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vorontzov

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About vorontzov

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  • Have you attended a California Superbike School school?
    yes
  1. III. Riding skills should be analyzed I should ask myself in what way each skill I use helps me to go faster and be more in control. If a certain skill helps me to go faster and be more in control, it should be included in my riding technology. If a skill is neutral / appears useless – I want to analyze it and judge objectively if it can make me go faster and be more in control. If a skill slows me down and / or makes me less in control, it's not a skill, but a riding error that should be corrected, or I am mis-applying the knowledge / misunderstanding its practical purpose. VI. Research Knowledge is gained through research / experiment. Practicing familiar things correctly will reinforce the skills I already have. New knowledge can be gained by trying new things (experimenting), by studying the results of other people's research, or from a teacher. Having a good teacher is the most valuable path to knowledge. Some measure of research riding should be necessary. Studying literature is important. Inner research (thinking it through), using logic and imagination – is another working method. This may result in some idea that will ultimately have to be discarded as wrong or dangerous, but it can generate lots of useful and practical ideas that can be further tested through practical riding, and then implemented in the technology. Thinking it through can drastically improve one's riding.
  2. II. The technology is, by definition, practical That is, the technology serves goals, the technology is the means to an end. What are the goals? I think Level 4 Questionnaire has it best, listing the four possible goals for training: – I want more control and to be safer on the street – I want to improve my track skills – I want to move in the direction of racing – I want to improve my race lap times These four things can be boiled down to just two goals: a) to go faster; b ) to be more in control. "Being more in control", obviously, is the more general formula than "being safer", because "being more in control" includes "being safer". Any knowledge taken in itself, without being applied to practical ends, is relatively useless. Pure erudition is only good for impressing people in a social gathering of some sorts. Only knowledge that can be applied to accomplishing practical tasks is truly valuable. Knowledge is useful if it can make me faster and more in control, when I ride a motorcycle. Then it becomes the technology. Therefore, if I gain some kind of theoretical knowledge, it is my job to figure out ways to apply that knowledge so that it can make me faster and more in control – I must turn the knowledge into the technology. For example, clutchless shifting (up and down) may be considered a fancy, but relatively useless skill if taken out of context (that is, if I only do it to impress my riding friends). However, if I can apply clutchless shifting in a way that frees my attention in a turn, and also allows me to shift smoother, then it becomes a valuable skill that helps to achieve my goals, and therefore. becomes an integral part of my overall riding technology. Or similarly, if I can drag my knee, but do it simply because it's "cool", that skill is useless. But if I use my knee as a gauge that helps me to find the correct angle when I do my quick steering, I can get on the throttle a little earlier, which makes me simultaneously faster and safer as I progress through a turn. In the latter case, knee dragging becomes a useful part of the overall technology.
  3. Hi all! My first (very recent) thread on this esteemed Forum was a sort of a personal diary, where I wrote down the "notes to self" I made during my most recent camp. I'm taking another one in about a month, and I'm sure I'll learn a lot, so I hope to continue that thread. But as a result of that first forum experience, I realized I wanted to dig deeper, and improve my overall understanding of the riding technology, as taught at California Superbike School. Luckily, this forum is a veritable elite club of skillful riders, so I hope for a lot of insightful comments to every post I make here. I will write things that I think I understand, as well as some other things that I find difficult to comprehend. In both cases, being a beginner, I hope to learn a lot from people who understand this better. So, without further ado: I. The true technology is a system That's what makes the technology different from scattered bits of "friendly advice". As a system, the true riding technology considers the motorcycle dynamics (the physical forces affecting a motorcycle in motion) – in relation to rider dynamics and biomechanics (the physical forces affecting the rider in motion, as well as the biological setup that allows to translate thought into motion) – in relation to rider psychology (problems of attention, survival reactions, vision, and so on) – in relation to track configuration (types of turns, entry-apex-exit, surface, and so on) – in relation to other riders – and provides the methods for controlling all these aspects of riding. (I tried to include everything, but I may have missed something important, would appreciate a correction.) What I find fascinating about the technology (and what I see as the proof that it is really true technology) is that every aspect of it is connected to every other aspect. For instance, the track configuration has immediate impact on rider psychology: rider selects the reference points, entry-apex-exit, based on the specifics of each turn, dictated by the track configuration. On the other hand, rider psychology has the most immediate effect on the motorcycle dynamics (having successfully overcome inner urge to close the throttle, a rider instead rolls it on – evenly, smoothly and continuously – thus stabilizing the motorcycle and making it perform best, as it's designed). From my very recent personal experience of a difference between friendly advice and true technology, as I was preparing for my most recent bootcamp with CSS, I was practicing some exercises under observation of a former racer who suggested that I hang off a lot more than I was previously trained at CSS. He had no other explanation to why I should do it, except "that's how it's done". I chose to follow his advice. Needless to say, hanging off too much was exactly the habit that I had to eliminate during the following bootcamp – and thanks to fully developed technology, I understood precisely why hanging off too much was detrimental to my riding (my body weight was almost completely on the inside peg, which prevented me from locking on the motorcycle properly, so I had to hold on to the handlebars tighter than necessary, which resulted on the uncontrolled steering inputs, and made the bike wobble in every turn, especially in the "S's", which distracted my attention from the turns and prevented me from selecting and following the best lines). It took me almost two days of the camp to eliminate the hanging-off-too-much habit instilled in my through friendly advice that I took out of reverence to the prior racing experience of my friend. If I trusted the technology in the first place, I would have spent those two days working on other things.
  4. More: XXXIV. Don't do too many things too late Until recently, I used to have a tendency to lock on, stick the knee out, turn my head, lean the bike AND roll on the throttle (!) simultaneously, right on the X, marking the turn entry. Silly and dangerous as it sounds, that's what I believed to be the correct technique. Needless to say, not only I risked crashing a bike every time I turned, I also was unnecessarily busy, entering every turn. It took a while to sink in, but all of those things of course have to be separate in time. Hip Flick drill helped a lot in sorting it out. Thanks to it, I start by locking on when I see the X, then I look into the turn, then I stick my knee out and lean, and then I roll. The turns have become so much easier! XXXV. If you want to pass someone, don't look at the rider, look for a "doorframe". It's really difficult to pass someone if you target-fixate on him / her. Looking somewhere next to the rider and seeing the "doorframe" in which you can fit, can make you immediately aware of how much space you've got. That can male passing considerably simpler.
  5. In the meantime – XXXIII. It's not really possible to work on one thing at a time Unless you're a genius of concentration. Well, I'm not such genius, anyway, and whatever I'm practicing, I can't help having some other things not too far back in the back of my mind. (For example, if I'm working on the Wide View, there's inevitably the Lock-On, the Three-Step, and the whole family of them, demanding attention.) It's like trying not to think of a pink rhinoceros. Go ahead and try it! Or rather, make it "pink rhinoceros covered in pieces of silver and gold reflective tape" (for visibility). Next time you're on a track, try to not think about that beast riding a Beemer somewhere on the same track, gaining on you. Just kidding. Wipe your mind clean. I'm sure you'll have better and more important things to try not to think about. Try not to think about the throttle (once it's cracked on, it's rolled on evenly, smoothly, and constantly throughout the remainder of the turn). Definitely try your hardest not to think about that. Seriously though, you have to have perfect Zen to be able to practice just one thing at a time, and I suspect very few of mere mortals have it. But that's precisely why (I think) we must do our best to practice one thing at a time! Because we won't be able to, anyway, but at least we won't allow all the things competing for our attention to get the free reign in our mind / body. That's why, I'm inclined to think, the coaches instruct students to practice not just one thing at a time, but to practice that thing in just one particular turn. So, practicing one thing at a time may be impossible, but we should strive to do that, all the same.
  6. Thank you for joining in, Cobie. The "when" is indeed explained in Chapter 5, more specifically (at least in my 9th printing of the book) on Page 25. "It is here where I may have to wait a little" – refers to the topic initiated in this thread by Rainman: possible exceptions to the Throttle Control Rule. To give you (and other people who may be reading this) a brief recap, Rainman asked in which situations the Master Rule my have to be modified. I consulted the Good Book, found in it precisely 10 "exceptions", and listed them – without fully understanding their meaning, because I hadn't yet encountered such situations on a track (and, as I understand, that's not having practical experience is one of the fundamental barriers to effective learning). Let me copy and paste the same list here: 1. In a rear-end slide, it may be advisable to stop rolling on the gas (but not to roll it off). The motorcycle will slow down smoothly and gradually, and the slide will be corrected. 2. A double-apex turn should be treated practically as two separate turns, which means slowing down smoothly, even by rolling off the gas and straightening the bike before the second entry. 3. In top-gear, full-throttle turns there's no way to continue rolling on the gas simply because it's already open all the way. In that case, the necessary pull through the turn should be created by coming into the turn roughly 500 rpm lower than normal, and then when the motorcycle is leaned over, the rpm will pick up and the engine will pul the motorcycle through the turn. 4. In the crested turns, getting on the gas should be delayed until after the the bike "lands" after the crest, because it's already too high on the suspension, and getting on the gas too early may lift t even higher, which may result in the front wheel pop-up. It may even be necessary to roll off the gas slightly and smoothly, if the crest is really steep (in that case the motorcycle may still be accelerating even as the throttle is being rolled off). 5. If a motorcycle is leaned over to the extreme, the rider has to wait until the beginning of the Pick-Up to start rolling on the gas (this is not so much an exception, but rather a modification of the Golden Rule). 6. If there are bumps in the middle of the turn, the throttle roll-on may be slowed down or stopped temporarily till the end of the bumps. (No roll-off, though.) 7. A long downhill turn may require a brief delay in rolling on the throttle. 8. Changes in camber in the middle of the turn, or off-camber turn, may require a brief delay in rolling on the throttle. 9. A decreasing-radius turn may need a brief delay in the roll-on. 10. Any combination of all of the above may also require slowing down or temporarily stopping the roll-on. As I already discussed with Hotfoot, #6 on this list seems to be my error: I found this in the book, but somehow misinterpreted it. That's why I crossed it through. I would very much like to get the proper interpretation of this, because it is from "Twist II", I didn't invent it, I just, uh, "twisted" it. There may be other errors / misinterpretations on the list, so I would personally very much appreciate your further comments on this subject. I'm also thinking that the subject is too deep for this particular thread of the forum, because my idea for this thread was just to jot down the "notes to self" I made during my most recent bootcamp. I think a separate thread on Throttle Rule Exceptions would be a good idea.
  7. Thank you, Justin. Your insightful comment has elevated this discussion to the whole new level. Stewal, I liked your observation about getting into "false neutral" during the downshift. I think that situation may indeed cause damage to a motorcycle, especially if it's repeated. I'm wondering though, would that be specific only for clutch-less downshifts. Mugget, I think I actually found at least one more situation when an exception to the Number One Rule may be required: a rider enters a blind corner and discovers a crowd of other riders there, going slower than he was planning to go through the turn. if there's no place to pass, the faster rider would have to wait. I may be wrong though. Never happened to me. I kinda visualized it.
  8. Working on that right now, Rain. :-) Oh, okay. Let's see if I get this right. So, I'm approaching a turn. I slow down to the entry speed, I put my tires over the corner entry, I give the bike a proper lean angle, and then, once I settle in the lean angle, I begin a smooth, steady, continuous roll-on, which is relatively moderate in throttle application. That roll-on should immediately follow the lean angle, and it shouldn't be delayed / slowed down, etc. The roll on transfers the weight to the rear, to achieve the proper 40/60 (30/70 for advanced bikes) weight distribution, and gets the bike right about in the middle of suspension, where it's the most effective. Then I do the pick up and simultaneously get on the throttle more, to achieve a good drive out of the turn. It is here where I may have to wait a little, depending on the turn configuration. Am I getting closer to understanding it correctly?
  9. Could you please expand on this, Hotfoot? (Yes, I agree with you about re-reading Twist II, I think it's essential that I stay current with that book.) Rainman, I would very much value your input, too. Could you comment on my reply?
  10. More. XXXI. One of the turns per track may be your "fall asleep" turn That's where you lose time. And by "you" I mean "me". The "take a vacation" turn, quite logically, tends to be the next turn after the fastest turn, or the one perceived as the fastest. In my case, most recently, it was turn 2 at Thunderbolt, where I simply did nothing, over and over again. Then as I was getting tired, I started unconsciously to use that turn to take some serious rest, and got on the brake more and more – until I nearly "collected" my coach who was riding behind me, studying my peculiar behavior, and another coach who was riding behind him (probably studying his peculiar behavior). Once my coach scolded me for wasting time, I estimate I shed about 7 seconds by simply staying awake during turn 2. XXXII. Commentary riding helps At least, I find it helpful at my current riding level. (By "commentary riding" I don't mean the phenomenon you may have observed while being a passenger in a car with a choleric motorist: "What the... ? What does that jerk think he's doing! Idiot drivers like that shouldn't be allowed to breed! And look at that other guy. Unbelievable!") No, commentary riding, if done properly, may help to focus rider's attention where it belongs: "Off the brake. Rubber trace on the left, got the entry, look at the apex, lean, relax, blades of grass sticking out higher, got the apex, that lighter spot over there, look at the exit, roll on the gas, smooth and steady, rolling, pick up the bike. Harder on the gas" – and so on. I sometimes catch myself just saying these things out loud as I ride. I guess it depends on a personality type of a rider to a large degree, and on the skill level. I find it helpful. You may find that it actually distracts you and slows you down. Obviously, too much of the commentary can be attention-gobbler. Also, I suspect, more experienced riders sort of "de-verbalize" these things: they think in images and sensations rather than words. So the commentary riding may be seen as temporary "crutches" for beginners like myself.
  11. A very profound question, Rain. Let's see now. 1. In a rear-end slide, it may be advisable to stop rolling on the gas (but not to roll it off). The motorcycle will slow down smoothly and gradually, and the slide will be corrected. 2. A double-apex turn should be treated practically as two separate turns, which means slowing down smoothly, even by rolling off the gas and straightening the bike before the second entry. 3. In top-gear, full-throttle turns there's no way to continue rolling on the gas simply because it's already open all the way. In that case, the necessary pull through the turn should be created by coming into the turn roughly 500 rpm lower than normal, and then when the motorcycle is leaned over, the rpm will pick up and the engine will pul the motorcycle through the turn. 4. In the crested turns, getting on the gas should be delayed until after the the bike "lands" after the crest, because it's already too high on the suspension, and getting on the gas too early may lift t even higher, which may result in the front wheel pop-up. It may even be necessary to roll off the gas slightly and smoothly, if the crest is really steep (in that case the motorcycle may still be accelerating even as the throttle is being rolled off). 5. If a motorcycle is leaned over to the extreme, the rider has to wait until the beginning of the Pick-Up to start rolling on the gas (this is not so much an exception, but rather a modification of the Golden Rule). 6. If there are bumps in the middle of the turn, the throttle roll-on may be slowed down or stopped temporarily till the end of the bumps. (No roll-off, though.) 7. A long downhill turn may require a brief delay in rolling on the throttle. 8. Changes in camber in the middle of the turn, or off-camber turn, may require a brief delay in rolling on the throttle. 9. A decreasing-radius turn may need a brief delay in the roll-on. 10. Any combination of all of the above may also require slowing down or temporarily stopping the roll-on. That seems to be it, even though I should confess that most of what I just wrote is pure theory to me, because I simply don't have enough track experience to encounter all of the described circumstances. I may have gotten some of it wrong, and I may have missed something. As always, an input from a more experienced and skillful rider would be much appreciated. Mugget, I hope you kept your text after you snipped it out, I would very much like to read it.
  12. I forgot to reply to that. Mugget, there's a whole separate thread on clutchless downshifting somewhere on this forum that includes, among other things, the video of CSS Chief Mechanic Will Eikenberry riding a pretty fast lap on a track, and actively shifting up and down without touching the clutch lever once. The premise is that if the guy who gets to fix the bikes uses clutchless shifting, it's gotta be safe for the bikes. (As Will told me, the video wasn't actually taken to demonstrate the technique, the guys were just testing camera angles... which means he wasn't doing it for show, that's how he actually rides at all times.) I learned the no-clutch shift down from Cobie, who showed it to me and explained it really well. As he said, he doesn't normally use clutchless downshifts when the transmission is in lower gears (1-2-3). Even though it's perfectly doable in any gear, there's usually no need to do the clutchless downshift at low speed. The reason for downshifting without the clutch is to free considerable amount of your attention from working the clutch to more important things in a turn. Clutchless downshifting is easier. Cobie also said something that put my mind at ease about clutchless downshifts: "It either happens, or it doesn't. If you do it right, it happens. If you do it wrong, it doesn't: the transmission simply doesn't click into the lower gear." Which means, if you mis-time it, or mess it up in any other way, there still shouldn't be any negative effect on the bike. (I must add though, it's still possible to break the bike of course by doing something stupid. For example, if a rider kicks the shifter down really hard, it will break, clutch or no clutch.) In case someone reads this and can't find the main thread about clutchless downshifting, here's the description of the technique, the way I do it. (I'm sure this can be improved, so I would be grateful for contributions from more skillful riders.) 1. Roll off the gas. 2. Apply the front brake. 3. Let the bike slow down to the desired speed. 4. * Do a really small blip (roll the throttle quickly on and off) - to unload the transmission. 5. ** At the very beginning of the blip, click the shifter down. 6. Smoothly get back on the gas. That's all it takes. It should take a lot less time to do it than to read about it. A couple of additional comments: * The blip should be really, really small. It should produce a barely audible change in the engine sound, or even none at all. There are two ways of doing it: a) while still holding the brake lever, or -- b ) after having let go of the brake lever. Initially, doing it with the brake still on may seem easier and smoother. As you further practice the technique, it will probably become equally smooth without the brake applied. If you do it with the brake applied, make sure to not do the uncontrolled additional input on the brake lever as you blip the gas. ** Another way of doing it is clicking the shifter down immediately after the blip. I never heard that variation of the technique mentioned anywhere, but to me it seems to work equally well. Try it – you'll love it. If your motorcycle revs up too hard, or dances back and forward on the suspension when you do the blip, it means you're overdoing the blip. If the bike surges forward after you shifted down, it means you've probably mis-timed the blip / shifting or didn't get the speed right. Learning clutchless downshifting should take about an hour of practice, maximum, to a rider who had never tried to do it before. A really experienced / intuitive rider may get it right after a couple of tries. It took me about an hour, I used my own bike, and I was doing it wrong in all sorts of ways for the first 30 min or so, before I figure out the right way of doing it. The bike still rides and shifts no worse than it did before. No signs of damage. As I was learning that, for some reason, slowing down to the proper speed (steps 1 – 3) seemed to be the most attention-consuming part of the technique, so I think the most significant improvement comes from making the deceleration more automatic.
  13. Actually, I think the Pick-Up as a technique is discussed the most thoroughly in the "Soft science", only the drill isn't named as "Pick-Up", but rather the book refers to it as "drive" (straightening up the motorcycle allows more throttle input on the exit of the turn, and the highest skill is to be able to judge your position in the turn even if you cannot yet see the actual exit – through reference points only.) I suspect the "Pick-Up" drill may not have existed back when the book was first written, or didn't have that name. Mugget, what I've been jotting down here so far were mostly mental notes I brought from a level 3 & 4 bootcamp I've taken in New Jersey a few weeks ago (my coach was the formidable Jon Groom, and of course everyone else in the school contributed a lot of wisdom). I took levels 1 & 2 a couple of months before in Las Vegas, (with angelically patient Laura as my coach), but I didn't write anything in the forum because the only observation I brought from there could be boiled down to "Wow", which would make a very short thread. By the way, you've made a great point when you commented on my "Thou shalt not race" commandment. Obviously, any rule must have exceptions (and the rules I've formulated for my personal use must have lots of exceptions). A case to the point. One Rule to Rule Them All: "Once the throttle is cracked open, it's rolled on evenly, smoothly and constantly through the remainder of the corner". (I swear I actually didn't copy and paste, but typed the whole thing.) Which means, to rephrase it: "don't snap the throttle shut, otherwise you're gonna high-side". And yet, I recently experienced a situation in which only by accidentally breaking the Master Rule I saved my bike's plastics. I was playing with it, running small circles at a lean angle of about 45 degrees at a speed of about 10 mph. Think of it as a "Lean Bike" drill minus the Lean Bike. The front wheel hit a bump and tucked in, and I went down. As I was falling, I let go of the throttle grip and was about to slap the asphalt with my hand in order to minimize the overall impact... but there was nothing to slap, because the ground sort of moved away from me: as soon as I got my hand off the grip, the throttle rolled off, and the bike stood up. As I said, it happened at really low speed, so the bike didn't high-side, but just softly got vertical. I praised the Lord and Sir Isaac Newton, and kept having fun for a couple more hours. (I guess, this can belong to Rainman's bacon-saving thread - "How I saved my bacon by accidentally not following the most important drill.") But what it means also, I suppose, is that it is theoretically possible to prevent a low-side at a lot higher speed, creating a micro-high-side by rolling the throttle about five millimeters or so off when the bike has already lost almost all front wheel traction – as long as there's some traction left in the rear. In fact, I'm pretty sure that can be done, it's just physics. (But it can only be done at the very beginning of the front wheel tuck, because if all the front wheel traction is gone, transferring more weight to the front will only make things worse.) One way or another, would I practice that as a legitimate technique? Probably not right now – not until I'm really good with all the major stuff. (Even though I suspect it would be fun to try as a drill.) And I don't think it's really practical, as it would require super-subtle control in a stressful, attention-consuming situation. - - - - - - In some other situations, what may appear as the same thing may be done in a couple of different ways, and for entirely unrelated purposes. For example: XXIX. Count your turns (Part 1) Just count them, to know which turn has which number. This will certainly simplify your communication with your coach. ("Why did you get on the gas so late in turn seven?" – "Uh... which one is seven, again?") Nothing could be more obvious and basic than this, and yet I had to explain this to myself at some point. – on the other hand – XXX. Count your turns (Part 2) As in, "how many right and left turns are there on the current track". You'll be surprise what you may discover. A track may have, for example, 75% right turns and 25% left turns, and what that would mean to me is that my tires are a lot warmer on the right sides than on the left, so I may be slightly bolder in my right turns, but should go easier in the left ones. Similar actions, different purposes.
  14. Thank you, Rain. I feel the thread petering out - temporarily, I'm sure - but I still have a few "notes to self" left to share. Here's one: XXVIII. Don't beat yourself up In my case, easier said than done. When I do something I perceive as an error / failure, I can't help punishing myself with the enthusiasm worthy of Spanish Inquisition. During my levels 1 and 2, that habit led to a lot of self-induced stress, because I expected to get to champion level by the end of day one. Gradually I let go, and only then the true learning had began. I thought it was just me, but when I was doing the next two levels, I met a guy who was at his levels 1 and 2, and sure enough, by the end of day one he was pissed at himself: "I thought I was a better rider than that". I told him, from my own experience, that he would become a better rider by the end of day two: he just needed to stop beating himself up and start trusting his coach. But that's how I realized that I'm not unique in having great expectations early into my training, and then beating myself up for not living up to my own standards. All of this is useless. Just do the drills to the best of your ability and don't worry about anything else. No matter where you are in your riding, it will improve.
  15. This one can help to save some major $$$$: XXVII. Drills can be practiced off-track (This is one of the best bits of wisdom I got from my coach.) In fact, some or even all of them can be practiced without even being in a saddle of a motorcycle. My current favorite - Wide View - really adds flavor to my everyday bicycle commute. So do the 2-Step and 3-Step drills. While street-riding a motorcycle, I love practicing Knee-To-Knee and Hip Flick, as well as all the visual drills and other body position drills. Throttle Control, being probably the most important drill, should also be practiced regularly. Additionally, every drill can also be practiced through visualization.
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