Monday, March 29, 2010

more on the class...

Now that my brain has processed the class a bit more, I thought I'd write more about the range exercises. I tried to find some of them on You Tube but haven't had much luck. And MSF doesn't publish the range exercises on their web site either. That's too bad because the descriptions would make more sense if you could see the way the cones are set up for each exercise.

The exercises all built on previous ones, much the same as the ERC and BRC classes do. The Advanced class focused on braking, swerving, and cornering and ultimately, all three. Even though we were still in a parking lot, shared with another class even, our speeds were a bit more lively than the less advanced classes. And we were encouraged to pick up our speeds during the later exercises.

One of the swerving exercises involved coming around a corner and into a situation where we needed to avoid an obstacle (line of cones) by going around it, and then coming to a stop after the swerve was completed. That was an exercise that will probably come up in real life fairly often - 2x4's in the road, road kill, rocks, etc. You may not always need to stop after but the swerving is good practice. There's a big difference between doing a cone weave and an avoidance maneuver although they both are more or less the same technique. An added feature at the end of the exercise was an acceleration to one side and another stop. So, it went something like this:
1. ride through the corner, accelerating out of it.
2. approach the obstacle at speed (20mph or so)
3. swerve around and return to your initial lane of traffic
4. come to a complete stop with a foot down
5. accelerate while swerving to the inside
6. come to a stop with a foot down
7. accelerate to the next corner and repeat on the opposite side

I liked that exercise. I had trouble accelerating quickly. I also missed getting all the way into first gear once and was in neutral as I tried to accelerate after the swerve and into the avoidance maneuver. It was a very good exercise.

We did the same quick stop or emergency stops that are done in the other classes. Hit the first set of cones and then brake, stopping quickly without skidding. I kept activating the ABS on this exercise. It was our first one after the warm up cone weave. It took me a while to get the hang of it and it wasn't until the final loop that I think I got it. But then we moved on so I couldn't practice it more. I'll have to do that on my own. I had the same problem as before in the ERC. I don't use all of my front brake. I practiced that on the way to work today to try to build some muscle memory. It's hard for some reason. I mean the lever is really hard to squeeze. Maybe hubby and I can take a look at adjusting it later. Thanks to the ABS I didn't lock up the wheels. But, still, I wasn't doing it properly and need to get that technique down before it's too late.

Another cornering exercise involved a new leaning technique. This exercise started in the classroom with images of various riding positions. The typical lean where the rider and the bike both lean. The high speed sport bike hang off the side cornering technique. The counter balance lean for slow speeds. And a combination. This involves shifting your weight forward and to the side in the direction the bike is turning. You do this by dropping your elbow down to the side of the tank and leaning forward and slightly to the side. By doing this you can turn your bike without as much lean which maintains the contact patch of the tires on the road. So, you can enter a corner at the same speed but at a less dramatic lean angle. This will enable you to stop quicker if you need to because the bike doesn't have to travel as far back to the upright position and because you already have more of your tire contacting the ground. Again, this makes more sense when you are doing it on the bike. Even sitting on the bike on the center stand it doesn't really make much sense. I practiced this on the way to work this morning too. While riding a slight curve at about 35 mph or so, I alternated between the bike leaning and this newly learned riding position. The bike could maintain the same speed and as I shifted between the two positions, the bike would change the lean angle to suit the riding position. It was pretty cool to be able to do that. I'll have to show hubby later. Very cool. :-) On the range, this position made the difference between dragging a peg and not on some of the tight turns we practiced. That's a good lesson to have learned as well. The GS seems so tall and yet I easily scraped a peg. Maybe I should slow down? Or correct my riding posture? Very cool skill. This you tube video demonstrates the riding position a bit. Without throwing the knee out is how we practiced it.

The other parts of this exercise involved slowing on a curve. There were two circles set up on the range, one smaller than the other. On the smaller one, we practiced the riding posture to demonstrate how you can increase your speed without increasing your lean, if you use the correct riding posture. On the larger one, we did the same but at a higher speed because the circle was larger. Then a second part was added to each circle. The smaller one added an obstacle we could either avoid by going around on the outside or going inside. That was a good one too, as we had to maintain our path of travel after avoiding the obstacle. On the larger circle we were instructed to slow at a certain point in our path of travel and then accelerate back to speed. That was to demonstrate how the bike adjusts to the different speeds when you are cornering. Also a very good exercise.

The decreasing radius exercise was also pretty fun and interesting. The course was set up like a corkscrew where we traveled on a decreasing radius and exited into a curvy path of travel. We did this in both directions. The key to this exercise was to look well ahead through the exit and into the next entry. Keeping your head turned and looking where you wanted to go was the only way to make the next curve. This one is hard to explain without a diagram. I was so focused on making the correct entry and exit that I forgot to use the new riding posture. So, I scrapped some pegs on this one until the instructor asked me if I'd tried the new riding position. After that it was all good and much more fun! I must have also increased my speed a bit as both instructors made comments to me about that.

It was on this exercise that one of the instructors gave me the most compliments of the day. He said he thought I had excellent riding technique and posture and handled the bike very well. The other also complimented me on my smooth throttle control on this exercise. That made me feel good because those were the main reasons I wanted to take this class. I needed to work on smoothly controlling the new bike, getting used to the throttle and the friction zone, and just start feeling more comfortable on the bike in general. I think I succeeded! I certainly have a good base on which to grow now. Starting out with good habits is much better than trying to break old ones and learn new ones I think. Yay!

The last exercise we did involved a lane change. This wasn't my favorite but did involve using and canceling our turn signals which is also something I like to practice. Because there were only 5 of us, we didn't have to slow too much for traffic because we were all traveling in the same direction. There was supposed to be a point where we could potentially cross paths and need to yield but that didn't really happen. But, we all got the idea.

After the range exercises we went back to the classroom to recap and take a test. I missed only two but we didn't review the correct answers so I'm not sure what they were or even what the question was. Oh well. Our course completion cards were passed out along with some schwag. We finished about 2 ours early because of our small class size.

No comments:

Post a Comment