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  • December 01, 2021 5 min read

    Train hard, fight easy

    A hard drill makes for an easy battle

    Please do at least one hundred and fifty miles between OR's

    Two of those quotes can be attributed to Alexander Suvorov; the other could come from any Observer, the blurb on the LAM shop and all the countless different ways we try to say “practice, practice, practice”.

    Soldiers in the Roman army trained with heavy wooden swords and shields that were at least one and a half times heavier than the actual equipment they would use to fight with in combat.

    When not being Russell Crowe and were holed up in their camps, they would train every day with this equipment, learning drills over and over so that they best serve the Empire and preserve Pax Romana.

    This overtraining has been carried forth throughout history and continues across the world today. Not just in the military but in anything that calls for continued personal development (CPD).


    By the way, this is the end of the historical war stuff! I’m not a football fan, but I read the sports news, and I saw that Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to Manchester United, aged 36. Whatever your personal opinion is on him or football, he is undoubtedly a very gifted individual.

    Let’s say he's scored a thousand goals, or perhaps its three thousand (I have no idea); his natural talent probably attributed to forty per cent of those, ten percent luck, leaving fifty per cent which came from many hours on the training ground. Honing his natural talent and listening to others who perhaps lacked the skills he has and thus had failed to make it to the top of the game, but who still knew how to walk the walk and what they are talking about. However, more importantly, contained within them the skill set to pass that knowledge on.

    For example, they might know how to kick a ball a certain way or perhaps to aim for a particular point when taking a penalty; who knows, but my point is natural talent goes so far, but practice and dedication are what gets you to the top.

    James Hunt won a single Formula one championship; whilst his rival Niki Lauda went on to win three.

    Hunt was an exceptional natural talent, as was Niki. Still, Niki knew how to win consistently. You require a particular commitment to training and perhaps forty Marlboro a day and a few bottles of Moet & Chandon to wash them down is never really going to give you the edge (well, at least not that edge).

    All top athletes, sportspeople, artists, actors, you name it, have people they confide in, train with, or expand their skill sets with. Be it Mentors or Coaches or just other people who ride motorcycles.

    Now I am sorry, but LAM will not make you into a millionaire football player, nor will it make you into the next Lewis Hamilton. However, it will, we hope, make you into a safer rider.

    Can you get to a test pass just by attending the occasional Pot Luck or Group Meeting? Actually, yes. Some people will do just that because they live in the world of Ronaldo’s forty per cent.

    Some will pass because they have thirty per cent Ronaldo and ten per cent luck. However, the majority and I was one of them, will need help to get there.

    For us, help just doesn’t come from an Observed Ride; it can come from reading, watching YouTube videos, AOR's or just following other riders.

    Take in what others are doing, play with it, adapt it, stick with it or throw it out.

    I know when I was an Associate, an Observer would say X, and then the next week, another would say Y, and it all became very confusing. However, I know why now; it’s because I wasn’t doing enough miles on the bike in between my OR's to give myself time to adopt, adapt, or to discard!

    I missed the practice, practice, practice bit and would then go from OR to OR remembering what X was and trying it out whilst being coached by an entirely different observer, who now had twice the work to do for them to unravel what the heck my real base ride was.

    Okay, it wasn’t necessarily the above, but I hope you get my point! Say in my last OR, and we worked on understanding cornering. How to benefit from using the limit point of vision. My LAM observer explained everything to me in quite basic terms using the ARC and maybe drawing in their road book or physically walking the road with me, so that I could see, at a slow walking pace how the road developed, closed down, began to open up and how total vision was restored. I got it, and it was a lightbulb moment. We had tea and cake, and I skipped happily back to my bike.

    I got home, cleaned the bike, went to work on Monday; Dave from accounts came in, and we talked about the football and how he needed March’s stats by Tuesday lunchtime to get the boss off his back. Repeat for the rest of the week.

    The weekend comes, and I’ve got my ballet lessons (modern man). I need to pick up my tutu, take the kids to Karate and call in on my gran to see how Joey the budgie is doing after eating a bourbon biscuit.

    Oh gosh, the weekend went by, and it’s work again, but I wanted to get back on the bike and practice. Luckily for me, it’s Banstead this weekend, so I’ll just go to that and have a chat and an OR.

    And repeat.

    Life gets in the way. We know this and we accept it. LAM is a little less draconian about it than perhaps we should be! Skills for Life is valid for twelve months, and the IAM themselves consider this a more than adequate amount of time. You can pay to extend it and you can pay to stay in LAM.

    We also get that the social side is one of the reasons why people like to stay within the group and feel that going forward and passing the test will deny them the fun side. My response to this goes back to the beginning of the article (when you were all still awake), is passing the test the end or the start of the journey?

    I'm not a natural motorcycle rider; I ride to a good standard because I use the System, which makes me a better rider. We have natural riders in the group who make the B4391 look like it was carved out of the mountainside, especially for them, and I eye them with some jealousy (if I am honest, and I always am). They also use the System, and I can identify with what they do, and I can elect to follow it, adopt it, adapt it or discard it, and evolve as a rider (CPD) because I am out there practising.

    I am training hard to fight easy.

    Remember the first lockdown where most of us stayed at home to stay safe and control the virus? Can you recall how once lockdown was eased, how alien it felt to drive or ride? How (dare I say) rusty we were? Or how you returned to the office after weeks of Zoom calls, and you continued to talk over people to be heard?

    We were out of practice. We had forgotten some of the aspects of riding, driving and or speaking.

    Did Ronaldo score in his first post lockdown game? I have no idea, but did he practice during his downtime? You bet!

    If you live in the world of forty percent then Pot Lucks will get you a pass. If you want to score that winning penalty or get that F1rst then only practice, practice, practice will get you there.

    Train hard, fight easy.

    Paul Harle


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