I've ridden motorbikes since I was 14. That doesn't mean I know everything there is to know - it just means I've ridden bikes for 26 years. This weekend a friend and I went to a local motorcycle safety course for a post-winter refresher. It was fun to be out with like-minded individuals, and whilst I didn't learn anything totally new, it was good to put some techniques to the test in a controlled environment. For example I did learn how far I could go before the ABS kicks in on my bike.
We did a lot of cone work - cornering, low-speed maneuvering, swerve-and-brake, emergency stops - that sort of thing. For the most part, all the riders on the course were pretty competent although one guy did have a really hard time with his Harley. He dropped it a couple of times and just didn't look confident on it at all. His undoing was the double-u-turn test where you have to perform a double-u-turn inside a 26ft wide box. I found that one hard and my bike is nice and maneuverable. I kept letting the speed get down too low and losing balance. Once I had the hang of it, things were OK but one of the instructors put us all to shame by doing the same exercise in a 23ft box on a fully loaded Honda Goldwing. If you're not into bikes, Google for a Honda Goldwing for a picture, then walk out a 23ft box in your office and see if you think that bike could double-u-turn in that space. It can - I've seen it done.
So what's the point of a course like this for riders who've been doing it for as long as I have? The point is that it helps refresh your technique on things you might have taken for granted, and that you can still learn things in a controlled environment. The same goes for cars - perhaps we should all consider advanced motorist courses once in a while. It won't do anything for all the other lunatics on the road, but it will give you a better insight into stuff you didn't know you didn't know.