From the Publisher
MOTORCYCLE CONSUMER NEWS,
I’m really pleased to see Ken Condon’s new book and DVD, Riding in the Zone: Advanced Techniques for Skillful Motorcycling. I helped introduce Ken to Motorcycle Consumer News a few years ago, as a means to keep the Proficient Motorcycling column alive. At first, Ken followed the “Hough” format for the column, but then gained the writing skill to put the PM column in his own words and also generate the monthly Street Strategy tips. Over the past couple of years, Ken has been working with Dan Kennedy of Whitehorse Press to develop a book and companion DVD that would provide a new look at motorcycling skills and riding strategies. Frankly, I’m impressed. About half the book deals with mental concepts such as risk awareness. The other half is about physical skill development—mastering motorcycle control. As an MSF certified RiderCoach and track school instructor, Ken has a lot of experience explaining difficult concepts such as countersteering, and the DVD is a great tool for
seeing the techniques in action. When I received my advance copy of Riding in the Zone, I noticed it was on the small side—less than 8” × 10” × 1/2” thick. But as I began to study Ken’s advice and view the companion DVD, I realized that it’s exactly the right size. The DVD is done simply but with lots of live action to demonstrate what Ken is saying. The quality is excellent, so you can easily understand the techniques. There are lots of color photos and diagrams in the book and with so much information on the DVD, that means the book can be compact. It’s small enough to fit in a tank bag, so you can take it out to the practice range. And the semi-hard coated cover and high quality binding mean it’s likely to survive the trip. Why are riding skills so important these days? Well, back in the 1970s, riders involved in crashes were most often victims of collisions with errant automobile drivers. Today, we’re seeing more and more riders who crashed their bikes in noncollision situations. It’s clear that motorcyclists need more emphasis on controlling our bikes, in addition to avoiding collisions. You might wonder how I can praise a “competing” book, considering that I also have skills books on the market, including the recent second edition of Proficient Motorcycling, published by Bowtie Press. I don’t see Riding in the Zone as competition; rather, Ken and I are both attempting to help riders get more proficient. Ken has a different way of dealing with riding skills, and I believe our books complement each other. Riding in the Zone contains a lot of street-riding wisdom from Ken’s MCN columns, but it’s written in an entirely different manner that I know you’ll find fresh and informative. In my opinion, this is one of the best motorcycle skills books on the market to day, and both Ken and Whitehorse are to be commended for making it available.
If you've ridden a motorcycle before, chances are you've experienced the sensation of being at one with the bike. Perhaps you experienced this sensation on a twisty road while powering out of a corner on a beautiful day - you're totally focused in the moment and on all the sensory inputs the bike is providing. You feel great; almost Zen like. It's a tough sensation to describe but it's the goal of every motorcyclist to experience it. This is the type of moment that the author is referring to when he talks about being 'in the zone.' He describes it as a state of being. It's the experience of being physically and mentally present in the moment, where every sense is sharply attuned to the ride. That sounds like a better description than mine I think! The goal of Riding In the Zone seems to be to help riders maximize those 'in the zone' moments. Why ride a motorcycle if your goal isn't to maximize the enjoyment you get from it and to improve the level of skill that you ride with? Makes perfect sense to me! There's no denying that motorcycling requires concentration, skill, and coordination. Even if you're an intermediate or experienced rider it's always a smart to revisit your skills periodically. It's also a good idea to practice those skills too. Knowing in theory about emergency braking may not help much in a real emergency if you've never practiced that skill. While you can't prevent a car from turning left in front of you, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of it and to be better prepared for the situation. Just one of the many useful bits of information contained in this book. Condon says it's a very good idea to practice your braking skills in a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot. Practice will help you become more aware of the capabilities of your motorcycle and allow you to develop the skills that will become second nature when, or if, you have to use them in a real emergency, on-road situation. He's also a big believer in track days as a way of developing skills. Track days aren't necessarily racing, they're a chance to test your abilities in a safer environment than the road, plus you may be able to get input from trained professionals about areas you could improve on. Riding in the Zone is geared towards early-intermediate to early-advanced riders. There's three major categories in the book: the confident rider, mental skill development, and physical skill development. Condon identifies the many factors that help you enter "the zone." He addresses each one individually, from the development of awareness and mental skills to mastering complete physical control of your motorcycle. At the end of each chapter are drills designed to transform the book's ideas and concepts into advanced riding skills that are natural and intuitive. A companion DVD is included with the book to demonstrate these concepts and techniques and show exactly how to perform each practice drill so the lessons may be applied quickly and easily to actual street riding. It's all very good stuff. The book includes extensive color-photography and illustrations that help you clearly visualize the concepts and techniques. It's one thing to read how a technique is performed and another to see it being performed so that you know exactly what it 'should' look like. The companion DVD is a fantastic feature that's included with the book - I know I'll be referring to it again. I want to stress that the DVD alone is worth the price of the book. You can watch the entire video at once or you can pop the DVD on and navigate to and focus on specific areas you want to learn about or revisit at some point in the future. You've got not excuse to brush up on your skills. Condon has made it as clear, and as easy as it's going to get! This book represents excellent value for money. I recommend that you check it out.
"The vast majority of motorcycling books on the market focus on the motorcycle itself, not the rider. There are only a handful of books on developing the skills to control your bike. Ken Condon's new book and DVD, Riding in the Zone, focuses on being confidently in control, and the DVD (included) provides real-time demonstrations." - RoadBikeMag.com