What is Survival Skills all about?
Some might call this a mission statement. The intent of the Survival
Skills Advanced Rider Training Course is to bridge the gap from the
basic riding skills taught by training schools to pass CBT and the
DoT riding test, to the techniques necessary to take you up to an
advanced, safer and more enjoyable level of riding.
Whilst the framework of Survival Skills courses is based around
"Roadcraft", the Police riding manual, where appropriate I have
drawn on circuit based skills, particularly the works of Keith Code,
the content of advanced training material from other countries and
my own riding experience.
The roads are probably amongst the most dangerous places available
for use by the public. The CBT course and the driving test were
devised to ensure that learner motorcycle riders could not ride
legally on the road until they had completed a basic training course
and the examiner was satisfied that they were reasonably safe to
ride on the road. The fact that you can legally ride after a bare
minimum of training does not take away the hazards.
Whilst basic training courses are of a generally high standard, they
are not intended to and cannot make you an expert motorcyclist
overnight. On the other hand, don't dismiss them as useless either.
You have to ride using a safety system derived from the police
method to pass - and there aren't many better riders around than the
If you passed your motorcycle test since CBT was introduced, the
chances are that you are still using at least part of these basic
skills, together with some sort of system for putting them into
action, perhaps without realising it. If you are an older rider and
survived with no training (as I managed to do for many years) you've
probably developed a system of your own.
When all is said and done riding a motorcycle on the road (or for
that matter, being in charge of any vehicle) can be reduced to two
areas of skills:
defensive riding skills - the mental techniques
of concentration, observation, anticipation and planning
advanced machine control skills - the physical
techniques of bike handling, acceleration, braking and cornering
As a general rule Survival Skills courses will not to go over basic
riding (except when necessary to remind you of the basic rules) nor
at the opposite extreme will I attempt to explain circuit racing
skills, although some of the ideas were developed by Keith Code (of
"Twist of the Wrist" fame) on the race track. There are many
techniques which are not part of the basic training which are of
positive benefit on the road, and the aim of these courses is to
introduce these ideas and to change the way you think about your
Defensive Riding takes an in-depth looks at the mental skills you
need to ride safely on the road. Most riders who have come into
motorcycling in the last ten years or so are likely to have done an
intensive training course which should have introduced you to the
basic ideas that we will look at and expand upon. For those of you
who are returning riders (or even those who have been riding since
passing the old round the block test), there will probably be a lot
of new ideas to think about.
Advanced Machine Control Skills takes a look at the the physical
inputs that you make to your machine, explains how and why they
work, and ultimately puts you in charge of, rather than simply being
a passenger on, your own machine. Much of this is not covered in
basic training because there isn't time or would be confusing in the
circumstances, and many of the techniques are new to experienced
riders too. Out of a group of six I recently trained, only one
thoroughly understood countersteering!
After completing any training, think about what you have learned.
It's up to you to decide whether to keep practicing what you have
learned - it's all there for a reason, and hopefully you will
understand why you do things, as well as what to do.
Take your time getting used to riding the bike with your new-found
skills - they are easier to practice and work just as well at lower
speeds, and are more likely to become automatic. Apply the ideas
behind both defensive riding and advanced techniques - they work
hand in hand. One without the other is potentially dangerous. Don't
set yourself too difficult a target in your first few weeks, and
don't chase after faster or more experienced friends.
Ride to your own limits at all time and, whatever riding techniques
you use, never sacrifice safety. And as it says in Roadcraft,
"always remember advanced techniques of machine control can only
increase your safety and reduce the risk of an accident if they are
supported by positive attitudes, concentration, critical
self-awareness and above all, by self-control".
Survival Skills Rider Training
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