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You Ride like a Girl – you wish!

badassThe video below was shot in 2014 at a gymkhana event known as Top Gun, held at the Montevallo Safety Center.  The event was free, and meant to help riders improve their skills.  It was quickly apparent that a few riders did not need any improvement, so WHY were they there?  It was very obvious that these same riders had mastered the graceful movement of motorcycles around the course, weaving between the cones like dancers in a ballet.  All skill levels were present, from new riders, to confident and experienced, and finally the experts.  The question remains, why were the experts there?  The answer is simple – They are EXPERTS!  They did not become experts at birth, or at some random point like the flip of a digit on the odometer.  They become experts by practicing their skills.  The experts are separated from EVERYONE else by the possession of a few traits.  The primary trait should be the absence of the idea they were experts.  These people would call themselves “decent” riders, and they are confident in their skill level.  A second and very important trait is the knowledge they can always improve, and the more they practice, the more confidence they collect in return.  Third, these experts are willing to put the time and work in to improve their skill level, and spend time every year doing “silly circles in a parking lot”, or something similar.

gymkhana usaOccasionally, they will knock over a cone.  Sometimes they may even drop their bike – especially if they are running a timed event, competing against other riders for the best time.  They are on display every time they go out to an event, so they are very vulnerable bone-headed moves, and embarrassment in front of hundreds of people.  Yet they still go.  They go because they know the value of an event like this, and the dramatic affect these drills can have on skills.  They know they may screw up, right next to everyone else, and they laugh it off with everyone else.

gymkhana wallflowers

Everyone else laughs, EXCEPT the folks that need the most help.  You may see a few of the folks on the side, watching in disbelief.  These WallFlowers are quite aware that the turns are difficult for the un-practiced.  Most of them don’t even believe they can execute the turns.  Many even blame their machines for the impossibility of turning at a reasonable angle.  Not many people want to admit they cannot execute simple low-speed turns on the machines they should know how to ride.  It is a major problem in America, a lack of basic skills held by most riders.  These skill events are not designed to create experts.  They are designed to illuminate gaps in your skill, and offer a pathway to improvement.  American Gymkhana was designed as a free, fun, and easy path to quickly(1-2 hours) improving your skills.  The results are visible in the experts, the advanced riders, and event the beginners.

 

Well…I spent an entire week doing gymkhana……

….and all I got was this lousy emblem….. .

.     I got certified as a Motor Scout this week! First, they gave me this….. Then, they pointed me at a huge skidpad FULL of these…..       ..And said, “Ride.” …At least, that was the week in a nutshell… :) I just want to thank the Bamarides community, because, after attending a couple of Gymkhana events, I KNOW that it had a profound impact on my performance this week. I learned to whip a 670 lb bike around a myriad of cone courses, and even use it to hill-climb, and off-road  crazy I learned how to work off of the bike, using it to the most effect to perform daily activities. I learned about escorts…..BTW… The instructors were great, and really worked with us….(one other candidate completely burned out his clutch)  :( Had a blast, and I just had to share it! Thanks again for the Cone-practice!! –Tim

My First Gymkhana

Well, it wasn’t exactly my first Gymkhana, just the first one I participated in. I attended the previous one, but never found the courage to ride.

When I first saw the flyer for this event I knew I needed to attend. I needed to learn. Somehow I had to overcome the fear and just try it. I emailed Scott (postmaster) and asked if there would be opportunity for one on one instruction. He simply said “Yes”. Then…”I will see you there”. I was instantly nervous, even though it was many days away. I immediately began to think of excuses to back out.

Then, just one day before the event, I see a ride to Warm Springs GA was posted on my groups website. Now that sounds like fun. That’s what I should do, right? My wife reminded me of Scott’s email…”I will see you there”. Thanks, now I feel guilty, committed.

So, it’s off to the basement to get the bike ready. Ok, let’s take the FZ6R. It is light and the one I can maneuver the easiest. I check the bike out, it’s ready to go. Then I remember you should take the bike you ride the most. Fine, I’ll take the M50. It is my go to bike for most occasions. I check the bike out, it’s ready to go. Then I see the Victory. No way. But, I’m about to embark on a 5000 mile trip to Colorado. It would probably be smart to take it. It would almost be worth taking the Victory just to see Scott’s reaction when he sees it coming. Besides, I’m pretty sure I can’t do these maneuvers with this bike, so it will be a short day. I can say I tried and call it a day.

So, I’m off, amazingly on the Victory. As I pull into the parking lot, I see Scott coming my way. He has no reaction to me being on the Victory. I ask Scott if he can see what I’m riding. He says, “yeah, so what”. I ask him if he honestly thinks I can do this on this big bike. He says “sure, why not”. Scott then proceeds to explain to me what we will be doing today, carefully explaining the different courses. He then not only brilliantly explains the first maneuver and how to accomplish it, but demonstrates it….ON MY BIKE. Great! That took away my excuse that this big bike won’t do that, I should have brought my Yamaha. Several other instructors introduce themselves, offer some words of advice and encouragement, and I’m off. Heart rate really up there, I will have to admit, a very shaky start. For some reason, I can’t force myself to get my bike inside the freakin’ circle of tennis balls, so I stop. After some great advice from another instructor, I give it another try. I get into the circle of tennis balls. Nice! However, I am now riding over the top of every freakin’ tennis ball. Or at least, that’s what it felt like. So, time for more advice. Apparently I don’t need to be looking at the freakin’ tennis balls. Something that may seem so simple to some was a huge accomplishment for me. I DID IT!

Some of the more amazing tips I got today…
—Breathe. Wow, Scott was right. I think I just did 4 figure 8’s without breathing.
—Ease up on the grips. Wow, so that’s why my hands are hurting so badly.

I’m certainly in no position to offer advice. I don’t have the experience or talent. But I think one of the reasons this was so beneficial to me was that I checked my ego at the door. I listened to every word from every instructor. And, even though some of their advice and instruction made no sense whatsoever, I believed them, trusted them, and just tried it. And, I’m glad I did.

I have heard from day one, from the purchase of my very first bike, “Look where you want to go”. That has always seemed like the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Why would you look where you don’t want to go? But, after today, I know exactly what it means. And amazingly, it works!!

So, I would like to thank everyone who provided instruction and encouragement. It was very much appreciated. Thank you to Don and the gang for the Most Improved Award medallion. It actually meant a lot. Although most of the credit for that award goes to the instructors and everyone who took their time to set this up and offer their knowledge of experience. I rode home today a little taller. Of course, that’s not much of a challenge when you are only 5’4” to begin with. Who knew 5’4”, 120lbs could Gymkhana with a 900lb motorcycle?

After today, this is how I feel. I believe there are at least four groups who should attend Gymkhana:
1)Those who think they need to learn some new riding skills
2) Those who think they need to improve on their riding skills
3) Those who don’t think they need to learn some new riding skills
4) Those who don’t think they need to improve on their riding skills

- Jerry C. (Alabama)