Babes Ride Out

Safety

Westside Moto Academy Motorcycle Safety Demo's at BRO6

Events, SafetyAnya Violet

We are excited to announce that Westside Moto Academy will be joining us at Babes Ride Out 6 this year! With decades of experience as professional riding instructors this women owned academy will be there to give pointers on technique and provide education that will help to keep you safe on the road. Make sure and stop by their booth this year to learn more.

ALSO Click HERE to learn about a safety refresher course they are offering leading up to the event. 

Check out some of the topics they will be covering at their booth. Are you new to riding? Make sure you stop by and ask any questions you have that might help your technique!


#1

·       Topic:  Alcohol and Motorcycling  

·       Activity: Fatal Vision Alcohol Goggles. 

 

Each participant will be asked to perform very simple, every day tasks, such as walking, picking up keys, touching an object, tossing a ball into a can, etc.  The participant will be asked to perform the same tasks, only now with the Fatal Vision Alcohol Goggles.  These patented goggles allow participants to experience with a sober mind what it’s like to be under the influence of alcohol. They are designed to simulate a person’s reaction, balance, and coordination if that person had a B.A.C. level of .07 to 10.00 (the equivalent of 2-3 drinks in 1 hour). 

 

#2

·       Topic: What’s on your motorcycle mind?

·       Activity: Q&A with the ladies of WMA

Using index cards, we’ll ask participants to ask any motorcycle question and put it in a box.  We’ll pick a card at the beginning and end of every night, and the author of the question we choose will win a prize.

 

#3

·       Topic: Conspicuity “Being Seen”

·       Activity: Hi Vis Vest Demo

Since research shows that “being seen, not heard” reduces motorcycle collisions, Erika will demonstrate the need for wearing a retroreflective vest at night.  These vests will be given out for FREE to those who will commit to wearing one.  Please Note: These vests are light weight and can be easily stored and hidden in one’s tank bag or crumpled up and stored in a back pocket, so GOD FORBID no one sees you once you’re off your bike and have arrived at your destination 😉

 

 

 

 

Ride Like the Wind | by Grey Shawger

SafetyAnya Violet
Photo by Jenny Linquist

Photo by Jenny Linquist

Ride Like the Wind

By Grey Shawger @whiskeysolo @greyshawger.

Some things are a given when going to Babes Ride Out:  getting dusty, getting sunburnt, making friends, putting miles on your moto . . . and riding in strong winds. To get to Joshua Tree you may well ride through valleys full of wind turbines. They are there for a reason! On your journey to the campsite or on your ride-outs you will most likely encounter some powerful winds. There are ways to think ahead, be proactive, and ride safety through the wind. I interviewed several of my experienced friends at Harley-Davidson of Glendale for tips on battling those blasts and received some good advice:

·      Be fully geared up. The first way to protect yourself is to be fully geared up, especially by wearing a full face helmet with eye protection. It’s important to stay focused and keep your eyes alert and open instead of squinting through dust and debris.

·      Keep your eyes up and look far ahead. Do not look down at the road in front of you. By putting your focus farther away you can better judge your surroundings. Being oriented on the goal ahead also makes the tough part of the journey go faster rather than feeling as though you’re inching along.

·      Lean into the wind. Counteracting that push will keep you moving in a straight line. Be alert so when that gust let’s go you’ll remain in control and move back into an upright position. Which leads to the next trick…

·      Loosen up and don’t forget to breathe! The bike will move around in the wind and that’s okay. Drop your shoulders, take a deep breathe, relax your hands and let some blood back into those white knuckles. By staying loose and agile you will be able to feel your bike and make corrections smoothly.

·      Stay in the center of the lane. This gives you room to maneuver in the space without heading over the line or into the gravel

·      Finally, keep moving. Don’t slow down to a crawl, it will tire you out and cause you to lose focus. Maintain your speed and push through, you will get past the wind and, if you’re on the way to enjoy BRO, there are good times waiting at the end of the ride.

Grey Shawger

Finance Manager at Harley-Davidson of Glendale

Rides an Iron 883

Grey Shawger

Grey Shawger

First Responder | Advice from Dr. Jenny Kim of what to do when you see a rider down

SafetyAnya Violet

Accidents happen. We all do our best to avoid them and hope that we never are witness to one! Dr. Jenny Kim, our on site medic from BRO3, shares her first hand account of witnessing an accident and shares some key things of what to do and what not to do on the scene of an accident. 

Photo by Lanakila Mcnaughton of Womens Moto Exhibit

Photo by Lanakila Mcnaughton of Womens Moto Exhibit

Babes Ride Out 3 was over.  The camp was deserted and the creaking of the wood shack that had been the first aid station seemed loud.  I loaded the last of the unused bandages, gauze, and ointments into my truck. 

I pulled out of the ghost town with my bike in tow and drove onto Sunfair Road.  What an incredible weekend it was.  I was joined by a group of talented women nurses, paramedics, and a firefighter that all shared a love of motorcycle riding to offer basic first aid to fellow riders.  We took shifts and took call at night treating road rash, pipe burns, corneal abrasions, and offered advice on general medical problems.  It was tremendously rewarding and gratifying.

Then suddenly, I saw settling dust ahead on the empty road.  I slowed down the truck as I approached.  There were two riders standing on the side of the road and one sitting on the ground.  Up ahead on the other side of the road was a motorcycle down on its side.

I pulled over and rushed over to the riders.  As I got closer, I assessed the area.  It was empty of cars, there was no debris or fuel on the road.  All three riders were off to the side of the road.  The rider on the ground was sitting, helmet off, moving all her limbs and talking coherently. 

If you ride, you have been or know someone who has been in a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle crashes can cause serious physical and emotional injuries.  If you are witness to a motorcycle accident, there are actions that you can take to decrease injury to the rider down.  Anyone can be of help and make a difference.  Below is a limited basic starting point and does not take the place of a medical professional or advanced emergency training.

1)    Take a breath and stay calm.  The rider down may be scared and in panic.  They need you to be cool and rational.

2)    Assess the situation then call 911.  Every minute counts.  Listen carefully.  Answer their questions clearly and succinctly.

3)    Protect yourself and keep yourself out of danger.  Make the area safe to help.  If, there are other bystanders, instruct them to warn traffic.

4)    Move the rider only if they are in imminent danger, such as fire or on coming traffic.

5)    If the rider is conscious, talk to them.  Reassure them and be encouraging.  Hold their hand so they know that you are there for them. 

6)    The rider may be going into shock.  Cover them to keep them warm.

7)    Don’t remove their helmets.  They may have cervical spine or spinal cord injuries.  Removing their helmet may cause further damage.  Only remove the helmet if it is a life and death situation, such as not breathing.

8)    If there is bleeding, elevate the limb and use pressure with a clean cloth.

9)    Do not give them anything to eat or drink.  If they lose consciousness, they may aspirate or choke.  Also, the rider may need emergency surgery.  Surgery is safer on an empty stomach.

10)  If you are trained to do so, administer CPR or BLS to the rider without a pulse or is not breathing.

11) Stay with rider until paramedics or professional help arrive.


Here Janea's account of the accident ( the rider who went down)

The last day at Babes Ride Out 3, I will never forget. I called my husband to tell him we were packing up and heading home soon. He asked me to call him before we left.

I packed up, got on my bike and looked at my gloves stashed behind my fairing.  The cafe we decided on for lunch, before heading home, was just down the street from camp.  I put the gloves on.  It was warm this October in Joshua Tree, so my leather jacket stayed in my pack. 

I took the lead down Sunfair Road out of camp.  The warm wind embraced me.  It had been an amazing week.  First, the moto trip through Arizona with the girls.  Then to Babes Ride Out 3 where I met women from all walks of life following their passions.  Lastly, my volunteer work with the inspiring MotoFam.  It was all gratifying, rewarding, and immensely fun!

Then suddenly, my handlebars began slapping my tank. I don’t know what happened.  I couldn’t control the bars.  The bike began to buck.  There was nothing I could do.  I let my hands go and closed my eyes.

I don’t remember what happened.  I opened my eyes and I was in a dust cloud.   I was filled with adrenalin and felt nothing.  One of the girls was running to me yelling “Lay down! Lay down!”

The Importance of Practice by Francesca Michelle

SafetyAnya Violet

As we are gearing up for Babes Ride Out 6 we are highlighting some important topics to help you stay safe on the road. One of those topics is PRACTICE! It's easy not to think of riding a motorcycle as something that you need to practice. However, practice can mean the difference between you being as prepared as you can be for the unexpected or not. For some, its as simple as practicing holding your line on a fun twisty road or quick stops in a parking lot as you wait for a friend. Taking your riding skills to the next level will help to keep you safe on the road. We caught up with Francesca Michelle of the Eastside Moto Babes to get her thoughts on practice. Read on and enjoy!

babes ride out

The Importance of Practice

by Francesca Michelle of Eastside Moto Babes

 Back in 2016, my best friend asked me if I wanted to ride on her team in a 24 hour endurance race. The race, put on by M1GP, runs noon-noon for 24 hours straight, with a team of 6 people keeping the bike on track at all times. I was 23, had been riding for almost three years, didn’t own leathers, and had never ridden on a track before. Obviously, I said yes.

My logic was: I was a skilled, fairly fast rider on the street. I practiced a lot in parking lots and rode canyons regularly. Track couldn’t be that different; I’d probably be fine.

Cut to the day of the race. It’s around 95 degrees in the high desert. There’s 15 teams on the track, in different classes ranging from 50 cup to mod 125. We’re the only stock Grom in the 125 class and all six of us are really excited. We’re running stints an hour long, and I’m near the end of the lineup. I get on track for my first stint, and it takes me about four seconds to realize I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. My street riding skills don’t help me here. As anyone who’s ever been on a track will tell you: it’s a completely different kind of riding than on the street, and I’m getting an up-close look at it. I’m pretty much the slowest out there. I get passed, a lot. I get lapped, a lot. It’s massively frustrating. When my hour is over, I get off track, pass off the bike, and go off by myself to be grumpy.

 The night session passes pretty similarly. Things start to turn around during my morning stint. The sun is rising. The Grom is running strong. I think, this is silly. It doesn’t matter if I suck at this. If I give up on it now, I’ll always suck the same amount.

I finish my session happy. My lines are cleaning up, my body position is getting better. I find people on track I can trail behind and watch how they ride. Between my first sessions and my last, I drop six seconds on my lap time. But, more importantly, it starts to be insanely fun. OK, everyone is going to pass you. Who cares! Don’t worry about being faster. Just be smooth and make yourself harder to pass.

 My team placed second in the stock class that year (completely due to my teammates, who are excellent riders and terrific people). Shortly after, I started volunteering at Socal Supermoto in Riverside and riding their TTRs whenever I could. Slowly, I got better. I practiced, and I listened, and I started to improve. I bothered Brian and Frank about everything I could think of, and every weekend at supermoto I’d pick up something else. I bought my own TTR and converted it to minimoto. The next time I raced with M1GP, it was stupidly fun and I was ten million times better than the year before. 

It’s easy to look at people who are really good at something, and beat yourself up because you’re not as good as them. It’s easy to feel like they have some kind of intrinsic ability or innate skill that you just don’t have. (To be fair--those people do exist, and it’s incredibly annoying.) But often, that’s not true. All you have is a snapshot. A girl on an MX bike railing a berm. A girl on a track bike blowing by you at unrealistic speeds. That’s insane, you think to yourself. I can’t do that. This person is just better at this than me.

 I’ve been there. I’ve thought that. But here’s what you don’t see: the hours of practice put in. The questions asked. The mentors and friends and coaches, pestered with questions. The hours--and I can’t emphasize this enough--of doing something a million times, failing at it over and over until you start getting better. Skill is practice. Practice is a habit, and a willingness to try again. All the skill you have at something comes from a willingness to be terrible at it first.

Take the classes. Ask the questions. Find someone who knows more than you, and bug them. Think you can’t do it? You can. Just get out there and do it. Get out there and suck at everything for awhile, screw up and fail a bunch of times and you will get better. You will! Failing is a part of it. Give yourself the grace to suck at something you love. It’s more fun than you think.

Options for further training:

Safety Refresher Course  Westside Motorcycle Academy www.westsidemotorcycleacademy.com  Sign up: HERE

Intermediate, advanced 1 & 2 rider courses: https://www.totalcontroltraining.net

Socal Supermoto: https://www.socalsupermoto.com

M1GP, racing and rider clinics: https://m1-grandprix.com/m1gprc/

UMRA, racing with fleet rental options: http://www.raceumra.com/faq.html

Ride Your Own Ride by Blaire Baily

SafetyAnya Violet

When people find out that you ride a motorcycle, do they tend to mention how dangerous it is or maybe a friend of theirs that was in an accident? Happens to us all the time. They are not wrong, motorcycles are very dangerous. However, that does not stop us from doing what we love. We reached out to some of the talented, and experienced riders in our community to share some wise words on how to stay safe and minimize your risk on two wheels. Blaire Baily of The Eastside Moto Babes brings up a very important topic "Ride your own ride"! Read on to hear more!

Photo by Jenny Linquist

Photo by Jenny Linquist

Ride Your Own Ride


by Blaire Baily

Life is full of subtle and not-so-subtle invitations to change your normal riding style. We’ve all had the experience of getting on a bike when we’re running late and feel pressured to make up time. And I can’t be the only one that gets sports cars in the next lane revving their engines, eager to race. More commonly, if you ride in groups, you may find that the speed of the group or the difficulty of the ride is somewhere outside your comfort zone.

Serious, experienced motorcyclists say the same thing again and again: ride your own ride. That is the golden rule. Riding your own ride means, in its simplest terms, refusing to allow outside factors or influences to change your riding behavior. It means riding within your comfort zone at all times. Your comfort zone can change, for example if you are riding at a track instead of on the street, but it is only you, and no one else, that should adjust and manage how you ride.

There can be a strong temptation in group rides to meet others’ expectations rather than determine your own limits. When I first started riding with a group, I was concerned about keeping up and afraid to seem inadequate, inexperienced, or unskilled.

I’ll admit that more than once I rode a lot faster than I was comfortable with and had some very close calls. It’s easy to do, and it’s often a rush. But it also exposes you to an untenable level of risk. The dangers of motorcycling, just like the rewards, are especially intense. Human bodies are fragile. If a motorcyclist is a jelly fish, a car is a brick. We have to treat motorcycling with the respect it deserves and the best way to do that is to always ride your own ride.

Here are some steps you can take to be proactive, empower yourself, and ride your own ride:

•           Ride on Your Own

If you’re experiencing pressure from other riders, and keep giving in, remove them from the equation. Riding solo will allow you to increase your skills and experience at your own pace. You get to decide where you ride, and when, and at what speed. This gives you maximum control and helps ensure you’ll ride your own ride every single time.

•           If You are Going to Ride in a Group, Make a Plan in Advance

To avoid a situation where you realize you are not comfortable riding at the speed the group is already going, make a plan before it happens. Speak to whoever is leading the ride before you head out. Ask: if you decide to slow down, will they wait for you a few miles ahead? If not, no problem. That’s fine. Now you know. Say that if you do slow down, you’ll just meet them at their destination. Now everyone is on the same page. If at some point you feel it is necessary to slow down, you can do so. And you’ll already know what comes next.

•           Listen to Your Gut.

If you’re starting to get tired and your concentration is wavering, or you’re getting light-headed because you’re hungry, listen to those warning signals. Pull off and take that break. Many accidents happen when riders try to push through exhaustion in order to stay on the road.

•           Use a Reminder

Put a small reminder on your bike to ride your own ride. Every time you look at it, ask yourself: Is this how I normally ride? Am I riding my own ride?

•           Shift Your Attitude about What it Means to be a “Good” Rider

Rethinking your understanding of what it means to be a “good” rider will also help you resist pressure to ride outside your comfort zone. Don’t think of riding skill in terms of “fast” and “slow” but rather in terms of “has more experience” and “has less experience.” I’ve been riding for six years, but I tend to ride only once a week for a few hours. There are several women in my motorcycle club, the East Side Moto Babes, that race motorcycles and live and breathe motorcycling. Unsurprisingly, they have a high level of skill and proficiency and our comfort zones are completely different. This is entirely logical given our respective experience and, more importantly, is completely okay. We’re not in competition with each other. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be as skilled as other riders when they have a lot more experience than you do.

•           If You Want to Push Yourself, Do So in a Controlled Environment

Want to learn to curve up corners and follow perfect lines? Hit up SoCal Supermoto and use their small, difficult track to hone your cornering skills. If you mess up, the worst that will happen is that they catch it on camera. Want to experience and practice higher speeds without the danger and unpredictability of cars? Do track days. You’ll improve your riding skills and, if you should go down, chances are the damage will be minor.

•           Ride From a Place of Love (For Others and For Yourself)

Put your safety above outside demands. If you’re late, it can wait. It takes self-awareness, self-love, and confidence to know your limits and to assert them. The truth is that when you ride, you carry some of the happiness of the people who love you around with you on your bike. Ride accordingly. And remember that riding your own ride is actually deeply respectful of the people you are riding with—it shows you are putting the safety of everyone on the ride first.

•           Help Shape Riding Culture

Women riders have a unique opportunity to shape motorcycle culture around comradeship, skill-building, and safety. When a rider steps forward to say that she is not comfortable with the speed or difficulty of a group ride, thank her. Tell her you appreciate her commitment to riding her own ride. Help her come up with a plan about how to ensure she stays within her comfort zone. Help her ride her own ride. If you do that, chances are one day she’ll do the same for someone else.

 

 

 

Safety Refresher Course with Westside Motorcycle Academy

SafetyAnya Violet

Let's Roll!  Babes Ride Out 6 is coming up FAST! Has it been awhile since you've been on 2 wheels? Or, did you recently get a new bike? The Westside Motorcycle academy will be hosting a super fun refresher course so you can brush up on your technique. They will be practicing the life saving skills (quick stops, cornering and swerving) in a safe, controlled training lot. Riding is a practice and a practice is something you do! The class focuses on street riding skills. A few exercises include riding through the "Swiss Alps" and "Staying Alive on the 405". There is no pressure of passing a test, the goal is simply to become a better rider. All levels are welcome. This is a refresher class for those who are trained and licensed and want more saddle time. Ride your bike or rent one from Westside Motorcycle Academy! (we recommend riding the bike you plan on riding to BRO6) Can you make it? All info is listed below as well as on www.westsidemotorcycleacademy.com  

babes ride out

Westside Motorcycle Academy Training Course

Dates

  • Friday September 7th 4pm-7pm
  • Sunday October 14th 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm

Location

Long Beach City College. Veteran's Memorial Stadium Parking Lot (M) 4901 E. Conant St. Long Beach, CA 90808

Price

  • Your bike: $150  (we highly recommend using the bike you are riding to BRO6 on)
  • Our bike: $200

More Info

Westside Motorcycle Academy www.westsidemotorcycleacademy.com  Sign up: HERE

Want to know more about Westside Motorcycle Academy? Read on to meet the founders as well as get some very important tips from certified instructors with over 15 years experience training riders. 

Who are the original founders of Westside Motorcycle Academy?

Erika Willhite and Amanda Cunningham co-founded Westside Motorcycle Academy in 2005. They opened the first-female owned motorcycle rider-training site exclusive to Los Angeles County. Their school, Westside Motorcycle Academy, is first-ever CHP certified training site in West LA. Westside Motorcycle Academy serves riders in the greater Los Angeles area including ranges in Inglewood and Long Beach. To date, Westside Motorcycle Academy has trained over 28,000 riders.

Erika Willhite and Amanda Cunningham. Both are nationally certified motorcycle instructors to teach various beginning, intermediate and advanced level curricula through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and Total Control Training. Both have been CMSP (California Motorcyclist Safety Program) certified instructors for the last 15 years and co-owners of the first female owned motorcycle training site exclusive to Los Angeles County.

Where are you from?

Erika (Columbus, Ohio) and Amanda (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

How long have you been riding?

(Erika) I rode a motorcycle for the first time when I was 5 years old in my home state of Ohio while Amanda started riding in Mass. at 16 (and never stopped). She actually rode cross country on a motorcycle and never had a car until she was in her early 30’s (and that was a truck to haul motorcycles around!)

How did you get in to riding motorcycles? Erika: Growing up in Ohio there were lots of opportunities to have fun on two wheels. My brother and I ordered a go-cart kit from the back of Rolling Stones Magazine, and before long we had a make shift mini bike.  We would sneak the mini bike out and ride trail bikes in the country.

Mandy: My Uncle Bob taught me on a farm in Vermont on a 1979 185cc Honda Twin Star. 

Erika 4 years old

Erika 4 years old

Who taught you to ride? Erika: If by “taught” you mean who put me on a trail bike with zero explanation and laughed when I popped the clutch, dumped the bike and knocked the wind out of myself? Well, let’s not name names, but it was someone I share DNA with…some years later, I did take a formal rider training class through MSF.

Amanda: My sister and I were visiting my aunt and uncle at their farm in Vermont. He had the old 1979 185cc Honda Twin Star. I sat in the bike (with no gear) and he pointed and said, “Here’s the throttle, here is the clutch and here is the shift lever.” (Mind you: he never pointed out the front brake or the rear brake). I popped a wheelie as soon as I took off. My sister Tara was there and said, “She doesn’t know what she’s doing!” but I heard my Uncle Bob yell,  “She’s a natural!”

Mandy at the Salt Flats

Mandy at the Salt Flats

What bike do you ride?  Erika: Today my main bike is a BMW r1200gs. I also have a BMW 650gs and even an electric Zero motorcycle plugged in the garage! Past Bikes: BMW r1100s, BMW f650cs, BMW f800st, Royal Enfield 500cc Classic, a 1988 Honda Hawk (650cc)

Amanda: Currently a BMW 650 X-Country (10th motorcycle). Past bikes include: 1979 185cc Honda Twin Star, 1995 700cc Honda Shadow, 2003 Tuscany Green r1200cc C, 1999 Triumph Thunderbird Sport, 2007 Ducati Monster 800cc, 2001 BMW f650 gs, 2010 f800gs, 1973 r75 BMW Toaster Tank, 2015 800cc Ducati Scrambler , 2007 X-Country BMW

What inspired you to become an instructor?

Erika: Just like everything in life, timing is everything.  The inspiration came from recognizing the lack of training options available on the Westside. I was living in Santa Monica when I got my M1 (over 20 years ago) and had to go to Corona (which is in Riverside County) to take the course. After logging 500 miles on my car to take a 3-day motorcycle safety class—I thought why isn’t there a class closer to Santa Monica and Venice where the concentration of motorcyclists is the higher than any zip code in LA county? Westside Motorcycle Academy opened in 2005 to fill that need. We were the first and only CHP-certified motorcycle training school in West LA. In 2007, we expanded to Inglewood and most recently a few years ago to Long Beach. Since running our first class in October 2005, we have trained over 28,000 riders in the physical and mental skills to become safe, responsible riders.

Mandy: While taking an advanced rider course in Massachusetts, I was asked by one of the Instructors if I’d be interested in training to be one. A few months later, I took the 7-day boot camp and became an MSF Instructor. I quickly realized I was the second female instructor in the state. My goal in becoming an instructor was to inspire other women, to participate in a predominantly male dominated sport. It’s a thrill to go from teaching all men in 2001 (with the occasional woman) to now seeing women making up to half (and sometimes more than half) of our student population. 

Erika and Mandy

Erika and Mandy

Give us some stats on what are the most common types of motorcycle accidents that occur?

There are so many factors that lead up to crashes, but a couple things to keep in mind:

Single vehicle motorcycle crashes and fatalities most frequently occur in corners. Running wide into a car is not the cars fault. Riding over the cliff is not the roads fault. The reason is rider error. Speed (and by speed, I mean going in too hot) is usually the reason. When was the last time you heard a rider ran off the cliff going too slow? Entry speed is the key to setting up your corner correctly. Error on the side of braking more before the corner, because slower is safer.  There is a saying in racing, “slower is faster”…the slower you enter the corner, the faster you can accelerate through the curve.

Another red flag when riding is intersections. Riders are most likely to get into an incident with another vehicle at an intersection. A green light does not always mean go.  It means, “Hey!” I’m about to enter the place I am most vulnerable with other traffic. When getting on your bike the question is not, “I wonder if I am going to get cut off today?” The question is,  “I wonder how many times I’ll get cut off today.” With that mindset you are looking for hazards, anticipating problems and setting your self up with the mental skills to execute to avoid getting hit.

What do you feel are the most valuable skills a rider can practice?

The best skill to have is confidence. The only way to feel confident is to ride a bike that fits you well and put the saddle time in to develop your skills. Riding a motorcycle is not rocket science.  It is practice and repetition. Get bored out of your mind riding in a safe-controlled environment. Take a class to make sure you are practicing the right techniques and feel confident learning the lean angles and weight distribution of your bike. The life-saving skills are the ones we emphasize in our skills practice and refresher courses. Those skills are cornering, quick stops, escaping quickly and swerving.  We also work on slow-speed tight turns to help riders feel more comfortable and confident when they ride.

babes ride out

What are the most common mistakes you see new riders make?

On the macro level, I think the biggest mistake new riders make is equating being legal with being safe. A lot of people think that since they legally have a license to ride a motorcycle that means they safely can ride any motorcycle. In reality a motorcycle is as safe as the person riding that bike. Earning an M1 endorsement by taking a 3-day course on one of the smallest and lightest street legal motorcycles manufactured, in a parking lot with no cars and traffic at novice level speeds does not equate to riders having all the skill and ability to safely operate every motorcycle. In 33 states in the USA, a rider can pass a 3-day motorcycle safety course on a small training motorcycle and earn an M1 in which they are legal to ride any size bike. So in theory, a person who rides for 10 hours on a 250cc motorcycle in a parking lot earns an M1 and can legally ride an 800cc BRW, an 1800cc Road King or a 2200cc Triumph Rocket. They legally can earn a license to ride something 11 times bigger than the motorcycle they rode to earn their endorsement. Being legal does not equate to being safe.

On the micro level, the two most common mistakes new riders make are looking down and covering the front brake while riding. The bike goes where energy flows. Looking down is a bad habit and it is not safe. The one thing that makes a good rider faster than anything else, in my opinion, is when a rider has their head and eyes up looking as far ahead as possible. Take off with your head and eyes up, ride with your head and eyes up and stop with your head and eyes up. Keeping your eyes up allows you to look for hazards while you ride and also helps build muscle memory while you ride.

Covering the front brake while riding is also a common mistake new riders make. The general rule for balance: speed is stability. Think of things you do that require balance: riding a bicycle, snow boarding, stand up paddle boarding, rollerblading—with all balance activities, the slower you go the harder it is to balance.  Brand new riders (usually that are nervous of speed) will sometimes ride covering the front brake, because they think that will help them. When in fact, it is just the opposite. Covering the front brake means a rider is rolling on the throttle with the palm of their hand. Since speed is stability and the throttle is the control that is used to increase the speed of the motorcycle, the rider has better throttle control (and better stability) wrapping four fingers around the throttle while riding.

babes ride out

What are you goals with WMA?

In a few months we will be entering our 14th year of motorcycle safety training. We have seen some of our past students go on to greatness while starting their road riding with WMA and sadly, there are at least 2 who are not here today due to having had a fatal motorcycle accident. Our goal when we started was to create a premier training site in the greater LA area to serve riders with the best rider education curricula available. And while we continue to serve our community and work with the stakeholders in providing rider education, we are on a mission to reduce motorcycle fatalities. We know from the research that motorcycle fatalities are reduced when a rider takes additional training classes on their own personal bike. Over the last two years we have developed a concise and comprehensive curriculum for those who are vested in staying safe on the road. We created and conduct the WMA Riding Refresher with the goal of creating a place and a space where all riders and all levels are welcome. There is no pressure of passing a test. The goal is simply to become a better rider. 

What advice do you have for new riders?

First of all, ride like you are invisible for the first 6 months and always wear your gear. (Statistically speaking, new and re-entry riders get into an incident within the first 5 months of riding.) The operating assumption cannot be others will see you. The operating assumption has to be that drivers are often distracted, texting, talking on the phone or maybe they have never been trained to watch out for motorcyclists.  And in terms of purchasing a motorcycle, make sure you find the right fit for your style, size and ability.  Going too big, too soon is a recipe for disaster and the learning curve goes way down. Your dream bike might not be the first bike you purchase. Go with something small to start with. Ride like you are invisible. Continue to get training.  

babes ride out

What advice do you have for more advanced riders?

There are a lot of amazingly talented motorcyclists in and around Los Angeles and California. No matter how good you are—there is always someone better than you. So, while you may have more experience and skills than a lot of riders, there are those that have more than you. With that in mind, it is important to ride your ride. Avoid the temptation of getting carried away in the moment thinking you have to prove yourself to someone on the road. If you are riding with a group who is going faster than you feel comfortable going, trust your gut. If something feels off—it is off. That gut feeling, intuition, whatever you call it is non-negotiable. We all need to be more mindful in our riding practice and continue to develop and sharpen our riding skills. Continue to take classes. Try to be open and ask, “What can I learn?” or “How can I improve?” Be confident without being cocky. It is an incredible privilege to ride a motorcycle. And, with privilege there comes the responsibility to yourself, your friends and family, the riding community as a whole to stay safe. That means continue to take classes, ride with all your gear on, ride sober and ride within your limits.