May 10th and 11th a group of ten riders took part in the first BMW Rider Training course held in New Zealand. It was organised by Rodney at Jeff Gray BMW and held at GlenFalloch Station, behind Mt Hutt. Riders came from as far a field as Ashburton to Taupo with bikes such as F650’s, F800’s, R1200’s and a HP2. Our trainer was Anthony Sproull who is a qualified Sports Coach and Motorcross Rider.
The course was an entry level event giving riders the basic skills to off road riding. The first day showed us how to pick up your bike when it falls over (this was the first thing we learnt, I wonder why!), how to correctly balance the bike while standing beside it, the benefits of standing up on the foot pegs, how to balance the bike while riding it, braking with just the front or back brakes and both, and lastly a river crossing.
Day two involved putting everything we had been taught together and going for an adventure ride around to Lake Heron (this was the same route the Canterbury Club did a while back). Before heading off there was a quick session on riding up and down a moderate slope with a few of the confident riders doing the same thing on a scree slope. We all took a deep breath when we came to the scree slope we had to cross but everyone managed to get across unscathed. We had a mighty lunch just by the Lake Heron boundary gate and then headed back.
The most interesting items I took away from the event was:
- When picking up your bike it is a lot easier and more controlled to grab the handlebars (the one on the ground) and lift the bike from the front. I have been shown and told previously that you should put your back into it but the method shown was much easier.
- Standing on your pegs does give you a lot more control of your motorbike, in all situations.
- ABS works, even off road.
- When not using ABS you can use your rear brake to stear the back quite well.
- Stand up when doing a river crossing.
- When faced with a difficult situation you have to feather the clutch a bit in order to maintain control. Hopefully these bikes have a clutch designed for this otherwise they will burn out very quickly.
- Most motorcross riders have no idea how fast a BMW can go when they suggest ‘just use second gear and give it heaps’
- When riding with panniers on you should be very careful when ‘paddling’ as you leg can get caught under the pannier, ouch!
- Even Rodney falls off occasionally.
Overall it was a great course, and hopefully a more advanced one will follow. The facilities at Glen Falloch Station are superb with accommodation only costing $45 per person per night. You can also arrange breakfast, lunch and an evening meal. Anthony was a very patient tutor but next time I would like to see him on a 1200 rather than a 650. Anthony can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for any one-on-one training.