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BACK TO BASICS - THE BARREL RACE

by Jerry Palladino (MOTORMAN)

Whenever you mention the words practice, exercise or even training, it brings to mind something unpleasant. Now, if I say the word "race", it seems to have the opposite effect. So, let's talk about a race this month. And no, I don't mean the slow race, as that can get kind of boring.

What I'm talking about is a barrel race. A once popular event at local bike meets. Haven't seen it much lately and it's possibly due to the lack of skillful riders. For those who don't know what a barrel race is, here's how it works.

Set up two cones, cans, rocks or whatever you got handy in a straight line about 60 feet apart. Then you set up another two objects along side these with about 100 feet between them. Put your starting line about 60 feet from the first object, have both bikers race towards the first object and make a complete circle to the left around it. They then head for the second object, make a complete circle to the right. They then head back to the first object, circle to the left and then head for the start/finish line. The trick is, to make the tightest, smoothest circles around the object. The rider who can do this, will win every time. As you are circling the object, keep your head and eyes up and never look down. If you look down, chances are, you will go down.

Smoothness is the key in this type of race, not speed. It's a great way to practice the three techniques, head and eyes, the friction zone, and the proper use of the rear brake. It's also a fun competitive way to get some training in. The more riders you have, the more fun. Go ahead, give it a try, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

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More articles by MOTORMAN:
Back to Basics Series:   About Jerry Palladino:
A "Motorman" is the term used in police circles to identify a motorcycle cop, or any law enforcement officer assigned to the motorcycle division. Prior to
becoming a Motor Officer, Jerry rode for enjoyment for about 25 years. Then one day, he saw a 5 minute segment on a television show which depicted motorcycle officers training on their Harley police bikes. The way these officers could maneuver these full size motorcycles around like a child's toy, made it appear as if they were defying gravity. At that moment, he knew that he had a lot to learn about riding a motorcycle. Shortly afterwards, the agency he worked for started a motorcycle unit. he was sent for training to Tallahassee with the highway patrol. The training consisted of 120 hours of intensive motorcycle training, focusing mainly on low speed handling. Jerry says, "When I finished this training, for the first time I really knew how to ride a motorcycle."
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