Spring is here. The sun is slowly warming the earth and the snow is melting fast. It’s time to get your ride out of storage, tuned up and on the road, and grab some refresher lessons. Great riders never stop learning. But maybe you don’t have your license yet, and you’re not sure if this is the year you take the plunge. Maybe you’re content to sit on the sidelines and watch your friends head out on their bikes for heaps of adventure and thrill seeking, always putting it off until next season because…what’s the point? You can’t get your license and go on the epic trips with them in one season anyway – or can you?
Maybe this is the year you finally jump in. Because, the truth is, you can learn to ride and join your friends on those epic road trips all in the space of one season. With the proper training, some easy day trips, and maybe even a day or two on the dirt trails, you could even attempt an epic, multi-day road trip – all in the space of one short season.
Last year, with the help of sponsors Honda Canada and Parts Canada, I helped guide a travel blogging couple Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil (a.k.a. The Planet D) on their quest to learn how to ride and take on the Ride Lake Superior route in one season. They’d never been on a motorcycle before, aside from some scooters in Southeast Asia, but that was a far cry from riding touring-ready bikes on the highways of Ontario, Canada.
Impossible? Not at all! We were lucky enough to capture their entire transformation from total beginners, to completing a 2,300km (1,450 miles) ride over 10 days, and I can tell you, there’s no better feeling than learning to ride and increase your skills to the point where you can go on those big adventures. If you don’t believe me, check out the series that captured their journey from rookies to road kings right here. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Dave and Deb started their training on a cold April weekend in Toronto in one of my classes at Motorsoul Riding School. With a Friday night in classroom, and then two full days in the parking lot, they learned everything from clutching to braking to accelerating, and it wasn’t long before they started to get the feel of motorcycle riding.
Many entry-level bikes are available and would be good choices for beginning riders. Once you’ve learned the necessary skills and feel comfortable on your bike, you can easily graduate to a bigger one. All schools provide training bikes, but Motorsoul offers a variety of styles, including sportbikes, off-road bikes and cruisers from 125cc to 250cc. Luckily for Deb and Dave, they were outfitted in the latest and greatest Alpinestars gear from Parts Canada, as well as new bikes from Honda and some great training, so they got off on the right foot.
For their first ride after the course, we chose Grey Bruce for its proximity to Toronto and lack of major highways – nice easy riding without too many technical sections, good pavement and great attractions and accommodations. We rode for three days, visiting lighthouses and waterfalls, and I can’t imagine a better beginner ride – or weekend trip – for the southern Ontario crowd.
Their next trip was to a dirtbike school to increase their skill set. They rode with Steve Weycamp of Trail Tours in the Kawarthas region; learning how to control dirtbikes in situations with low or no traction. And they got a chance to refine the slow-speed maneuvering they learned at Motorsoul, all of which made a big difference in getting them prepped for their big ride.
They loved the Kawarthas region so much, they made their final trip there before embarking on their tour around Lake Superior, taking in some great twisty backroads that prepared them for their big tour, which you can read all about here.
Finally, they undertook the impressive ride around the big water. Lake Superior is on bucket list of many experienced riders, but The Planet D did it the very same season that they learned to ride – and if they can do it, you can too.
I developed my curriculum with the goal of graduating better riders that are capable of progressing in skills quickly, and by providing practical skills and strategies to ride with greater safety. At Motorsoul, we emphasize some specific safety issues, such as how to deal with traffic and negotiate corners that make us different from other schools in Ontario. We teach you how to ride with SOUL and with CARE.
I believe anyone can ride – and ride safely – if they have the opportunity to learn the right tools, like Dave and Deb of The Planet D did. But, don’t forget … a good rider never stops learning! Or riding!
For info on riding in Ontario, visit http://www.ontariotravel.net/en/play/powersports-touring/motorcycles
For info on planning your big road trip, check out www.gotourontario.ca
For information on riding around the big lake, check out www.RideLakeSuperior.com