Entering its 13th 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 riding a sport-touring motorcycle.
Using two-way radio and roadside “chalk talk,” riding coach and Workshop founder, Jim Ford guides you in real time over some of the finest motorcycle roads in the world. That’s right! The Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains are home to the best motorcycle roads in the world.
I call these capillary roads “invisible roads” because they are outside the general public’s awareness and are actually former game trails. Some are double-yellow, some aren’t but they all have smooth pavement, concentrated compelling curves, continuous elevation change, great beauty and wild, natural surprises. (Seen any bears today?) Best of all, there is very little traffic. Blue Ridge mountain invisible roads make for one hell of a motorcycling playground if you’re confident, otherwise they can “eat your lunch.”
Riding well is much about developing skill, situational awareness and confidence in curves requiring 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears. I personally feel that if my motorcycle isn’t leaning into such a curve, I am not really riding. Riding well is never about riding fast, either. Instead, it’s about the pursuit of maximum safety. In the Workshop, I first slow you down and then gradually introduce you – skill by skill – to The Art of Riding Smooth and the “line.” This is the safest, smoothest kind of motorcycling there is.
Developing genuine smoothness is a learning process conducted on your terms. Learning to ride smoothly is the result of understanding and then practicing specific skills to the extent a rider embodies 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. This is my belief.
Riding smooth indicates that you are riding well. When you are riding well, you are also riding proficiently. Motorcyclists who earn proficiency naturally tend to ride faster than riders who have not earned proficiency. You will naturally become a faster rider who has the look of not riding fast at all!
Finally and most importantly, the Rider’s Workshop will help you develop proficiency within a continuous pursuit of maximum safety. It’s about learning and perfecting your line which has been engineered for maximum safety 100% of the time your wheels are rolling. Perfecting your line for maximum safety and developing your art of riding smooth for proficiency are the goals of The Rider’s Workshop.
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