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Roberts last won the day on August 5

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  • Have you attended a California Superbike School school?

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  1. Two simple questions came up in class at CSS, and as you might suspect, the answers are not so simple. First: What did the engineers build your motorcycle to do? Second: What are you doing with your motorcycle? (or, What did that poor bike ever do to deserve that treatment?) These two questions have stayed with me every day since class. Here is a good example of why that is: Riding a long twisting downhill country road, but with traffic. Usually this is a favorite section, but at 45mph it's very boring. There is no place to pass, so you just have to ride it out. The easiest thing to do for me is to leave the bike in a mid-gear, 3rd or 4th, and let the massive engine braking of the boxer twin maintain the slow speed down the hill. Is this what the bike is designed to do? Absolutely not. Everything is wrong with this. All the drive gear is now loaded on the wrong side of the gear teeth, the rear tire is braking, but the suspension is loaded wrong because the braking force is not loading the brake calipers and effecting the swing arm member correctly. Add the fact that you are strangling the motor to produce drag. Then, you get to the bottom of the hill, and roll it on, shifting all the weight back to the rear wheel, unloading and the loading all the running gear on the opposite gear faces, and of course causing your engine to hiccup while fuel and air mix are adjusted to 'drive normal'. This transition is both sloppy and very uncomfortable. CSS informs me that the right move is to either ride the brakes down the hill consistent with design intent, or at a minimum clutch it before you hit the bottom of the hill to let the suspension heal, and then roll it on smooth to property load the bike. Long explanation, but you get the idea. Consciously trying to ride the bike the way it was designed to operate is actually much harder on the street than it is on the track, but there some rewards to be had in terms of machine wear and tear, and rider comfort. Plus, little things like suspension actually work if you consider what you are doing and why.
  2. At the two day class at the Ridge in Shelton, WA CSS provided the gear. The gloves were Alpinestars, as were the boots. Day one was rain. Fortunately, it was a nice warm Washington rain...so not too bad. We all got wet, and spent the day in soggy leathers, but strangely, my feet stayed dry. The gloves got wet, but not too wet to take on and off. I was impressed enough that I went shopping for Alpinestar gear when I got home, but the same gear is either not made anymore, or it's only sold on 'black sites' known only to the inner circle of CSS. Does anyone know anything about this? The only track gear that seems to be coming from Alpinestar today is all vented desert style race gear. Up here in Washington we tend more toward Gortex then perforated leathers. Any input would be welcome.
  3. Your idea is exactly right for me too. I have to create a new routine to try to be aware of and solve my bad habits. It's not easy. I was/am a rookie at this, so my experience is 100% learning new things, but I am not new to racing, or pushing the limits of powered vehicles. Two things of significance come to mind: The act of cornering causes tires to 'crab'. for the length of the contact patch, the lateral forces are bending the tire away from 'straight ahead neutral'. The more the force, the more the bend, until you lose grip and the tire slides. With carts and cars you can feel where this happens and with judicious use of throttle and steering you can use this to your advantage to really increase corner speeds. I have to assume that for the talented riders this is true on motorcycles, but because steering is caused by counter-steer which increases the crabbing effect, that adding lean acts as a multiplier, not an additive forces, and as Hotfoot said, you pass the point of slipping too fast to manage the recovery. It must be a fine line. Also, as I understand it you only change the shape of the contact patch by adding lean. To change the size of the patch you need to change the weight...which takes me back to Hotfoot reminding me that throttle is a suspension input. It has a directed and immediate effect on weight distribution. In off-road racing sliding both tires is what you do all day long, but you are also tossing the center of gravity around with body english, something that seems much more tricky (to me) on pavement.
  4. Fresh out of CSS it is only reasonable that I was working on riding skills while commuting to work on my bike. Visual skills in particular, with emphasis in picking turn in points, pre-apex, end points. Thinking 'big picture' and then picking points on the road surface. Great idea, but this was not a track, it was a road. When I was a kid we were taught defensive driving. My instructor would do stuff like slap the rear view mirror out of alignment and then ask you how many cars were behind you, what color? Gaining or falling back? The same questions about who was ahead. Watching for brake lights five cars up. Is the road wet or dry? Are there leaves down? What was last night's weather like? My favorite was being asked to imagine you are a bird 200' above the car. Can you hold a mental image of where you are and what is around you, and who is on the road with you? In the military they train Situational Awareness, or SA. It's similar, but basically requires you to learn to assess and consider what and who is around you at all times. It's not easy to do, but it's surprisingly informative if you work at it. So, there I was on my commute, carving corners and focused on the road surface, and I passed a deer on the shoulder doing around 70. Me, not the deer. And I had to shock myself back to reality. Yes, big picture on turns and lines is important, but out on a domestic roadway, the even bigger picture focus on your local environment is much more likely to keep you upright and healthy. This was, I think, an untended consequence of the CSS experience, and I only post it here for your consideration as a reminder to stay in the 'here and now' of your daily riding. Rob-
  5. The cost of the 2 day class is pretty close to the cost of new Ohlins for my RnineT. I actually had to make that choice, and since I come from the old school 'ya run what ya brung' way of thinking, I figured that knowledge beats out hardware most days. Boy was I right. What was really marginal, harsh, and unresponsive suspension is now completely smooth, responsive, and supple suspension. As it turns out, putting yourself in the right place AT ALL TIMES and having your awareness focused on what is happening in the relationship between your yourself, your motorcycle, and the road surface....well, that changes everything. Of course, a new set of Q3+ doesn't hurt either. I can't count the number of off-road events I participated in where the cool guys with the best gear got their asses handed to them by some fat kid on a clapped out 20 year old dirt bike. Riding skill is riding skill, and they don't sell it on Revzilla. They do actually sell it at CSS however, and besides being fun as hell, it is hands down the best suspension improvement I have ever made. This is not exactly news to anyone on this forum, but I just had to crow a little. Rob-
  6. Hello all. Just completed level 1&2 at the Ridge. It was an amazing 2 days with lots of questions answered and practice done...and a ton of brand new questions to work on. I look forward to working on those and more with all of you.
  7. Hi gang! I'm Roberts, a 27 year old enthusiast trapped in a 60 year old body. It's not my fault. I blame it on time. with 40+ years of street and off-road riding, I was not surprised to find out I have a lot of flaws. What does surprise is how hard it is to overcome dangerous habits. It's my hope that work with CSS and crew, and inputs from all of you, will help me to fix my problems before they 'fix' me.
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