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Levels 1 & 2 As Streets Sept 19 & 20


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Just got back from doing levels 1 and 2 at Streets of Willow. Had a GREAT time, my on-track coaches Stony "Stonewall" Landers (day 1) and Kristi "Hot Laps" Martel (day 2) were fantastic! With such a limited amount of time (only 2 days, hahaha) and splitting it between the track, classroom and my coaches I only wish I could absorb more information faster!

 

My favorite drills were the quick turn and rider input drills on day 1 and the 3 step and wide vision drills on day 2... the wide vision drill in particular was so simple and amazing to me.

 

Anyways, I can't wait to get out to a track day and do some drills (or maybe just driving around in my '94 Accord, LOL), and hopefully do levels 3 and 4 in the very near future.

 

If any other riders on the forum were there let's hear about it (Sof, I KNOW you were there... I'm just surprised I beat you to this post!).

 

Also, you have pics or video let's see that too!

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Hey Lyle,

 

Yes, you beat me to it. I was too busy passed out nursing aching muscles I never knew I had! Actually, I feel pretty good after some rest, but it was such a blast, I didn't even notice how much it took out of me on the track, but it certainly was worth every penny and effort doing so. I just wish I could go back again tomorrow so I could keep practicing all the things I learned. I can't think about anything else today except how awesome it was out there on the weekend. Pretty tough do any sort of work now :)

 

There is certainly so much to take in, and for me personally, some of the skills that were completely obvious in the classroom are exceptionally difficult to master. As you know, I did Levels 3 and 4 on the weekend and I must admit that before doing level 4, I thought level 3 was the best (and that's what I thought of level 2 also)! Lonnie was my level 3 coach and he did a great job. We identified I had a problem with my right hand turns, so I kept that in mind for later. Learning the proper method of locking into the right position on the bike is so important to learn. Pete did a great job helping with the initial hang off position and hook turn although I would have liked to have practiced it on my own bike earlier since I don't have a right heal guard which I identified later as contributing to my right hand turn problem. However, the key to my weekend was our very talented instructor Kristi, who was able to pin point the start of my errors, and worked on a highly personalized plan/path of rider improvement that really worked for me. Each drill built on the previous exercise in a sensible order allowing me to practice the earlier drill(s) with the new one and perfect the corner. I was able to draw from all the other levels and focus on strengthening the areas where I was having difficulty. I really had a great time, more so than I can express.

 

By the final session, I was having so much fun and I felt so confident, but it was a little worrying for my instructor since I still have some bad habits to break and she could see how close I was to the edge. However, considering that my bad habits made it very difficult to get through a corner, but I somehow still made it, doing the right thing in the turn really made it super easy for me. It is crazy how that works, but it is true! I need to undo my survival instinct because those are what are getting me into trouble!

 

Another highlight of the weekend was turning the lean bike into the SLIDE bike! After several failed attempts at sliding the sucker, I managed to finally get the rear loose and skip across the skidpan. It was one of the most satisfying feelings to actually make the bike slide instead of suddenly being surprised when it happened. Lonnie was very patient considering it took me a long time to do it, and he was very complimentary after. Hats off to Lonnie for doing a great job.

 

You were right though about the pick up drill, I almost forgot about the name of it. Coming out of the bowl is a perfect place to do it, where you pick the bike up and accelerate but continue hanging off the bike. The hook turn is one of my favorites which is why I got confused on that one; sorry.

 

Next time I need to remember to put sunscreen on my neck, that little part that is still exposed between your helmet and leathers. It is stinging like crazy today! I did get some video which I'll try to make available somewhere. You can see all the mistakes I make, but its pretty cool to clearly see what they are, rather than guessing. Anyway, I'd better get to some work.

 

Before I go, I wanted to thank all the Superbike School staff and riders/students for making my weekend a very special one. I look forward to seeing you at the next school day. I'm hoping to do level 4 again at Laguna Seca. Take care all.

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Thanks for the post, guys. The more I read the more excited I get. Especially after how well I did on my last trackday on the 20th, I get really confident that I'm doing well, but I know I'm making some big errors, and there's a lot I don't know. I can't wait to get it sorted.

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Hey Sof, great post! Only one question, I'm not sure what the "hook turn" is... I know had started to explain on Sunday but I didn't catch it all. Maybe you or another user or instructor could fill me in?

I can't wait to do level 3, maybe I can go to Laguna for 4 when you go if the finances permit!

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Thanks for the post, guys. The more I read the more excited I get. Especially after how well I did on my last trackday on the 20th, I get really confident that I'm doing well, but I know I'm making some big errors, and there's a lot I don't know. I can't wait to get it sorted.

 

It was a pleasure Jason. The one big thing I noticed was not just knowing I was making errors, but knowing exactly what those errors where (thanks to the great coaching), seeing how the specific errors were negatively affecting my riding, correcting them and then experiencing the difference. It was such an amazing thing. If I hadn't learned I was hanging onto the bars in TERROR, then I probably would have thought to relax! But having someone make me aware that I was doing exactly that gets me to try and break the bad habit. Simply wonderful.

 

Hey Sof, great post! Only one question, I'm not sure what the "hook turn" is... I know had started to explain on Sunday but I didn't catch it all. Maybe you or another user or instructor could fill me in?

I can't wait to do level 3, maybe I can go to Laguna for 4 when you go if the finances permit!

 

Thanks Lyle. An instructor will probably explain it better and I may not get all the details perfect, but here goes: While in a turn, by bending your inner elbow into a v shape, also lowering and moving your head slightly forward (shifting your body weight more to the front of the bike), you effectively shorten the wheelbase of the motorcycle by compressing the front suspension very slightly. A vehicle with a shorter wheelbase will follow a tighter arc than another that is longer, like a mini cooper compared to a limo. The technique effectively tightens up your line without you having to make any steering adjustments at the bars or changing the throttle. Be careful though, because you can only use this trick once in a turn. Once the wheelbase is shortened as much as you can with your weight, you can't make it any shorter hence turn any tighter! Fingers crossed with Laguna for sure :)

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That sounds awesome, thanks Sof. The "hook turn" just makes me want to do all the other levels that much more.

Hahaha, I know exactly what you mean about hanging onto the bars, that is why the "rider input" drill on level 1 helped me SO much.

"Rider input" and "quick turn" were the two things that helped me the most in terms of correctly using the mechanical controls of the motorcycle, and then when I got to level 2, I was truly floored at how important the visual skills are and how much the "3 step" and "wide vision" drills helped.

The other aspect of my riding that I started addressing with Kristi was my body position. I can't wait until I have my body position down, I'm not death gripping the bars and I'm quick turning and rolling on the throttle in spite of my SR's... then I can really focus on visual skills, LOL, that's a lot but at least I can identify it and continue to improve.

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Man. The stuff you learn on here. Does a couple inches shortened wheelbase make that much of a difference? Could you tell right away, or is that something you're going to have to work on?

 

Well I haven't done that level so one of the coaches could probably give you a better answer but in my experience with the geometry of motorcycles and bicycle the answer is YES, a few inches would make a big difference. I wonder if in addition to what Sof mentioned about the wheelbase, the steepening of the steering angle might contribute to a quicker turn? A difference of even an inch in wheelbase will make a difference in feel though.

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That sounds awesome, thanks Sof. The "hook turn" just makes me want to do all the other levels that much more.

Hahaha, I know exactly what you mean about hanging onto the bars, that is why the "rider input" drill on level 1 helped me SO much.

"Rider input" and "quick turn" were the two things that helped me the most in terms of correctly using the mechanical controls of the motorcycle, and then when I got to level 2, I was truly floored at how important the visual skills are and how much the "3 step" and "wide vision" drills helped.

The other aspect of my riding that I started addressing with Kristi was my body position. I can't wait until I have my body position down, I'm not death gripping the bars and I'm quick turning and rolling on the throttle in spite of my SR's... then I can really focus on visual skills, LOL, that's a lot but at least I can identify it and continue to improve.

 

Anytime man. It's a pleasure. I really need to practice the earlier drills that you mentioned because I think I was still getting used to being at the track again and giving more attention to the new place instead of my drills. In addition, I hadn't ridden properly in a while which doesn't help. I can't wait to do some practice runs with you in the near future. Even if we go to the track and help each other with video and a notebook. I'd like to play with my suspension settings too. It will be cool to ride in the same group when you do level 3 and work together.

 

 

Man. The stuff you learn on here. Does a couple inches shortened wheelbase make that much of a difference? Could you tell right away, or is that something you're going to have to work on?

 

I sure as hell noticed and it was really awesome. I just have to remember and get used to doing it instead of leaning more. I was using it in turn 3 at the Streets where it's desirable to tighten up the line at the second apex in the turn. Really nice technique, my favorite right now.

 

 

Well I haven't done that level so one of the coaches could probably give you a better answer but in my experience with the geometry of motorcycles and bicycle the answer is YES, a few inches would make a big difference. I wonder if in addition to what Sof mentioned about the wheelbase, the steepening of the steering angle might contribute to a quicker turn? A difference of even an inch in wheelbase will make a difference in feel though.

 

I recall Pete talking about the rake and trail and mentioning that the steeper angle of the forks on a sportbike compared to that of a cruiser allows for quicker turning at the expense of some stability, so if the fork angle gets steeper as a result of the hook turn, the bike a little less stable, but also have a shorter wheelbase and it will turn quicker and tighter. I'm no instructor and please somebody please correct me if I'm wrong. Cheers :)

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I'm really curious to have an instructor chime in on the steering angle idea... I'm about 50/50 on it, really I was just thinking out loud. I'm 100% on taking the next level though so maybe I'll find out then!

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I'm really curious to have an instructor chime in on the steering angle idea... I'm about 50/50 on it, really I was just thinking out loud. I'm 100% on taking the next level though so maybe I'll find out then!

 

There is a whole class on this in Level 3, I'm not going to be able to duplicate that here, but! there is also some info on this in Twist 2, Chapter 13, starting page 50.

 

What one's body does can effect the weight bias, and the steering, w/out doing anything with the bars, pretty cool in fact!

 

CF

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