Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Follow the fast guy

Had one of those magic days recently, middle of the week, perfect weather and an empty schedule, until *George texts one word. "Ride?"

F**k yeah! I replied and after exchanging meeting times the next morning we were off a bit after 9am.
Now I'm not a follower much, but I love following George. He rides a Bandit 1250, used to race 'back in the day', grew up around these parts, and I have come to understand knows every back road that was ever made.

He is one of those guys who will go out and just ride, anywhere, for no reason. You see George is a man of few words and would rather that we just rode all of the time.

A day riding following the fast guy was just what the doctor ordered, especially after my pitiful attempts at getting out in the cold of late. With a salute to the oncoming 17 degree clear day ahead, I took off down the freeway to the meeting point designated by George 25 mins from my house.

On arrival he scorned sternly the chicken strips on my newish Michy PR4s and took off at a pace, rolling it on slow but hard and lifting the front wheel up for a few metres with an almighty big four PHWWWONNNG!

We rode up and around the back of Pennant Hills and wound our way along back roads that I never knew existed, mostly empty thanks to the mid week time slot and somehow found ourselves at Sugarloaf Dam which was particularly low, yet serene. After a smoke and more scorning of my chicken strips we were off again. It was a great day and I consistently wore down those strips until almost, not quite, but almost the whole tire was being used. At least all the nipples are finally gone. Thanks George.

I tell you what, motorcycling for me is about constant learning. Always refining, thinking, feeling, experimenting, tuning how I ride. I love it for that reason because the feedback is instant, you put some effort in and you can tell you improve. I think I know the secret to consistently improve my riding ability. Wanna know what it is?
Follow people much faster than you.
Shadowing I believe they call it. Stay with the person up front (the fast one) and observe, try and forget about what you are doing and mirror what they are doing. Learn by following and doing, at the same time.

Watch the lines they take, watch and listen to the way they use the engine, how they break, do they use engine decompression more than braking hard, watch their left foot and how they pick the gears (which is reversed as George uses the race pattern 1 up 5 down), do they use the back break?
Watch. Listen. Learn. Copy.
I can’t handle following riders that are shit for this exact reason, they chose shit lines, over-brake going into corners, go too slow and generally lack of any sort of confidence which throws me off my game.

Following makes me an all round rider, better at managing my first literbike, which still feels new and untamed to me especially when I’m trying to ride it hard.

I may not have reached the edge or balled up the back yet, but with some more following, and more practise I’ll get there. I've had many challenging rides following George, always learning. One day I will hunt him down and take the lead but not yet, not today.

As we said our goodbyes I watched him tip into his street scraping his toes on the way round. How he does it I dunno.

Until next time, follow that fast guy.

*George’s name has been changed to protect his identity but funny fact is that I believed his name was George for two years before I discovered he had been kidding me on all along.