Not All Advice is Created Equal
If you want to see a bunch of men drop their jaw, in unison, just watch as a woman on a sportbike pulls into the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort parking lot on a busy afternoon. And it's not just The Dragon, pull into any gas station and women will receive a myriad of questions: Is that your bike? Do you really ride it all by yourself? Did it hurt when you fell from heaven? (Ok, maybe not that last question). It’s fair to say women on sportbikes stick out like sore thumbs. But, women aren't just a prime target for inane comments--we're also a target for bad advice--which can be detrimental for new and experienced women motorcyclists alike.
Sometimes, the advice is given for ulterior motives like attention or to feel important (which usually results in mansplaining). But many times it’s shared out of generosity and the best of intentions. Either way, if the person giving the advice lacks expertise, knowledge or experience on the subject, the advice can be incorrect and result in serious consequences: It can instill bad habits or even cause a potential crash and injuries. I am not saying "don't accept advice." What I'm saying is be careful who's advice you listen to and put into practice.
I had an enlightening experience on this subject at Yamaha Champions Riding School. The school gave me the opportunity to learn from the very best in the sport. I received instruction from Nick Ienatsch, a winning racer, author and acclaimed instructor in addition to other pro, winning racers. And what I realized is that much of what I've learned over the years is wrong. And because of that, I've had many bad habits instilled over the last 10 years of my riding. These are just some of the pieces of advice I've been given over the years that I learned were wrong:
- If you're braking hard you should use all four fingers (truth: 2 fingers is plenty, and it allows you to cover the brake on the street)
- Romp on the throttle as hard as you can to accelerate out of the corner (truth: abrupt movements like "romping" on the throttle can make the tire break loose)
- You have to pull the clutch lever in all the way or it will hurt your clutch (truth: no you don't—thus why my clutch hand used to ache)
- If you brake too hard you'll crash (truth: braking hard won't make you crash, but jabbing at the brakes will)
- Don't use your rear brake or you'll crash (truth: there are times under hard braking it helps to use it, but when you do, it will only make you crash if you stomp on it or don't use it smoothly)
- You're not a MotoGP racer--you don't need to hang off the bike (truth: leaning off the bike enables the tire to lean less which provides more grip)
I could go on, and on.
Champ School taught me many things, but it's incredibly important that I learned that not all advice is created equal and to be more discerning. Now that I’ve learned from truly qualified instructors, I found it’s helpful to ask these questions before I put advice into practice:
1. What experience does the person possess who is giving the advice?
2. Does the person have any credentials or prior instruction that make him or her a qualified source?
3. Is this advice being given for the right reasons?
Although women are often at the receiving end of bad advice, men have to watch out for it too. The good news is, there are many opportunities to receive good advice. Champ School certainly offered the best and most intensive instruction I’ve ever received—it was life-changing. But I’ve also received good advice over the years from track day coaches and experienced friends.
We should all be life-long learners when it comes to riding, so advice is crucial. But, before you take it to heart, make sure it‘s good advice from a reliable source.
To learn more about Yamaha Champions Riding School visit ridelikeachampion.com and save 10% with code Sarah10.