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My 2-day Camp Experience In Detail


JeF4y
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http://www.cbr600rr.com/pages/reviews/code.htm

 

Here's the text of it:

 

Riding with Gods - My 2 day California Superbike School experience.

 

I've been riding in one shape or another for 25+ years now, and have been racing for 5 years. About 7 years ago, I got real serious about sport riding, and in seeking more knowledge, I picked up a copy of Keith Code's "A Twist of the Wrist II" (henceforth referred to as TOTWII) (review - purchase). This book completely changed the way I rode and looked at things, and in my humble opinion, is one of the BEST things that a new rider can add to his bike. Well before a new exhaust, jet kit, power commander, etc, buy this book and read it. To date I've probably read it 50 times, but I digress.

 

One of my sponsors (Terry Embury - Hi-Side Racing) is a retired CSS instructor, and has talked to me many times about going through the school. Earlier this year, I talked to Keith about doing the one day class, and after some discussion, I took his recommendation on the 2 day course.

 

The class was held at Blackhawk Farms in Rockton, IL. This is my "home track" which I've put on better than 10,000 laps over the last few years. I could probably run the track in my sleep. My personal best lap time there was a 1:15.2, and I really should be in the low 1:13 range. Consistently, I run high 15's, low 16's.

 

Going into the class, I kept an open mind. I wanted to understand what I was doing wrong and what barriers were preventing me from going faster, and riding more comfortably. I had a number of goals about increasing corner speeds and dropping lap times as well.

 

Tuesday 6/1 - I got my bike about 90% back together from a pretty nasty crash on 5/28 which kept me from racing on the 5/29-30 weekend. I made it to the track around 10 pm and finished off the bike, retiring around 11pm.

 

Wednesday 6/2 Day 1 - Registration at 7:00, immediately followed by a nice hot breakfast provided by Mrs. Judy Code in the CSS hospitality trailer. I have to pause to recognize what a class-act the food presentation was for the entire weekend. Everything was laid out in a gourmet style. Nothing was 'thrown together', it was all laid neatly on fresh leaves of lettuce, or other baskets, etc. The selection of food was also more than what would ever be expected at a race track.

 

On both days, the format was the same. Short classroom discussion which broke down and explained one single aspect of cornering. From there, we were sent out onto the track to work on just that. For the two days, you were assigned a bike, and each day you were assigned a specific instructor. The instructor was responsible for two students only, and was with you more than enough time. Leading and following was the mode of instruction. Each drill had hand instructions associated with it which the instructors used to communicate with the students.

 

The name of the game is exactly as advertised. Cornering. Stress was placed continually on nothing but cornering. Each day, the rides were started out running the track in 4th gear with no brakes. This is such a cool drill which takes some getting used to, but after some work, you realize that your corner speed gets incredibly fast, and you get really comfortable in the corners. It's neat because your corner speed is really high, but you don't have a million things to concentrate on since you're not flying into the corner on the brakes coming down from Mach-1. Most of the drills are performed in 1 or 2 gears with little or no brakes. This is extremely effective since you are able to concentrate on the corner, and nothing else is distracting you.

 

Day 1 was level 1 stuff which perfected:

 

Throttle Control

Turn Points

Quick Turning

Rider Input

Two-Step turning

There was also an off-track drill in steering which proved points learned in the class and on the track.

 

During the day, we discussed/broke down 1 single point in the class room, got the drill and went out for it. 5 objectives (one each), 5 track sessions, and at the end of the day were 2 open sessions. Through it all, the instructors were right there to nail you on everything you did wrong, and praise you for getting it right.

 

I ran each day starting out on Keith's ZX-6, and ran through most of the drills on his bike until after I rode the camera bike, then I switched to my own bike. I was far more comfortable on my bike, due to not wanting to pitch his bike away, but since the drills concentrated on technique not speed anyway, his bikes were perfect.

 

Early on in day 1, the CSS staff found a good number of problems which were killing my cornering ability, and gave me real-world solutions to fix them. Riding correctly, I felt more comfortable and smooth than ever, and riding was far LESS WORK than it had previously been! I once again felt that whole Man/Bike relationship again which I've been longing to feel.

 

On day 1, I never did run a super HOT lap (speed wise), but was told by a cornerworker that they had me running 14's (which I'm not sure if I really believe since most of the time I was running without brakes).

 

Thursday 6/3 Day 2 - On day 2, we were now level 2, and ran through the same format of classroom/track/free sessions at the end of the day. Level 2 concentrates specifically on perfecting visual skills. The simple fact is that you can only ride as good as your visual skills allow. Your eyes are programmed to look for danger, and will always find it and affect how the rest of your mind/body react. This will put up an artificial barrier until you train your eyes and mind different. Drills of the day were:

 

Reference Points

Changing Lines

Vanishing Points

Wide View

Pickup

The first 4 of the drills are exclusively visual, and the final drill of "pickup" works on more of the bike aspect, introducing you to level 3 stuff.

 

On this second day, the playing field changed. It was announced that we would run the track backwards! 10,000 laps on this track couldn't possibly prepare me for running it backwards, and I really got an opportunity to work on level 1 stuff as well as integrating all of the new visual drills/skills in mastering the "new" track. Blackhawk backwards is awesome, except there are a couple of areas with NO run-off. That being the case, there was no room for error, just ride and do what you learned.

 

By the end of the day, I was running my bike on the track, riding it in the backwards direction, and running 1:25's using brakes for only 1 turn. This is quite acceptable in my opinion since the "unofficial" track record backwards is a 1:18.5.

 

Each day, we had the opportunity to ride the camera bike which was very interesting. It gave you the opportunity to put everything into action that you learned, and then be critiqued on it. Each video session was immediately reviewed with an instructor who pointed out areas you were performing good on, and those that you needed improvement. It was interesting to see the result of failing to execute a task correctly (i.e., failing to quick turn throws off a line REALLY bad). You were then given a task card which you took back to your instructor to work on. The thing that sucked about the camera bike is that the camera doesn't lie :-) It shows your faults, period!

 

So, what did the California Superbike School do for me? To name a few things:

 

Increased confidence in the bike and myself

Much more in-depth knowledge of what the bike requires of me

Perfect throttle control

Identified and corrected several key errors I was making that were holding me back

Cleared up confusion and debunked myths over braking and body positioning

What did I like about the school:

 

Complete focus and attention of Keith Code and a personal dedicated instructor each day

The simple means of breaking processes down to understandable and workable elements

The drills were perfect, and really served to provide a lesson and experience with what was being taught

Being able to go as fast or slow as I wanted. This was interesting since the instructors didn't care, but DID force people to do the drills regardless of how fast they were going.

Video bike & review really helped to point out repeated problems

All of the instructors knew the drills and how they were to be executed perfectly. They all led by example through the sessions.

Completely professional and perfect presentation of everything from Classroom to Bikes to Meals.

 

What would I change about the school:

 

It would have been nice to run the whole school on my own bike, but in discussion, Keith does have valid reasons for wanting students on his bikes during the drills.

More time. You'd think that 2 days would be enough to learn 10 procedures. But afterwards you find yourself just wanting MORE AND MORE, and wanting more time to work on the stuff. The time provided was ample, but like a perfect date, you just don't want it to end. I could spend weeks with Keith & his crew.

Audio communication would be a cool addition

 

Wrap-up:

In the end, I guess the proof will be in the pudding when I start turning lap times comfortably lower than 1:15.2 at Blackhawk. That time won't be until mid-July, but in the meanwhile, I will get to put the stuff to use within 1.5 weeks of the school when I go to Grattan Raceway which is a completely new track to me. I can't wait.

 

I can honestly say these 2 days were WELL worth my time and money. I feel I got a LOT out of this time, and don't believe that there was anything lacking. The format is tried and true, and it works. The CSS team really lived up to their stellar reputation. I look forward to going back to level III-IV and the CodeRACE schools.

 

It's cool that I can recommend this school to both the brand new rider as well as the veteran racer, and know that BOTH WILL LEARN from it! It's funny how it all leads back to the basics. Master them and you will master riding. Is it worth the money? Well, when you begin making friends with corners and fly through them with ease, comfort and FUN versus going through them just hoping you will stay upright, the class value shows itself.

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JeF4y-

 

I've followed your posts through this site. And those along with all the other information here pushed me over the threshold... I'm signed up for the two day in late July, Mid Ohio!

 

Now reading your review, after having committed and then having a few doubts, has me totally excited.

 

I've been riding for thirty nine years on street bikes, never a super bike or on a track, and the SAME bike since 1978, a BMW R100S. I realize that with well over 100,000 miles that I'm an intermediate rider at best. I'm hoping to really improve. And could there be - maybe up there in the not too distant future - a sport bike and track days in my life?

 

Grounded

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I did the one day school just this past Saturday and I'd have to agree with JeF4y. My experience was just the same. I wish I had the money to do level 2 the next day but I plan on trying to arrange something soon.

 

Take it easy, guys!

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So a real quick follow-up to the class.

 

My first race weekend after the class was at Grattan in Belding, MI. Grattan is a roller-coaster track which almost all of the corners are blind, decreasing/increasing radius, and are ALL on the crest or the bottom of a hill. The place is nuts. But in a fun sort of way.

 

Anyhow, the track surface was far less than ideal in my opinion, so I was disappointed in it. I was running 1:30.01's (repeatedly!) which the locals said was quite good for a 1st timer at the track.

 

I was only beat by the locals, so I don't feel too bad.

 

Here's the link to my whole race report:

http://www.cbr600rr.com/pages/061204.htm

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