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Everything posted by PittsDriver

  1. That's exactly how it worked for me. I did a 3/4 camp a year after I did the 1/2 camp. After spending the first day working on all the great things that Hotfoot described in Level 3, my Level 4 day was spent getting back to fundamentals of vision. I spent a few track sessions picking better exit RPs that really worked to give me the confidence advance the throttle sooner. We called it 2 step or 3 step or bracketing turn 3, etc. All vision related Level 1 or 2 skills and it completely transformed my laps and my pace picked up substantially. In the last couple of sessions of my Level 4 my rider coach asked me if I was open to working on something else. You bet! He had noticed that there were a couple of places on the track (specifically entering the museum down hill at Barber) where I was off the pace I was carrying elsewhere. He worked with me on 2 second brake release trailing more into the turn and carrying more pace into the turns. There were only 2 of us in Level 3 and everyone else in our run group was a repeat offender in level 4. I'll be honest with you, I got passed so much my first day in Level 3 that I felt like a traffic cone out there. But I didn't care - I was working on body positioning and how I was weighting the pegs and keeping my grip light while doing it. I felt like it was a "go slower today to go faster tomorrow" thing. During the Level 4 on track coaching and working with my Level 4 consultant, my lap times started plummeting and my day two times got consistently 10 seconds faster than my best day 1 times. It's not a race and I really only felt like I was competing only with myself but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy passing a lot of those guys that were passing me on day 1 I really think my success with this was the open approach to Level 4 where you work on whatever you need most regardless of in what level it was taught. My advice is go ahead and sign up for a 2 day level 3/4 school and let them do their magic on you when you get to level 4!
  2. The new R1 seems to be missing some of the reported ponies it was supposed to have. Interestingly, the BMW has almost exactly the HP bump they claimed for the '15 model. Some makes are a bit exuberant with their claims. https://youtu.be/pJAQIYzC45c
  3. I ended up not being able to get back until just this past week at Barber for the Level 3/4 camp. More on that later. Wes
  4. Coming Home It was beautiful weather Friday morning in central Virginia but I was going to have to ride through that mess of level 4 thunderstorms on the way home Friday. Instead I decided to take off for the mountains and rode Skyline Drive back north. I’d always avoided it on the bike due to the 35 mph posted limit but it felt oddly fine, after two days of track time, to roll along on it at a speed that didn’t attract too much attention. I picked up a riding buddy at the school who’d ridden his new R1200GSw to the camp and was also headed back toward Baltimore. We swapped bikes for the first 140 miles or so of the return trip so I got a chance to see what all the fuss was about on GSs. I’ll post up my impressions on that another time – all positive. This week was about me reengaging on something I’d been dreaming about for over 30 years. I’d frequently wonder why I gave up on it back in my 20’s but a start-up company focus and raising a family took over. Now at 55, the question was, can I still do this? Are my reactions shot? Will the young flat bellies run all over me? I’m going to be scheduling level 3 – 4 this fall if I can get a spot somewhere worthwhile and Cobie mentioned that I’d be a good candidate for CodeRace. I think maybe the fuse has been lit.
  5. We all got to ride a couple of laps each day on the camera bike which was followed by a coach critiquing mainly the visual skills we were supposed to be practicing. Target fixing is a bugger of mine and I worked on it continuously for the whole two days and I can clearly see in the video when I wasn’t looking off my turn in point in to the turn soon enough. I’m having a bit of trouble with their video file but maybe I’ll have that to post up later. Somewhere around 3 sessions into the second day they let us use all the gears and full braking. My lap times using rain mode, 3-4 gear, and some brakes started in the 2:teens and by the end of the camp using sport mode, all the gears, and full brakes I stayed pretty consistently at the 2:0x with my best lap times at 2:00 and a few hundredths – never broke under 2 minutes. Of course, now that I’m back home lapping in my mind, I know there’s all kinds of places I could have shaved seconds off. Oh jeez, I guess I’ll have to go back and see… I guess I was getting pretty frisky about half way through the second day and could frequently feel the traction control in sport mode muting the action. I guess I got on the throttle a little too hard on the drive out of turn 1 and at the same time added some lean while rolling it on and got a bit of wiggle. My coach was all over me and pulled me off in the middle of the lap and asked me what the rule was about lean and throttle. These guys never missed anything. I also got the idea that there was some kind of hive intelligence thing going on too because they would all (coach, course control, etc) know what kind of passing I’d been doing, where I’d tapped the brakes when I wasn’t supposed to be using them, etc. Here’s one of the ever vigilant corner workers: We also got to ride the lean/slide bike. As level 2 students, we didn’t get to slide it but rather it was a tool to work on body position and lean angle. We took it out on the skid pad and did big circles on it in 2nd gear: The bikes were all 2014 S1000RRs; the gear was AGVsport leathers, Schuberth SR1 helmets, Alpinestars boots – all in great condition if not practically new. Something else I found interesting was that all the school’s bikes had the speedo covered. It’s my theory that it was so that they didn’t have to clean the feces out of their loaner leathers when we saw how fast we were being led around by our coaches. I was hitting the limit in 5th gear by the kink at the start finish line and probably don’t want to know how fast I was going. It was fast enough to feel like it was an actual turn with a rise that got the bike a little light. We’d been watching the weather all day Thursday knowing that there was this massive frontal storm that was going to hit us. We managed 5 of our 7 track sessions and all the classroom instruction before it looked like this: That put the kibosh on any more track time with sheets of water flowing and the heavens pouring for the rest of the day. Something about lightning was mentioned too. But, I did get to go back and ride a bike they call the “panic braking” bike. It’s a bike with outriggers that won’t go down if the front tucks in braking. We took it out to the skid pad and would get it up to about 25 mph and lock up the front brake. That was a real eye-opener about what I had to do to get it to slide straight and not tuck when the front locked up. The secret is to squeeze the tank tightly with your knees and use light pressure on the bars – hard to do in a panic braking situation but when I did that I got good at sliding it and releasing it and sliding it again to a stop just at the threshold of locking it up. Fun stuff.
  6. Dylan Code explaining some tools for avoiding target fixation: I think I got a woody the first time I rolled past this sign on their S1000RR track bike: Here we all are, the level 1 students, lined up on pit lane. I'm #20: The first orientation lap parade around the track: The first few sessions we were limited to 4th gear only and no brakes. After riding these first track sessions, I’d say that was a fine way to slow things down so you can work on the actual skill they’re teaching – go slow to eventually go fast. The first session was about throttle control – no throttle in the turn until your line is assured and once you crack it, you open it in a smooth, continuous manner. If you have to back off, you added it too soon and you never add throttle and lean angle at the same time – a cardinal rule that got me a time out - more on that later. Here’s some track images: Here’s me chasing my coach: Here I am on the turn 3 apex with turn four off in the distance to the left: There’s a lot of elevation change at VIR North – behind me is the top of the hill at turn 10 and I’m in the middle of turn 11 headed back down to the bottom and the long front straight out of 13. Here’s the elevation map – the North Course is the loop on the right:
  7. While I'm working on my post for the Level 3/4 camp at Barber - here's the report I wrote last year after going to the Level 1/2 camp at VIR. Ever since getting back on a bike a few years ago, I’ve been thinking about – no, make that dreaming about getting back on the track. Last fall, I lurked on the CSS web site every few days waiting for the 2014 schedule and I finally called them in mid-November. They said the schedule was going up later that week but I could sign up on the phone. Done - spot reserved in the mid-May VIR 2 day camp. I counted the days, read the books, watched the youtube videos about a hundred times and can't remember the last time I'd anticipated something so anxiously. I took off Tuesday from Annapolis on my GT and arrived after all their Tuesday single day students had just left. I snapped a couple of pics before going off in search of my hotel: On the bridge looking back toward the esses and the straight to turn 7: Looking the other way to turn 7 and the South Course beyond: Here’s an image of the North Course: And here's they way the staff preps the school for the arrival of students - absolute professionalism in everything they do including how they lined up the bikes perfectly: I met Dylan Code and a few of the instructors and even though they were clearly involved in their end-of-day work, were happy to stop and talk and even show me around. I didn’t pester them too much and so bugged out to go find a cold beer and some hot wings. The next day we arrived early for a 7am start: I lot of these photos I'm going to post were taken by the professional photographer and I just bought the lot so all the kudos for the images go to pitman.co.uk The way the two days are organized is in to alternating on-track, coach talk, and classroom. Their method is to work on one thing at a time starting with some fundamental building blocks like throttle control and a lot of visual skills. They openly discussed that their method wasn't the only good method but it was their method and if you followed it, you'll get better, faster, and safer at cornering. Some classroom time: Suited up and ready to ride:
  8. I did the Level 1/2 camp last spring so a year and a couple of track days later, I found my way to the Level 3/4 camp at Barber where I met Hotfoot and the rest of the CSS cast of amazingly talented coaches and consultants. Hotfoot mentioned to me that while this forum is fun and great there seems to be very experienced riders here and then inexperienced riders posting up - not too many intermediate level folks that jump in and describe their experiences. Hey, that's me. I have to admit to not being very active here or posting up very often so when I get a bit more time I'll post up my experience with this camp. I'll just say for now that I benefitted from the level 3 BP skills drills and the hook turn (holy cow that really works!) but what really was an eye opener for me was being able to go back and work on some of the vision related skills and picking out better RPs along with my braking technique. I knocked 12 seconds off my best lap times from day one during my Level 4 work and at the end I was improving so quickly that I left there really wanting another couple of days of coaching! I can't say enough about how effective the Level 4 experience was for me, especially when we got into the last few sessions where my vision, bike english, and braking all came together. Thank you CSS!
  9. Hi and welcome Mario! I'm headed to the 2 day camp at Barber at the end of May - first time there. A place CSS also visits that's closer to you than Barber would be VIR in Danville VA. They just repaved a lot of that course last year and it was pretty amazing to ride in the camp I did last year. Nice, inexpensive places to stay there too. Of course, Laguna should be on anyone's bucket list and if I worked an hour from there I'd be all over that. Ditto on reading Twist II - a lot of the class is based on the rider tech in the book. Also a lot of Keith's articles here and in Motorcyclist Mag hit on the important points. What do you ride? The reason I ask is that Summit Point is also not terribly far from you for track days with the main course good for liter bikes and the Shenandoah track better for lighter bikes. CSS doesn't go there but there's a fine track day organization there - Motorcycle Excitement by Roger Lyle.
  10. I wonder if this isn't caused sometimes by helmets that fit too loosely i.e. your noggin is bottoming out in the hat? I made sure when I bought my SR-1 that I got one that fit well around the crown of my head and then worked with it to get it to loosen up in my cheeks. It's a size smaller than my touring helmet, a Schuberth C3.
  11. There was another thread on here recently about this. My '13 S1000RR has a flawless QS on it so upshifts on the track are never clutched. I'd say about 90+% of my downshifts are clutchless. That video I posted on here a while bike is all clutchless downshifts. It works very smoothly but my own personal challenge that I'll be focusing on this year at the track will be threshold braking while down shifting. I have a hard time keeping a constant brake pressure (and feel) while I'm blipping the throttle. It's a work in progress. The word from Will was that to be careful not to preload the shifter too much/long before the shift as that can cause wear.
  12. I was told no by Schuberth customer support on the variable sized cheek pads so I set about the process of accelerating the break in on mine. It was pretty tight and uncomfortable at first (my fat cheeks) but the crown fit nicely without my head bottoming in it. Now it's very comfortable for long days of use and I'm really happy I bought the smaller size - it's outer shell is physically smaller so I get better clearance on the neck of my leathers when I'm cocking my head in the tuck. It's light, quiet, and very high quality and looks great. I probably wouldn't have looked seriously at spending that much money on it but for the fact that I got to use one at the CSS camp this past spring and really liked it:
  13. Thanks for the kind words Ronni. Other than level 1/2 CSS camp in the spring, that was the first time on the track for me in about 30+ years. I'm clearly a work in progress and open to any and all critiquing!
  14. 'zactly. However, don't let us discourage you from single days. I haven't done one but everyone I know that has said it was the best day on a motorcycle ever. Another thing I'll add is for me, it was a trip away from home with a hotel stay whether I did one or two days. Given that investment of time and money, my thought was to go all in on the two day to get the most from the time commitment away from home/work.
  15. Once I've completed the level 3/4 camp next spring I'll probably attend some single level 4 days on my own bike until they get tired of seeing me. That said, I think the 2 day camp was a huge benefit to me personally for a number of reasons. 1) knowing that I'll be there for 2 days took some pressure off of me to get it exactly right the first time out - I knew I had a total of 14 track sessions to work on all of it. 2) I really benefited from some great coaching that could really hone in on what I was missing or not doing correctly - I'm not sure it would have been so comprehensive in the one day format. 3) access to the specialty bikes - I got to lock up the front tire on a wet skid pad until I could make it track straight and keep my grip on the bars light and that was a real eye-opener that I don't know if I'd ever have gotten to do otherwise. It was a bit like drinking from a fire hose were some of it blew past my head at first but there's no substitute for actually being out on the track until I got it right. I did all the sessions we had but I felt like if I was too tired or wanted to skip a session on the track to process it a bit, that would have been fine too. At least you have that option in the 2 day where you're only going to get those 5 sessions in a single day and you're done. Somehow, knowing that I had those 14 track sessions over 2 consecutive days for the level 1/2 material was more relaxing to me than if I thought I had one day and done. And finally, I liked the pace of in and out without too much dead time. YMMV.
  16. I really like the articles that Ienatsch has written about "The Pace" for street riding. In his original article he said you might not see brake lights all day riding with his groups that ride the pace. He clarifies that in this Pace 2.0 article: http://www.cycleworld.com/2013/09/16/become-a-better-street-rider-with-the-pace-motorcycle-safety-and-riding-skills/ Riding like this has really reduced the times where I felt like I've charged a corner too fast on the street.
  17. Eirik, in your happy, relaxed scenario above, are you trailing off the brakes all the way until you begin to raise the bike back up to vertical? Given what we've learned in the throttle control skill about the suspension and where grip and control is achieved, is the front tire being asked to do more or less work than if you were on the juice?
  18. The Level 1, first skill, Throttle Control was a real eye opener for me. I kinda knew that was the goal but didn't fully appreciate how the bike's suspension and traction at each end could be more consistently managed by eliminating transitions or oscillations in brake & throttle. That practice has led me to a place where I feel like I'm carrying a lot more speed into the corner. Since I'm off the brakes and won't add more than a crack of the throttle until my line is set and assured, I'm only asking the tires to corner and it seems easier to me to tell when I'm near the limit. My goal now is to coast less. I guess coasting at high lean angle is my security blanket and I'm hoping to make that less and less so.
  19. So a question about trusting the tires - and that was a great tip to read "Bands of Traction" - How is the slide bike used at the school's that have it available? Can it be used to feel what the edge of traction feels like as it progresses to a full power-on drift?
  20. Great videos - thanks for posting! Kenny Roberts and Fast Freddie where my heros back in the day.
  21. I've just started something called PiYo with my wife where it's a combination of Pilates and Yoga but I may need a coach when it gets tough. I'm just getting back at this since racing my 20's and I'm 56 now. I'm going to be working pretty hard this winter to set the stage for 2015 and I'm using that as my motivator. Thanks Keith! Wes
  22. CoTA for me in addition to Laguna Seca. I went to the Barber museum last summer but didn't get on the track. I'm really looking forward to getting back there for the CSS camp. The place looks pristine with vast areas of kitty litter and some interesting elevation changes. And one of these days, I hope to get some time on the Nurburgring long course before it goes away.
  23. Last winter, I did daily workouts on a Bosu ball. The balance training is good for the core and a zillion squats moving side to side on this thing left me feeling pretty good after my first couple of days in CSS camp but even still my quads were barking at me. Thanks for the tips!
  24. It's my understanding that CSS Level 3 focuses on BP work - I'm really looking forward to a couple of days at Barber working on this. Being an old coot, I'm wondering if anyone has a flexibility and conditioning program that will help me get the most out of this coaching? Wes
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