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Rider Education Article

Submitted by: Joe and Gracie Mazza
Motorist Awareness Program Director
Rider Training

I would like to address a myth some riders have about rider training courses. There are many riders who believe that since they have been riding for many years, it is not necessary to take any of the numerous training courses available to them. They feel that experience is the best teacher and there is nothing new to be learned to become an even safer rider.

I am going to quote Jerry Palladino (Motorman), one of the most experienced and respected riding instructors and publishers of safe motorcycling in the world today. He states that in a recent conversation with a guy who was taking delivery of a new bike, he learned that this person had been riding for a long time and had never had a rider training course in all those years. The guy told him he had just recovered from an accident and was looking forward to riding again. He also said "I've been riding for 20 years, that's enough training for me."

Jerry states, "it made me think of something an MSF instructor recently told me". He said he teaches the MSF Experienced Rider Course and that he sees a lot of people who think they are good riders because they have been riding for 20 or 30 years. The instructor said what they really have is one years experience 20 or 30 times. That made a lot of sense. In other words, a rider gets to a certain level and then, never improves any further, but instead, keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

The point is, don't fool yourself into thinking you know what you're doing just because you have been riding for a lot of years. Look at it this way. If experience was all you needed to be a good driver, then that 80 year old guy blocking the left lane of the highway with 60 years of driving under his belt, should be able to easily win the Daytona 500 should he choose to, since he has far more experience than most of those young NASCAR drivers, right? Of course not!

Those young experienced NASCAR drivers have received the best training available and constantly practice and improve their skills. Now, the old guy with all the experience, like you, the experienced rider, can cruise on down the road just fine, until something unexpected happens. Then, all he and you can do is jam on the brakes and hope for the best. The highly trained driver or rider can rely on his/her skills and training and probably avoid the crash altogether instead of "laying her down", (in other words, to avoid the crash). Now, it's true, you can't avoid every crash, but it sure would be nice to avoid most of them. Do yourself a favor, sign up for the next available rider training course. It will help make you a safer rider and quite possibly save your life some day.

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