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Level 1 Question.


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Hey all.

 

I have a Level 1 day coming up in august (23rd at Barber), and after reading a great writeup of a level 1 day, I have a basic question.

 

While I know that the excellent staff will tell me everything I need to know when I get there, this is something I figured might be easy to answer beforehand.

 

This will not be my first track day, and I have been riding for 8 years (almost all of that on sportbikes). Of course, I am going to be quite slow compared to any of the staff or more experienced riders, so my listing my experience I am NOT trying to seem experienced...just to list a reference point ;)

 

Here is the thing: About two years ago I started learning to hang off the bike (I bought TOW 1/2 and it was an epiphany). It changed everything for me. Now, I'm sure my form needs a lot of work, but hanging off, even a little, completely changed my riding. I got faster AND smoother, gained a TON of confidence, and it was the beginning of my desire to really learn the art of cornering well.

 

My question: For a level 1 day, will hanging off the bike be encouraged or discouraged?

 

Its gotten to the point where doing any kind of aggressive cornering (street or track) without shifting my weight to the inside, locking my outer leg, and dropping down is a little uncomfortable for me.

 

I guess I'm saying that I hope it will be encouraged, since hanging off a little is really the center of my comfort zone.

 

Any feedback is greatly appreciated :)

 

Best Regards.

 

Chris.

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Chris;

 

Well you certainly have arrivied with a ton of new insights...and that data aquisition piece is amazing. Keith just keeps raising the bar for rider training doesn't he?

 

To respond to one point however, I can offer an opinion. You wrote: "I guess I'm saying that I hope it (hanging off) will be encouraged, since hanging off a little is really the center of my comfort zone."

 

As far as Level I goes, it's been a few years since I took Level I but my recollection is that it is focused on visual skills. Body position is covered in great detail in Level III and so your coach will probably not say much about your body position unless you ask them for it because the goal in Level I is to set the foundation and it begins with these drills.

 

At no time in the 20 plus schools I attended did a Coach or Keith ever not answer a question or offer feedback on any aspect of my riding I asked for if it was outside the parameters of the Level I was taking that day. That said, your coach will be focused on observing how well you executee your Level I drills so he/she may not notice as much any issues pertaining to your body position - unless of course your body position is clearly unsafe. Based on your experience, that is pretty unlikely so you should be good to go in all repects.

 

Kevin

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Chris;

 

Well you certainly have arrivied with a ton of new insights...and that data aquisition piece is amazing. Keith just keeps raising the bar for rider training doesn't he?

 

To respond to one point however, I can offer an opinion. You wrote: "I guess I'm saying that I hope it (hanging off) will be encouraged, since hanging off a little is really the center of my comfort zone."

 

As far as Level I goes, it's been a few years since I took Level I but my recollection is that it is focused on visual skills. Body position is covered in great detail in Level III and so your coach will probably not say much about your body position unless you ask them for it because the goal in Level I is to set the foundation and it begins with these drills.

 

At no time in the 20 plus schools I attended did a Coach or Keith ever not answer a question or offer feedback on any aspect of my riding I asked for if it was outside the parameters of the Level I was taking that day. That said, your coach will be focused on observing how well you executee your Level I drills so he/she may not notice as much any issues pertaining to your body position - unless of course your body position is clearly unsafe. Based on your experience, that is pretty unlikely so you should be good to go in all repects.

 

Kevin

 

 

Kevin.

 

Thank you for taking the time to write that detailed reply, what you said completely makes sense.

 

Another thing I wondered was if Level 1 students even go fast enough to make hanging off practical? I guess I'll find out when I get there!

 

I'm an empty glass....ready to learn or relearn anything I can....so whatever they tell me to do, that is what I'm going to do.

 

:)

 

Best Regards.

 

Chris.

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Chris;

 

"Another thing I wondered was if Level 1 students even go fast enough to make hanging off practical? I guess I'll find out when I get there!"

 

Yes, some do in a big way but it shouldn't be a concern - at all. To maximize your learning experience just remember you are in School and NOT at a track day. Ride the pace you are comfortable with so you can grasp the drills. You will find out that the first session, regardless of Level is all one gear AND NO BRAKES! Yes, you read that correctly - NO BRAKES! It will set the tone for the day so that you focus on your mastery of each drill for each session. As the day progresses your (and your classmates) pace will pick up and by the end of the day, you will really appreciate the School's approach.

 

BTW, In the past two seasons I have had the good fortune of working as a Corner Worker for the School at Watkins Glen, Loudon and Pocono so my observations are as both a student and as an observer. The progess students make by the end of the day is simply amazing. Keith and his team really, I mean really know what they are doing. You'll have a blast at Barber.

 

Kevin

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  • 2 weeks later...

My experience is that as level 1 is focused on control inputs, the instructors generally won't critique your body positioning unless you're doing something really weird or you ask them. Depending on your day, you may get some time weaving on the no BS bike to check your steering inputs and you might get some comments there. I was shifting a bit side to side during the weaves, but the coach told me to just focus on steering input and move my head into the corner if I really wanted to. So I guess you can interpret that as discouraging hanging off. But that's possibly just the coach's thoughts on me individually. I found not shifting my weight around actually allowed me to better concentrate on improving my "quick turn" as I was upsetting the bike through bad inputs from my incorrect body shifting. I'm not a fast guy though and it was also my first time on a track; I was only running what would be equivalent to a median C group pace, so you may find different results.

 

When I did level 2 (at least until we got rained out), I asked for help on a hanging off during a break. The riding coach was more than willing to work on my body positioning even though level 2 focuses on visuals. Even then, the riding coach also brought up that not hanging off can allow for more concentration on the skills being practiced as it's one less thing to complicate the practice sessions with.

 

My advice would be to forget about speed and just focus on what best allows you to practice the individual drills. Each session will have a specific skill that they want you to focus on and learn. You may find hanging off doesn't affect learning, or you may find that hanging off is slowing down your ability to learn these new skills. Just see what happens would be my thoughts.

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Hi Chris,

 

Hanging off can be an important skill, but not the most critical. I'll give you an example: I had one of my coaches following another, newer coach. Newer coach wasn't slow, but not the fastest. He was riding in front, didn't know the other coach was behind, and coach in front was knee on the ground everywhere. Coach in back stayed right on the middle of the seat. If for sure can have its place, and at the ultimate pace it's an advantage, but if the other more key skills aren't learned, it can be a problem. 2 of my fastest coaches don't hang off much--makes the other skills too hard.

 

Best,

Cobie

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2 of my fastest coaches don't hang off much--makes the other skills too hard.

Cobie;

This is such an important fact to share with this Forum because (IMHO) too many newer riders consider it a litmus test of their riding skill and focus too much energy on touching down at the expense of smooth cornering or faster lap times.

 

I remember getting the "tail" sign from one of your faster coaches at Watkins Glen and as we flew around the Carousel with our knees about 6 inches off the deck, we blew past and underneath a rider whose titanium sliders were sparkling like the Fourth of July...he looked cooler then we did but going faster was way more fun! ; )

 

Kevin

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Cobie;

This is such an important fact to share with this Forum because (IMHO) too many newer riders consider it a litmus test of their riding skill and focus too much energy on touching down at the expense of smooth cornering or faster lap times.

 

I remember getting the "tail" sign from one of your faster coaches at Watkins Glen and as we flew around the Carousel with our knees about 6 inches off the deck, we blew past and underneath a rider whose titanium sliders were sparkling like the Fourth of July...he looked cooler then we did but going faster was way more fun! ; )

 

Kevin

Kevin,

 

It is for sure something that riders can get wrapped up in, and at certain tracks, it's a lot more work and really can complicate things. For example, Streets of Willow Springs. That is a fun track, but very technical and busy (meaning lost of turns and series of turns). Stringing the turns together well is a real skill. Stringing them together when the hang-off skills are not in great shape, it can slow one down more than one is getting the benefit. Laguna Seca is much simpler in fact--turn followed by a straight, turn/straight, etc., not nearly as demanding on these skills, and easier to prepare for the coming turn.

 

 

C

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