Your skills are perishable
Respect. Not a word you might associate with motorcycling. But one MSAC councillor, David Golightly keeps returning to during our conversation about his Ride Forever training experience. Respect for the road. Respect for the bike you’re riding. Respect for the people you’re riding with. Respect for your loved ones.
“Motorbikes have changed a lot and your skills are perishable. The skills you had when you were 30 you don’t have them when you’re 50. Even though you’ve got a full license, you need to take a step or two back and think about your family, friends and how they’d get on if something happens to you,” says Golightly.
The best and easiest way to show respect is to take a motorcycle training course, says Golightly.
“A lot of people might say they’ve been riding for a long time but what they’ve really been doing is riding the same way.”
Training as a group
Golightly recently took a Rider Forever training course with his motorcycle club the Patriots, which is made up of ex-military personnel. The course involved a couple hours of theory then a ride from Christchurch towards Oxford with each rider spending some time ahead of the instructor who would later provide an analysis of their riding technique.
“We wore headsets and could hear the instructor who would be giving us instructions. The instructor would watch them for about 20 mins and then pull us over and talk about what happened,” says Golightly.
Training also included emergency stopping and slow speed skills such as doing figure eights through markers. The instructor’s aim, says Golightly was, “to give us the basic tools you need to practice. It’s not just go on the course, get the badge and that’s it. It’s a continual process you need to keep trying on the road.”
Close-up view of crashes
Golightly gained his motorcycle license at age 16 and his first bike was a Honda 125. He grew up riding around the family farm outside of Timaru and returned to riding seriously 13 or 14 years ago when he joined the Patriots. He now rides a Harley Dyna Street Bob.
His return to riding wasn’t without a little trepidation. Through his motorcycle insurance business he is often exposed to the after effects of a crash.
“I’d been dealing with people and their motorbikes and the consequences so I know how serious it is. But if you know the risks you can manage them to a certain degree,” he says.
Today’s bikes are bigger, more powerful and have to weave their way through much more traffic. Returning riders need to remember their skills aren’t what they used to be.
“You don’t think about all these things. You still think you’re 20 and on your first bike,” he says.
Pay the respect forward
This is why Golightly is such an advocate for safe riding, especially when rider error is such a big contributor to crashes. Riding isn’t only about you. It’s about what’s in front and behind of you, and who’s waiting at home for your return.
“I get some horrible phone calls from my clients or from their loved ones who died while riding. When you have a look at their history you can see how powerful the bike was, how much experience they didn’t have and that they probably had no serious training,” he says.
Which brings us back to Golightly’s idea of respect, which he believes is an essential part of riding.
“Pay the respect forward by giving the person in front of you and behind you space. Out of respect to your family and the people you know, get some proper training and lift your skills up.”
Remember, the bike is now a lot more capable than the rider.