MSF’s Experienced Rider Course

September 28, 2005
I completed the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Experienced Rider Course last Sunday. I’d been looking forward to doing this course and wasn’t disappointed ! It is a 5 hour course for people who already have some riding experience and want to sharpen their skills. When I showed up at the location around 8:30, some of the riders had already arrived and were chatting with the instructors. Most of the people registered for this course were older riders who were returning to riding after a 10 to 15 year break. There were a few Harleys, a Goldwing, couple of sports bikes, a BMW touring bike and a couple of Hondas like mine.

After introductions and some basic safety instructions, we started up the bikes to practice. The instructor would first explain the maneuver, while the other instructor demonstrated it. Then we would follow suit, repeating each exercise several times. The exercises included weaving through cones, making tight U-turns, emergency braking, quick stops in a curve, swerving and cornering techniques. Apart from being a lot of fun, the course helped a lot in revealing to me where I needed to improve. The swerving excercise was especially useful. I was getting better after each attempt, swerving at higher speeds each time until the instructor had to ask me to slow down! The instructors were great and the maneuvers that we practiced were well designed. The one thing I would have liked the course to cover is good cornering lines for different types of curves but thats probably a whole course by itself. I definitely recommend the course for people with some riding experience.


September 17th ride

September 17, 2005

Ah yes…Fall is in the air. For the first time I was glad I was wearing my heavy leather jacket for something other than protection from road rash! It will soon be time to start using the inner lining of the jacket and full-finger gloves. I rode alone today and didn’t carry a camera, so no pictures – just another boring write-up! Today was all about enjoying the ride, carving the corners and practicing some emergency maneuvers. I headed out on Wesselman Ave and onto E. Miami River road via Buffalo Ridge road. I’m quite fond of riding in this area – nice twisty roads bordered by lush green foliage and I don’t have to take the freeway to get there.

On straight stretches of E. Miami River road, after making sure there was no traffic in either direction, I practiced making panic stops from about 60mph. I did it about 4 times and although I didn’t measure the stopping distances, I felt each attempt was better than the earlier one. Near Ross, OH, I pulled into the Proctor and Gamble parking lot and practiced swerving at around 30-40mph. Next Sunday I will be attending the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s course for experienced riders where I hope to further hone my skills.

From Ross, OH I continued on route 126 for several miles. The morning haze had lifted and the sun was now shining brightly. I tried to take it all in – the black tarmac whizzing by underneath, the green farms on either side, the blue sky, the cool breeze – “euphoric” would best describe how I was feeling.

I am planning several trips to Indiana in October to see the Fall colors, particularly to CliftyFalls state park near Madison, IN and Brown County state park near Nashville, IN. Do check back to read about those trips. And yes, there will be plenty of pictures!

Check this video out…it’ll crack you up !!!

September 16, 2005
Remember when you were a kid and used to pretend you were riding a motorcycle, making those vroom vroom sounds while running around the house ?

September 10th ride

September 11, 2005
I’d been doing some research online and had read about some good roads not too far from Cincinnati, in the north-east counties. So, on Saturday morning, Angie and I set out on US 50 east all the way to Hillsboro. US 50 is quite unexciting to ride on, with too much traffic, long straight stretches and a dull landscape, although we occasionally passed some pretty bean fields in full bloom with yellow flowers.

After a stop in Hillsboro at a DQ for some ice-cream, we headed south on SR73 toward Locust Grove in Adams county. The ride on SR73 was much more enjoyable. The main attraction in Locust Grove is something called the Serpent Mound, an ancient Indian effigy mound representing a snake.

By the time we finished walking around and taking pictures at the Serpent Mound, it was time for lunch. We looked for a restaurant in Locust Grove and didn’t find any. We were riding on SR41 and soon ended up in Peebles, where we found the Village Inn restaurant. I never fail to be amazed by how inexpensive these restaurants in small towns can be. I got a Sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, cornbread, butterscotch pudding and coffee, all for under $5 !!

After lunch, we took SR32 toward Cincinnati. It immediately became evident to us that SR32, a 4 lane highway was not going to be very exciting either. So when I saw a sign for SR62 south toward Ripley, I decided to take it. And it was certainly a much better ride than Sr32. Ripley is a quaint little town on the banks of the Ohio river, about 50 miles from Cincinnati. We rode around town looking for a place to have a drink and happened upon Snappers Saloon, a bar frequented by bikers. We hung around in the outdoor beer garden for some time, appreciating the weather and taking in the the view of the river. I thought the signs on the restroom doors was interesting- Peckers and Snappers !!

The last leg of the trip was on US52 along the river, back to Cincinnati. Total trip distance was approximately 200 miles.

September 10th ride Posted by Picasa

September 3rd ride

September 4, 2005
The plan was to ride to Brookville, IN with my co-rider Angie. When I went to pick her up, I saw her neighbor Dave pull into his garage on his Harley. We went over so say hi, and ended up chatting bikes and routes for several minutes. Dave has two Harley Davidson bikes, one of them a brand new 2005 Road King. His bikes are in immaculate condition-not a spot of dust anywhere. He’s been riding for several years and knows all the nice roads around the tristate area. He recommended that we head west into Indiana via US. 50 and follow SR56 along the Ohio river and even lent us a map.

September 03 ride

It was was excellent day to be out riding, with the temperature in the upper 70s. Following Dave’s suggestion, we rode to Cleves,OH and got on US50 into Indiana. At Aurora, IN, we turned onto SR56 west. There was a little bit of traffic all the way to Rising Sun, where we stopped to take some pictures by the river.

Biker chick Angie

At Rising Sun, IN

Angie by the Ohio River

Riverboad Casino at Rising Sun, IN

A few miles past Rising Sun, we took SR156 toward Patriot and Warsaw. Traffic was light, though we saw several bikers. Apart from being very scenic, with the river on the left and farms on the right, the road is also ideal for opening the throttle on a some of the straight stretches. We stopped in Vevay for lunch at Al’s Diner.

Angie’s folks have a farm up by Versailles, IN. Since SR129 was closed for construction, we took the detour via SR56 east to SR260 west to SR129 north. We showed up at the farm around 4pm. Angie’s parents Jerry and Phyllis are among the nicest and friendliest people I’ve ever met. The rest of the pictures were taken around their farm.

Books for the serious motorcyclist

September 3, 2005
I’m back! For my first post back from vacation, I decided to review some books that might be of interest to the motorcyclist who is looking to take his/her riding skills to the next level. A couple of months ago, while riding on one of my routes I’d stopped to take some pictures and stretch my legs, when another biker went by on his BMW motorcycle. The twisty country road had a speed limit of 55mph, but the recommended speed for the sharp right turn up ahead was 25mph. I saw the guy make the smoothest turn I had ever seen at a speed that would have definitely taken me onto the oncoming lane had I been the one riding the bike. He placed the bike near the centerline, braked gently till the turn-in point, leaned the bike into the turn and accelerated through the apex of the curve in one fluid motion that left me asking myself why I wasn’t cornering nearly as fast or smoothly on my bike. That was before I fully understood countersteering, the ‘delayed apex line’ for cornering and the importance of rolling on the throttle in a curve to conserve traction. Later that day, I went online, looked up a few popular motorcycling books on and put in a request for them at the university library. I received the books a few days later and read them over the past month.

Two of the books, A Twist of the Wrist I & II are geared toward people with who intend to race bikes. I glossed over them but found them to be very technical, without much information for the street rider. However, I have come to consider Proficient Motorcycling and More Proficient Motorcycling by David L. Hough a must read for both current and aspiring motorcyclists.

David L. Hough is a rider with more that a million miles of motorcycle experience, so he obviously knows a thing or two about riding. I recommend reading the books in sequence, beginning with the first book, Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well. The chapters begin with an example of an accident or an incident involving a fictitious rider (with names like Panicky Pete, Motorhead Mike and Knee-dragger Nellie!) and then he proceeds to analyze the mistakes the rider made. Hough talks about motorcycle dynamics, making panic stops, conserving traction during cornering, urban traffic survival, effective steering and group riding practices, all peppered with interesting anecdotes and examples drawn from his personal experience or that of his friends.

In More Proficient Motorcycling: Mastering the Ride, he focuses on the mental aspect of motorcycling, with practical steps that could increase the riders focus and reduce reaction time. He explains countersteering and cornering in more detail, discusses road hazards to motorcyclists and explains how to deal with them. Both books have plenty of photographs and diagrams. The writing style keeps the reader engrossed, with a dash of dry wit making some of the more serious content very readable. Bottom-line: If you are serious about your motorcycling, consider buying or at least borrowing these two books. They are priceless and could quite possibly save your life when you are confronted with an emergency while riding. One other book by David L. Hough worth checking out is Street Strategies: A Survival Guide for Motorcyclists. This is more like a quick reference book, with material condensed from the Proficient Motorcycling series. While none of these books can replace the hands-on training provided at a motorcycle safety course, they go a long way in increasing the rider’s understanding of motorcycle dynamics, thus making it easier to practice the right technique while riding or choose the right course of action in an emergency.

Do check back soon for my next post. Happy reading and happy riding!!