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!

Mike Schaeffer