A success story


This is Arlene’s first full season riding her own. After more than 170,000 km as a co-rider, she has moved to the front seat; a spanking new Harley Street Glide. Sweet! Last year was cut short when she hit a deer at the start of our only long distance ride. She fared well, all things considered (due to her outstanding skill for a newby). After a lot of practice on school bikes over the winter (thanks to Open Road Motorcycle Training) she regained her confidence and has been doing some outstanding riding this year. We were on a ride down in the States in June/July where she conquered the Beartooth Pass with ease, among other well-known rides. Now she is taking road challenges in stride that not long ago intimidated her. Her years on the back seat have been what we refer to as a co-rider rather than simply a passenger, which have  both helped and hindered her. There have not been too many surprises for her, so she is mentally prepared for almost anything. On the other side of the coin, she knows what is waiting for her and waits in trepidation until she meets and beats some of those challenges. Typically she  masters them with ease, surprising herself every time. I just smile, having perhaps more confidence in her skill level than she does herself. 🙂

She is an awesome riding partner.  After years on the same bike, we know exactly what each other will do at any given time. I love nothing better than looking in the mirror in a long sweeper and seeing her leaned over in exact formation with myself or the two of us  completing a pass in perfect harmony. Life is good.

As always, I encourage questions and comments on this post. Please see the tag line below to make a comment.

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6 Responses to A success story

  1. Brent says:

    You know, it looks like fun, but strapping my body to Harley Davidson just plain scares the hell out of me – I mean big time. However I would like to buy a Harley D. just for sake of having a $35,000 dollar piece of jewelry in my garage……wouldn’t ride it though – just polish it – he he he.

    Have fun guys!!!

  2. David says:

    Keep ’em coming, Buddy! Good stuff.


  3. Dave Epp says:

    Good to hear Arlene taking on Beartooth Pass on her first riding season. I managed the tightest of twisties in the Blackhills during my first riding season on a 2001 Connie last summer. Do you have any advice for tackling Beartooth? I am curious about how tight the switchback turns are on Beartooth? Can you recommend any other day trips besides Chief Joseph Hwy? Three brothers and I will be staying at Cody Wy. for a week, in early July 2013. Thanks, Dave

  4. Dave Epp says:

    Good to hear Arlene taking on Beartooth Pass on her first riding season. I managed the tightest of twisties in the Blackhills during my first riding season on a 2001 Connie last summer. Do you have any advice for tackling Beartooth? I am curious about how tight the switchback turns are on Beartooth. Can you recommend any other day trips besides Chief Joseph Hwy? Three brothers and I will be staying at Cody Wy. for a week, in early July 2013. Thanks, Dave

    • admin says:

      Hi Dave,
      The Beartooth was a great achievement for Arlene for sure. Even though that was her first season on her own bike she had more than 150,000 miles on the back seat so at least knew what to expect- she just didn’t think it would be so physically and mentally tiring. For sure there are lots of other roads with as tight or tighter turns than the Beartooth but not nearly as many in a row. She was one tired puppy when we got to Cody. It’s high, too. I had A-fib at the time and I had to pant at the top to get enough oxygen. As far local rides in the area there are tons of roads in south west Montana worthy of a look. Also, anything in north western Wyoming is awesome, Greybull east up the Shell Canyon(now THERE’S some hairpins) to Sheridan. Then there’s Idaho, Utah, Nevada, North and South Dakota…. 🙂

      The thing I would consider the most on the Beartooth is to watch for cars and bikes that come around the corner in the wrong lane, so make sure you’re in lane position 3 on blind inside corners. We rode the Tail of the Dragon in NC last summer and that was definitely the greatest hazard on that road. Guys treat it like a ski run, riding it back and forth all day long trying to get faster each time. There were two crashes before 10:00 the morning we rode it.

      We are MC skills instructors and my best advice is to make sure that you’re turning skills and overall confidence are 100%. That goes without saying for riding in general. Please forgive me if this is old news to you but because you are asking I will give you the best answer I can. The most important cornering tip is to look where you want to go (as in all riding – and driving for that matter). The best way I can describe that is to look across the curve at your intended lane position, starting just before to enter the curve (break it into straight-curve-straight). Because all turns are different, when I say “across” I mean varying degrees of an evident arc from only a little bit to the whole curve depending on its length/radius. Keep your eyes ranging ahead constantly rather than fixating on the one spot then picking another spot. You DO NOT necessarily have to look all the way to the other side of the curve (as some instructors will indicate). From that point, simply counter steer (pressure on the opposite side of the bars from the turn) to keep your bike heading for that point. If you’re “gaining” on the curve, back off on the counter steer. If you need to turn tighter, more pressure. Don’t worry about lane position – it will take care of itself once you’ve made your choice. When you get near the end of the curve, look way down the road. The easiest way to get this whole concept is to exit curves by looking way down the road and then translate that further and further back in curves until you’re effective going into a curve. Once you get the hang of it (the kinesthetic feeling) you will come to trust your judgement. Hairpins can be a bit “hairy” because the whole process is compressed. The one thing that is typically missed (and possibly the most important) in an explanation of counter steering is to keep your head and eyes level. This causes a tiny bit of counterbalancing (because your shoulders go that way too) which keeps more weight over the contact patch and also give you a feeling of stability – because it’s more stable. 🙂 The biggest problem we have on the lot is getting people to understand that you don’t initiate a turn with weight shifting (leaning your body into the turn – like how your Dad taught you to ride a bicycle)). Weight shifting is inaccurate and vary unresponsive. The BIKE leans into the turn, the body leans sightly away. Look at pictures of racers in a full lean. They’re “hanging off” to lower their center of gravity and knee is out only as an indicator (when it rubs the pavement – that’s far enough), but their head and eyes are level. I can tell you way more about counter steering, so just ask if you are interested.

      Very possibly one of the best tips I can give anyone about riding is to relax and that comes with confidence which in turn comes from practice. Remember that practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent, so practice the correct things. 🙂 Riding one day a week for a couple of hours in local traffic will never give you that and neither will only city riding give you any real riding experience. Go for full day rides and overnighters as much as possible. You will find after four days on the road that things become instinctual (which you probably already know).

      As far as learning anything, visualize all this when you are in bed or just relaxing. Visualize each portion and even make the moves slowly and perfectly, micro second by micro second stretched into many seconds. I did that when I was learning to telemark ski and was stunned when I was able to ski in two weeks of visualizing as if I had skied that way all my life.

      Again, if this is all old news I apologize, but hopefully there is a tidbit or two in there for you. If you’re looking for a good CD, look for Ride Like a Pro on the internet. Great learning tool.

      Not sure where you are from, but if you’re near BC (our home), try the Kooteneys. Great riding country and very MC friendly

      Ride safe.


  5. Dave Epp says:

    Ed, thanks a ton for the extra detailed advice. Even though I’ve heard some of it it before, it needs repeating for a beginner like me! Like I said, this will only be my 2nd summer of riding coming up and I need all the practical advice I can find. I have read about the counter steering technique November’s special edition of “Sport Rider” magazine, but it still seems very foreign to me… I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this one. I know I should try to figure it out before our trip comes around. I will also read the recent advice you give on this subject on your website. BTW, I’m from Winnipeg, so I have to travel at least 1 1/2 – 2 hrs north west to find any good paved roads that offer curves and hills to practise on. But, I love riding! My slightly top heavy Concours will challenge me but after last year’s trip, I’m up to it! Fortunately I have brothers and other biker friends that offer encouragement. Again, thanks for connecting with me Ed. Cheers.

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