Frequent Questions


Many friends and acquaintances have asked me questions about The Rider’s Workshop. I want to answer some of these questions to better clarify the purpose of The Rider’s Workshop.

How did The Rider’s Workshop get started?
I had been working in sales at Bob’s BMW for several years and had this thing going called the Second Sunday Ride. The ride was very successful, so we discussed having a Rides Department as an adjunct to the rest of the store. From a business standpoint, it would naturally ring the cash register.

But you left Bob’s. Why?
It became clear to me that in order to create a high quality riding experience for sport-touring riders, beyond simply a store adjunct, I’d have to immerse myself in the project and do it full time. That is what I’m doing.

What are your qualifications to conduct such a workshop?
I think I am a pretty good teacher. Here’s why: Since college, I have always been a commissioned salesman. In fact, I have never had a salaried job in my adult life, because frankly, sales is where the money is! Selling is teaching and teaching is selling and it’s lucrative so I determined I’d become a clear, articulate teacher. Before I came to Bob’s BMW, I enjoyed nearly twenty years in the life insurance business where the sale was always made by explaining and teaching a very technical product. At Bob’s, motorcycle sales were more fun. I sold over 1000 of them, so I truly have over thirty years of teaching experience.

I also feel fortunate to have flown airplanes before I rode motorcycles. Skilled pilots fly very smoothly. An interesting fact is that flying skills and motorcycling skills are very much alike so, as a skilled pilot myself, I ride well and know how to teach you to do the same.

As for how I acquired my road knowledge, my sister swears in another life I was an Indian scout. She likes describing how even as a young boy, I was always exploring the furthest reaches of our Midwest surroundings. I am a natural when it comes to studying and exploring Appalachian back roads and have logged nearly 400,000 miles on them. As a result, my knowledge is extensive.

I am now entering my 5th season teaching The Art of Riding Smooth. As with anything, the longer you do  it, the better you get. I am a better teacher now than I was when I started The Rider’s Workshop.

Do you have a Mission Statement?
Yes. The mission of The Rider’s Workshop is to thrill customers with a riding experience they will remember forever and to thrill them with riding accomplishment that they will own forever. My mission is to inspire riders to become their own motorcycling ideal.

How do you plan to accomplish this?
I plan to accomplish this in four ways. First is to expose riders to a mostly undiscovered network of roads through the Appalachians. I call them “invisible roads.” They’re invisible because riders don’t seem to see them, otherwise they’d be all over these roads. By showing riders how to unearth these roads for themselves, they’ll relish the continuous discovery of new roads. In this, there is great adventure and the inspiration to continue riding!

Second, I want to give riders a methodology for reading these roads. Invisible roads are more challenging than riding the open roads. I want to show riders how to quickly analyze road conditions, road surroundings, and how to anticipate what’s beyond the next curve. I was first trained as a pilot. As such, I was trained to “see” effectively outside a cockpit window. This skill can be transferred to “seeing” effectively outside a helmet visor. Developing a consistent methodology for “seeing” is a big part of the science of safe motorcycling.

Third, if a rider wants to ride more skillfully they first need to ride smoothly. Riding smooth is the fountain from which other riding skills spring. The goal is to become seamlessly smooth so there is a Zen-like flow. Riding seamlessly smooth all the time is nearly impossible but, on the journey toward seamlessness, you will become a pretty darned good  motorcyclist.

Finally, there is apres-ride. I know the cool places to stay. The Canaan Valley Lodge and The Natural Bridge Hotel are as nice as it gets in the north central Appalachians. Along the way,  our lunch spots are well chosen too.

Okay—so what about Zen?

Zen is multi-faceted when it comes to motorcycling. Zen is the gratitude and joy you feel. Anyone who loves riding knows this. Zen is the connection with another rider when you both know your ride is special. Zen is when you’re focusing on something you love and time and distance compress into an endless now. Finally, Zen is polishing your motorcycling ideal to its full luster. In this we’re all Grasshoppers.

I hope this explains a little bit more about The Rider’s Workshop and about me. For more information, call me at 866-767-6900.

“Just got back from a four day ride thru PA, 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.

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!
Mike Schaeffer Greenwich, Connecticut