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Where Did You Start?


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I searched the forum and didn't find a thread like this, so I hope its not a repost. When I did levels I and II I spent as much time talking with other students as I could, listening to their stories and experiences.I found it amazing the different backgrounds and different ways that we found our way into this addiction. At one point, I was waiting for my turn on one of the special training bikes and I was waiting with an 18 year old who just started riding, and older (than me) guy who did some sport touring, and Marty Cragill who had finished in the top ten of the AMA formula extreme race the day before. It was a interesting discussion about how we all got to this point, although Marty proved to be a man of very few words. I know that this forum is far reaching and thought it might be fun to share how we got hooked.

 

Mods, If there is a thread like this already, please delete.

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If there is a thread like this already, please delete.

Tgriff;

Not to worry, this is a unique question and a great idea BTW. Let's see how the Forum reacts.

 

Kevin

 

Kev--OK, get started, where did you start? And, how far back do we want to go? Stick with where did one start riding, or deciding/coming to the school?

 

I'll do a short versio: First school I did was in 1982 as a student, then started working here in '83. Been riding street bikes since '78, a little bit on mini-bikes before (never had one, just rode others).

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If there is a thread like this already, please delete.

Tgriff;

Not to worry, this is a unique question and a great idea BTW. Let's see how the Forum reacts.

 

Kevin

 

Kev--OK, get started, where did you start? And, how far back do we want to go? Stick with where did one start riding, or deciding/coming to the school?

 

I'll do a short versio: First school I did was in 1982 as a student, then started working here in '83. Been riding street bikes since '78, a little bit on mini-bikes before (never had one, just rode others).

OK...I'm game but I'm not going back to my "first ride" because that would be found in the Old Testiment.

First sport bike ride was in 2000 and about 5 miles from the dealer I said to myself "hey this thing sucks on the street" and started looking at how to get it on a track. My Insurance Agent worked part time at the Ducati dealership and he said three words: "California Superbike School" and nine years later I'm still here!

 

Kevin

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I was 28 years old, and some friends went to a track on an enduro. I rode for about 10-15 minutes. The next day I went to get my license, and the next day I got my first bike. A Suzuki Marauder. Big mistake. A week later I was bent over the tank with my feet on the back pegs wondering why my bike wouldn't go any faster. It was max'ed out at 107 mph. I was pissed.

A year later I got a '99 Triumph Legend (LOVED that bike), and 3 short years later I sold it to a woman who wanted a mode of transportation for her son who was getting out of prison. I was a retard, and knew motorcycles weren't the smartest thing for me to have.

I still loved and followed motorcycling. I went to the bike show for the '05 bikes, and saw the '05 Kawasaki 636. I took a photo of it, and sent it to my wife, telling her that was my dream bike.

A few months later we were driving to the shooting range and, as I always did, stopped by the cycle shop on the way. My bike was sitting on the front podium as soon as the doors swung open. I told her how much I wanted it, and she said "well, get it." I bought the bike and was on my way home before she could draw another breath. I still think I have the best 600 bike made.

The day I got my drivers license is a whole other story.

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I got my first street bike in 2001, a katana. It was a good bike and I rode it alot, but after a few years I got kind of bored with it. I loved riding, but was bored with the bike. I bought an R6 which was a great bike, but shortly after that, yamaha released the anniversary edition R1 (pictured left) and I went crazy. I got the r1 and after the first time I twisted the throttle I knew that this motorcycle had WAY more capabilities then I had skill. :o I heard about the Superbike school about the same time. That year the school came to Blackhawk which is pretty close to home for me so I signed up. My intention was to be the best street rider I could be. I remember the first turn of the first drill where we had to turn in with no brakes. Prior to this experience I thought I was a pretty good rider. As I approached the corner and fought the instinct to hit the brake, I thought, "what am I doing here?" :blink: I realized that there was way more to riding then I had ever even considered and wanted to know more. I went to the school wanting to be a good street rider. I never ever thought about track days or even racing. I really didn't think that was for me. Now my wife gets frustrated because she says racing is all I talk about. Its the most addicting thing I have ever experienced.

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I rode an old dual sport a little bit, had fun, then ran across a little Ninja 250, the only sport bike that seemed small enough for me. After a year or so of riding that occasionally, I watned to learn to ride better so I called up the Superbike School and asked if I would be able to handle the 636, since I knew I couldn't reach the ground even on my toes. Sure, they said, come on out! So I did, and I clearly remember being terrified of dropping the bike in the parking lot! Stu was my coach, he was very patient and I had a blast. Riding on the street lost all its appeal after trying out the track. It was so much more fun and so much safer!

 

Now, OMG, I am a track addict and even starting to race. Thanks to all the CSS schools I've been to, the difference in my ability, my confidence, and my laptimes is staggering. I betcha no one that saw me at that first school would EVER have picked me out as someone who would take it this far, least of all me.

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  • 2 months later...

For me, it started almost 40 years ago in 1970 when my dad bought me a 65cc Yamaha Mini Enduro. Since then, I've never been without a bike of some sort. About 8 years ago, my interest in motorcycles became much more focused when I purchased my first Ducati. (I now own 4 Ducs and an MV Agusta, among others!) Last October, after nearly 40 years of street and off-road riding, I did my first track day at NJMP, in Millville, NJ. I didn't expect to be Casey Stoner, but with almost four decades of riding experience under my belt, I figured I'd at least be competent. I couldn't have been more wrong. To put it bluntly, I sucked!

 

I immediately realized that there was a whole lot more to riding a motorcycle fast on the track than I had thought. I knew I needed some professional help. To that end, I signed up for CSS's two day school last May at NJMP. What a difference that made! In two days, I improved my lap times by almost a full minute. I was going faster, feeling much more in control, and having way more fun. In short, I was hooked!

 

I've now bought a dedicated track bike, ('02 Yamaha R6), no longer enjoy riding my sport bikes on the street, and I'm seriously thinking about buying a Gold Wing, or an old Boxer, or a chopper, (or all three!), and selling my street sport bikes. Since CSS, I'm no longer comfortable riding fast on the street. I'm currently signed up for a track day with Absolute Cycle this Sunday at NJMP, and I'll be back at NJMP for two days with CSS in August. I can't wait!

 

Elton

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Elton,

 

I know what you mean. I enjoy a street ride now and again, and there is no better way to beat traffic in SoCal (lane splitting is legal, and if done with some common sense no issue). But trying to go fast on the street....yikes.

 

Also something else that happened to me was in the 80's there was a period that I didn't get on the track at all for a few years. One thing I noticed was that my skill gradually (but continually) decreseased. I had already been to CSS as a student, and done some racing, but found that just street riding--well, not a great place to practice one's skills without distractions, the same skills that gave me more of a margin on the street.

 

My conclusion then (for srue still the same) was that track riding now and again, besides being just fun, is a wise proficiency idea.

 

CF

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For me, it started almost 40 years ago in 1970 when my dad bought me a 65cc Yamaha Mini Enduro. Since then, I've never been without a bike of some sort. About 8 years ago, my interest in motorcycles became much more focused when I purchased my first Ducati. (I now own 4 Ducs and an MV Agusta, among others!) Last October, after nearly 40 years of street and off-road riding, I did my first track day at NJMP, in Millville, NJ. I didn't expect to be Casey Stoner, but with almost four decades of riding experience under my belt, I figured I'd at least be competent. I couldn't have been more wrong. To put it bluntly, I sucked!

 

I immediately realized that there was a whole lot more to riding a motorcycle fast on the track than I had thought. I knew I needed some professional help. To that end, I signed up for CSS's two day school last May at NJMP. What a difference that made! In two days, I improved my lap times by almost a full minute. I was going faster, feeling much more in control, and having way more fun. In short, I was hooked!

 

I've now bought a dedicated track bike, ('02 Yamaha R6), no longer enjoy riding my sport bikes on the street, and I'm seriously thinking about buying a Gold Wing, or an old Boxer, or a chopper, (or all three!), and selling my street sport bikes. Since CSS, I'm no longer comfortable riding fast on the street. I'm currently signed up for a track day with Absolute Cycle this Sunday at NJMP, and I'll be back at NJMP for two days with CSS in August. I can't wait!

 

Elton

 

I'm glad to hear how much the school did for you. I've signed up for the 2 day in Vegas in October, and am probably the most excited person to ever go. I'm in the intermediate group locally just because the superstreet is too slow, and on 2 out of the 3 tracks here I'm by far the slowest person in my group, although I'm sure I have more riding knowledge than at least half of the people who go whipping past me. I've been doing track for 1 1/2 years, and haven't seen much improvement in riding in about 8 months, and little since last August. I'm anxious to see how much the school teaches me. If they just help me put what I know into practice I know it will be worth it.

Nice taste in bikes, by the way.

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I'd always had an interest in bikes, but early experiences in crashing cars had somehow got through my adolescent brain to tell me that I should wait before getting a bike. So anyway, My missus was pregnant with our first child, and although some people might give away "dangerous" pursuits at this juncture in their lives, I thought if I didn't do it before the baby came it would never happen. (wife was fairly supportive I must say....)

The NSW licensing laws said that if I got my provisional bike license after having full driving license for 5 years , then I could get any capacity of bike that I wanted straight away.....being 6'6" I couldn't fit onto much comfortably. Got a Triumph Sprint ST 955i as my first bike.

What a shock to the system! :unsure: I couldn't turn it, and had that many close calls on the road that I thought I'd better do some training. Did Stay Upright at Oran Park, Sydney, and that was good for a beginner, really focussed on basics, but not so much on the cornering. So I went to a ride day or 2 at Eastern Creek and ran off a few times but managed to keep it upright. Spent some bucks on the suspension, of course believing it was the bike and not me that was causing the problems :P . This did improve the situation somewhat, as I could actually feel that there was a front wheel attached to the forks, the standard ST setup being undersprung and damped for my weight. But it still wasn't right! Got a lot of well meaning but misguided advice from mates, which ultimately proved fruitless without a proper system of training.

So went to Australian Superbike School (as it was known then) for level one, and you know what happens there. The journey had begun! Level 2 followed earlier this year, with some back up track days, and my new Triumph Speed triple and I have a level of understanding now....all thanks to the CSS.

It's still a matter of reviewing the drills and notes once in a while for me to keep the skills current in my mind, but I can't wait for level 3 early next year!

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I started 18 years ago, with small capacity bikes 250s for comuting and messing about with mates, my safety gear was an open faced helmet that was found at the back of a mates dads garage, a pair of steel toe capped working boots, jeans, jacket, and a pair of welding gloves!

I got my first sport bike 7 years ago, a CBR600F which I used on the road, and touring Europe, I did 2 trackdays on that bike but was just having fun circulating the track!

I then traded it in for my current CBR600RR which I lowsided on track when it was 9 months old, I was devastated as it was my pride and joy, not only that but my confidence was shattered, I decided to give up track riding, and become content with road riding again!

The following year I wasn't getting my confidence back, I then found this forum and got involved with some discussions that made me immediately go buy the twist books, and following a bit of advice from Cobie regarding throttle control I was back rebuilding my confidence, at the time I thought the school was a bit expensive, but from reading the books and reading the discussions on here I had to go for level 1, so I saved for that and completed it last year and now cant recomend the school highly enough to anyone!

Also started doing trackdays again with a my new found confidence and the realisation that the better I get the better my bike gets. Due to distance to the school my mate and I decided it would be more cost effective to do 2 days in a row, so we did that earlier this month for levels 2 and 3! He just bought a track only bike and over the winter I am intending to turn my CBR600RR into a track only bike!

It is our intention to do 2 days at school every year and as many trackdays as possible, which includes a fair bit of travelling to get to tracks!

I know I wont be a racer but my goal is to be as fast and smooth as the CSS instructors eventually, its a good feeling having done a trackday and noticing an improvement in an area of your riding at the end of the day rather than just circulating as fast as you can!

 

Bobby

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  • 1 month later...

Great thread!

 

I had seen sportbikes as a kid and like most kids I was fascinated. When I was about 20 my buddy got a gsxr600 and let me ride it, that was how I learned to ride. Unfortunately his 600 got stolen... he used the insurance money to buy a 750 though, and I rode that too.

 

When I was 24 (2004) I got a cbr600 and Cobie gave me a few pointers in the parking lot at the Rose Bowl... not cornering pointers, more like "how to avoid doing anything really stupid" type pointers.

 

Anyway, they must've served me well 'cause I never got in trouble on that bike even though I rode the canyons and commuted for years on it.

 

Eventually the allure of the track was too much to ignore and I got some sharkskinz and rearsets on craigslist for cheap and I haven't bothered to make my bike street legal since.

 

I miss it for commuting but to be honest the canyons have really lost their appeal after riding the track.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It was 1972 and I bugged my dad for a Honda Trail 70. Lucky me, he gave in and we drove to Kennedy Blvd in Jersey City and picked out an orange four speed. I think the bike cost a little over four hundred bucks, a nice chunk of change in '72 to spend for a sixteen year old's two wheel fantasies. I had a lot of great times with that bike, wheelies, racing in parking lots, getting big air over this one dirt covered culvert, like I said, I was a lucky kid.

 

Then for a moment I did have access to a Yamaha 125. And I did get to ride friends bikes. I even got to ride a crazy Kawasaki 500 two-stroke that was worked for drag racing, yet kept registered for the street. All black, very loud, a crazy bike.

 

Then I was without two wheels until 1989, when a neglected 1984 GPZ 750 entered my world. After doing work to get it running I convinced the owner to sell her to me. I still have this bike. So one day, it must have been 2002, I heard about this thing called counter-steering. I decided to go and try it out. There is this s-turn in my neighborhood, a perfect platform to give this a go. It's a south only road, no opposite traffic, so it's a right then a left.

 

I take the right as usual, because to counter-steer this thing I'm repeating in my head, "to go left-push on the left bar, to go left-push on the left bar". So as the left part arrives I push on the left bar and over goes the bike. It was an OH SH!?T moment. I got through the corner quickly reacting-picking the bike back to upright, composed myself from the shock of the bike's response to my rider input, returned home and didn't ride the bike after that for a very long while, because now I thought-"What else don't I know about riding a bike?"

 

Subsequently, while watching motorcycle road racing on TV, I sit there depressed thinking about my ignorance about my bike, and saying these racers a crazy- look at how far they're leaning those bikes! - When a commercial for some motorcycle road racing school plays on the screen...

 

Now I'm confronted with a possible solution to what's nagging me about my bike. Now my head is saying, Learn how to ride or sell it. But I can't run a bike like those racers-that's crazy!

 

Sometime after the racing had ended I went to my computer and searched for motorcycle schools and California Superbike School showed in the return. I checked out the site and was sure if I was going to go with a school it would be CSS. Then I checked the schedule and they were going to be at Pocono in August. I had a little time to make a decision.

 

The short story is, I went in 2003 and did level 1 and 2 and was completely amazed for what Keith, Cobie and the crew did for my wavering confidence piloting a motorcycle. I took a few years away then in 2008 I came back when CSS setup at NJMP Lightening for the first time. Did level 3 and 4. I did not review the books before those sessions and while running my final session of my second day and quick turning, I continued to push on the bar in turn seven and I pushed the front wheel beyond it's traction. Yes, I low-sided because of my own lack.

 

Keith was so cool about it as he debriefed me. I was not feeling good about it at all and I would have to wait a long time before getting back on this horse. CSS was leaving the east coast for the year.

 

I got home pulled out TWOTW II and started to read. I made notes in the margins and highlighted all the teaching points. I found the section that spoke specifically about my over application of lean angle and quick turning and re-read the entire book several times. Then I read through Soft Science Of Motorcycle Road Racing too. I characterize the Twist volumes as the mechanics of the discipline and Soft Science as the brain work of the game. With these two studies in harmony I was well on to being ready for summer 2009.

 

The short-short story from here is, everything has really worked out well. This year I got back to CSS at NJMP Thunderbolt in May, did really well, went at it about 60% and worked on the visuals and throttle. I then signed on for more Thunderbolt in August and worked getting on-track-surface reference points for every corner, more throttle control and working body position. I left NJMP and wanted to keep working so I thought about it and signed up for VIR, September 2-3. Being at a new track has it's own benefits to rider progression plus I gave myself another great opportunity to continue practicing and learning. It was a fantastic camp for me. I finally feel, with CSS, I have created a skill set and knowledge base of a very good, repeatable foundation of the art.

 

Those racers don't look so crazy to me any more.

 

Addicted?

 

I think so.

 

Thanks CSS!

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