I met the training team Run x Fun owned and run by Luca Viola, himself a former racer as well as a passionate off roader and visitor to Africa. The team includes Paolo Castrichini, Max Zeraftis, Alex Vaghi, Michele Marchetti and others (see www.runxfun.it) as well as some amazing racers such as Fabio Massei (shown above), Alex and Alessia Polita and GianLuca Nanelli.
These guys are an amazing team and I have become 100 times better as a rider through them. They taught me theory as well as riding and I have never enjoyed myself so much in my life! We have held courses at Vallelunga and Misano but 90% of our training time is spent at the wonderful Magione circuit near to Perugia in Umbria which has become a home from home for the team.
Luca purchased an amazing TIR several years ago and that becomes our home for the night or 2 at the track. Mingling with some of the brilliant bike racers that we work with has been a great experience for me and to ride with them was truly amazing (when they went slowly so I could keep up of course)!!!.
We taught everything from how to start riding a bike round bollards in the car park right up to good racers who wanted to improve their lap times. But as Luca repeated we sought to explain HOW to ride and not just follow a fast guy so you go faster, as otherwise when the instructor was not there then the student would not know how he went faster. So our courses are always structured into theory and then riding (no more than 6 students with an instructor) to try to ensure that the theory could be shown to the student and then reinforced.
To be continued….
We all (well, many of us) enjoy a motorbike and we almost all teach ourselves how to ride. We may get some tips from a mate or two or from the guy in the shop that sells us the bike but in general we all think that we know how to ride a bike. We have all watched Valentino on TV and we convince ourselves that we can do the same.
Many do not survive long enough to learn that riding a motorcycle on the road is a very dangerous activity. I lost a school friend at 17 so I began to understand that there is more to this than meets the eye, so to speak.
So from my ripe old age I have a few tips for you all, as follows: (and the bike shown above is my Yamaha MT10 which has a detuned R1 engine with 160 horses and FLIES!!)
- ALWAYS ride defensively. Cars hurt, so a basic starting point is to assume that all cars are badly driven (many are) and so always stay well away and allow them to get it wrong. Many drivers will take all of the road on a corner so never use all of your lane, stay near to your side of the road. Many car drivers hold their smartphone in one hand so they do not pay much attention to driving and the use of indicators seems to be a thing of the past.
- ALWAYS ride within your limits. Sports bikes today are not far removed from race bikes in terms of power, performance and brakes. A modern 1000cc bike has almost 200 horse power!! It is almost impossible for a normal rider to find the limits of a modern bike even on a race track. Instead, it is very easy to find our own limits and we must learn to know them and to stay well within them.
- NEVER ride a bike when you are not feeling up to it. Take a bus or tram or car but not the bike because a bike requires 100% of our concentration. 80% is simply not enough.
- TAKE A RIDING COURSE. There are several excellent riding schools such as the California Superbike School in the UK, Ron Haslam’s school at Donnington Park and Run x Fun in Italy and all of these are excellent places to learn about riding a motorbike. All are circuit-based for safety reasons and not to teach you to ride at high speeds!!
- LOOK AFTER YOUR BIKE. We have only 2 tyres and the tyre condition and pressure are vital, so always check over the bike before and after every ride.
- NEVER insult another driver (with hand signals, for instance). It is not worth it. Sadly “Road Rage” exists and you can see many many examples on YouTube so always try to stay away from bad drivers, bikes are always the easy victims.
I have worked with RunxFun for several years and lessons are really the best way to survive and to enjoy yourself too.
All questions answered!!
Last week from Thursday through Sunday, Moto Days was held here in Roma. The biggest motorcycle shows are in the north of Italy, EICMA in Milano is the biggest and then Verona and so on. But we have Moto Days, so I went along to help a friend Luca Viola who had a stand for his off-road riding school (see http://www.runxfun.it/) and also a great group of guys called Di Di (see http://www.diversamentedisabili.it/). On the thurday morning it was raining like hell so I decided not to go by bike/scooter, instead I thought that a train or metro would be a better idea so I walked over to Termini, Roma’s central train and Metro station. Well of course there is no train nor metro from Termini to the new Roma show ground!!!!!! The Express Train to the Airport (the show is very near to the main airport) does not of course stop at the show ground and the Metro does not reach the show. So the only way is to go to the Tiburtina station and then catch the train from there, which I did. BUT the train takes an hour, as it stops everywhere!!!!!. When we finally arrived at the Fair station there were no signs to the show ground so we walked about 500 metres hoping it was in the correct direction and there, 50 metres in front of the North entrance, I finally saw the first sign mentioning Moto Days!!!! Well done.
On Sunday luckily no rain so I went by bike. Inside Hall 3 I went over to the nearby Aprilia stand and there I met both of their World Superbike riders the Brit Leon Haslam and the young Spaniard Jordi Torres. I have always been a big fan of Haslam ever since I watched his father Ron race against Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts and Mick Grant, and I knew that he (Leon) now lives here in Italy. They were both busy signing autographs and posing for countless pictures but when I said hello to Leon and chatted with him in English, he was very keen to enlist my help for some translation with his fans so he kept me with him for about half an hour, until the Aprilia staff asked me to leave! I went back a couple of times during the day and chatted lots both with him and also with Jordi and they are both really pleasant and “normal” modest guys, both looking a bit fish out of water surrounded by fans!! Great fun, and Leon even gave me his phone number to stay in touch, so I can help him with his Italian!!! Great fun…….