Join one of Bennetts’ Rider Confidence Days and discover if your skills level is up to scratch. Mike Cowton did, and… whoops!
When committing to a U-turn, the only way to tighten the radius is to lean over whilst controlling the speed of the bike by using the clutch and determining the amount of drive at the rear wheel. Fail to work within the window of operation, and all control and finesse will be lost, as I found out to my cost.
Attempting to fight physics rather than work with it, gravity was the overpowering force as I lost all sense of clutch modulation. I had failed to use my body as a counterweight, was too slow, the steering was in full lock, and as the bike inevitably tipped, I panicked and snatched at the clutch and brake, right foot desperately paddling the floor. Almost at a standstill, down we went.
Some may say it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke, but in my defence all I can say is that with many an eye on my manoeuvre, nerves got the better of me. I happened to be at one of Bennetts’ Rider Confidence Days at Donington Park. Last year Bennetts partnered with instructors from Shires Motorcycle Training to produce a series of exclusive half-day programmes designed to help riders of all ages, experience and abilities gain more confidence in bike control and road craft. It doesn’t matter at what level or which type of machine you ride, whether it be a scooter, sports bike or cruiser, as the team of instructors closely review riders during the sessions, which involve a range of theory and practical exercises in a safe, controlled environment. Participants are taught to improve specific skill areas, including emergency braking, hazard avoidance and, err, slow speed control manoeuvres.
The courses, which take three-and-a-half-hours to complete, are held on a purpose-laid, technical (twisty) circuit to help increase confidence, improve riding ability and overcome any bad riding habits.
Steering, braking, position on the bike, approach to corners, how well you handle the bike at close quarters, U turns, emergency braking… the course offers a great opportunity to work through the theory of every process before being taken out on to a track and into the hands of a mentor, when you have the chance to practice for real. With a direct radio link to your mentor, any problems will be discussed after each track session, enabling you to work through them, making sure you are comfortable and, hopefully, make you a better rider.
According to Luke Brackenbury, Bennetts’ PR & Brand Manager: “Part of our mission at Bennetts is to help riders get more from motorcycling and we believe this new course will give riders of all experience levels more skills to help them ride safer and feel more confident.
“We’ve worked closely with Shires to produce this exclusive half-day programme and by using the world-class facilities of some of the UK’s top race circuits, it should add an extra bit of atmosphere during the course.”
This year’s dates include: Friday, June 18, Wednesday, July 21 and Wednesday, September 8 at Donington Park; Monday, July 19 at Bedford Autodrome; Tuesday, August 3 and 17 at Brands Hatch; and Tuesday September 28 at Oulton Park. Prices are just £79 for Bennetts Rewards members and £99 for non-members. You can choose from either a morning (08.45-12.30) or afternoon (13.15-17.00) session, and enjoy a range of theory and practical exercises in a controlled environment. All riders must hold a valid motorcycle licence or CBT and wear appropriate clothing for the sessions.
As I dusted off my embarrassment, my mentor rushed up. Helping me lift the bike, he was full of apologies, as I had told him that performing a U turn was my bête noire, and what better proof did he need for such incompetence! All I can say is thank goodness for Bennetts Rider Confidence Days. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
Check out rewards.bennetts.co.uk for further information.
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