Gurus of U-Tube
The very concept of U-turns inexplicably started to get a bad name in 80s UK. I scraped through my bike test in those days, which means I must have performed one under supervision. As somebody who sometimes finds it difficult to use a urinal in public, that surprises me a little.
On my return to motorcycling, my skills, never exactly polished, seemed in need of some serious ACF-50. I’ve therefore spent a lot of time watching the gurus of motorcycling on YouTube, in search of the secret to not-falling-off-quite-so-much.
These people all have different priorities. Some spend more time cleaning the machines than riding. A few are so driven to achieve ‘likes’ that they almost exclusively show accidents. (By the way, if anyone posts a film of me disappearing over the armco, I have some guys organised to turn up and ‘negotiate’ my performing rights fee.)
Then there are those with absolutely no “beginner’s mind” who can’t resist doing a stoppie every time the lights glimmer amber or demonstrating that you can easily drift across oily boulders with both hands off at 60 in 5th gear. Several such heroes just can’t accept the fact that two-wheeled vehicles don’t do that well in chest-deep mud. They never have a problem riding and can’t understand why anyone else does.
Beyond these folk are the genuine stunt riders. God I envy them the ability to ride backwards, whilst executing a wheelie, on an ice floe… forget the skills – I mean who wouldn’t want to act as Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double? I’d settle for being her Personal Shopper’s lifestyle assistant’s stand-in.
Inevitably, we have the techies. They’ll insist on mansplaining the physics of, e.g., counter-steering. “Watch as I use this toilet roll holder to simply illustrate that the rotational momentum vector is balanced by the frictional effect as the lean angle fixation point moves towards the apex”. God forbid that you should ever have to ask that guy for emergency directions to the bathroom.
Some US gurus strongly advocate spending a day a week brushing up your manoeuvring skills in an empty parking lot, the size of Delaware. In the UK, pre-lockdown, it was always hard to find a B&Q which didn’t require slaloming around a) stray trolleys and b) burger vans. One Texan instructor clearly thinks Akrapovic is a Soviet cuss word and he speaks so slowly he has to be watched at double speed.
The modders. If you feel that the stock 200 HP isn’t quite enough for you, these folk will help out with a 3-hour nitrous/methyl/turbo installation tutorial. A whole new meaning for the phrase ‘big bore’.
Finally, we have an array of white-helmet, paramilitary types who like to emphasise decisive speed, and teach the rudiments of timing one’s overtaking by randomly screaming “GO, GO, GO!”. Remember that traffic cop in Dirty Harry?… this is more Grimy Derek. You might also gain something from the shiny-booted officer whose ‘little lady’ wears a stick-on helmet pony tail and ‘weighs 1/10 of what her Harley does’. Reason enough to observe the speed limit very carefully in that county, I’d say.
This all raises the important question of “When can I ever feel confident about any of my motorcycling skills?”
I mean, I know I can can do a U-turn. It’s just a question of radius.