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Book Review: Riding In The Zone - Advanced Techniques for Skillful Motorcycling

Book Review: Riding In The Zone - Advanced Techniques for Skillful Motorcycling
Author: Ken Condon
Published By: WhiteHorse Press

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!

Having also read Keith Code's - Twist of the Wrist II, I couldn't help but make some comparisons. Riding in the Zone does offer instruction covering many similar concepts as are discussed in the the classic rider guide book Twist of Wrist II but Condon puts his own unique spin on it and includes several techniques I don't recall being covered in Twist of the Wrist. Interesting to note that Condon does give a little shout out to Code and others, within the book, as people who have tried to make motorcycling safer and more enjoyable for those who ride.

As a bit of background on Condon and what qualifies him to be writing a book on the subject of rider skills, he's got a long history of motorcycle experience. He's been a motorcyclist for more than three decades and is the current author of the monthly Proficient Motorcycling and Street Strategies columns for Motorcycle Consumer News. He's also the chief instructor chief instructor for Tony's Track Days and is an experienced Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor.

Thanks to Condon as well for sharing his experience and knowledge in this fine book and DVD. I know that I've learned a few things from it and have been reminded of some things I already did know. I've begun using some of the techniques demonstrated in the books in my own personal rides. In fact I used some strategies from the book today! You too will be able to put information presented in this book to use immediately in your own riding. Even though it's indicated to be for early-intermediate to early-advanced riders I think all riders - particularly beginner riders can benefit from Condon's message in Riding in the Zone.

This book represents excellent value for money. I recommend that you check it out.

Book description: Paperback, 8 x 10 inches, 144 pages, full color illus, $29.95. Copies are available at your local bookstore, motorcycle dealer, or directly from the publisher, Whitehorse Press, 107 East Conway Road, Center Conway, NH 03813-4012. Telephone toll-free 800-531-1133 or visit

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