Keith Code

Crashing

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CRASHING

 

Riding errors which lead to crashing follow distinct patterns. Once detected they can be used to make huge leaps forward in skill and confidence.

 

Reasons To Improve

 

My experience is that riders come to school for a variety of reasons. They say: to be safer, faster, more in control, learn the skills, have more confidence, get their knee down, improve and so on.

 

Beneath all of these reasons and consistent with each is a very fundamental personal reason: riders don't want to crash. Everyone wants to experience the maximum freedom and exhilaration with the minimum of danger; and I fully agree with this.

 

For the school staff, this principle works out just fine. If a rider crashes on a school day, no one wins: we are deprived of the opportunity to finish up what we started and so is the rider. It puts kinks in the day for everyone involved.

 

Conventional Wisdom On Crashing

 

Unfortunately there is still a lot of really bad advice out there on crashing: "You don't know how fast you can go until you crash," is one of them. "There are riders who have fallen and those that are going to fall," that's another one that makes crashing seem inevitable. These pieces of "conventional wisdom" miss the mark by miles. They are actually harmful.

 

I'm not saying that you can get through all of life without falling down. You may. But riders have and will continue to crash, bin it, fall down, go down, throw it away, pitch it, drop it, put it down and lose it.

 

A significant rider error, when aggravated and compounded by the rider's "corrections", can result in violating the machine's inherent stability leading to a bike and rider going down. That is the negative.

 

Errors Follow Patterns

 

On the positive side, there are key indicators of these basic errors and they follow a pattern. I say positive because if you intend to improve someone's riding, but don't have a clue about these indicators, you may see errors and try to correct them but miss their underlying pattern, which in turn creates a mystery as to why the rider suddenly runs off track, scares him/herself or falls down.

 

These indicators do have patterns and are specific in how they look. They generally break down into two main categories. 1) the riders who look uncertain and choppy as they commit them, a sort of advanced case of new rider syndrome and 2) riders appear to have abandoned their senses like someone with their first unlimited-purchase credit card. They are purposeful, very positive and absolutely committed to their silly riding. You see what can only be described as blind faith in the bike and the tires with absolutely no idea of limits and how these limits may be correctly approached and eventually controlled.

 

Steering Drill

 

Those of you who have already done the school may remember the simple steering drill we did with you in the paddock or skid pad area.

 

There are 6 corrections we can make on how the rider relates to the bike as it's steered into a corner with that drill. Riders feel more in control of the bike from any of the six corrections, once corrected. However, one of the primary reasons we do the steering drill is to prevent them from making mistakes that, under very common circumstances, can lead to running wide, running off the track or even crashing.

 

When the coaches see these errors they know where the rider is going and what he thinks he is trying to do and how bad it can get if not corrected.

 

The Timid and The Brave

 

Some riders can't get comfortable with the no limits idea the track provides and actually ride slower than they do on the street. While at the other extreme, some riders go on vacation from the laws of physics, speed, lean angle and common sense. Whichever mode they tend toward, certain patterns quickly develop in their riding that, to the trained eye, spell TROUBLE.

 

I hope I don't blow any other schools out of the water with this but, all schools, all track days, all racing and of course street riding have crashes. Some people call them accidents but rarely are motorcycle crashes accidental; they are caused, more often than not, by the rider's own hand.

 

Statistics on Crashing

 

I bring this up because of what has happened at our school over the past year and a half. For the previous 25 years we had a pretty consistent attrition rate due to crashing. All in all it wasn't horrible, about one and a half million school miles to what you might call a serious crash: more than a broken collarbone or bruises kind of thing.

 

Because we pay attention to how riders are riding I was convinced it had more to do with the phases of the moon or something than observable riding patterns but we've had a fresh look at this and it began to resolve in the riders' favor. Once we began to really see the errors and what they meant, what seemed like accidents or fate turns out to be lack of technical skills and is very correctable.

 

What happened? Well, when you have a 50% improvement in anything you know that you are on the right path and we have, on average, cut our crash rate in half. Considering that we have more school days and hence more students now than ever before, that floats my boat.

 

Preventative Measures

 

We are becoming pro at spotting these patterns and nipping them before they progress to the run-off-the-track or crashing stage. Looking at it from another perspective, students have told me for years that crashing on the track is most probably many, many times ?safer? than on the street. But one of the great rewards of teaching this sport are the scores of students who have come back and told us of the horrible riding situation that they avoided because they knew what to do.

 

I'm not saying that we can make you a safe rider. I'm not saying that you can't crash at my school, you certainly can. Fortunately, we recognize something about ourselves and our sport: if riding was not dangerous it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. We know the risks, we like the risks and we love the rewards of taking them. It makes perfect sense to me. Taking risks, with understanding, makes a rider as safe as he or she can be.

 

Problems Lead to Improvement

 

The other huge positive that has come out of this evolution is that riders are made more aware of the points that get them into trouble. It may sound crazy but more often than not the "fatal" mistakes (resulting in poor control or catalysts to crashing type errors) mistakes are actually aspects of riding that the student felt were some of their best points. Clearing up these misguided ideas alone can open the door for vast improvement with any rider.

 

If this seems like I'm patting ourselves on the back, you are right. Crashing is a huge area of rider fear and eliminating 50% of the crashes on average is another milestone for us.

 

You have plenty of reasons to learn the skills of riding. We are doing our level (very) best to see that you get what you want with your riding and we are winning at it every school day. You will too.

 

See you at the track.

 

Keith Code

 

Copyright Keith Code, 2006, all rights reserved.

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Keith;

 

Once again you have taken a muddled up subject and put your eloquent, poingant hand to it. Congratulations. Well done. One of these days I'd love to see what you have to say about taking roadracing skills to the sport of Supermoto... a home for us old guys getting away from superbikes.

 

Kurt

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Keith;

 

Once again you have taken a muddled up subject and put your eloquent, poingant hand to it. Congratulations. Well done. One of these days I'd love to see what you have to say about taking roadracing skills to the sport of Supermoto... a home for us old guys getting away from superbikes.

 

Kurt

 

Kurt,

 

WE did have a supermoto school at the UK CSS. YOu an contact those guys and see if they are still doing it.

 

Keith

 

http://www.superbikeschool.com/uk/

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Great article! I can fortunately say I haven't had any close calls (yet!), but this article sure puts into perspective how and why it can happen. As usual, I always learn something from your wonderful writings, Keith!

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I really dig the way you think. Perfectly logical to me. You WILL see me at one of your Cornering Schools one of these days. Saving up the bucks.

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Hello Keith,

 

I did crash on one of this left turn on this one canyon, and the error was my body position was wrong (Riding twisted, turning left and my body kind of leaning to the right). I was scraping my left foot peg, anyways Saturday October 13 2007, I took your Level I class. Cobie Fair was my instructor and he able to spot my body position and correct my error right away (which if I went to your school sooner, I might not crash) also I be able to learn how to relax!!!. I input too much pressure on both of the bars and fighting and fighting. Dylan Code is my instructor for the Relax Drill or Rider Input Drill. And it is very interesting how the bike turning so smooth when I just RELAX.

 

My point is that if I take your Level I class before, I wouldn't crash or would crash on the different error that I didn't know yet. However, Level I covering common mistake that rider might have, usually give more information before you press the Panic Button!

 

Anyways, THANK YOU VERY MUCH to you and all the Staff!! I will take Level II as soon as the 2008 schedule come out.

 

Thanks and Best Regards,

 

Far Jangtrakool

Level I - Oct 13 #18 Yellow Group

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My respects to the master, yes I crashed last track day, not my first. What I did note on reflection was I had changed my turn in point that made me go much wider than I had before and to stand the bike up coming out of the corner I got on the gas a little too much and the back came around and down I went, fortunately with no damage to me and virtualy no damage to the bike, few all round! Now what was interesting was where I was focused! Yes, I was looking through the corner, noted how far off the apex I was but, yes but, my mind and focus was back at the entry on how I had messed it up and all the time I'm thinking, dam I'm to wide and in less than 2 seconds I'm on my arse! My eyes still looking through the turn still had control of my mind!

 

I love you guys!

 

Bennett

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Great article, as always Keith. I am really bummed I haven't benn able to come back for the advanced 2-day class but your instruction transformed my riding and, perhaps more importantly, my attitude about it. I am sure many of the members here feel the same.

 

I dunno if you remember me but I was at Mid-Ohio July 05 fpr the beginner 2-day. You gave me some great compliments and the ned and I really appreciate it. I tried to insert a pic of us togehter but it wouldn't work.

 

I hope I can do the advnaced 2-day in 2009 as I need to start racing in order to qulaify for my dream of racing in the Manx GP in 2010 or 2011! Oh and now my new rider wife wants to take the course and start racing too! God, this sport has become a money pit lol!

 

Cheers.

John

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My respects to the master, yes I crashed last track day, not my first. What I did note on reflection was I had changed my turn in point that made me go much wider than I had before and to stand the bike up coming out of the corner I got on the gas a little too much and the back came around and down I went, fortunately with no damage to me and virtualy no damage to the bike, few all round! Now what was interesting was where I was focused! Yes, I was looking through the corner, noted how far off the apex I was but, yes but, my mind and focus was back at the entry on how I had messed it up and all the time I'm thinking, dam I'm to wide and in less than 2 seconds I'm on my arse! My eyes still looking through the turn still had control of my mind!

 

I love you guys!

 

Bennett

 

Hi Bennett,

 

I was just having a quick look at this, and was curious if you had done Level 2 yet?

 

Best,

Cobie

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Keith I've just finished reading and rereading twist I, II, and soft science this long winter and still have no plans of putting them down just yet. The instruction I've gotten from those books I've already started putting to use and great use at that. The crashing subject I believe you put a spin on it that some riders will notice next time they ride and crash and think a little more about it. I'm new to the forum, but will be reading pages cover to cover to build skill! This is my first official post so see you around corner guru!!!

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question:

 

It looks like many students have attended the school, then gone off to put some time in practicing the skills learnt, reflect and then go back to further sharpen their technique and understanding. I ask, is there anything wrong with doing back to back levels?

 

With the way I was riding at the track (2close calls and 1 crash), I was better off getting all that I could from the school before going track side again. But am I selling myself short by not letting the sequential levels mature into my riding before advancing?

 

Thankyou. I lookforward to attending the Australian CSS in December. Cheers beer.gif

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question:

 

It looks like many students have attended the school, then gone off to put some time in practicing the skills learnt, reflect and then go back to further sharpen their technique and understanding. I ask, is there anything wrong with doing back to back levels?

 

With the way I was riding at the track (2close calls and 1 crash), I was better off getting all that I could from the school before going track side again. But am I selling myself short by not letting the sequential levels mature into my riding before advancing?

 

Thankyou. I lookforward to attending the Australian CSS in December. Cheers beer.gif

 

Hi again,

 

Is there anything wrong with doing the levels back to back...? well, When I was a student, I did 2 days back to back, and I can tell you from that knowledge and experience, you get to the end and it's a bit like, WOW, my brain can't take it all in. Your talking 5 drills on track per day, and some of them have actually got more, two off track drills as well. It's a lot to understand and apply.

 

When people ask me whats the best way to go, I'd say this, if you can do a 2 day camp where you get more time to do the drills, more time to practice, thats a really optimal way to do 2 days. If you try and do the normal school day after day, after day, I think you'll plataeu, and not maximise your investment in yourself and your tracktime.

 

It is of course, entirely personal, everyone learns and is able to learn at their own pace, but I think 2 days max, in one go. Others may have other experience where they've been able to do it, but most students are shot by lunchtime of day 2 on a normal school back to back.

 

Bullet

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Doing the schools back to back:

 

What I have observed is that often 1 day is a very steep learning curve, especially for the first time track rider and the first time student to our school. In most cases, I think we get a better result with doing 2 days, one after the other.

 

Student gets used to the training program, the coaches, the format, the track. 2nd day, he can concentrate even more on the skills.

 

However, it does take some self-discipline to not "try and do it all at once". In other words, there is a lot of info as Bullet mentions, and you have to cut yourself a little slack to not be perfect on every technique, every session, but allow yourself to work on one thing at a time and if the others suffer a little, that's OK.

 

Also, with 2 days together, we have a better chance of really sorting the rider out, make sure we have the optimum pairing of coach/student too.

 

Finally, when a student has 2 days, he/she is typically more patient with themselves, and not too worried about "GOTTA LEARN IT ALL RIGHT NOW!!!!!!"

 

CF

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I did levels 1 and 2 back to back. I had already been riding for quite a while so I'd had plenty of time to practice all my bad habits and I had them down so well they were second nature to me, hahah.

What I got out of the school was the information and techniques necessary to rid myself of the bad habits I had been "perfecting" for several years.

In my opinion, if you have been doing it wrong for years you probably won't undo it all in a couple days... that would be too easy, life doesn't seem to work that way. By the same token, if you haven't had any experience on a motorcycle to speak of you probably won't be the next great racer after 2 days either.

In my two days at the school I learned about all the things I had been doing wrong and I learned the correct techniques to PRACTICE to do it right.

I highly recommend doing the days back-to-back but no matter what format you choose you'll have to practice, that is inescapable. Do the school, learn the drills... PRACTICE.

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Thankyou all (bullet, CF, Iwarner) for spending the time to give me your views and experiences. No, I havn't been riding for all that long, though long enough to feel my confidence out weighs my skill. Pretty sure I have most, if not ALL the bad habbits you see quite regularly at your schools. :P

 

But I am super keen to learn how to do it right. I know I won't master it over night but at least now I will be focused with definate direction and goals to acheive during track sessions post CSS. As opposed to going out there, having a crack and maybe a stack.

 

Your opinions carry much weight and mean everything to me at the moment. With your insightfull feedback I have been able to realisticaly guage attending the classes and have decided to go with levels 1&2 back to back, then 3&4 back to back with a 2 day break between both blocks - yeah, a tight schedule and I know Im going to be pretty fatigued. But Im going to relate it to when I did consecutive trackdays and 2 days rest between should be enough.

 

As far as info overload goes, I just want to build a good, CORRECT, solid base to begin my learning from. If I can walk away with that foundation/base then I would have acheived exactly what I am after. Thankyou all again for your input

 

Regards RD

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Sounds great RD! I think you're going into it with the right mindset. You are obviously ambitious and with that in mind I don't think you are going to have a problem with "information overload". You will learn all the drills during your days at the school and after that you'll have the rest of your riding "life" to practice them... Keith even gives you booklets after the levels that have the drills for you to practice!

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Cool RD, sounds good. Interstingly enough (this is covered in some other places on the forum too), but dehydration seems to be one of the bigger causes of fatigue. Most are not even in the correct ballpark with their water consumtion, so a few quick notes:

 

Coffee and soda are diuretics, actually dehydrate you.

Water should start at a half gallon, that's the beginning amount, then go up from there--can easily go to a gallon, 1.5 or even 2 on a hot day.

Gatorade, and other electrolyte drinks: some seem to work better than others. We have used Cytomax, that seems to work well. I've also made my own lemonade, like that. Gatorade has a bit more sugar than I like.

 

Water is the key for most, drinking enough, and start early (like that morning, before riding).

 

As a side note, one article I read showed the US Army figured on a hot 90-100 day, a man working outside could need 13 liters. I've heard the guys in the desert go to 14-16 liters, and in the jungle up to 22 liters.

 

CF

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Yeah, Cobie is pretty much spot on for me. I drink about 2 gallons on a hot day. The only thing I'll add is that if I drink that much water and I don't take minerals I get a headache. The CSS has had salt and potassium, cell salts (trace minerals) in the class room area when I've taken the levels and that was a real life saver for me. I have started taking my own to track days now.

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Yeah, Cobie is pretty much spot on for me. I drink about 2 gallons on a hot day. The only thing I'll add is that if I drink that much water and I don't take minerals I get a headache. The CSS has had salt and potassium, cell salts (trace minerals) in the class room area when I've taken the levels and that was a real life saver for me. I have started taking my own to track days now.

 

 

Good, thanks for bringing that up. I think we ought to put up a thread on this and little more detail, maybe pin the thread. I'll work on this over the winter if not before.

 

CF

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I'd like to make an observation about the, "Code," method, and crashing:

 

I did all four levels of CSS last year at Thunderbolt. For most of the four days, my coach was James Toohey. I don't know if that was by accident or by design, (I suspect the latter, I've spent some time wondering about how coaches are paired with students, but that's the subject for another thread), but suffice it to say, I found him to be an amazing coach. It's one thing to be able to ride fast, and quite another to be able to show somebody else how to ride fast. James is very adept at both.

 

In any case, after our first sesssion on day 4, I pulled in for the customary debriefing. What James said to me has been bouncing around in my head ever since. What he told me, (and I'm paraphrasing now), is:

 

"Elton, you're going much faster now than you were on day 1. You're on the verge of crashing, and you don't even know it. You're scaring me; I'm worried you're gonna crash. You're making some mistakes that you were making on day 1, but on day 1 you weren't going fast enough to matter. Now that you're getting closer to the edge, it matters a whole lot. You're about to low-side. I want you to slow down about 5% and let's go back to some basics." And with that, he coached me on body position, pick up, and a couple of other things. Within a couple of sessions, I was back up to speed, and smoother and safer.

 

What struck me about this conversation was how in-tune James was with where I was in my training, both mentally and physically. He allowed me to develop, gain confidence, and then, reined me in a bit before an accident. An accident that likely would have shaken my confidence, ruined my day, set me back in my training, and cost me money. This incident is an example of a CSS coach putting into practice the principles Keith is writing about in this article. Amazing! And at the same time, simple. It's no coincidence that CSS has less crashes. I didn't know the numbers until reading them in Keith's article, but given my experience at CSS, I wasn't surprised.

 

Exchanges like this are why CSS is worth every penny. This is the difference between following some CR around at a track day, (who may very well know how to ride fast, but probably doesn't know the first thing about teaching somebody else how to ride fast), and professional coaching. And this is the reason I've signed up for all 13 CSS days this year at Thunderbolt.

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Elton,

 

What a CSS experience - and so well written! So much so, I feel im on the ground next to you in the debreif. I get a real sense of your exhilaration, appreciation and respect for the coaches' diligence and commitment. They are quite skillful in negotiating that old adage: "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink", hey? My experience was not dissimilar to yours, and I am truly happy for you there brother. Awsome 01_thumbup.gif01_thumbup.gif

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Elton,

 

What a GREAT note, I'm going to send this out to the crew.

 

Very Best,

Cobie

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Elton,

 

Great note! Thanks for posting it. Of course, we all know Toohey's a star. Doesn't hurt to have it reiterated though does it :)

 

All the best for your schools this year. That track you got there at Thunderbolt is a real good place to ride.

 

Adam

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Elton,

 

Great note! Thanks for posting it. Of course, we all know Toohey's a star. Doesn't hurt to have it reiterated though does it :)

 

All the best for your schools this year. That track you got there at Thunderbolt is a real good place to ride.

 

Adam

 

Adam, please, you already know 2E wears an XL helmet, now we are going to have to pull the padding out to stuff his head in it.

 

Well, he was Coach of the Year more than once, I guess he can do something right :)

 

CF

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