Entering its 13th season, The Rider’s Workshop is a 2-day paved-road Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountain riding experience for intermediate to advanced riders who want to get better at the craft of riding a sport-touring motorcycle.
Using Bluetooth communication and roadside “chalk talk,” Workshop founder, Jim Ford guides you in real time over some of the finest motorcycle roads in the country. That’s right! The Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains are home to the best motorcycle roads in the U.S. That is IF no traffic, super scenic, continuously hilly/twisty roads define a great road!!
I call these mountain roads “invisible roads” because they are outside the general public’s awareness. Some roads are double-yellow and some are not but all these roads have smooth pavement, compelling curves, continuous elevation change, and wild natural surprises. (Seen any bears today?) But best of all, there is very little traffic. Blue Ridge and Appalachian invisible roads make for an amazing motorcycling playground!
Upon entering the Workshop, Jim first slows you down… then gradually layer by layer, introduces the skills for a beautiful line. Riding a polished mountain line the safest, smoothest kind of motorcycling there is. It’s The Art of Riding Smooth.
Obtaining an artful line requires new knowledge, new skills, situational awareness, and confidence. New knowledge is the understanding of the mountain line which is the safest path along a mountain road. New skill is the required competence to sharpen that line for maximum safety. You practice these skills until you get them right. Then you continue to practice until you cannot get them wrong! Finally, situational awareness and confidence are the states of mind you feel when you connect the dots. This is a mental, emotional, and spiritual moment when you shift from “conscious competence” to perhaps touching on “unconscious competence” or “flow.” It’s that magical place where time and distance compress into a prolonged “moment” along a beautiful mountain road. There’s nothing else in motorsports like it!
Learning The Art of Riding Smooth is a little like zen, it’s the result of an enlightened state of mind.
Here’s what one rider recently wrote about his experience in The Rider’s Workshop:
I started riding in 1974 and have been an active and avid student of the art and science of motorcycling ever since. I have been teaching Beginning and Advanced MSF courses since 1979. I have read just about all of the standard works explaining the techniques for riding “proficiency, safety, “smoothness, and excellence.”
I have evaluated and dispensed MSF and state licensing tests for probably thousands of beginning and self-professed “advanced” riders. However, never had anyone evaluate ME! How am I doing? Where am I making mistakes? Where could I make style or safety improvements? For decades those questions have plagued me. Sure, I thought about doing a “track day.” But, I wanted to ride my own bike and making the necessary modifications like taping my lights and security-wiring various critical nuts and bolts didn’t seem attractive. Riding at high speed around a sterile groomed course (though educational according to riding buddies) didn’t sound like my cup of tea, either.
Alas, I found just what I was looking for – “The Rider’s Workshop” developed and presented by Jim Ford. I have now been on two of them. Jim brings together everything I was looking for: Breathtaking venues led by a master guide, roads chosen to present a wide variety of technical challenges with little or no traffic, great camaraderie, and most important, the opportunity to be coached via radio and earphones in real-time!
Tiger Woods, like all serious professional in their given field, have personal coaches. If you fly, the FAA requires that you take periodic flights with an instructor to demonstrate competence and ensure current knowledge. Motorcycling is no less serious. If you love to ride, what are you waiting for? Just do it! You’ll absolutely love it. It will forever add to your motorcycling knowledge, enjoyment and skill. Think of it as an investment in yourself.
And … who knows, it just may add years to your life as well.
Mike Dale, Maryland