Teaching the fundamentals of motorcycle safety riding through off-road riding has always been the goal of Mel Aquino, founder and head riding coach of Mel Aquino’s Yamaha Off-road Training Camp (MAYOTC).
To give us an idea of what’s taught, select members of the motoring media were invited to experience themselves what it is like to ride a motorcycle off-tarmac in KRB MX Speedway in Antipolo City. The school also had a few young students eager to get into enduro riding. The number of students was limited due to current IATF protocols.
Those in attendance were not newbies when it comes to riding motorcycles on the road, mind you. However, riding on a muddy (but compacted) dirt road was a totally new experience for some of them.
First, all students went through a series of static drills that would help them familiarize themselves with the motorcycle. These include finding the balance point of the bike, correctly picking up the bike from the ground, and some balancing exercises.
The second part of training was to get one’s self familiar with how to properly control the throttle, as well as the brakes. In this exercise, the riders are coached on how to properly control the throttle and brakes. It’s all about appropriate application which could mean life or death on the road.
How is this useful for the road?
Since riding off-road is much more difficult compared to riding on tarmac, lessons learned here can teach us skills that could save us during emergency situations on the road.
For example, the rainy season has begun and roads are often slippery due to rain or debris caused by potholes. Sometimes, there are silt deposits left on the road, especially after floodwaters have just subsided.
When an untrained rider is suddenly presented with any of these road hazards, the natural reaction is to squeeze the brakes as hard as possible to avoid the danger. Unfortunately for riders, this could possibly lock up the wheels, and eventually, he or she could lose traction and ultimately crash.
Off-road riders are taught differently. When presented with the same situation, he or she can either squeeze the brakes gently to maintain just the right amount of rolling traction, or gas it up with just enough throttle to keep the front wheel from slipping.
MAYOTC partners extend their continued support for the school.
Why is that? It’s because riding off-road is usually done over slippery conditions. To master it, riders have to ultimately develop the skills to properly control both the brakes and throttle.
Shifting the weight is another skill off-road riding will teach the rider. It’s very handy especially when navigating tight spots like a traffic gridlock onboard a big and heavy motorcycle.
Shifting weight on the motorcycle, front front to back or left or right, can put more traction on the appropriate wheel or side of the bike. This helps the rider make tighter turns, get more grip on the front or rear wheels, and manage tighter obstacles better.
These are just the basics. If you want to learn more, try learning off-road riding and enroll at the MAYOTC. Motorcycle riding is not ‘sanayan lang’ (getting used to it), there's always a science behind it.