Twelve years old and lapping Donington on a Honda CBR125 with Ron Haslam's On-Track
Honda has been trying to encourage younger riders onto bikes recently, which is part of the reason for their release of the CBR125 this year - and it's become one of the firm's best selling models.
But that's only any use to 17-year-olds who can ride it on the roads, so has joined up with the Ron Haslam Race School to offer kids as young as 12 the chance to ride CBR125s under the watchful eye of Ron and in the safe confines of Donington Park.
But it's more than just a chance to experience two wheels, it's also about safety. "The On-Track course is mainly aimed at complete beginners, but also people who want to build their confidence, possibly after a long break from bikes," explains Ron. "They get the experience of riding around the track, but we also aim to get new riders out of bad habits before they form, to make them safer riders."
Safety is a big part of the course, as Ron tells us: "We want to teach riders that there are options in an emergency situation, so they don't freeze. Corners have many different lines through them, not just one. If you do go into a corner too fast, you can take a different line, brake; there are loads of options. It's like racing: you have to take a different line if you want to overtake someone. If we can teach young riders to look for options, then they will react automatically in an emergency."
The course starts with a brief assessment session in the car park to make sure the kids are familiar with the bike and aren't going to go flying into the first gravel trap. Then it's out on track for a 40-minute session, during which they ride the CBR125s around the Donington circuit followed by instructors.
If the rider isn't ready for the track, the instructor will keep them in the safety of the paddock until they are confident they can do a lap. The only problem with this is that kids who lack experience may miss out on lapping the circuit. "We know this is a problem," says Ron, "but because we can only allow the 125s out as the only group on track for safety reasons, the start of the day is the only time they can get out. We are looking at other options."
After a quick debrief from Ron, it's back out to the car park. He explains cornering and pupils ride through a slalom of cones and around a corner to practice their technique.
He explains the principles of what the kids are doing and why it will benefit their riding and make them safer. The same attention is then spent on the principles of safe and hard braking.
Click here for the Ron Haslam Training School page two.
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