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Motorbike slow riding

One of the aspects of preparing for the IAM test is showing that you can slow ride. This usually involves riding figure of eights around your Observer and other limited exercises, undertaken in a car park.

My IAM group run slow riding courses, so I was booked on to the Level One course.
This has the added advantage that we do not have to spend riding time mucking about in car parks slow riding when we could be out and about having fun. Also, I like to think that the fact that you have attended the course would suggest that you can slow ride, so could be favourable in the test.

Anyways, last Saturday morning I rocked up in a big car park with about 20 other people to try out a few slow riding exercises.
I had few worries, as my Observer and I spend time trying to out slow each other on the run up to traffic lights and stuff. I also challenge myself to try and get all the way to work without putting a foot down, a journey which consists of 11 turns, 6 traffic lights and 5 roundabouts over 28 miles.
Most of the exercises were to show control, so would involve moving off a few feet and then stopping, putting a foot down, and then repeating. It could be in a straight line or going around to the left or right. I have always favoured my left foot, so doing this going in a clockwise direction forced me to use my right foot, which was a challenge. Using you right foot also means you have to use the front brake, again a challenge to habit.

The slalom caused me some grief, but then it is not something that I would tend to do out and about on the road. It was just down through 6 cones, do a U and then head back up 6 cones. It was on the 3rd go that I cleared it, and do not really want to do it again.

Next was pull off and do an immediate left followed by an immediate stop and put foot down. Then repeat to the right, then again to the left, then a swoop around to the right followed by a swoop the left.
This is the type of manoeuvres that I love, and on the third go had a comment that I was just showing off, a compliment if there ever was one.

Next was the circle, left and right, followed by figure eights, and part with holding one hand in the air. Again, a fun exercise.
The biggest thing I learnt from this, is that it is quite possible to release the clutch and ride the bike just on tick over. An absolute revelation.

There was also the slow ride down a set of cones placed about 2 foot apart. I am guessing that it was about 30 foot.
I only managed 27 seconds, but blame it on the looseness of the TDM engine.
The record was set at 42 seconds!!!!!

All in all it was a very beneficial day. It makes you challenge habits and experiment with what you thought was the best way to do something. There is also a wealth of experience on hand.
I learnt that I can use the clutch a lot less than I had been, though I am still having a problem breaking out of the habit of using my left foot, and using my right foot/front brake more.

Oh yeah, and if you want to practice figure of eights, use the area of 2 parking spaces by 6. As an added challenge, try stopping at each end and then starting again.

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