Don’t Just Practice, Train!

Everyone in the motorcycle industry will tell you that you need to practice. From youtube content creators, to riding schools, to track schools, and even race schools, everyone will tell you that you need repetition etc. to develop muscle memory and get faster/better/safer/whatever. There is however a small problem in motivation in that equation. Like someone said in response to one of my other articles, “people aren’t trying to find excuses for not practicing other than ‘I don’t feel like it.’” If there isn’t enough motivation, you’re not gonna do it, right?

If you go to the gym to “work out” you’re going to approach your routine with a very different mindset than if you go to the gym to “train”. If you knew you were running a marathon 2 months from now, would you aggressively and purposefully work on increasing mileage or speed, or would you just slog along on a treadmill at 3 miles an hour until you got bored and quit like everyone I’ve ever seen “working out”? If you consider motorcycle skills with a similar mindset, and set clear goals, would that motivate you to try harder? To work towards something rather than just going through the motions? 

Set yourself a goal. That goal can be a laptime or competition (if you work towards getting your times down, that’s what you’ll get). That goal can be a skill (Get your knee down? Get your elbow down? Get good at full lock turns? Win the “slow race” next time you’re at an event?). That goal can be something completely unrelated to anything fancy or chest-thumping, but something much more mundane like “I want my wife to feel safer when I give her a ride”. By setting a clear goal, you’ll find a much more obvious path to achieving it than by “practicing” until you hate motorcycles. 

To keep it interesting and not falling into the trap of routine, keep challenging yourself. Can you be even smoother? Can you be another inch over? Can your head be lower or turned more? Can you make the bike turn even tighter? Can you use even less muscle energy to make the bike do the same thing? Can you make your big bike do small bike patterns? Make practice challenging, so that riding is easy. 

If you find yourself getting bored, find a new way to switch it up. Try doing the same thing on a different bike. Try the same thing with one hand off the bars. Try the same thing without using the clutch, or without using the throttle, or brake. And when all else fails and you're still bored, try doing it intentionally wrong just to see how not to do it (don't practice this too much or you'll get used to doing things wrong)

“The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat” is a saying that I’ve heard from a few armed forces guys. Well guess what, the more you sweat in training on a bike, the less you bleed on the side of the road. 

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