Why teach four fingered braking?


Guest: David Weed, currently an MSF-certified RiderCoach and RiderCoach trainer and formerly the lead technical specialist for the Washington State Motorcycle Program.

Episode Summary:
Join us for a fascinating chat with David Weed, a certified RiderCoach and instructor trainer with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). We tackle the contentious issue of four-finger braking in motorcycling. Listen as David demystifies the myth of four-finger braking, highlighting its practicality, effectiveness, and role in the MSF curriculum. From his insights, you’ll understand that while the MSF doesn’t prescribe a specific number of fingers for braking, it is essential for riders to have the freedom to experiment and find the method that works best for them.

David also brings to light the importance of effective communication in motorcycle training. We engage in an enlightening discussion about the necessity for instructors to be clear in their teachings. David underlines the significance of questioning our own beliefs and keeping abreast with the latest guidance as instructors, which makes for an intriguing listen.

Finally, we venture into the realm of motorcycle safety and strategic thinking. Bret and David emphasizes the need for riders to make decisions based on their own experience and understanding of the motorcycle’s response, rather than strictly adhering to instructions. In addition, we discuss the mental aspects of riding, providing insights that can help improve your riding experience. So tune in and be part of this enlightening conversation. And remember, our podcast doesn’t have any advertisements or sponsors – we’re all about sharing knowledge and engaging in discussion.

Related Video: Does MSF Teach Four Finger Braking?

0:00:15 – Bret Tkacs
Welcome to Around the Wheel with Bret Tkacs and today my guest is David Weed, a fantastic rider and trainer. We’re going to be discussing four fingered braking: When you should use it, if you should use it… if this is something that is just a myth in riding or if this is the standard. We’re going to talk about strategies, how to improve as a rider or a trainer and just dive into some of the history and background of this particular topic. So, let’s get started. Well, David, why don’t you let our listeners know a little bit about yourself. Who are you?

0:00:51 – David Weed
My name is David Weed. I am currently a RiderCoach and RiderCoach Trainer certified with MSF. I’ve been riding since about 2010, and I ride a fair amount of miles. I still feel kind of like I’m a beginner, to be honest, but I probably ride 15,000 to 20,000 miles a year; teach a lot of classes and then I was the Lead Technical Specialist for the state’s motorcycle safety program in Washington for the Department of Licensing and led that program for about five or six years and currently, as I said, I am a RiderCoach Trainer with MSF.

0:01:37 – Bret Tkacs
And for those of you who are listening, just to let you know that David isn’t just a RiderCoach Trainer. We’ve had a relationship – professional relationship, in the past and worked together in Washington State and in other avenues. Keep in mind, David is just talking from his point of view, from his perspective. He is not representing the MSF, or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and to best that, I’ve also spent a lot of time talking to those in other organizations, including Dr. Ray Ochs, who wrote the curricula that David teaches other instructors to teach, and the curricula that he teaches. So I’m actually kind of a step ahead.

But, with that said, it’s always fun to throw somebody under the bus as we get started. So here we go, David. I read all the time – comments and I hear instructors say, and I see things written. In fact, I have been on websites: Arizona has one of the schools there that put this on their website and they quote MSF and they say “we teach four fingered braking because that’s what MSF teaches”. What’s the lowdown on this four fingered braking thing? Because I hear it all the time.

0:02:50 – David Weed
You know, Bret, I’ve heard it a lot too. I heard it when I first learned to ride through the MSF program. I learned it in conversations with other instructors and it comes up pretty consistently in my work and training and supporting new and current instructors.

One of the challenges that I give Instructor Candidates when they’re first learning to be instructors is to go through the MSF curriculum and find where it’s written that four fingers must be used on the brake.

And the interesting thing is, as you may well have imagined, and I’m sure already know… that nowhere in the curriculum is it written that four fingers must be used on the brake, and so it presents a good learning moment to help instructors think about – what is it that we’re really teaching our students and what is it that we really want them to come out of our training with? And in my opinion, and this is my opinion of course, it’s the ability for new riders or experienced riders to make choices… and to make choices based on the feedback of the motorcycle. So one of the things that I think happens a lot in motorcycle training is because it’s usually folks that are very passionate and love what they’re doing and want to make a positive difference and keep students safe, and all that… is that sometimes it’s easy to get on to do it “The Way” versus teaching “A Way”.

0:04:28 – Bret Tkacs
Well, let me dig back for a second. I’m going to cause a pause there and, for those listening, I’ve been a… was a certified MSF instructor in most all the curricula that they offered. I was never a trainer for MSF and I started that back in the mid late 90s. So I was certified for a little over 20… 20 some years. I think it was 25 years when I actually let it lapse. But you made a mention of… well, there’s no place in the curriculum where it says you must use four fingers. Have you found any place that references the number of fingers to use at all? You’re a Chief, so I would suspect you would be very well versed in the current curricula, which is the BRC or the Basic RiderCourse. Obviously there were multiple curriculums before that, but it… does it say anything about fingers… that you know of?

0:05:21 – David Weed
To my knowledge, no, actually it doesn’t say anything about the number of fingers. And when you give an arbitrary requirement like that, it doesn’t take into account people’s experience level. It doesn’t take into account people’s physical stature. You know, when students are riding a training bike, usually a little bit more basic on the food chain level of motorcycle, oftentimes it does not have adjustable controls. Oftentimes the controls may or may not have seen a little bit of love over the years and there are people who can’t physically put four fingers on that front brake. So then if you have an instructor hollering at you constantly to put all four fingers on the brake, that actually might degrade someone’s braking performance. So my take on it is, encourage students to explore different options. Try four fingers, try three fingers, try two fingers. Who cares? You know what, if you get the job done, guess what – you’re doing it right.

0:06:26 – Bret Tkacs
I spoke to Dr. Ray Ochs, who is the person in charge of the curricula that you teach – the BRC – and that’s about when he came in. So I was actually trained on the previous curriculum. It was called the MRC:RSS, so the Motorcycle RiderCourse: Riding and Street Skills, and when I asked Ray Ochs the question, his answer was far shorter and more direct than even yours is. And when I said, hey, Ray Ochs, what is the status of four fingered braking with MSF? What’s the official on this? He goes, we don’t have one. It doesn’t exist… we don’t… you know, you can use four, you can use two… that, we don’t… that’s not our place to, you know, to make a call and in fact I’ve done quite a bit of digging. I was even looking at curricula up in Canada and some out of, and also down in New Zealand and some other places. And up in Canada, I was talking about the instructors and in his instructor training manual it references four fingers. Yeah, and it’s only a very light reference in the control section. However, when I really challenged to push to the next level and we looked at the actual curricula and not the school policy, it doesn’t exist there and it doesn’t exist in New Zealand and it doesn’t exist in any of the MSF curricula – they had one in… the first one is 1973. It was the Beginning RiderCourse. Then they had the Motorcycle RiderCourse in ‘76 and then in ‘86 they had the Motorcycle RiderCourse: Riding and Street Skills, and then around ‘01, the Basic RiderCourse, came out and then they did a revision in 2014. Not a single one of those references fingers as far as the MSF goes, that I can locate, that I can find.

I went so far as to look at the other curricula in the States as well. There’s only a few states that don’t use the MSF. That’s California, Idaho, Oregon, Ohio, South Dakota and Washington. Those all have other curricula used in those states, or at least available in those states. The only one, the only one that I found, that had a reference to the number of fingers is Oregon State and Idaho. And there’s one other state that references their stuff but their curricula mentions it, but only once and it’s under the use of controls early on, when they describe what the controls are, and it’s not in their range – the range books I have sitting in front of me. It’s not in their manuals, but yet in these curricula, they just push and push and push and just, I mean instructors won’t get certified if they don’t do demos with four fingers.

And I’m like, if it’s that big of a deal, why did I have to dig so deep to find even a single reference in one curricula which I would argue and debate there was some flaws in that development process, or at least the team there. Sorry, guys, if any of you are listening, that I’ve talked to that was part of that, but you know we have side conversations about that. But why is this so adamant? What, what’s your take on that? Why is it out there? Why have so many people just been beaten with this – you must use four fingers?

0:09:35 – David Weed
Well, I have a couple different ideas about that. Or, and I think part of it is… Oftentimes – and I’m a trainer by specialty, so I specialize currently in providing leadership and supervisory training. I am certified to teach ATV safety, I teach first aid, CPR… I teach motorboat operator training courses. So, I do a lot of training and I have for years.

I think there’s a tendency to teach things how you learned it and so, as you’re stating, there has been this sort of myth of the requirement of four fingered braking for years and years and years and years, and I think that myth often gets implanted into our brains as a supposed requirement of a curriculum and we take that as gospel because we learned it from experienced instructors that were teaching us and yada, yada, yada, and pretty soon it just becomes The Way. I think that’s part of it. I also think that… I think when you’re teaching something, it feels good as a trainer to have solid and quantifiable things to teach, and so it may be – and again, this is just, you know, hypothetical on my part – but it may be that that’s a real easy, definable requirement to fall back on. Make sure you use four brakes… you know, four fingers on the brake and I can look and I can see that you’re doing it and it feels concrete and I think maybe I’m providing the best instruction I can.

And I think one of the challenges with instruction in any environment, to be honest, but as we’re talking in the motorcycle environment, is that it’s not always quantifiable. We are planting seeds as an, as instructors, in our students that we may not see germinate for years, and the seeds that I think are most effective to plant are: Learn from the feedback of the bike. And then make your own choices in the moment, and every choice has consequences and advantages to it. And to be a really good rider, a safe rider, a talented rider, is to be able to make those choices in the moment and know when something makes sense and when it doesn’t… to you. One of the other things that gets taught often is in the MSF curriculum, especially on day one on the range is: Don’t cover the front brake. You don’t want new students resting their hands on that front brake lever, which I think makes some sense, because sometimes if a student gets worried they’re going somewhere they don’t want to go, they might have a tendency to tense up and use that front brake when they don’t want to.

0:12:26 – Bret Tkacs
And I’ve done the same thing and I, you know, when I teach new riders, one of the phrases I came up with – because it worked well for them is “put the brake away”. Yes, and I wanted four fingers around the throttle and then, when it’s time to brake, I want you to use the brake and then, when you’re done with the brake, put it away because they’re brand new riders.

0:12:42 – David Weed
Totally. But I think what happens is people get – instructors get stuck in saying things like “never cover the front brake”. Well, that’s not true.

0:13:03 – Bret Tkacs
And you know four fingers isn’t wrong.

0:13:06 – David Weed
It’s not wrong.

0:13:07 – Bret Tkacs
I’m not saying it’s wrong and that’s… you know, I’m on a rant on this whole thing. I’ve been studying this for quite a while because I’m getting ready to produce a video on this topic specifically, which is why I’m interviewing people like you and Ray Ochs, and Sunshine Beers who runs Idaho, and Ray Pierce who runs the state, and Bruce Thomas, who you worked with. You know, at the time he was in Washington. And then I’ve spoke to a lot of these different people going – what do you know about this? Where is it coming from? Why is it still perpetuated? And Ray Ochs even told me from MSF. He said hey, if you find anything on the root of this, where it started, please share. You know, give me a call and share with me.

And that’s what I’ve been digging back. I haven’t been able to find anything older than 1965 and it was a book called Freedom of the Road. It was one of the early predecessors to the MSF curricula in 1973. And, of course, that was the year MSF – Motorcycle Safety Foundation became established. Just going back on all the research, everything I can do, and I think I have some pretty good ideas why I think this happened, even though there is no finger reference to anything other than in the Motorcycle Task Analysis, in which case they recommend two to three fingers. That’s the only place I’ve ever found a reference to the number of fingers, and I think what’s happened is – when you say, hey, you need to brake fully or bring the bike to the best stop possible. Well in 1965, how many fingers do you need on a drum brake to get that thing to stop? Or 1973?

0:14:33 – David Weed
The original ABS.

0:14:35 – Bret Tkacs
And I believe… my belief… and I have absolutely nothing to substantiate this belief, which is awful, but I’m still under the belief that I think the four fingered braking started with that’s what you needed to stop a motorcycle… and then continued on. And then, as you and I both know as trainers, when you have 12 people or more riding around that have no idea what they’re doing, we start off with certain development tasks that are not necessarily truthful or accurate… long term. And this is all learning, you know, we can’t start at the most complex understanding of detail. And my reference, I always talk about math, you know, when you’re teaching math to a child and you start off with: Hey, here’s three apples, I take two apples away and you got one apple left and later on we go, I can chop that apple in half. And, as most of us that own motorcycles know, there’s also this concept of negative. You know, you can owe me what I don’t already have, that doesn’t exist. And then we can go fractions, and… But you can’t teach that at the very early steps, and I think the braking is taught that way often. But instructors lose focus and you’ve already alluded to this, where they… teaching the four fingered braking may be beneficial when you’re first learning, in the first hours of learning to ride a motorcycle, but after that it’s time to go: What does that rider need if they’re braking with two and everything’s working, leave them alone. If they’re snatching the brake and we’re terrified they’re going to pile their face into the ground, then maybe we want to start focusing on hey, put your brake away and then use your fingers, put your brakes away again, and they leave – the students will leave thinking oh, we’re supposed to use four fingers as opposed to no, I use four fingers when I learn, but I need to develop to the next level and the next step.

0:16:25 – David Weed
And I absolutely agree. I think that you know things like encouraging riders who are new on the range, especially on day one, not to cover the front brake; that’s a good idea and I think that promotes safe operation on that first day. But I also think as an instructor, it is important to set the context that hey, for day one on the range we’re going to ask you not to cover your front brake. This is why, but please keep in mind this is just for the first day on the range.

It’s a lot different than an instructor telling a brand new rider: Never cover the front brake… with lightning and thunder coming down, right? And I think that’s where some of the perspective gets missed. You know, for instance, I have also had instructors who say you must always use both brakes. Now, I think that’s a really good technique to help riders develop habits. So when, you know, the proverbial stuff hits the fan, hopefully they use both brakes and get some better braking. But again, that absolute statement of “Always Use Both Brakes” is also not true in the context of riding outside the range and in fact, even on the range, when students are being taught low-speed maneuvers and maybe dragging the rear brake a little bit is helpful for them. So again, I think part of it is the language that instructors use.

0:17:58 – Bret Tkacs
And I’m going to take that a step further for you, because you just said, you know, using the rear brake. But even on slow speed maneuvers, very skilled riders can use the front brake to increase the dip on the front to make a tighter turn. With the right skill and the right situation, it’s a perfect, you know, skill to have. If you’re trail braking on a track, front brake only is a common thing. If you’re off-road doing adventure riding or dirt riding, you’ll steer with the rear. You know, where you slide the rear. So there’s definitely application where the general rule of thumb is – yeah, we use both brakes, but that’s the general.

0:18:31 – David Weed
But that’s the general rule and I think, just an instructor and again, you know… also, one thing to keep in mind, I think, is that you know these students are just learning, they’re overwhelmed, they’re nervous, they can get too much information in their head and not be able to focus on really the ‘needs to know’. So that’s the balance, but I do think that it’s how things are phrased by instructors that are the big, impactful points. So, if you’re working with students on the range and say, hey, for the range, we’d like you to practice using both brakes because in an emergency situation, that’s likely to get you the best stop. So we would like you to practice that on the range where it feels appropriate, which is a lot different than saying “always use both brakes” and send them out after training onto the road with that as their only guidance to effective braking. And I think that that happens with the four fingers thing. I think that happens with “always mount the motorcycle on the left side”. Well, you know, if you got a bunch of bikes on the range lined up, does it make sense to have everybody maybe mount from a similar side so nobody’s getting kicked in the head? Sure, but are there cases that riders might want to mount or dismount on different sides of the motorcycle in the real world? Of course. I think one of the things that’s easy for instructors sometimes to forget… and I’m generalizing here and I shouldn’t, but I will… is that range riding is different than street riding. If we want to set a baseline for our students to go out and then begin to develop their own skills, I think they have to get the message from instructors that this is a baseline… now go out and further develop your own skills, because there are a million options out there on how to ride. There are very few absolutes: “Nevers.” “Always.” in motorcycling, in my belief, and I think sometimes we send them out with those two words stuck in their head.

0:20:34 – Bret Tkacs
And this is something that I think is important for all of you listening to understand what we’re trying to get towards. And David and I both make a living as trainers… motorcycle trainers. That’s what we do. Both of us have taught four fingers because we were taught to teach four fingers, and then eventually learned that when you question it and you research it, you find out that we were teaching something we were told we were supposed to teach, but when we read our documents, in fact it wasn’t actually there. And that’s a reasonable thing for a new instructor to do. If you’re a motorcycle safety instructor of any curricula in any part of the world, thank you for doing what you do. Thank you for going out and giving up your weekends and your days to help other riders. You know, that’s what we do and we respect you for that. And for me, when I see an instructor do that, it bothers me because there’s an ignorance there. Ignorance isn’t stupid. Ignorance means, I don’t know – lack of information – yeah, and what I would… What I’m hoping that people who both riders and instructors who listen to this podcast, those who watch the video that’ll be following after this, or any of the articles I might write about this topic because it’s one I’m very passionate about… it’s not about the four fingers, guys. That’s not what I’m trying to dwell on here. The idea is that, are you teaching what you think you’re supposed to be teaching or are you teaching what you’re actually supposed to be teaching? When was the last time you opened up your manual where you actually read the words, where you questioned what you were doing? Because the most dangerous person on the road and the most dangerous person to help others on the road is the one who Knows. Because they stop questioning. They stop looking for answers, they don’t want to be proven wrong. Instead of going out and going, I want to be proved wrong. Let me question all the things I believe are fact, and that’s what I want instructors to do. Open up your books and read through – and if you are doing what you’re supposed to do, awesome, great, that’s fantastic. And if you’re not, well, change it, go that next step. And if you’re a rider, if you’re going… well, I’m going into rider training. Believe me, guys, there’s a lot of options out there for rider training. I’m focused a lot right now on the adventure stuff, but I’ve made my living and almost three decades of training street riders and riders out on the track. To know that you want to set your preconceived notions aside, go to a class, take it all in, learn what those classes have, take and try the techniques that are offered to you, but also keep in mind there is room for human error.

People will start to teach long enough that their opinions become part of the curricula, even though it’s not part of the curricula. That they’ll be quoting things that aren’t actually based in research and aren’t in their curricula. It’s not in the book, it’s not in writing, and there’s nothing wrong with saying where could I find that information? Where is it in writing? That’s one of the things I do with my instructors, especially those with the advanced-level training. You know, when we do on-road training or on-track training or the adventure stuff is to say if you’re going to say something to somebody, you’d better know your source. Where did that information come from? Because it’s not right or wrong, it’s just – where’s the research or what’s your source, and that’s something that a lot of instructors aren’t able to quote or do. So I encourage you guys, if you’re an instructor, to know your resource. Where did it come from? What page, what paragraph? What research document? Who funded the research that you’re referencing.

0:23:59 – David Weed
The Four Finger Brake Institute of America. Yeah, I think that it’s very much, you know, being a motorcycle instructor or instructor of any kind, but a motorcycle instructor is very much in the same vein as being a rider. I think most instructors would agree that what we want to do is produce riders that can make solid choices and that have an accurate self-assessment of their skill level and continually desire to learn new things, and I would hope that the instructors – and I certainly try and support the instructors that I train in this… is that same mindset: Be an accurate assessor of your own skill and experience as an instructor, and be careful of getting caught into the same old ruts each and every class, just like riding technique and forgetting to look at what you’re doing.

You know, a lot of times we’ll get riders that come in that maybe have some experience and boy, they got a lot of bad habits that they need to kind of unlearn and relearn some different ways of doing things, and I think that happens with instructors after a while too. I know it has for me. You know, I’ve been instructing for quite a while and sometimes I can get caught into – you know, things that I started saying and all of a sudden, every class I say them, and have I looked at those recently to make sure that they are in fact accurate, or is it just sort of become this myth that gets perpetuated, right?

0:25:29 – Bret Tkacs
David, I am guilty of everything I’m mentioning to others. I’m guilty of all of it. I was taught something and I repeated it; I did not verify it. I was young, I was in my twenties, I didn’t verify what I was teaching. I was just teaching the range cards and my instructor manual, but not reading all the information behind it. And then I learned more and I’m like, wow, that’s… now I know something different, and I would learn a different curricula. And then, oh, now that’s the new thing. And for a while I taught the Total Control stuff with Lee Parks back when it was the Advanced Riding Clinic. Then that was the thing. And I realize, oh wait, not all of that is quite accurate either. And I would do the California Superbike School and I did the four levels of that. I’m like, wow, that’s great. And then I had to go back and go well, actually, in certain situations, because so many of these curricula become “This Is The Way”, whether it’s the Yamaha Champion School, whether it’s… and you get into books like Proficient Motorcycling, well, David Hough. David Hough is a fantastic rider, he’s a great guy. He comes from the street and he really dismisses a lot of the advanced stuff. And then you get into things like Andy Ibbott: Performance Riding Techniques. Well, he’s focused on GP racers and superbike racing, which is different, or Pridmore with Smooth Riding, or Ienatsch or any of these other guys, and they often come from a certain perspective. And I find that, again, if you’re listening to this and you’re trying to think – what’s the takeaway, how do you become better from this? And what I’m gonna say is, the more I learn from all these different angles, especially once you point at somebody else and say “well, I’m right, but they’re wrong.” And then the other guy is saying “well, no, no, no, I’m right, they’re wrong.”

The more well-rounded I’ve become, the more open I’ve become, the more I research the background, the more I realize I need to not be so hard and fast. I need to be open to the fact that neither is wrong and both are right, in the right environment for the right person with the right motorcycle, and to become flexible and pliable and this should apply not just to motorcycles. Guys, if you’re listening to this, this is life. We need to be open and not opinionated.

That’s why I push world travel. That’s why I take people to Nepal. I want to take North Americans to a place that I have good control, that’s safe, that’s exciting, but also someplace that is uncomfortable, that is new, that will challenge their beliefs and thoughts, make them appreciate the life they have, but, more importantly, just the idea of broadening their perspective and understanding of the world, whether it’s motorcycle or life, or the world or your job. That’s what we should be striving for. This four fingered thing is just one of those, those things. It just sits out there that grinds at me, because it’s not wrong to do four fingered braking, but it is wrong to teach people that’s the only way and that’s the right way to do it.

0:28:35 – David Weed
Yes, and I think you… that really resonates with me too Bret is that… is that, like in life, in motorcycling, there is very, very few, if any “The Way”: This is “The Way” to do this and if we start opening up as instructors, as riders and as human beings to the option of “A Way”, I think that’s really gonna empower a lot of people. That’s one of the reasons I love teaching motorcycles so much, is to be honest, I think that by teaching people to ride and working with things like their hopes and their challenges and their self-confidence and things like that, that we are actually contributing to their entire life and that’s huge. And it’s that same message that, in riding as in life, there are very few “The Way” and back to the braking like you said, hey, four fingers works, great, it’s not wrong. If two fingers works, great, it’s not wrong. Can you get the bike stopped when you need to? Then I think we’re done.

And one of the things that I think we can remind ourselves as instructors, and I say this to myself as well, is that let the students ride and learn from the motorcycle. And I think sometimes it gets very easy to jump in and want to coach and want to help and want to support which I totally understand, and I do the same thing and sometimes forget that so much of the students learning, is they’re playing around on the bike and seeing what works and what doesn’t, and learning it for themselves. I would imagine that you and most people listening to this podcast know that as adults especially, we tend to learn and retain better, not when we’re being lectured to or told to do or not do something, but when we learn it ourselves, based on experience. If we can provide that experience in class for our students, I think they’re going to learn better and they’re going to retain it better, and that’s a that’s a pretty big deal to get to be a part of, I think.

0:30:41 – Bret Tkacs
And I want to double down on that. That’s exactly what I do with the curriculum I wrote for Washington. It’s called the Learn to Ride program. When I showed that to other states or instructors, one of the things they all sort of focused on was, at the end of the riding activities… anybody that’s done a Basic RiderCourse or a motorcycle rider course, and whether it’s with the MSF or a state like Oregon or Idaho, is the instructors command everything that occurs. When you can come down to stop, where you need to stop, how to turn where to turn and more importantly, when you end an activity… or one of these exercises, they line everybody up in formation in a specified location. And with the Learn to Ride program I wrote, we rally the riders. As an instructor, we look around and we go… everybody’s met our objective, they’re doing well, they’ve had enough time, let’s go and wrap this up and come o in. And we just call the riders in. And they come in, on their own from wherever they are, and they park however they park around the instructor and then we talk and chat. And when we’re donem and we brief the next activity and they know what to do, we just say “go ahead, go ahead and do that” and they move out to the path of travel and they continue.

People absolutely melted down over this process, but what they didn’t realize is it was about creating responsibility for action, allowing the riders to make the choice to go, ‘I’m not ready to go out yet. I’m going to wait till everybody’s out of my way and then I’ll join the group’, or ‘I need to see a couple more riders do this before I join in’. At the end, the experienced riders will come riding close to the instructor. Those that are really uncomfortable, they’ll stop way out in the field, a long ways from where all the bikes are, which is exactly where I want them if I’m an instructor, but allowing people to make those choices to develop at their own speed… I do the same thing with adventure training. I often will set up some sort of task or challenge for riders, but before I start teaching them all the little nitpick secrets of how to do it, I let them go try it so they know how hard is it with what they know. I can see as an instructor, how well are they performing? Where are their skills lacking? What can I do to help provide guidance to get them better, rather than assuming they know absolutely nothing and they can’t ride at all. And let me lecture them every single secret I’ve ever learned, ever in my entire life. This also helps them realize ‘oh, you know what? Most of this wasn’t a problem’. So when we do a demonstration or we give pointers, they can focus on just those things that really need… they need to be helped with, and we do… I do the same thing with beginner riders. We provide them just enough skills to get to the next activity. Then use those skills, show us what you can do. Great. Now come on back in, let’s talk about how we can improve it. Let’s show you some skill sets, maybe, and that you can go with and then send you back out and try again. That’s a process that you just chatted about before I kind of went on my little rant, and that’s the way life works. We learn best by doing it, by making the mistakes. Without the mistakes, you don’t have improvement. Without failure, you don’t have success. Failure is critical to success and being good.

0:33:59 – David Weed
And you don’t have the contextual background to put your learning into. I want a rider to make choices on the road based on their experience and what they have found out to be true in terms of what they do and how the bike responds. I would much rather have them do that than have a rider do it because they told me to. Because I don’t think that is necessarily a piece of learning that a rider can generalize to the wide breadth of variable situations you encounter on the road. And so, as instructors, if we can provide that experiential place for riders – safely – to work on what they know and work on what does the bike d if I do this, they’re going to be able to retain that learning and generalize it to many different situations… versus “I’m doing it because they said so”. I don’t think we want robots as riders, because robots does not breed strategic thinking; it does not breed flexibility in the moment and that’s often what gets riders into trouble on the road.

0:35:11 – Bret Tkacs
I think that’s the absolute, perfect wrap up, because it is the mental aspect actually, that’s the bigger issue, not the physical skills, even though we like to play with the physical skills. For all of you listening, thanks for listening to Around the Wheel today with myself and David Weed. If you really enjoyed this program, make sure you listen to some of the other podcasts that have gone out, or you can join in and support this through Patreon and keep this channel going. You’ll notice there’s no advertising, there’s no sponsors. We plan on keeping it that way because we often will upset those around us who would normally give us money because we’re willing to speak the truth. Thanks again for listening. Thanks, David, for being on the show.

0:36:03 – Bret Tkacs
Absolutely. Thanks, Bret.

Transcribed by https://podium.page