I feel like I’m a bit of a different breed when it comes to riding. Sure, all of us snowflakes want to feel different or unique or special in some way…but in my case, I think I truly am different. It’s a very rare thing for me to come across a motorcyclist like myself. I don’t just like to ride motorbikes. I don’t fire up my bike on occassion to make a run down to Jamba Juice or Starbucks to go shoot the shit with my friends. I don’t commute on my motorcycle to work to try and cut my commute times. I don’t load up everything on my bike on the occassional weekend to go smash out 15 states in 24 hours.
I LIVE to ride. I ride to live. It’s literally my life. And by “literally”, I don’t mean figuratively.
It sounds so god damned cliche, I know. And I’m sorry for sounding so freggin cliche! I’m not sure how else to put it. During lunch, David M—a multiple YCRS graduate—talked about all the cool things he’s done in life and how there have been diminishing returns on it all….everything except for motorcycles. He said that he feels as though over his 6 or so years of riding, the experience has gotten even better. He enjoys it more now than he ever has. I completely understood his words. I’ve been riding on the pavement for close to 20 years now, and I relate down to my very soul. My only reply to his words were that “if I’m not riding, I’m not happy.” Anything else would have just been more sappy drivvel. There have been a few times in the last two decades where I didn’t own a motorcycle. Short periods of time….but…dark times. Very dark times.
But back to my point…hehe…
The other day, I did a group ride. It’s very seldom that I ever ride in groups, let alone with even one other rider. I can’t even count how many times in the past I’ve done group rides and watched people cartwheel into oblivion in my rear view mirrors or right in front of me. People are so ego driven in our sport that it’s comically sad. Or it’s sadly comical…I guess it all depends on the amount of injuries said rider sustained in said crash. I can look back and laugh at 90% of them. Some, I don’t even talk about except to a few of my close, trusted people. I’m sure most of us can share in those sentiments…afterall, motorcycles are dangerous. Many people ask me where a get my suit…I recommended Moto Central, here is the ink https://www.motocentral.co.uk/.
Our spot for the night on Angeles Crest Highway
The group ride was a mix of a Yamaha Champion Riding School instructor, a YCRS multiple student, and another YCRS soon-to-be triple certified rider coach. And me, the photographer schmuck with Brianna on the back of The Mighty FJ. We rode Angeles Crest Highway and a bunch of other surrounding roads within the vicinity that I’ve never ridden before.
The pace was quick. Definitely quicker than the usual pace of squids trying to navigate their way around public asphalt without dying… but also sane. Absolutely sane. Gravel in the road? No problem…quick adjustment with the brake, line changed, zero drama. Truck exiting a right hander into our lane as we go to tip into a left? No problem….quick adjustment with the brake, line changed, zero drama. Decreasing radius, blind right hand corner? No Problem. stay with the brake a tiny bit longer, line stays perfect, zero drama. Over and over. ZERO DRAMA. Just miles and miles of fun, twisties, and smiles.
These are things I take for granted. What things? Knowledge, touch, skill. I take that all for granted. There are so many people out there that have no idea what to do when or how when faced with a suddenly changing situation. How do you not run wide in that corner and hit that F150 head on? How do you change your line mid-corner when you’re already hauling ass? To me…it’s all so easy. I see, I assess, I execute.
Exploring the Angeles National Forest
No, I’m not the fastest rider in the world. Not by any means. (Horn tooting in 3..2…1..) I’m not humbled often. But when I am , I use it as the best teaching moment I can. I AM a pretty talented motorcyclist though. Most of my talent came naturally…but the nitty gritty…the stuff that REALLY matters…that’s not natural. I learned that through hundreds of thousands of miles of repetition and execution. I learned it from coaches like Ken Hill, Nick Ienatsch, Shane Turpin, Dale Keiffer, Mark Schellinger (That’s the original Yamaha Champions Riding School crew, FYI)… That’s where my 2 wheeled schooling REALLY began.
Always smiles, always fun.
Sure, I’d done a bunch of trackdays and the likes prior to ever having gone to a YCRS school. I’d already been a bit of a goon even. I could get around the track or a twisty road respectably. I didn’t know the HOW/WHY yet. I kinda knew the what and the when…but if you’re like me, none of that shit matters unless you know the HOW/WHY.
That was over ten years ago that I started going to the Yamaha Schools. Lots has changed over the years in terms of personel and schools… but the foundation hasn’t. Ken is no longer lead coach at YCRS with Nick…instead, Ken is the lead guy at the Rickdiculous Racing School where the focus is more 1 on 1 coaching/instructing. Nick is still one of the lead instructors at YCRS along with Mark, Chris Peris, and Kyle Wyman. I still go to both schools once or twice a month at least. The message both schools teach is the same. Honestly, the words might even be the same at times, but depending on what level you are in your riding, those very same words might have a very different meaning.
Seeing this kinda stuff makes me happy.
I’ve been really lucky in this life. I’ve had some pretty fucked up crashes in my day…ego driven, mostly, just like all the squids I watched in my rear view…but I’m still here. I’m still alive. I might even see you on the road somewhere hoisting a wheelie for safety (and it’ll likely be two up with my beloved passenger that I need to keep safe too). :)
This was the crew from the other day. All smiles. :)
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Here was our general routes…There’s a few others in there too that don’t show up in the map though.