Regular Netreaders may have noticed that I don't post much on the topic of riding technique. That's because I know SFA about it. When I learned to ride, counter-steering was something you were told about as an emergency technique to dodge an unexpected obstacle - like a brick - lying on the road. Believe it or not, it was only when I got involved with Netrider that I found out that you could countersteer to get around a corner faster. So the past 18 months has been a crash (metaphorically) course in undoing 20 years of bad habits. There's still a long way to go - I think a cornering course is the next step - but here's a report on today's ride. Today I went to Reefton. I love Reefton. Some folks hate it but I reckon its great. Mile after mile of corners. So I made a plan to get up there today and everything fell into place. Sun was shining, I'd had a good sleep, housework was done...off we go. Sometimes the bike just seems smooth. I've pulled apart enough bikes to know that they are inanimate. So how is it that, if I change the oil, lube the chain and wipe it over with a wet rag, the bike runs 100% better? Could it be that the bike knows that you're treating it right, and decides to give you something extra - something a little special - something it knows you really want? Like what you sometimes get when you give flowers to you girlfr... Where were we. Yes - Reefton. Ok. When I go on a ride like this (pretty rare), I try to pick one area of riding and really work on it. Today, I decided to try to get through Reefton without braking in a corner. I did some new-agey creative visualisation - imagining myself setting up my speed, watching the exit point, tipping in, holding throttle, countersteering, gradually opening the throttle as if I felt comfortable with the lean, exiting with power coming on. It worked. Phark, it worked. For the first time, I sailed through Reefton with a level of confidence I've never had before. I wasn't fiddling with the throttle, I want tapping the brake, I wasn't constantly adjusting my line, I wasn't watching the speedo. Now, I've had the bike further over before, but I've never had it over so consistently Panic reactions - yup. I was going round the corners faster than I ever before and a few times the panic reaction set in. I could feel myself going for the brake. I'd already decided on a plan - every time I set up for a tight corner, I was saying, out loud, "Crank, crank". This made a huge difference because I that lizardy bit of my brain (that looks after staying alive) was hearing the monkey bit (that looks after having fun) saying "it's OK - we have a plan". Lizard relaxed, monkey giggled. I intend to do a lot more talking to myself in future. Did I get through without braking in a corner? No. There's loose gravel on one section and I ran through it and "Oh My God thats gravel and gravel kills and I've forgotten how to corner and on goes the brakes and ..." and I forgot to talk to myself about anything other than panic. Then I slowed down and changed my mental focus from going fast to going easy and it all smoothed out. "End Roadworks"...back to cranking. So what were the highlights? Well, the whole ride was great. The bike felt smooth and strong, the weather was great and my riding was 50% better than its ever been. Chasing a V-Strom from Cumberland Junction to Reefton was great. I couldn't pass him 'coz he had the legs on me at every straight but I was closing up at every corner. When a Strom is holding up the SR on corners, either I'm doing something right or he's doing it very wrong. The low point? Just after the "donut van" corner, I met a clown cutting the white line on right hander. Unfortunately, he had handlebars that were a full lane wide (guess the marque?) and that didn't leave much on my side of the road. All good, but the ol' sphincter got a workout. So there you go. No lessons in this for anyone else - this little rave is simply to record that I had a bloody grouse day and, after my dreary commute to the office, I remembered why I love riding so much. There you go. I'm due for a new front tyre but short of cash so next week's goal - Reefton on the back wheel.