Riding Coaches – Is It Worth It? (Part 1 of 2)

By AJ Jacobsen

When it comes to your riding, what do you invest in? Obviously, there’s the motorcycle, but after that, where do you spend your money? Gear? Upgrades? Track days? What about coaching?

 

Many riders shy away from paying for professional riding instruction. I can see why – it’s a lot of money, with rewards that are hard to measure, and it’s a lot spent in a short period of time. Compared to taking that same money and spending it on track days, seat time, or some cool stuff for the bike, it can seem like a hard sell.

 

I was one of those riders – I knew good coaching would benefit me, and I had worked with some on track coaches at track days that helped, but I gained the most with some “online” coaching with Ken Hill. I would record a riding session, post it up, and we would discuss the improvement strategy. In 2016 I gained a lot of knowledge and my riding improved dramatically. I began to see the value of working with a good coach who really knew what they were doing.

 

2017 was a flop of a year for me for many reasons, and my riding stalled. I knew that to get past this, I would benefit from enlisting some one-on-one help where I could get immediate feedback. There were several options: attend a riding school; just work with track day coaches; or pay for a professional coach. Obviously, the cheapest method was a track day coach, but I also knew that their attention and dedication to me specifically would be lacking. Schools were sounding like a good option, but most of the ones I would consider, on dates that worked, would be at tracks I wasn’t familiar with. Not that I don’t love riding a new track, but let’s be fair, a significant part of a day would be spent just learning the track and the basics of the lines, something I could avoid at a local track. Then, there’s availability – I have limited days I’m able to be at a track, having a coach who can be there is extremely helpful.

 

After looking at schedules, options, and what was out there, and knowing my own riding and learning habits, I decided to focus on finding a one-on-one coach. Availability aside, I really wanted someone who would not only have the capacity to make my investment worthwhile, but I also needed someone who could break things down the way I needed and could put together a step-by-step plan. I also needed someone who could help keep me in the right head space, as often my own worst enemy is my own mind, especially after my dismal 2017 season. There were coaches I liked, coaches I respected, coaches who’s coaching I thought would work for me, and coaches who had availability and capacity, so the challenge was to find someone who fit all of those.

After a lot of thought, debate, and self-struggle, I finally decided to contact Tyler O’Hara. I knew who he was from the races, but did not know him in person. A friend of mine was working with him in 2017, and on a couple of occasions had shared some of what they had talked about, and his coaching style seemed like it would be a good fit. My friend’s riding also improved dramatically, and his lap times dropped like crazy, so the proof was kind of in the pudding there. As it turned out, Tyler had the availability, so I decided to give it a shot. It was a lot of money for me to put towards this, but I knew I needed some help, and that immediate feedback would be invaluable at this point.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will talk about my first day with a one-on-one coach.

#schoolofspeed #tylerohara #oneonone #coaching

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