Slow speed skills

I love riding my motorcycle on early Sunday mornings. Sun starts to rise, fire up the bike and head for the hills. The weather is cool, the roads are mostly empty and quiet. It’s a wonderful time to ride.

This morning I hit a lot of back roads on the foothills of the Texas Hill Country, going around Dripping Springs and Wimberly. On my way back home I ended up in Buda so I opted to stop into Cabela’s. Why not? 🙂 Look for a S&W 640 (nope) and for .22 LR ammo (nope). Ah well. I did get to fondle a Ruger LCR. Comparing to a S&W 642 they had, the LCR was noticeably lighter than the 642. Specs say the LCR is 13.5 oz and the 642 is 15 oz, and you could certainly feel that difference. Of course, the LCR is .38 +P only (642 could do .357 Magnum). Size wise, they’re ultimately the same in terms of outer dimensions, but the LCR does “bulge” a bit more than the 642, e.g. the LCR’s trigger guard is a bit more rounded out than the 642. Nothing that should really affect carry or concealability, IMHO. I’d be curious to shoot an LCR side-by-side with a 642 and a 640 (all shooting the same loads) to see how they all felt. I wasn’t able to get a pinky on the LCR (I honestly can’t remember if I tried with the 642). Anyway, nice little diversion.

I arrived at Cabela’s before they opened. Instead of sitting around, I used it as an opportunity to practice. Cabela’s has a huge parking lot, including an area in the back for large RV’s, people hauling trailers, and the like. Just wide open space. So I took the opportunity to practice some motorcycle riding skills, especially slow speed skills. Things like turning tight circles left and right, figure 8’s, weaving, starting into a turn from a stop , and even some emergency braking. I actually need to pull out my Jerry “Motorman” Palladino “Ride Like a Pro” DVD again and review a bunch of those techniques and practice drills. I think I could make it a regular thing: if I visit Cabela’s, take 15 minutes in the back parking lot and do some drills.

I was doing fairly well, but for some reason I was having a tough time with counter-clockwise circles (turning to the left). I couldn’t get those circles as tight as clockwise/right circles. I’m not sure what it was, need to work at it more to try to figure it out. I can say that I love Palladino’s approach for slow speed, which is to keep the clutch in the friction zone, keep power to the rear wheel, and feather the rear brake. I recall from my Rider Safety Class that they only taught the friction zone, no rear brake technique. But it’s really the feathering of the rear brake that makes it all happen. You have so much more stability and control with the rear brake use.

Everyone likes to focus on high-speed riding skills, and certainly those are important. But slow speed skills are important too. If you haven’t checked out “Ride Like a Pro” you should. The skills he teaches are valuable and will make you a better rider at any speed. Ugh… this just sounded like a commercial… it wasn’t supposed to. I’m just a satisfied customer.

One thought on “Slow speed skills

  1. Pingback: To snub or not to snub « Stuff From Hsoi

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