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Level 1 At Barber, Amazing Results!

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Hey all.


So I just finished doing Level 1 at Barber (August 24th, 08) and I can't say enough, how much I learned just in one day.


I told this to Keith, but I feel that my riding improved more in that one day, than in the last 1-2 years of working on my riding on my own.


When the day started, I was slow and unsure of myself....I was not able to pick and hold a line to save my life...every time I went into a corner (especially #2) I felt like I was doing something totally different than the last time (and NOT intentionally).


Man...with each on track drill, I felt a small piece of the puzzle click into place.


First, the throttle control drill got me out of using the brakes (SR) when I didn't need to, and gave me the confidence to enter some of the more tricky corners (#4, #6->7, #9) with much more entry speed than I thought was possible for me. It took me out of my 'comfort zone', and then I realized that my actual comfort zone was not based on the limits of the bike, but the limits of my MIND. This was an absolute REVELATION for me and my riding...and I have never had a single epiphany give me so much real confidence in my riding.


Next, the turn entry drill...and that was the beginning of where I could start to see myself developing cleaner lines. I realized in this drill, that I was never really choosing a defined entry point before...I was just coming up on the turn and deciding to "go for it" when it felt right....and I wondered why I couldn't run consistent lines!!!! ARRGGGHHH! I wish I had taken this training YEARS AGO!


The fast turning drill. Holy cow. Keith really hit a home run on this one when he said: "Hey, how many of you *feel* like if you turned the bike over really fast, that you would wreck?" Of course we all raised our hands. Then he says: "Ok, well I have surveyed dozens, probably hundreds of racers and ranked riders and I can tell you the number of them that has managed to lean a bike over fast enough to wreck....ZERO!" I know clearly that you can lean a bike over too FAR...but I always thought (another SR probably) that if I flicked the bike over fast, that it would destabilize things too much. Boy was I wrong. Again taking me out of my normal comfort zone, I trusted in the drill and trusted in the instructors and just flicked the bike over with real authority...and WOW. Not only did the bike get settled faster, but I was pointed SO much better that I could roll on the throttle MUCH earlier and still run a tighter, faster line. This drill was where I really started to see my corner exit speeds start to improve. (The speedo was taped over, so I don't know how fast I was going, but I always used the same gears for each turn and with each drill I could see the RPMs go higher and higher through the day as I exited).


Then came the relax drill. LOL. Boy did I blow this one. I was so focused on "trying to relax" that I was all tense and my lines became super crappy. Cobie was really helpful on the track (more on him later), but I still just found myself out of "the zone" and struggling worse than in the first drill. This was NOT the fault of the instructors or the class room prep, this was 110% my fault. I just got so caught up in telling myself "RELAX!!!" that I psyched myself out completely. I returned to the paddox a little frustrated with myself, thinking about what might have been in my way of trying to relax. I decided to put it behind me and focus on the next drill, and interestingly enough, it was the next drill that finally brought EVERYTHING from the day together into a cohesive whole and then I was *super* relaxed.


Last drill: Choosing an apex, or two part turning. This is what I needed....this is why I couldn't relax. The reason I wasn't able to relax, is that the previous drills had given me a LOT more speed to work with on the track, but I was still not able to exit where I wanted. I was exiting faster, and entering faster, AND turning the bike faster, but I wasn't able to relax because I wasn't sure where the bike was going exactly. It was more of a "wait and see where I will exit" kind of thing....and that was why I was tense. This drill made it all click. Not only did it get me looking MUCH farther ahead on the track, but by focusing on an apex point and saying "THERE...go THERE" I was able to finally nail the line I wanted. As soon as this happened (which was the first time I tried it...turn #1...I came through #1 SO much faster than before, and on a tighter line) I was instantly relaxed as can be. My hands and arms relaxed and I was really feeling the bike and what it was doing. Instead of wrestling with the bike, I felt like it was my dance partner and I was in the lead (not the other way around, which is how I started the day).


That last session....I felt like I FLEW around the track and it felt effortless. I found myself passing a few guys that previously had pulled away from me, and of course the really fast guys were still blowing past me at light speed...lol. I know that I am NOT FAST compared to the truly skilled riders there, but for me, I was absolutely flying compared to how I started the day.


Even the off track drill...Josh was awesome. He pointed out that I was using poor head position which was actually causing me to use some counter lean and as soon as I took his advice, those low speed turns felt a LOT smoother and safer.


Now, at this point, I have to take a moment to thank Cobie. He was my instructor all day, and for our sessions it was one on one. I cannot possibly say enough how valuable his input and guidance was. Every time we got off the track, he asked me a series of hard questions that I did not have an immediate answer for. They forced me to *really* think about what I was doing instead of just experiencing it. He challenged me by asking me to focus on the corners I had the least comfort with, and by the end of the day, those became my absolute favorite corners on the whole track (#2, #4, and #6->#7).


Jeez, I feel like I could write a book on all the things I learned yesterday. I haven't mentioned the awesome classroom experience, or how Judy is really a great mom to everyone out there, always taking care of all of us. I haven't mentioned that Barber is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL facility and that I was completely in awe of it. I haven't mentioned that we started the day with a drenched track and ended it dry. That was *perfect* because it really forced me to use smooth throttle control (what better circumstance to work on throttle control than a track with tons of water on it...), but by the end of the day, AFTER I had all the building blocks put together....the track dried up and I got to really increase my speeds and push my limits in a safe way.


I came to the track with three goals:


1) Stay safe, keep myself and my bike in one piece.


2) Learn as much as I possibly can.


3) Have a great time.



I can say that I got #1, #2, and #3....so much more than I could have expected. The skills made me safer, and greatly expanded my comfort zone. The amazing drills and classroom filled me with new tools that I can use on EVERY corner I ever take on the street or track, and as for the last one....well....there is really nothing in the world that is more fun than spending a day on the track with some of the most talented riders and instructors in the world.



I will be back for Level 2 next year, probably at Mid-Ohio because I have always wanted to run that track.


I cannot possibly wait to get back in the classroom with the CSS.


For anyone reading this who is debating taking this training: DO IT!!!! Its worth any price. If it seems expensive (which its really not) just remember that you will spend more in GAS just trying to get this stuff down over a whole summer or two, and still you will never grasp it like you will when you are a student with the CSS. I can only say that I wish I had done this years ago!!!!




Chris Gleeson


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Just read your post Parabellum. You have put into better words than I what my feelings were after a 2 day camp. See here my comments near the bottom.




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I just started riding about 1 year ago. Racing has alwas been my passion but on a bike... seems to risky. So I have decided to learn from the pros and everyone says CSS is the place to go. I was hoping that my raffel ticket would be a winner at moto gp laguna seca, but since I still have not got that "Congrats" call Im just going to caugh up the money.


Thanks for posting about level 1. This sounds exactly like everything I am looking for. (was concerned that level1 may be to much like the riders safety corse.) I just registered for Oct 25, I am planing to complete all four levels by this time next year. (college education of riding)


The best part is this: I ride evry sunday on the local canyon run with my buddy who has a year of riding on me. I am not telling him that I am attending CSS, Im just going to pass him the next day on the long sweeper knee down finger in the air (Rossi to Biagi)- like "what?"





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