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Level 4 Silverstone Stowe 23.04.11 Report


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Well what an interesting day!

 

Night before I was up til midnight trying to squeeze my newly trackified bike into a ridiculously small van. Managed it and then up at 0430 the drive to school.

 

Arrived there and instantly felt at home. Bit of banter with the girls at registration and then caught up with bullet at kit check. Always nice to relax and feel 'at home'.

 

The pre-track coach briefing for level 4 allowed me to explain to killswitch (the liaison officer), where i wanted to improve. I thought I needed to work on my quick turn and Reference points (RP's) but as it turned out I was only 50% right!

 

First session was a bit of a knightmare. My bike wouldn't start - some of my modifications had messed with the electrics. The CSS mechanics sorted me out within 15 minutes and I managed 3 laps on my first session. 3 laps was enough for my coach (JET) to notice I wasn't looking into the turn early enough. I was waiting until about 1 foot from turning. Then looking and trying to find an RP and hit it. Not a good approach. In my mind I had linked 'looking' and 'doing. So The next time out I looked earlier, saw my RP and then turned. Super stuff. Big improvement straight away, I had more time to get things in place.

 

Next improvement point identified was the amount of turn. At some point I had decided that every turn required me to quick turn the bike to max lean. This caused me to apex way too early. I had deliberately picked RP's that were late apex, but could not hit them. The reason was I was trying to quick turn to full lean every single time. This showed up the most on the hairpin. I tried turning less and, bang' I hit the apex! Big improvement again.

 

This was all brilliant and my confidence sky rocketed. Trouble was this flush of confidence caused an old habit to creep back in. I do like to roll the gas on after turning. Perhaps not a problem if it's smooth and gradual, but I went a bit beyond gradual. Not much, But when you are leant all the way over and not picking the bike up....it doesn't take much......so I low sided on the rear. bah!

 

So this was my low point and I fully expected for my day to end here. What happened next surprised me. The circuit staff didn't make me feel stupid - it was just one of those things 'over enthusiasm on road tyres' was the phrase. I was checked out by the paramedics, all fine. the CSS mechanics made some repairs to my bike nose cone and I was OK'd to get back out there. Colour me gob-smacked and very happy!

 

I chatted over the crash with JET and it was agreed that whilst I probably did get a bit throttle happy for the situation, it wasn't the end of the world and the 'pick up drill' would be a good way of reducing chances of a recurrence. So that was my next area to work on.

 

It was a little nerve racking going back out after a crash, but after a few laps I was fine. I was very aware of getting on the throttle after turning, but hey, I clearly needed to learn a lesson here, So again I made some improvement on picking the bike up before getting too ambitious.

 

Last session and a lot of points came together. Killswitch helped me identify an apex RP on my 'crash corner'. This made a lot of difference. I had paid the least attention to this corner throughout the whole day. I just went round it. Perhaps no surprise that I crashed here then. So when I found an apex point it was like a whole new experience. I had something to focus on and this made my turn in purposeful, reduced my time at full lean and helped with my pick up. Wow. what an improvement.

 

So in summary I learnt a lot. I regressed, hit the floor, picked myself back up and learnt some more. What a day, My new focus in life is RP's. Whatever ciruit I go to from now, i will tootle around with the novice group until I find my RP's!

 

Final point. Massive, massive thanks to the mechanics on the day. Without them, I would have had a very short experience - top blokes!

 

Cheers slobdog

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Well what an interesting day!

Hey Slobdog;

Following Steve, you did a great write up as well with your School experience but with a bit more adventure I might add. ;)

 

You have a good attitude about what happened and why - allowing you to bounce back quickly and complete your day and your training. Many times it seems there is more to be learned from adversity and going past limitations of grip is a great teacher so it's all good isn't it?

 

Rain

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Many times it seems there is more to be learned from adversity and going past limitations of grip is a great teacher so it's all good isn't it?

 

 

Very true. Probably not the most cost efficient way of learning, but it has certainly sunk in now! I will be sure to make my roll on very gentle until pick up....and picking RP's that limit time spent at that lean .

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Slobdog,

 

It sounds like you had a real adventure. I am sorry you crashed, but glad you learned something and didn't get hurt too badly. Have you bean able to apply any of these lessons to your street riding?

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Great write up slobdog. Glad to hear you got the bike in that little van, we don't generally see them that small here in the US (insert joke about big American here - it's ok I can take it :P). I'm sorry to hear you hit the ground but it really seems like you used it as a learning experience and were able to make it a positive. I also had an RP epiphany at my last CSS and hope to continue it next month at 3 & 4. Congrats on a very productive day.

 

 

I also find it very telling that when we read write ups of rider's experiences with CSS they all sound very similar, regardless of where the classes take place (ie US, UK, Austrailia, even India). As someone who works with mulitinational offices, I can say that is not an easy thing to accomplish. Just another observation of a very successful business model. I wish they sold stock.:D

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Slobdog,

 

It sounds like you had a real adventure. I am sorry you crashed, but glad you learned something and didn't get hurt too badly. Have you bean able to apply any of these lessons to your street riding?

 

Hey Crash, I have actually quit street riding - for the time being any way. I would say the one lesson I would apply to my street riding would be the amount of turn. I have seen how precarious full lean can be and would not want to be finely balancing throttle control in a limit run off environment.

 

Oh and I'm absolutely fine, thanks for checking. After the repairs made by the CSS mechanics, the bike is good for the next track session too - I'm not worried about a bit of duct tape and zip ties. It adds to that authentic track bike look!

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Great write up slobdog. Glad to hear you got the bike in that little van, we don't generally see them that small here in the US (insert joke about big American here - it's ok I can take it :P). I'm sorry to hear you hit the ground but it really seems like you used it as a learning experience and were able to make it a positive. I also had an RP epiphany at my last CSS and hope to continue it next month at 3 & 4. Congrats on a very productive day.

 

 

I also find it very telling that when we read write ups of rider's experiences with CSS they all sound very similar, regardless of where the classes take place (ie US, UK, Austrailia, even India). As someone who works with mulitinational offices, I can say that is not an easy thing to accomplish. Just another observation of a very successful business model. I wish they sold stock.:D

 

I would love a big american pick up :)

 

CSS is uncanny - crossing international borders with the minimum of sweat!

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