Just the other day, I was pondering a botched downshift, really looking at it, taking it apart, gracing it with much more importance than any single half-second of a mundane, around-town, two-wheeled, errand-run should be treated. This is the way my mind works, and I’ve long since given up wondering why the heck stuff like this happens (mostly because that’s another rabbit hole to tumble down) and just learned to accept it, sit back, and enjoy the ride.
Still, just take a moment to consider even just a short list of variables involved in a downshift, botched or otherwise: the bike’s rate of deceleration, the selected gear, the engine speed, the amount of engine braking delivered by the engine, the amount of throttle blip required, the rate of throttle blip necessary to match the rpm during the downshift, the timing of the clutch release, the rate of the clutch release, the need to possibly prepare for another downshift, the traction available to the rear tire, what the rider intends to do after completing the downshift, etc. And there it is in a not-so nutshell, the beauty of motorcycling, the thing that keeps me coming back ride-after-ride, day-after-day, year-after-year.
Maybe martial arts have the right idea. Well, not the funny pose, but the use of belts to denote levels of mastery, giving students of the practice goals to strive for.
Riding a motorcycle is not one of those tasks that’s easy to learn yet difficult to master. Rather, riding proficiently is a challenge to learn. Improving that knowledge and skill set requires dedication. And mastery? Well, mastery is a relative term. How does one define mastery of motorcycling? Clearly, Valentino Rossi and all of the riders whose job consists of riding MotoGP bikes are masters of the …read more