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Thread: Shelf Life For Riding Skills

  1. #1
    Rally Rat PAULBACH's Avatar
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    Shelf Life For Riding Skills

    A few weeks ago I talked with a Naval aviator who flies off the Abe Lincoln. He had two weeks of leave and then back to the squadron.

    I asked how long an aviator has to be away from flying before one starts to lose the edge?

    His answer was, two days.

    Is there a similar time period for motorcycle driving? How long can you go without riding before one loses the edge, assuming skills are sharp to start with?

    What is the best way to restore kills before heading out on the highways?

  2. #2
    Never having been an aviator (except for the weekly rides in the back) I cannot be certain as to the level of intensity of flying a multi-million $ jet and the tactics for it, however if the tv portrayal is any guideline it is much worse/intense than bike riding.

    I sometimes have to go weeks between rides due to other reasons, and when I get back on there is so much that is just second nature in terms of operation after so many years, although my awareness is somewhat heightened due to the amount of time I spend in a car during that time, and the resulting feel of exposure. A good stimuli for watching all around me.

    It seems to take a good long ride before actions are becoming fluid once again. I think that wearing an orange suit and chanting "one with the bike ommmmm...one with the bike" may help...LOL

  3. #3
    Slowpoke & Proud of It! BRADFORDBENN's Avatar
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    I know that one of the things that I see anecdotally is that there are more accidents in the spring time with riders. I am not sure if it is newer riders or just rusty riders. Either way, I figure for me it is about a week to start losing the "instinct".

    By that I mean knowing and not thinking how to turn on the turn signal. On occassion I have tried to push the clutch lever up to signal a right turn...
    -=Brad

    It isn't what you ride, it is if you ride

  4. #4
    RIDERR1150GSADV
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    Talking

    I think that a lot depends on how much prior experience a rider has. If one rides 25K in 7 months for years and is layed up because of seasons than that person is likely to be better off in the spring than let's say a rider who does 3k in the same period and than cranks up the bike in the spring.
    Some folks can ride all year and some can't ,so like Brad said, the spring is the most dangerous time for most riders.

  5. #5
    Rally Rat PAULBACH's Avatar
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    Brad's Prescription

    Bet Brad would say the solution is obvious:

    Ride Year Round


    Wonder if one could save some of those half gallon paper milk cartons, fill them with water and set them in a parking lot for early riding practice. Maybe figure 8 patterns?

    There must be a place on the web with diagrams for how to set the cartons like instructors do for motorcycle saving courses. Might make a good club activity as a first ride in the spring.

  6. #6
    RK Ryder
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAULBACH
    Wonder if one could save some of those half gallon paper milk cartons, fill them with water and set them in a parking lot for early riding practice. Maybe figure 8 patterns?
    I setup a course in an empty parking lot with small orange cones from Toys R Us. The cost is about $ 6.00 for four cones. Small, cheap and easy to carry in the top box to the parking lot.

    Being a newbie, I find that yes my skills get rusty if I am off the bike for a while; especially with U-turns. Of course the dumbest one was last Sunday. Hadn't ridden for a while. While in the driveway, I couldn't get the shifter to work. Finally I used the other shifter on the other side and the bike went into gear. Tell me I'm not the first to use the wrong shifter after being off the bike for a while.
    Paul F. Ruffell
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
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  7. #7
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Here is a link to the MSF page where you are able to download coarse layouts.

  8. #8
    25-MPH NEXT 1OO MILES PacWestGS's Avatar
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    IMNSHO - I think it's anytime you are off the bike and at least the first six-minutes after you get back on. (EDIT: I'm speaking of daily riding here) And that again would depend on what your skill level was before you got off the last time.

    I'm glad I get to ride year round but, you should see me screw up the controls and operation of two (or three) different motorcycles in the garage.

    EDIT: As a military parchutist it didn't matter if you jumped yesterday or six-months ago you still went through refresher training before jumping out of an airplane. It also didn't matter if you had five or a thousand jumps before.

    I would put less focus on the physical aspect of controlling the machine and more imphasis on conditioning the brain to be on the upper edge of perfection. And that is hard to do whether it's been a few hours, days or months away from riding.
    Last edited by PacWestGS; 11-23-2006 at 06:07 PM.
    Russ
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  9. #9
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    I have come to think the best image of riding skills is a sine wave. If excellence is the base line running through it we all vacillate above and below the line at different times.

    Time away from the bike leads to below the baseline skills due to lack of practice.
    Ride on a daily basis and we can easily slip into complacency and the related errors that can result in.

    Because of where I live I experience both in any given year. Frankly the latter scares me more than the former. When I am away from the bike for a period of time I am very aware that I need to pay attention to my mental riding checklist and riding skills. The familiarity breeds contempt side of the sine wave does not become apparent until you find yourself in a challenging situation.

  10. #10
    Harrington
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    IMO it's my muscle memory. My actions are much get more accurate and deliberate as I ride more often. My muscle memory bank is fully replenished after 3 days in a row. My muscle memory and my confidence will have peaked and I'm able to enjoy the ride more.

  11. #11
    MTHelmet MTHelmet's Avatar
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    I've been riding for the better part of 45 years. I still like to get on the bike in spring to start the riding season like it is the first time on the bike.
    I sit on iot for about 5minutes and go over everything to freshen up the mind on what is where.
    The first ride is always slow and easy for the first 10 to 15 miles. Then ride a little fast, when I have a good mind set then off to the super slab for the true test of mind over matter.
    Alway ride like you are the bulls eye on everones target.
    MT helmet
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  12. #12
    Registered User MOTOR31's Avatar
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    This is a factor that resides in the experiance base of the rider.

    In the case of a new rider they will lose a higher percentage of their skills if they drop away from riding for a while than will a very seasoned rider will in the same period. Some of it is due to muscle imprinting but a very large part of it is due to brain imprinting. Thye skills may be a bit tarnished but they will polish far faster in the older experianced rider than they will in the new green inexperianced rider.

    The older rider will remember what has happened in the preceding times they were not riding then came back. They can realize the limitations and loss because of that experiance where the new rider won't notice it.

    Another factor is that the older rider has also experianced it every time they jump on a different style of bike, even though they are current on their skills. In my career I noticed the difference between the bike assigned to me and any spare I rode when mine was in the shop. They may have been the exact same model and year, maintained by the same shop but each one had a different feel to it. It was enough to make me a bit uncomfortable riding the spare until MY bike came back.

    Street survival tactics also come back to the experianced rider faster than the newbie. Just because of the experiance base gained in driving many years / miles that the older rider has that the "noob" has not been able to get.

    Summation, get experiance. Ride a lot. The more you have behind you the less you lose on a time away from the bike and the faster it will come back to you. For all of us older riders, remember it DOES tarnish so polish the skills with thoughtfull attention.
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  13. #13
    What's that noise...? basketcase's Avatar
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    I've been off of a BMW for a while (more on that in a moment) but have some thoughts on this topic due to recent experience.

    For four months (June - September) I was off the bike. Then when I got back on it the first thing I noticed was that my "memory" had faded of the location of certain controls. Even a bone-stock Gold Wing has a lot of knobs, buttons, and gizmos...

    I also experienced a bit of nervousness coming up to stops. The steering of a GL1500 has an inherent tendency to "waggle" just before stopping (say, 3 mph and down). It took me a dozen stops at traffic signals before I got past the willies.

    This is not the first time I've been to this experience. So my typical drill after the winter break, or after an extended period off the bike, has been to take a ride through a local supermarket parking lot doing figure eights in and out of the rows and lines. Additionally, I do the same thing each time new tires are installed on the bike just to tweak my sense of the balance and the handling.

    So what is the shelf life of riding skills? I'm sure the time depends somewhat on the experience and skill level of the rider before laying off, and I think it is influenced by various other factors. For some it might be the style or handling of their bike; for others it might even be changes in local roads. But whatever the certainities and uncertainties, a shelf life is very definitely real.
    Current ride - '01 GL1800; Gone away: 5 BMW's, 4 Honda's, 3 Suzuki's

    Lifelong wheel addict

  14. #14
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
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    If I've been off the bike for a while, a week or several weeks, I'll use mental visualization to sharpen my skills. I'll try to drive the cage like I'm on the bike. Or I'll just sit and think about riding the bike and mentally go through the motions. It helps when I finally get on and ride away.

    I also like mthelmet's ideas.
    Dan

  15. #15
    #13338 PGlaves's Avatar
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    We ride steadily enough most of the year - but in Kansas there has been that month or two when we rode very little. Springtime skill sharpening drills for me include weaving and sharply swerving, as well as hard braking practice.

    It doesn't take a lot of practice but does take some to get a feel for limits and back to "sharp" again.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
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