.  Nick wrote Sport Riding Techniques: How To Develop Real World Skills for Speed, Safety, and Confidence on the Street and Track.  This book is the foundation for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Advanced Riding Techniques course.  The course is a superb introduction to more advanced riding techniques for the street and an excellent primer for taking the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic.

 

DANNY WALKER

Danny Walker American Supercamp

Danny is all smiles when he’s around motorcycles.

American Supercamp is the brainchild of former AMA racer Danny Walker.  Danny is the master of teaching motorcyclists how to push the limits on a motorcycle.  Danny and his crew can help you learn how to master the art of the motorcycle slide and take your riding to the next level.  His training started with putting road racers on lower displacement dirt bikes and letting them learn the limits on dirt (American Supercamp) and now he has expanded his offering to include a similar concept on road courses (Road Race Factory). When he is not teaching racers and riders he is managing the RoadRace Factory Red Bull race team.

 

 

 

 

 

KEITH CODE

Keith Code

Eagle eyed Keith Code catches everything when a rider is in motion.

Quite possibly there is no other motorcycle rider instructor who has left his mark on rider training than Keith.  In 1961 he started racing.  In 1976 he started a rider training improvement program.  Code founded the California Superbike School in 1980. The school taught numerous championship winning riders such as Wayne Rainey.  His California Superbike Schools have operated at over 90 tracks worldwide in 15 countries and have trained 150,000 riders.  In 1982, he wrote the instant best seller, A Twist of the Wrist book.  If you have a subscription to Motorcyclist magazine then you already know about his thought provoking articles under the “Code Break” heading.

 

 

 

 

This is the short list folks.  There are many other individuals who write books and offer forms of training, but if we had to tick a “Most Wanted” box, these four guys get their boxes ticked first.  Fortunately for you, training curriculum developed by half of these guys can be found right here at TEAM Arizona.  When will you take advantage of such a great opportunity?

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Kelly’s Korner: Five Tips For Battling Traffic In AZ Heat

Kelly's KornerHandling traffic on a bike is not the easiest task. It gets especially irritating when working against factors such as scorching heat and insane drivers. Here in the Phoenix area, both remain in plentiful supply. (Some studies correlate hotter weather to more aggressive driving … as if that surprises anyone.) And that leads to my point: As riders, the more distractions we face, the more we need to be prepared to deal with those obstacles so we can stay safe on two wheels. Having a strategy to defeat the blistering hot weather is crucial.  So, as July kicks in and brings with it dust storms and monsoon rains—which, in turn, lead to unpredictable, overly cautious drivers—it’s an opportune time to talk about how to deal with traffic and all its attendant annoyances. After all, I think we all enjoy reaching our destinations in one piece.

  1. Woman MotorcyclistStay cool, literally. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: Wear a cool vest or some other cooling clothing under regular riding gear (because all the gear all the time, people. All the time.). The more comfortable my body feels on the bike, the more likely I am to ride happy and at ease. The more overheated I am, the quicker my temper flares. No bueno.
  2. Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day even when you’re not riding. Add organic lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to help the body. On the bike, have ice water at the ready via a CamelBak or similar hydration system. Drink it. The idea is not for it to slosh around in there and make hot-water stew.
  3. Stay aware. I swear the full moon makes nutty drivers out of regular nice people. So do dust and rain. What I’m saying is, know your surroundings and the elements. When things get out of whack, the people do, too. So, if I set out expecting crazy on the road, I ride more aware and ready to act. full moon ArizonaThat does not mean I go looking for crazy. (I don’t have to—it finds me.) I just mean being as ready for it as possible. Think defense vs. offense. And I’m more able to do that if I’m cool and hydrated.
  4. Stay skilled. Use the tools you have accumulated, even if you’re a beginning rider. Vision, hard stops, swerving and braking rank as my top go-to skills for handling traffic. Stay abreast of these and gather more through ongoing training. You can always take part in a class at TEAM Arizona. I like how the Skills Under the Lights courses break down one key technique each month. And of course you can—arguably, should—practice what you learn every time you ride. I know someone who works on his swerves (yes, safely) when commuting.
  5. Stay cool, figuratively. Meditation and yoga don’t have to be woo-woo spiritual. Find a practice you like, at home or out with other people, and engage in it at least once a week. The mere acts of breathing, stretching and relaxing will help you tune in to your self. When that happens, you’ll feel better equipped to gauge your mental, emotional and physical states, judge how those might play into your riding frame of mind, and help you to first react with calm rather than with anger. Sure, we all rely on motorcycling to blow off steam. But if we ride enraged or even just smoldering, we’re adding a dangerous distraction to all of the others, one that could result in us being scraped off the road.

What methods do you use to handle traffic, summer or not? Let me know. And stay safe out there.

Kelly Teal Signature

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Shawnda Williams: TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month July 2015!

Shawnda Williams Baby Pic

Check out that million dollar smile! This kid was born to ride. :-)

The fire to ride.  It burns within all of us who choose motorcycling (or does it choose us?!).  For some of us it burns longer without the necessary oxygen to make it grow.  In Shawnda’s case, she waited decades before she took the first step towards riding.  Once she took the handlebars she started clickin’ through the gears and hasn’t looked back.  Shawnda is on a mission to bring more female riders into the mix.  For her willingness to share, her unbridled fire, and pure enjoyment of life, how could we resist making her our Rider of the Month for July 2015?

Here is her story, in her own words:

Shawnda WilliamsI have always had a fondness toward motorcycles. The bug bit me early in life and I can actually recall the precise moment in time when it struck. It was my fourth Christmas and my parents purchased me a power wheels style motorized bright yellow chopper with lots of chrome and flame emblems. You could not have convinced my four-year-old self that it was not real. I tried to ride it everywhere, and from that point on, I have always wanted a motorcycle. The biggest obstacle that inevitably stopped me from riding sooner was not realizing there were places available to teach you how to ride. Throughout the years, I have had many friends offer to teach me, but I was always terrified about the prospect of accidentally damaging their bike or worst myself. Motorcycles were seemingly an unrequited dream in the corner of my mind until I happened to randomly notice the TEAM Arizona training location in Gilbert. It is in a fairly obscure location but fortunately my sister was working at the Dillard’s office down the road. So in one of my many trips to lunch with her I finally noticed the sign and subsequently realized what it was. I pretty quickly enrolled in an intro class and the rest is history from there.

It’s hard for me to not be excited about riding a motorcycle, because I spent so much time on the outside looking in. I didn’t know of many female riders and spent a very long time being intimidated by the motorcycle scene. However, that air of intimidation quickly dissipated the second I enrolled in my first class, I soon realized I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. The first class truly ignited a fire that can’t be contained in regards to motorcycles. I love learning and sharing my experiences with others and now that I am a more experienced rider, I try to encourage anyone male or female who has an interest to take the class.

I consider myself truly fortunate that as I was taking those fledgling steps toward learning to ride so many people were willing to assist and impart knowledge to me. I feel obligated to do the same, as my education hasn’t ended and continues to grow with each experience and new rider I assist.

Even though Shawnda is eager to bring new riders into the mix, she is quite level-headed about the process and has some great advice for riders entering the sport of motorcycling:

Shawnda's Cafe Racer TriumphDon’t be in a rush.  I’m guilty of it myself, being over eager to have a new rider friend join the ranks. But don’t let the pressure of riding longer distances; highways and etc. deter you from riding within your comfort zone. It’s not a race and ideally motorcycles are long-term fixtures in your life, so take your time and ride at the pace and distance you are comfortable with.

When asked about one of her favorite things about motorcycling, she quickly responded:

“The wave”…to me it symbolizes a mixture of camaraderie and personal achievement. This simple gesture embodies an overwhelming sense of belonging, and also signified my ascension as a rider.  I progressed from being scared to remove my hand from the bars to having a sense of control over the bike to be in a position to wave comfortably when the opportunity arises.

This is us giving you “the wave” Shawnda.  We love your desire to “pay it forward” and to be part of the fastest growing segment in motorcycle:  female riders.  Have fun…ride safe!

Riders, we want to honor YOU!  Do you know someone who should be TEAM Arizona’s Rider of the Month?  Entering their name is SIMPLE.

  • Email Bill (bill@motorcycletraining.com )
  • In the subject line, type “Rider of the Month”
  • In one paragraph, tell us why this rider deserves the title TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month!

Let’s have some serious FUN with this gang!  There are some great stories out there and we don’t want to miss them, so tell us about yourselves!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

 

Fulmer Helmets and Apparel Offers You MORE!

Fulmer Helmets LogoFulmer Helmets and Rider Apparel is back with TEAM Arizona for a third year in a row!  They will be providing specific TEAM Arizona training sites with 120 new training helmets and will be providing riding gear as giveaways for some of our luckiest participants.

Fulmer will also be providing riding pants for use at our advanced training courses.

TEAM Arizona customers will also receive a 15% off discount for Fulmer Helmets and Riding Apparel at all participating RideNow locations.  One more reason to choose TEAM Arizona as your preferred rider training organization!

Fulmer RideNow Riding Gear Discount

ABOUT FULMER HELMETS AND RIDING APPAREL

Fulmer is a well respected brand in the motorcycle industry. In 1969, Fulmer Helmets was founded on a simple philosophy: value for riders and service to dealers.

Fulmer continues to deliver new products that push the extremes of function and fun.  Riders can choose from more styles and innovative features than ever before.

Fulmer is dealer-centric.  From the very beginning, they’ve held to the belief that the local dealership is the best place for a rider to get properly fitted. Fulmer’s success depends on riders finding exceptional value at an authorized Fulmer Helmets dealer. For this very reason, they will be providing discount certificates for RideNow dealership locations only.

TEAM ARIZONA PERSPECTIVE
We are excited to be working with a reputable helmet and riding gear company.  The fact that Fulmer understands the value in working with a rider training organization such as TEAM Arizona shows they get the bigger picture:  rider safety.

For Fulmer’s catalog and information, visit http://www.fulmerhelmets.com/

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Kelly’s Korner: Bad Battery Blues

Ride your own ride and who knows where you’ll end up. (The author by the Pacific Ocean, July 2012)

There could be worse places to be stranded by a dead battery.
(The author by the Pacific Ocean, July 2012)

Ah, the joys of a dead motorcycle battery. And if you have little luck, like me, this particular situation will occur anywhere but in the comfort of your garage. Now, as the Arizona weather jumps from delightful to ridiculous, it’s time to think about back-up plans in case your bike’s battery goes flat.  Not that YOU’D ever leave your key in the on position because you know the proper shut down procedure (Thumb-Key-Valve)!

I know of what I speak. The first time my Triumph died on me – and, sadly, not the last, since we are talking British engineering here – happened at the intersection of Alma School and the 202; the temperature had just hit 108 degrees. (While I stood in the skinny shade of the corner light pole waiting for my husband and the trailer, a woman in an air-conditioned BMW handed me a cold bottle of water and a cop, less attentive, stopped just to chat about the fun of riding. Uh huh.) The second time happened at Horse Thief Mile at Willow Springs International Raceway. Fortunately, Rev Moto’s Mikey Nagy (get a load of that lean angle starting at 6:40) came to my rescue at the last minute with a fresh battery and saved my track weekend.

In both instances, my Plan B tactics amounted to desperate phone calls. That’s not the best way to approach motorcycling, so here are some potentially more effective suggestions for dealing with a dead battery:

Push Start MotorcycleBump-start. There’s little point in my trying to explain what Cycle World already has done so well; thus, for pointers about bump-starting your bike, check out this link. Keep in mind, though, that the battery on a fuel-injected bike needs to have a little amperage for this method to work. If it doesn’t, move on down this list.

Friends, spouses or acquaintances with trailers. Self-explanatory, I believe. Of course, it’s smart to invest in thank-you beer or dinner or gas money or whatnot. Make yourself known as the appreciative and thoughtful rider because, inevitably, you will need help again.

Insurance. Some policies cover motorcycle towing. Feel free to ask Rusty Creed, the coolest insurance agent ever who also happens to sponsor TEAM Arizona, for advice. (He also saved my husband and me $1,700 a year, I believe it was, so just giving him a call could save you money, regardless.)

Motorcycle Battery TerminalAmerican Motorcyclist Association. All but three of the organization’s memberships feature roadside assistance and cover incidents such as dead batteries. The AMA comes in handy when you’re far from home and/or anyone with a trailer. Plans with roadside assistance start at $49 per year if you sign up for automatic renewal.  Join the AMA here.

Those are just a few ideas. What would you add? And how are you planning to combat the wretched Arizona heat on your bike? I’d love to hear from you; EMAIL ME HERE.

Kelly Teal Signature

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

TEAM Arizona Riding Tip: White Hot Hydration Tips

motorcycle camelbakThe white hot heat is upon us.  The next four months, the time we politely refer to as summer in Arizona, can be hazardous to all motorcyclists.  Do I dare say it?  With a little planning and proper gear, including a portable hydration system, riding can be an enjoyable summertime experience we can easily survive.

Portable hydration packs work well and will keep you on two wheels longer and with more comfort.  Off road riders have known this for years.  You might be thinking, “I don’t go off road, why would I need a hydration pack.”  Direct exposure to the sun, higher temperatures, and high humidity can all contribute to dehydration while riding motorcycles, no matter the type of riding.

In hot weather riding, protecting yourself against dehydration and heat exhaustion is paramount.  Dehydration is defined as an excessive loss of water from the body.  Heat exhaustion, characterized by dizziness and headache, can affect clear thinking and concentration.  As motorcyclists, we cannot afford any loss of mental capacity or motor skill.  Therefore, we need to make sure we drink plenty of water.

Hydration requires constant vigilance and is more than just consuming water.  If a rider continually dehydrates themselves by 5% per day, after five days of riding on the road, they may only be at 75% hydration levels; a situation that can present serious real world ramifications.  As you’ll see, even if you consume the right amount of water during that five day period, we may face other challenges.

EARLY SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT RELATED DISORDERS

sick faceSeveral key signs play a role in addressing heat related issues:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dry Mouth
  • Unsteady Walk
  • Unable to maintain lane position while riding
  • Muscle Cramps

What can you do if you face these early heat exhaustion signs?

  • Stop riding
  • Rest in shade or area with air conditioning
  • Take small sips of water for an extended period of time (at least 15 minutes)
  • Consider a drink with electrolytes

NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET

If these signs persist or worsen (vomiting, convulsions, weak/rapid pulse) even after taking time out, call for medical assistance.  Lay down in an elevated position in a cool area.  Try to cool the body externally via loosening/removing clothing and pouring water over the body.  

HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD I DRINK?

How do you get the hydration wheels turning?  First, start drinking water before you even go out to ride- about 24-48 hours to be certain. In fact, don’t even put on your motorcycle boots or jacket until you’ve had at least one glass of water. We’ve all heard the old rule: 8 glasses of water a day. However, you actually may need to drink more or less water than that, depending on your body size.

A better rule to remember is to take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2 for the number of ounces of water you should be drinking every day. So for instance, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should be drinking 90 ounces of water per day, and more depending upon activity levels. It is absolutely crucial to abide by this rule while riding in the heat.   Portable hydration systems can be your key to staying on top of your hydration and in control of your two wheels.

HyponatremiaWHAT IF YOU CONSUME TOO MUCH WATER OR YOUR WATER/SODIUM LEVELS ARE IMBALANCED?

You or your riding partner may be experiencing Hyponatremia (Acute Water Intoxication).  This is a condition in which the level of sodium in the blood is markedly lowered as a result of sodium lost in sweat, coupled with fluid replacement using only large volumes of plain water (greater than 1 1/2 quarts per hour). This is a medical emergency. Hyponatremia is a life-threatening condition that may result in confusion, fatigue, muscle cramps, and nausea early on. Later followed by vomiting, unconsciousness, seizures, and death, if not recognized and treated promptly. This condition is difficult to distinguish from heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and if suspected should be treated immediately in a medical facility.

Riders, we want you out there on two wheels this summer.  Making sure you have a hydration strategy before you swing a leg over your ride is crucial to your survival.  We hope to see you in the twisties.  Have fun…be safe!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Ron Edgell: TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month June 2015!

Ron Edgell Rider of the Month

What do you do when you’re a retired mine safety engineer and you haven’t ridden in thirty (30) years but the itch to ride on two wheels is hitting you hard and heavy?  Take a TEAM Arizona Basic RiderCourse!  Ron approached us at this year’s Bike Week event in Scottsdale to tell us how happy he’s been since making the decision one year ago to return to riding.  His exuberance and passion for motorcycling could not be restrained.  Of course, we just had to make him our Rider of the Month for June 2015!

WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY

One of the things that struck us during our conversation was that Ron was a thoughtful, measured person.  Considering he went from a Vespa at 14 to a dirt bike in his 20’s, some may think jumping up to a Harley Davidson FLHTK would be a big risk.  Ron tempered the risk through training and education.  He doesn’t take the act of motorcycling lightly.  In fact, his favorite thing about riding is that there is a “great responsibility that goes along with controlling a powerful machine like the Harley”.

Ron makes sure to manage his risk in traffic by applying the strategies he learned in the training course and anticipates cars pulling out in front of him.  He’s even applied a lot of the strategies he learned to his car driving experience.  Without a doubt, he puts all of this skills to use when he rides up to Mt. Lemmon with his friends.

As a former miner, his one critical piece of information he’d like to pass on to all riders is not terribly surprising:  WEAR A HELMET.  Once a mine safety engineer, always a mine safety engineer.  We appreciate that perspective Ron!  Thank you for being our Rider of the Month!

Riders, we want to honor YOU!  Do you know someone who should be TEAM Arizona’s Rider of the Month?  Entering their name is SIMPLE.

  • Email Bill (bill@motorcycletraining.com )
  • In the subject line, type “Rider of the Month”
  • In one paragraph, tell us why this rider deserves the title TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month!

Let’s have some serious FUN with this gang!  There are some great stories out there and we don’t want to miss them, so tell us about yourselves!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

 

 

Kelly’s Korner: SERENDIPITY- On The Road To Happy Discoveries

Kelly's KornerSerendipity. A friend was describing some of his happiest accidents, for lack of a better term, on his various riding adventures, and he asked if I could write about mine. Well, I’ve spent this whole week leading up to deadline thinking about this topic and I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint. I’ve not met someone who wanted to buy my valuable vintage bike or found unexpected roads thanks to a conversation with a stranger (ed: Do I sense jealousy?). Instead, I think my serendipitous moments have, so far, been more general — or maybe “overarching.” You see, that I ever decided to ride was, in itself, serendipity. My serendipity isn’t that riding changed the course of an event; rather, it changed the course of my life.

colorado rideThat’s true on small and large levels. By small, I mean, for example, that Tealdo and I have shared one car for eight years now because we both ride. I like saving on a car payment and maintenance (until I look at the seven bikes in the garage and stop myself from making the obvious calculations). By large, I mean that I have had experiences I never imagined for myself, like riding Colorado and the Grand Canyon; riding solo to and from Boise; doing track events with far more capable and very fun riders; laughing myself silly on a dirt bike; and being part of a group (you know who you are) that accepts me just because I enjoy two wheels and likes me for more than that. Without a doubt, what means the most to me as a result of riding is the friends I have made and the experiences I have amassed. Unlike most motorcycles, the people and the memories are irreplaceable.

Take a weekend this past March as just one example of bike-induced serendipity. A friend set up a track day for 10 of us at the Inde facility outside of Willcox. The track day was scheduled forMonday, so Tealdo and I decided a mini-road trip was in order. That Saturday, Ninja, Suzuki and Honda in tow, we hit Benson. And came away with a very disappointed impression of the monastery (yes, I was expecting robed monks and an open gift shop with whimsical memorabilia. I got a dusty, uninhabited, dull campus, although interior of the chapel was quite beautiful.); a humorous taste of laid-back country life via the Horseshoe Restaurant (a nearby birthday boy ordered a piece of lemon cake, which turned out the size of a brake rotor, I swear); and more fudge than necessary, courtesy of Nettie packing up her stand for the day in the museum. High on sugar, we moved on to the outskirts of St. David, where our B&B room awaited. For two people who are not fans of forced B&B mingling, this was a great call. The other guests were in Bisbee for the night and our hosts graciously left us to our own devices — reading, walking the grounds, playing pool and, best of all, grilling ribeye and veggies by the full moon.

bisbee-az-april-07-2012-img_4052The next morning, we had to endure the Loud Cell Phone Talker During Sunrise And Coffee When All Anyone Wanted to Hear Was The Many Birds Native To The San Pedro River, plus his two compatriots regaling us with stories of divorce and Mississippi (I’m still not clear on whether one begets the other. Separate thought: Why are B&B enthusiasts so weird?). But hey, the house-made breakfast was worth it. And then came our turn for Bisbee. Neither T nor I had ever been. So we parked the car in the $5 lot, told the bikes to stay unstolen, and walked around. Until we got bored not long afterward. Bisbee is very cute but there’s little to do besides eat and shop, at least on a Sunday morning. And, sorry, coffee hippie handing out free espresso in the alley — a 10-second pour does not a god shot make.

One expensive and forgettable lunch later, we beat feet. To Douglas. Because who doesn’t like a historic small city you’re not likely to seek out again? No one. Which is what makes Douglas so sad now. Ain’t nothing happening. We drove through a veritable ghost town, where the only sign of life came from the twittering snowbirds gathered in the Gadsden Hotel bar. The hotel is interesting for about 15 minutes, since it’s been through a fire, boasts some unique architecture, houses the Tiffany stained-glass windows and whose marble stairs bear the marks of Pancho Villa’s boisterous horse ride. Still, those factoids and sights failed to hold our attention for long, and we took off for Willcox to meet our friends, via the back roads.

Tomahawk2After driving past much tall, dried grass and off-the-grid housing, we made it to Willcox and our motel, where our friends soon joined. Everyone was hungry. And may I set your expectations now — the dining options for Sunday evening in Willcox all rank at about one star, if you’re lucky. Zagat’s and Michelin have no place here. Which is why we landed at a grill-your-own-meat tavern complete with drunken locals and a harried bartender who thaws your steak and cooks your potatoes in the microwave. And where one regular has to hand over his tomahawk to said bartender for safekeeping while he’s drinking, and where another likes to dance with out of towners to Kenny Rogers on the jukebox. Oh, the stories. That night will live in infamy. Never go to a predictable place when you can choose the local hangout. And that’s the joy of going on bike-related adventures with friends. You never know what you’re going to get yourself into and thus need help getting out of (like Nancy’s grip). Once we realized the hour and impending early morning, we zipped back to the hotel, ending the evening with the season opener of MotoGP in the hotel dining room and somehow managing not to tick off the raucous family that had already claimed the area. Because Marquez is unbelievable.

Then, early the next day, with some Holiday Inn breakfast for those who could stomach it, we left for the piece de resistance, the whole reason for the whole weekend: Inde.

What. A. Track.

kelly_inde

I got off to a slow start but by early afternoon, I remained in the saddle with little exception.  At the end of the day, I did not want to stop. I was loving every second, thanks in large part to some tips from William Russell, who teaches for Desert Road Racing. He encouraged me to take the track with no brakes or body positioning, just to get the feel of the lines and the track through engine braking and normal posture. It worked. Once I relaxed and let myself do my own thing, no longer worried that my fellow riders would stuff me in a corner, and once the caffeine finally seeped into my blood stream (God bless you and your growler of horchata cold brew, Crate Coffee), I cut loose. Inde features tight corners, changing elevation and a fast straightaway (not that my supermoto’d CRF 230 goes any kind of fast, but it’s such a blast). All of that sensory input, with the Dos Cabezas mountains in the background making for distracting scenery, wore me out in the best way. Riding home that night in the car, lulled by In ‘n Out goodness and the purple sunset skies, I felt more happy-tired than I remembered feeling in a long time.

That, dear readers, is an excellent way to end an excellent weekend that would not have happened without the riding impetus. Serendipity? I think so. And just one of the many stories I’ve collected — and just one of the many more I hope to have — because of motorcycles and friends. What are your stories of riding serendipity? I’d love to hear them.

Kelly Teal Signature

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TEAM Arizona Riding Tip: Doing the Footpeg – Floorboard Foxtrot

cruiser foot positionFoot position.  Many riders don’t give much thought to *HOW* they place their feet on their foot pegs or floorboards.  Generally, we find a place that works for us and that’s that.  Typically, that means mid-arch on a foot peg or with our heel predominately taking the weight on a floorboard.  In this piece we want to offer up a different perspective to how we use our feet as motorcyclists.  It requires us to establish some assumptions.  They are:

  • Riding well and safely means being active in the saddle
  • Motorcycling is a sport; like athletes we will use athletic stances to be able to maximize our effectiveness on the motorcycle
  • What we do with our feet is determined by what we want to accomplish
  • We are trying to maximize our effectiveness on a motorcycle

Do you accept these assumptions?  Good!  Let’s get down to business!

WHAT IS THE MOST ATHLETIC POSITION?

ball-of-footThink of a basketball, football, tennis, or baseball player.  Really, think of just about any athlete in any sport.  When they are preparing for action, on what part of their feet do they position themselves?  The heel?  Mid-arch?  The balls?  Correct, typically the balls of their feet.

To make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s define what constitutes the ball of the foot.  The ball of the foot is where the toes join with the rest of the foot. It comprises the heads of the metatarsals together as a unit.  In the image to the left, it is denoted by the red shaded areas of the foot.

Why do we want to be on the balls of our feet?

Our feet are the foundation for balance, strength, and agility.  Using the balls of our feet puts us in the greatest position of power.

Why do we need to put us in this position of maximum leverage, especially if we’re just cruising or touring on a motorcycle?

PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE

You’ve probably heard about the 5 P’s before, haven’t you?  Yes, proper preparation prevents poor performance.  By riding with our balls of our feet on our foot peg or floorboard, we are better able to handle these types of situations:

  • Swerving to avoid a hazard- The bike will move easier beneath you
  • Obstacle crossing- Standing up to cross over an obstacle (can be something as simple as a speed bump or as serious as a ladder in the middle of your lane)
  • Low speed maneuvering- Getting into a counterweight position is easier when your feet are positioned properly
  • High speed cornering (above 18mph)- As we discuss at length in our 10 Steps to Proper Cornering from our Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic, Step #1 is making sure we’re on the balls of our feet.  We also tuck the foot up and away to prevent any chance of the foot coming into contact with the road surface

I guess the question becomes, when do we know in advance that hazard avoidance maneuvers are necessary?  You’re right, we don’t.  So why not be ready all the time?  The benefits to riding on the balls of the feet are immense.  Which means that once we’re done shifting or braking, we want to return our balls of the feet to the foot peg or floorboard position.

IT DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT

motorcycle ergonomicsOften times we hear that it doesn’t feel right to ride on the balls of the foot.  Maybe the cockpit feels too cramped, the legs get tired sooner, or it doesn’t feel right on a floor board.  Admittedly, balls of the feet riding with floor boards isn’t always easy.  There are a few instances where other parts of the foot may be used (like high performance braking).  As we always say, motorcycles aren’t a one size fits all proposition.  Making sure your motorcycle fits your properly is crucial.

To the above mentioned concerns we say there may be fitment issues.  Seat alterations, foot peg adjustments, or boot changes may just be the difference that makes riding on the balls of your feet more comfortable.

Ultimately, it is up to us to make the necessary adjustments that accommodate the best riding position for our vehicle.  Are you ready to join us in doing the Foot peg – Floorboard Foxtrot?

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