Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Titusville, New Jersey
Back when I was learning to fly helicopters, my instructors introduced me to something called "Chair Flying". This is exactly what it sounds like. You sit in a chair, position your hands and feet like you would if you were in a helicopter, and imagine flying around. You imagine the runway in front of you, what the scene looks like as you take off, what the horizon looks like as you bank into turns, and what the ground looks like as you're landing. I did it as much as they said to (at least once a day) and I noticed myself progressing much faster than the other students.
Now, as a certified flight instructor (CFI), I can tell exactly which students chair fly and which ones don't believe it works. The students that chair fly progress on average 3 times faster.
I decided to take this learning experience and see if it applies to motorcycling. It does. If I'm going to be off the bike for a few weeks due to weather, travel, etc. I "chair ride" about every other day for maybe 15 minutes. I assume the riding posture, close my eyes, and picture a gradual right turn and feel myself leaning. Then I imagine a tight right turn, "see" what it looks like, and feel it as I lean into it. I do the same for left turns. I imagine highway situations that require more or less throttle, down shifting, or panic breaking. I imagine how hard I have to squeeze the break handle in order to shorten stopping distance without locking up the tires. Then the next time I'm out on the road I'm really not that rustly. Every turn that I come upon has a reference to one I've imagined and so can be dealt with. It REALLY works.
Give it a shot if you haven't been riding for a while. Sit down in a chair that won't tip over from you leaning, close your eyes, assume riding position, and imagine a road, any road. Picture left and right, tight and gradual turns. Picture accelerating to get out of the way and do the motions with your hands and feet. I PROMISE the next time you go out you'll have already brushed off at least half of the rust.
Side note and funny story: my instructor said to practice this alone as you look kinda funny doing it. Chair riding isn't that bad as you look like your riding a motorcycle. Chair flying on the other hand, not so much. The "stick" that controls the heli comes right up between your legs. Without it there but with your hand in position, it might look a little odd, especially considering your eyes are closed. I know this because my girlfriend, who can apparently be quite stealthy, walked in on me one time and said, "What the HELL are you doing?!" It took me 25 minutes to prove to her "chair flying" was a real pilot practice...
Last edited by LibertyPilot; 03-16-2009 at 12:41 PM.