Yamaha Champions Riding School teams with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
This past spring, the Yamaha Champions Riding School hosted a cruiser clinic, and Steve Ritchey stopped in to say hello. Ritchey is a 26-year veteran of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and its lead motor instructor. He and co-lead instructor Jerry Pribyl took the Freddie Spencer High Performance Riding School many years ago, and it really affected how they teach their fellow officers.
“Hey, if you ever need coaching here in Vegas,” Ritchey said, “I’d love to help out.”
Six months later, Ritchey was one of our coaches when we put on an even larger series of cruiser clinics. He has an infectiously positive attitude, rides awesomely well, and fit right in with our usual group of Champ School coaches.
A few days into the clinics, Ritchey was seeing how far we had evolved since the Spencer days. “Man, I gotta get you guys with my guys,” he said. Ritchey’s own riding was evolving and, although he had never raced or done trackdays, he was haulin’ the mail with comfort and consistency. He liked our simple approach, and it was adding even more fun to his riding, even though he already had thousands of laps around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway tracks we were using.
We often see large and dramatic steps in riders like Ritchey, those who have a high level of comfort on the bike, excellent motor skills and eye habits, but are riding with a few old-school habits that hold them back—almost all revolving around brake use and the understanding of what rider inputs do to chassis geometry.
True to his word, Ritchey hooked YCRS up with his motor officers. We did two days at the speedway with a program designed especially for these very strong riders. Keith Culver and Ritchey were my two coaches. We began at a high level and went up from there. Ritchey’s officers are fit, motivated, and caught on extremely quickly due to their comfort on the machines. Every one of them is already a two-wheel enthusiast, and Ritchey believes that passion is a necessary ingredient for his officers.
Ritchey stresses that his officers have to “ride the bike first.” In other words, no matter what else is happening, his riders can’t make mistakes on the bike that lead to crashes and injuries and failed missions. They need consistency in a wide variety of venues and at a broad range of speeds.
We broke a few habits, we juggled their riding priorities, and we got them more comfortable at real-world speeds. The first day was only Ritchey’s instructors, and there were many discussions about how YCRS procedures could be folded into their teaching curriculum. Notes were taken and plans were made, all aimed at making the officers safer.
This was our first chance to reach motor officers, and Keith and I loved the experience. We made them chase us, we made them run in tandem behind us, and we made them race each other in situations where smoothness counted and recklessness hurt. During lapping, they had to answer questions on the radio while cornering lines changed due to debris in the road and emergency stops popped up here and there.
Throughout the two exciting days, the “Champion’s Habits” made a lot of sense to these professional riders. How many championship points does a roadracer get lying in the dirt? How happy is your commanding officer/family when you fall off your police motor? In each venue, professional riders need consistency at the pace they choose.
Final thought is how gratifying it was for us to give back to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers. Yes, it’s our job to teach riding, but to give something valuable to our police officers meant a lot to the entire Yamaha Champions Riding School group.
Check out the full article with video at CycleWorld.com