Thanks again for a memorable weekend. First class accommodations, delicious meals ,and good conversation. I feel I am a better rider after attending, but more importantly you gave me the theories and techniques to become a really good rider. On my ride home,after having some time to digest what you taught us, I understand how keeping the mind and the body focused on the ride will lead to the precision needed to really ride well. I understand that these skills are not acquired easily, but with constant practice and execution, can be raised to a level that makes the ride more than I realized possible. You have raised the bar and I am now on a mission that will last as long as I am able to ride. I feel that I will be back to your workshop for more instruction. Thanks again, Sam Mead Princeton, IL
Brad Convis, Falls Church Va
“Thank you Jim, for a what I must refer to as a “life-changing” weekend. I have been around and on bikes for most of my life so when you can have a noticeable impact on my bike handling skills and cornering confidence – in just 2 days and about 600 miles – you get my sincere gratitude! You have enriched my life with an adventurous perspective on riding back roads and enhanced my riding skills in a way that is dramatic. What a pleasure to ride with you and the others! I really enjoyed getting to know you. Seeing your smooth cornering and seamless bike handling skills made me want to learn what you had to offer.” Brand Convis, Director of Marketing for Coleman Powersports Falls Church, Virginia
Tom Callahan with 100,000+ experience from Alexandria, Virginia
I can’t thank you enough for the Rider’s Workshop last weekend. I hope you don’t mind if I go on a bit here with a few specifics that you can share with others who are thinking about taking the course. Please also feel free to pass along my name and number to anyone who would like a “live” testimonial.
I am an experienced rider of 30-plus years and well over 100,000 miles. This is just some of what I learned or improved in your two-day workshop:
- Choosing gears more effectively for better control, confidence, and smoothness in curves
- Reading a road better, looking to the “vanishing point,” and taking in the full picture of the environment
- Using my GPS to anticipate curves beyond visual sight
- Using a trailing rear brake in a curve to enhance stability, particularly in descending terrain
- How to get a tactile feel, while riding at speed, for the traction of the road surface under varying weather and surface conditions
- How to up- and down-shift more smoothly
- How to ride with more precision, attention, and awareness
- How to identify and seek out the countless lightly trafficked “invisible roads” that are outstanding for motorcycle riding
But the whole of the workshop was much greater than the sum of these parts. The experience reinvigorated me and my love for riding. By taking your approach toward riding as an art with a focus on precision and smoothness, every road and curve, no matter how familiar, becomes new and fresh to me.
Ten years ago, I paid about $700 for an Aerostich riding suit (they are $847 today). The suit was a good investment, because it makes riding safer and more enjoyable in varying weather conditions. For about the same money, your workshop is an even better investment in riding safety and enjoyment. I know that it will pay me dividends for many years to come.
I look forward to riding with you again soon.
With best regards,
Craig Titus 90,000 miles of experience from Southern Maryland
Wow! My second workshop was even better than the first, and I had thought that one tons o’ fun and tremendously beneficial (and make no mistake, it was indeed). However, what I know after my second workshop—2 years and 20+K miles of twisties after my first—is I had quite a bit more to learn.
Though I went this time ready to challenge myself, I was shocked by how much improved I was and how effortless the change seemed. Jim quickly recognized what skills I needed, and simply showed me a better, more efficient way of riding the mountain twisties as well as invisible roads. He showed me what true mastery is of a motorcycle and that there is yet far more for me to learn. For now, there are skills I need to continue practice to make my own.
That said, my riding has changed already. Gone is the mental fatigue I was experiencing due to allowing myself to become somewhat lazy about my visual habits and posture. Gone are the “Oops” moments I had actually grown accustom to by over-riding my skill set by over-focusing on speed (the habit of grabbing handfuls of throttle for a “cheap thrill”). Gone are former worries and concerns about gravel and poor traction. I can now say without question that I have grown significantly as a rider. I have re-embraced the efficiency, power, and thrill of riding smooth, which is already increasing the joy my riding experience.
For me, Riding Smooth is about riding with grace; maintaining a heightened awareness, striving for precision of action, and seamlessly responding to conditions of every moment of every ride. I’m grateful for Jim’s course and am certain I will attend again next year (if only one of the one day courses).
The learning experience aside, it was spectacularly enjoyable weekend. Although I know and have before ridden many of the roads we traveled on during this workshop (as I live in the area), the experience was completely different; at once less intense on the body and mind, and more intense to the memory and pleasing to the soul. In a word … Zen.
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
It was a pleasure to be with you and my fellow students this past weekend. You sure know the most beautiful and challenging roads on which to ply your trade. I learned a whole lot under your tutorship, practicing using every skill you taught me on the way home after leaving the group. I’m a more comfortable and confident rider than ever.
Before benefiting fully from the use of each of the the three lanes as individual roads within a road, ever searching for the vanishing point, with energetic use of the shifter to keep my little F800ST in its power band, endeavoring to look really pro with velvet smooth starts and stops. Fourty-five years of riding and just now do I find the zen of being one with my motorcycle. Thanks a lot!
Eric and I both really enjoyed the workshop last weekend and have mentioned it to other folks we know who ride. I think the headphones and radio were an excellent way to coach; this way we could all get instant feedback.
I took it as another opportunity to challenge myself and improve my skills, along with becoming more comfortable with handling my bike in general. I think I have definitely become a better rider, have improved control and I am still applying the skills learned (smoothness, and yes, even pressuring the shifter!), even on my daily commute to work in DC.
Thanks again for everything, and don’t be surprised if you see us again at another workshop.
Heather St. Pierre
I’m mostly a city rider. Motorcycling is about navigating city traffic and parking easily: practical, but not euphoric. My weekend with Jim Ford’s RW brought motorcycling into a new dimension: it’s all about curves and grace and smoothness.
Jim transported us to some of the most beautiful country imaginable – weaving through hills and hollers over single lane bridges, winding up and down mountains of Appalachia and through farm valleys so lush and fragrant that I found myself taking second breaths to confirm the sweetness of the first one.
Jim offered helpful mantras about intentional riding and showed us how guide our machines with the slightest pressure – less is more – it was like becoming dance partner with my motorcycle. Excellent and awesome!
I have to tell you I had a great time at The Rider’s Workshop weekend. You were a gracious, patient, and informative host that made me feel very welcome. It was the best weekend I have had in a long time and worth every penny.
I learned some key ideas from you to make riding my BMW safer and certainly more enjoyable. I have never seen such beautiful roads for riding and was amazed that we got down there and back without getting on a major highway. (over 500 miles!)
So thank you for a great weekend and I hope to join you again soon.
Jim, I am going to work hard this year at being smoother.
I felt a little hampered because I only have about 3,000 miles total on the VFR. I think you are correct in your assessment that it takes 50,000 miles to learn a new bike. I have 24,000 on the LT and I feel much more comfortable on it, but still feel that I have a lot more to learn from it. Overall, I enjoyed the two days very much. I fully intend to come again next year, sometime in May, hopefully a better rider. Thanks again,
Riding the Invisible Roads with Jim Ford and new friends was the most exciting motorcycle ride I have ever taken. I re-entered the world of motorcycling six years ago at age 59 and have ridden 50K plus miles since.
Having purchased a ’04′ BMW CL cruiser just two weeks prior to the tour with Jim, I was still making the transition from my V twin heavy weight to this much more sophisticated riding machine. Until I got behind Jim on the back roads of northern West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia I had no idea how exhilarating riding could be.
I flipped back and forth from laughing out loud to “Holy s—t!” as I scrapped another floor board in a 180 sweeping down hill, then up hill turn. Eyes on the vanishing point, turn your head, look where you want the bike to go, it will go there. -
All of these skills I had heard before and had tried, but never following someone who clearly helped focus these these skills to the limit and turned them into the ride of a lifetime for me. I’ll be digesting everything I learned in those two days of riding with Jim for a long time.
Hats off to the four of us (all gray hairs) who flew the invisible roads with Jim in late April, and a big thanks to Jim Ford for creating a great riding experience. ”
l’ll be back.
I just got back from a weekend at Jim Ford’s Riders Workshop. What adjectives best describe the experience? Unique. Challenging. Instructive. Satisfying.
All of those, and perhaps most importantly, just plain fun. Like a master brewer, Jim has concocted a blend of insightful motorcycle knowledge, great participants, and some of the best motorcycling roads on the planet into a marvelous product.
Jim doesn’t claim to know it all, but he knows a LOT, and is one of the smoothest and best curve riders that I’ve encountered. He’s spent many years on the “invisible roads” studying the science of riding curves. Participants are screened to ensure experienced, serious riders who are looking to expand their horizons, and Jim limits the number to 5 plus himself, so it’s like taking a spirited ride with friends.
The difference is that the guy out front (or directly behind you when he has each member of the group lead) is talking into everyone’s ear speaker all the while about the line, body position, shifting and throttle control, while reminding everyone to stay relaxed and SMOOOOOOOOOTH.
We all learned a lot from Jim, and almost as much from the each other. Accommodations in the Canaan Valley were excellent, and the discussion at the bar lasted well into the evening.
Thanks Jim (and Brad, Mike, Scott, and Mark) for an experience I’ll not soon forget.
On the first morning, Jim puts a little yellow star sticker on your dashboard, as a reminder to relax and be smooth. Think I’ll leave it there.
Just got back from a four day ride thru PENN, MD, VA, and WV to attend the two day Riders’ Workshop conducted by Jim Ford.
What an outstanding experience, and one that I would recommend you try and attend if Jim ever conducts a workshop in your area. I learned about Jim and his Riders Workshop through an article in the February addition of Motorcycle Consumer News. This is a workshop for the experienced motorcyclist who wants to get better at riding the twisties safe and ‘smooth
. The group is limited to 5 participants with Jim making the 6th. We’re connected via two way radios for the entire two days, riding some of the best local roads through the Appalachians. Jim has made a 15 year study of the best local roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As Jim has learned: “Local traffic doesn’t stay on local roads for very long.” Jim leads the first day and changes the 2nd rider in the pack about every 90 minutes. You follow Jim as he teaches you safe lane positioning; how to position your bike for the ‘clearest view; and teaches you the best line through a curve. He breaks down the curve into its four elements; the approach, the entry, the curve, and the exit.
You learn quickly that ‘high rpms are your friend.’ I learned to ride in the bike’s ‘power band’ and seldom got out of 3rd gear. This made shifting much smoother and allowed for quicker acceleration/deceleration and the need to use one’s brakes is virtually eliminated. Once I got the hang of it, I rode through hundreds of beautiful curves without using the brakes for hours. The second day each participant gets the chance to lead the group, with Jim riding as your wingman, providing continuous feedback as you practice what you learned the prior day. Jim’s courses are mostly booked, so he has the luxury to interview each potential participant, to ensure that you are an experienced rider that truly wants to get smoother before he accepts you to take one of his courses.
This ensures that a particular group isn’t held back by an inexperienced rider that is over his/her head. Accommodations at the Canaan Valley Resort on Saturday night were also outstanding. Life doesn’t get much better than spending two days with such a great teacher, riding some of the best roads in the Appalachians with a bunch of new friends!
I’ve already booked myself into Jim’s October 11th -12th, 2008 tour around Wellsboro, PA. As a student of motorcycling, there’s always more to learn as you try and get smoother!
Jim, thank you for the past weekend!
Aside from the great food, camaraderie, scenery, all day Saturday rainstorms (where I learned that it is a good idea to prepare for rain) and thought provoking discussions, your instruction will lead me to smoother riding.
The gear shifting and vanishing point lessons were great and I feel that my riding has (and will continue) to improve dramatically. Having taken Penguin, Keith Code, Larry Grodsky schools, and attended many track days, I found your course to intertwine many different schools into one (almost seamlessly) shaving the best from them all.
I hope to return again and build on the foundation you have assisted me in laying.
New York City
I just wanted to write a quick note to say again how much I feel my riding skills have improved since I took your class in May. I ride with a lot more confidence, I find myself shifting at the top of a hill without thinking about it.
I follow the vanishing point without thinking about it, I set up for corners and cresting a hill and just ride more smoothly since taking your class. At least several times each time I ride I’ll catch myself doing something I learned in your class or practiced more in your class and smile at how natural a part of my riding it has become. I’m thinking about more technical stuff when I ride but it takes less time to solve the what-if scenarios I’m constantly running, so I also have more time to enjoy the feelings and sights that were the reasons we all started riding for in the first place.
I know you get responses like this all the time from former students. I just wanted you to know there was one more rider out there who rides safer and with more confidence because he took your class. I used to peel off the state highways and other more main roads just to see where some smaller side road would go but now I have a name for all those “invisible roads.”
Kirk Marshall Idaho