When I told my friends at the campsite I had a training class in the morning, they asked me what I was teaching and if there was more room for them.
“No” I said, “I am taking a course."
"Why" they asked, "you know how to ride."
“I want to be safer and have more fun riding,” I told them.
The MOA Foundation sponsored the course, lowering the cost to only $90. This is another example of how the Foundation’s Paul B. Scholarship has reached out to the masses. From multi-day, track-based riding schools to half-day clinics, the Foundation continues to drive training for safe, proficient riders.
I registered for the Street Skills course along with my brother, Sandy "Triple Digits" Marincic. Arriving at the Street Skills tent outside the rally, we dismounted and walked around the bikes, sizing up our classmates like cowboys in the old west. The class size was small and included two Iron Butt license plate holders, my riding brother Sandy and Tracy, a rider of six months that had focused on training to jump start her riding career. Tracy quickly became one of the crew! Whatever butterflies she had were contained somewhere deep inside. Her jaw tightened and her brow revealed an intense commitment to the skills. Tracy was all in.
Within the first few minutes of my Street Skills course, I felt like something was being taken away from me. Our local New York instructor, Jon DelVecchio, began to deconstruct riding a motorcycle. When I ride my 1999 R1100RT, it feels like I am water skiing. I sit tall and straight to carve and lean in the same plane as the bike. It feels good and natural and it has become my habit. Jon was describing how that was all going to change.
Jon's first exercise involved all of us standing facing him with our feet less than our shoulders’ width apart. We tipped at the waist moving our heads and upper bodies to one side, past our imaginary motorcycle grips and we "kissed the mirror." When we got it right, our center of mass moved outside the center of rotation and we tipped over, catching ourselves by taking a step. This separation of upper and lower body in relation to cornering made me smile. I was headed into new territory.
The flow of the course developed as Jon laid out each new skill with a culmination of combining all the tactics into a smooth package. We immediately validated the new skills on curvy roads along the New York farmlands.
We stopped frequently to debrief and reinforce the concepts Jon was teaching. At each stop, we leapfrogged the order so that each rider could have a look at the skill that Jon was modeling. Jon fine-tuned the group with precision. He laser engraved Street Skills onto our motorcycle minds.
There are three primary types of kinesthetic learners - watchers, thinkers, and doers. Although I would like to classify myself as a thinker, I am much more of a doer. I have truly committed to do everything that Jon instructed. I bought into the new theories, putting my water ski technique on the shelf in exchange for an expanding flat plate, where the rubber literally meets the asphalt.
We picked up speed and built confidence for encountering hazards in corners. Sometimes performance riding is safer. For me, the wrap up was at a stop sign after our last set of twisties. I pulled alongside “Iron Butt” Pete with an ear-to-ear grin.
"I can't believe what a difference kissing the mirror makes!"
"I know," he said smiling. "I know."
Thankfully, the MOA Foundation offers support for riders of all skill levels. I shared my training experience with George Rice, the MOA Foundation’s President. George said, “The Foundation’s mission is to make sure people don’t injure themselves on motorcycles and have a good time riding. We think riders can have a good time and be safe. We are committed to that goal.”
If you are interested in completing a Street Skills course, contact Street Skills at (585) 802-9859. Don't forget the MOA Foundation offers scholarships for rider training. Apply online at bmwmoaf.org. To donate to the Foundation, visit the Foundation's donation page.