One word about the camp - WOW!
For those unfamiliar with me, I'm a fairly new rider - I got on a bike for the first time last August at the age of 33 with an MSF class. After that, I put about 3500 miles on an F4i beore getting a Daytona 675. I also picked up a slighty used R6 back in November. Te 675 now has about 4500 miles on it and the R6 is up to 1000 miles.
My goal ha always been to improve my skills as quickly as possible. Starting later in life, I had an inherent disadvantage - alot of riders I talked to at least rode dirtbikes as kids. I figured the best bet to get the proper skills was to get as much instruction as possible - it should prevent me from developing bad habits and (I'm finding) that I learn quickly.
I signed up for the 2 day LVMS Superbike School mostly because it was the soonest date I could get. I plan on doing extensive track days this year on an R6 (it's fully prepped), but felt that I'd be better off doing so AFTER taking a class at a track.
To say that I was nervous is an understatement. I've never been on a track before and I really don't push too hard on the street (I've got tasty chicken strips on the 675). After a long-ass flight (from Delaware to Vegas), I got 4 hours at the hotel before having to leave before dawn to make the 7AM registration.
The schools is pretty structured; you've got classroom time followed by a track session to work on a drill or skill discussed in class. To keep the pace a bit slower at first, they start off only allowing a single gear and no brakes. Each drill focused on a particular skill or technique - theories that are covered in Keith Code's books but make more sense on the track.
The on-track coaching was very helpful. For the first day, I had two coaches - they'd each follow (or lead) and observe, helping with the drills. As an example, on the session where our goal was to roll back on the throttle at a particular point, they'd indicate the point with their left hand as you were led through the turn.
The coaching wasn't limited to the drill a hand. Feedback was given on lines, entry speed, particular corners - I'd notice I was having trouble with a particular turn and they'd lead me through it to show the proper line.
My personal pace got faster and faster as I got more comfortable. The advantage to seeing the coaches ripping around on the same bikes was knowing full well that I could corner faster or tighter than I was at first. After a quick lesson in body positioning on the lean bike (one of several tools they the have available), things started coming together and I was able to push harder and harder. My lap times improved from the mid 1:30s to a best of 1:11.65 the first day.
Any comfort with the track configuration went out the window on Day 2, as they reversed the course. I still managed to start off in the 1:20s, but my focus on the second day was more about clean, fast lines than overall speed. I found myself actually slowing on the straightaway to put some distance between myself and slower riders so I didn't get jammed up behind them.
The second day focused mostly on visual skills - using peripheral vision, reference point sighting and so on. I pushed myself harder as well and by lunch, was consistently dragging my left knee through certain turns. While my right went down once, I think my foot position on the right peg is off slightly (as I scuffed the boot several times and my ankle would get sore during the sessions). Even with holding back on the straight, my best time was 1:09.
Again, the coaching was great - I worked on problem turns, identified why I had the back end come loose twice (too much throttle while leaned) but saw more improvement throughout the day. My lines were smooth, consistent. It was funny to see how I was entering a turn at 6k RPM in 4th on the first session and was up to 10k in 4th on the last session.
A great time, well worth the money and highly recommended, it made a huge difference the following Monday when I attended a different school @ VIR. I continued to practice the drills on my own that we'd done at LVMS, and saw my riding get more consistent, my lines get smoother and my times get lower.
I'll definitely do CSS Lvls 3 & 4, probably at VIR this spring. I may even do 4 days back-to-back (2 individual days, followed by another 2-day camp). VIR is a very challenging and technical course; the level of instruction on tap with CSS would make for great riding and tremendous gains in skill and smoothness on that track.
Consider me a convert - great experience, can't wait to do it again.
After CSS (Event @ VIR):