An Introduction


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Entering its 12th season, The Rider’s Workshop is a 2-day paved-road Appalachian Mountain riding “experience” for intermediate to advanced riders who want to get better – much better at the craft of motorcycling.

Using two-way radios and roadside “chalk talk,” riding coach and Workshop founder, Jim Ford, guides you in real-time. Riding well is never about riding fast. Instead Jim slows you down and introduces you – skill by skill –  to The Art of Riding Smoothly. When you are riding smoothly, you are riding well. When you are riding well, you’re also riding proficiently. Folks who are proficient get things done faster than those who are not proficient. The Workshop will help you develop proficiency and maintain it within a continuous pursuit of safety.

The Thurmont MD to Davis WV Workshop is also a singular tour of the north-central Appalachians. Genuine ridership and rider confidence cannot be developed on open roads. Those roads are too straight! The roads must be “technical,” meaning roads with plentiful hills and curves. There is no place in the country more suited to learning to ride better than riding the technical roads of the Appalachian Mountains. So in addition to picking up ridership skills, Jim will share with you a tour like none you have ever experienced before.

The roads you will riding are “invisible roads.” That’s right! These are small local roads outside the public’s general awareness. Invisible  roads are former game trails actually. They have good pavement, concentrated curves, continuous elevation change, great beauty, and wild, natural surprises! Best of all there is very little traffic! Invisible roads make for one hell of a playground!

Developing genuine ridership is a learning process conducted on your terms. Riding smoothly is the result of understanding and practicing specific skills to the extent you become them. It’s called “unconscious competence.” You have to practice the skills until you get them right, then continue to practice them until you cannot get them wrong – that’s how it’s done!

Your new-found ability to handle your motorcycle confidently over mountain roads will give you great pleasure and satisfaction wherever you ride.

Finally, and most importantly, The Rider’s Workshop is dedicated to safe mountain riding. Like Zen, The Art of Riding Smoothly is the result of an enlightened and practiced 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