Right then, it’s been a week since I did this so I better do this while it’s still at least relatively fresh
I booked onto CSS level 2 at Silverstone, having done level 1 around a year ago. This time it was the south circuit. Pitched up to the track a bit late (crash on M6 caused by a dog running out of the services onto the motorway) but the staff went out of their way to help me out in time for the briefings. Note to add m6 crash time onto my journey and get up at 3am not 4am next time.
Out on track for a few sighting laps and then the first session. First session of the day was to be devoted to finding reference points, having been fully briefed as to the what's and whys in a classroom session. And don’t think it’s a lecture, the classroom sessions are a discussion with the end result being all riders heading for the track knowing why they are about to try a certain drill and the benefits that might come from it, not a do this do that because I say so.
I meet my coach for the day, a guy called chris sherring and get out on track for drill 1, we are given the task to find one reference point on one corner. From the classroom session I've decided to find one on an apex. Still learning where the track goes at this point and remembering to stick to my level one drills, but come in a lap early with a battery problem still having found 2 apex reference points. This then feeds into the next classroom session and forms the next discussion point.
I got the bike sorted in the next break between classes with the help of a few of the CSS guys and the most enthusiastic bike mechanic’s from the nearest Suzuki dealer over the phone. Top guys.
We moved on throughout the day to other drills, including using different parts of the track and different lines. This did make my whole riding world a lot bigger but still felt I was struggling with corner entry speed and drive on the exits. We moved on to extend one of our level one drills the 2 step, into a level 2 drill, the 3 step. Seems obvious right? Well try putting that into practice for the first time! I slowly started forcing myself to change my vision and it started to come very slowly throughout the day. One of the other drills, widening a rider’s vision when riding was an absolute revelation. Never have I run through a set of essess’s taking note of a helicopter flying across the track near my exit. I actually realised after this point that there we several huge markers around the track which I had failed to see in the morning sessions!
Slowly my corner entry speed, lean angle but more importantly confidence started to increase.
Last session of the day was a drill to get better drive out of corners, having a word with my coach we both agreed at this point I should concentrate more on my 3 step to help me re-train my brain but to give the pick up drill a go on a couple of identified corners. By the time we had geared up and assembled it was raining, off we went steadily and by the time I got to turn 3 I could see the track was 90% wet and the rain was getting much heavier. I had to crack my visor as my associated panic breathing was asking a bit much of my breath guard. Anyway, forced myself to calm down, work on my visual drills and concentrate on being smooth and consistent rather than passing people. I started to get a bit more flow with the 3 step and corners seems to merge into each other rather than be different sections of the track. A few laps in I decided to give the pick up drill a go and was a bit underwhelmed to start with. Next identified corner I gave it a second try, this time with a more confident body position and smoother drive on the exit. The feeling of this being so strange is quickly replaced with the feeling of much better drive and a huge grin inside my helmet. Must concentrate on 3 step I tell myself and force myself back into my other drills, allowing myself just the one corner for the pick up drill. By this point the rain is harder still, the track has developed standing water across most of the track width and yet I could have stayed out there all day! Trying the pick up drill for what is the last turn of the day onto hangar straight I look down the track and see my coach using the same drill in front of me, on a R1, with road tyres and is getting such good drive he has the front wheel in the air. I also notice at this point whilst still with the front in the air he has turned around to give me a thumbs up and a big nod of his head.
Highlights of the day
The 3 step
The pick up drill on road tyres in the rain
Lessons of the day
I need more track time to work on these drills before level 3
I should have had more track time cementing level 1 drills
When using a multimeter on your bike the night before remember just cause the battery shows 11.9 volts doesn’t mean it will hold that under cranking.
A hotel the night before might be a worthwhile investment. Adding a 7 hour round trip onto the day is a bit much to ask, the concentration levels needed for this are much higher than a trackday.