Making holiday plans is one thing to prepare for new road trips but developing better skills is a valuable one too. No matter how long you already ride, you can always learn more and get better. Every ride you have to anticipate on the road conditions, other traffic and your own state of mind. This is why no ride is ever the same and all the experiences you have along the way develop you as a rider. While Bumblebee is hibernating (and gets an occasional ride when there is no salt on the roads) we did a skid course.
With a party of eight we started with the skid course. I felt excited and was really curious how skidding would be. It happens from time to time that I have to make an emergency stop while riding. Ofcourse you always try to avoid these situations, but when entering one I try to come to a stop without skidding and blocking tyres. Fortunately I never came across an emergency stop yet in wet or slippery conditions. Till today!
We first got a little bit familiar with the Kawasaki ER5 bikes without ABS and with sidewheels. We had to wear an emergency cord, so when falling off the bike the engine would stop. Because of the sidewheels it would otherwise keep on riding.
We did three exercises divided over two wet slippery tracks. First hitting the back brake while holding the clutch so the back tyre blocks and you start to slide. Fixating your eyes on the point where you want to end up and steering that way sounds easy but is pretty hard to do. Then braking with your front brake and as soon as you feel the bike sliding let go of the front brake. Which feels unnatural because your reflex is to keep on braking. Last exercise combines it all. You have to make an emergency stop braking fluently and keeping the bike in a straight line. Keeping your eyes forward and not to the floor.
At one point during the first exercise I had too much speed and braked exactly at a spot where there was lots of water on the track. The bike was moving so fast to the left that before I could stir to the right I was already falling of the bike.
A bit shaken up I immediately got on the bike again and continued. I didn’t want to end with a negative feeling and after some laps gained confidence again and enjoyed it. I hope I will never end up in a slippery situation but it is good to have experienced it in a controlled setting. This way you know what a bike does and what you can do to make the best out of it. I highly recommend doing courses like this or other courses that learn you more and better skills. And apart from that it is just a lot of fun!