No this isn't another one of Ralphael Controversial Posts, but knowing most of you this may head in that direction anyways. edit: As much as I would like to claim credit for these advices, they are actually from the various experience riders that I've rode with. I've just been practicing them and noticed an improvement with how I ride.
I spent the whole weekend thinking of Nenad as I took the PRS course at the same time with him. I also rode with him on his very first group ride up to Harrison, had a free lunch compliments of his Father who works as a chef at one of the hotels. I also sat and waited while he 2up with Michael to get gas (when he ran out). His father also said to me, on that ride, to watch out for his son. I kept an eye on him throughout the rest of the ride that night.
There will be a lot of newbie riders out this year. Many of you may have takened the course last year and you would have forgotten a lot of the skills that you have learnt.
Here are some tips that may get you the KM's that you need to survive the summer.
1. pick and choose your group rides. Post and ask if you are not sure whether they appreciate a noobie rider and don't feel bad if they turn you down. They are looking out for you as well as themselves as it is a lot of responsibility to watch out for a noobie rider (even though we ride our own rides) it is painful for us to see you go down.
2. Do ride with as many newbie group rides as you can.
3. get to know a mentor that will ride with you. I was lucky in this respect as I had several mentors that actually talk the talk and took the time to ride.
4. Get their cell # before the ride begins and if you get lost, pull over to the side of the road and txt them. Find a place that you can safely park your bike and wait. If the ride leader is experienced, they will come back to find you.
5. Don't ride faster then you are comfortable with, especially at the corners. Slow down and enter the corner at a comfortable pace. Sand, rocks, ruts are your enemies here.
6. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks of you while you ride. Focus on your riding.
If you feeling confident with your riding, this still isn't the time to ride fast. Here are some things to practice during a slow ride to alleviate the boredom.
1. Stay in your line, meaning that if you are in p3, practice staying in P3 without wandering across to p1, even at curves and corners. This is more difficult then you think especially at higher speeds on twisties. edit: this is only an exercise and not a method to go around corners. Picking a line and follow through in a single file of bikes is the norm here. However there will be times when the group ride is so slow, that keeping the p1/p3 position provides a challenge.
2. Practice smooth shifting and even clutchless shifting.
3. Practice slow balancing, especially when it is heavy traffic. Learning how to throttle slowly is an important asset.
4. when you get better, practice one hand riding. This teaches you not to lean on the handlebars as well as practicing your throttling. You can one-hand ride around corners. edit: no don't just sit up with one hand, keep your other hand just above the grip but relax.
5. practice your leans. As you get better, start moving your ass off your seat to help lean the bike into a corner. You can do this even at slow cornering speeds.
I'm sure there will be many more pointers in this thread to help you out.
My last advice.... as a noob, don't go fast until you master at least the 5 slow skills.
Thanks for reading...
edit: it seems that points 1 and 4 have hit some controversy and I'll clarify from my personal group experiences. Remember these are things to practice at slow speeds and when you feel the need to race. Boredom on a bike will kill you with in-attentiveness.
point 1. comes from numerous group rides in keeping in with your line as it affects those behind you. I was told in my first few group rides to keep my line. The practicing of keeping your line is definitely at slow to medium speeds and yes it is possible at even high speeds. This practice will also ensure that you know where you are within the lane and also have the control without crossing the center line.
point 4. No I do not advocate no hand riding. Most riders put a lot of pressure on their wrist while riding. Practicing one hand riding, again at slow speeds and when you are bored with the group ride, allows you to practice throttling and keeping your body weight off your bars.
edit: please note the following from Jeckyll.