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Recommendations After Doing Level 1 Yesterday


daesimps
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Hi guys,

 

I'm not sure which section this should go in as it contains a few different points relating to both school experiences, future training and cornering techniques. Sorry in advance if it seems long winded but there's a lot to cover.

 

I attended level 1 yesterday in the UK. I had a really enjoyable day. However, I don't feel like I improved that much by the end of the day. I put this down to a couple of things. The first is that I read TOTW2 after doing CBT before I even got my license. I have therefore tried to apply TC#1 and the quick turn since I began riding. The second is that I have a genetic medical condition which requires me to be permanently on Morphine and by mid day the pain was getting quite bad and therefore not really allowing me full attention on the drills.

 

I feel I did improve, but can't differentiate what was down to the teaching and what was down to simply becoming more familiar with that particular track. In more than one class the instructor asked if I'd already taken the class due to the answers I was giving to the questions. In after session debriefs the instructor gave me a rather basic "you were doing all the drills satisfactorily and gave me nothing for concern". On each session my instructor came past be with a thumbs up and followed me through a couple of corners and then disappeared. The only time he questioned me was when I touched the peg in one corner and that was to simply ask if I knew what had happened and also to confirm that me not chopping the throttle was the correct action. (I was on a hired Yamaha FZ8 in the UK as my joint problems mean I can't really ride a sports bike - the UK school is sponsored by Yamaha so use R6 and FZ8 bikes).

 

Please don't misunderstand - I think the course is very good and I saw a massive improvement made by some of the other level 1 students who weren't already familiar with the techniques. I think in that respect the course is definitely worthwhile, I just don't feel that it was worth the £800 it cost me in tuition, hire, leathers, fuel and hotel costs.

 

The big thing I learned yesterday was that my body simply can't take doing another course (level 2) as by mid-day I am in too much pain. I don't get this when I ride normally but that's probably because the on track exercises, standing around all day and constantly walking up and down stairs etc is far more intense than leisure riding. This is rather disappointing as I think the level 2 stuff (vision) is what I really need to make a big improvement.

 

Now my question(s). Given that it looks like CSS isn't an option for me, what do you recommend I do to try and improve my vision (corner assessment, RP selection and line)? Please bear in mind that I only ride on the street here in the UK. The main issue I have on the street is selecting a TP, Apex point and appropriate speed for the turn. I am usually over cautious and enter too slow. My riding is always described as "safe". Don't get me wrong, there's a time and a place but I do feel I could be a lot better without being over the top for the street. I've passed my IAM test, but discussing with someone yesterday confirmed my issue with this training - they emphasis chasing the VP which doesn't give you a definite point to make a positive and distinct action - in affect it sort of encourages lazy steering and just meandering through the turn.

 

I think my vision is my week point. Even doing the L1 stuff yesterday I found my self narrowing my vision and saying to myself "look up, take the wide view" which had a big impact on my riding. When I persuaded myself to look up and stopped tunnel vision I went significantly faster. It also allowed me on a number of occasions to pass guys on much faster bikes coming out of bends as they were far faster than me on the straights but holding me up in the corners and at times making me not obey TC#1 as they'd slow down mid bend and cause me to do the same.

 

I will be definitely recommending the school to people who aren't familiar with Keith's work (e.g. the wife and a few guys I work with) but don't think I'll be up to doing another day at the school. A couple of half days would probably work, but given the cost, distance and logistics it simply wouldn't be practical for me. Apart from the mix up with the hire bike, which was resolved very quickly, the school was well run and very efficient and professional. The difference in riding for some of the students was like night and day. It's a shame the temperature last week was 22 Degrees but yesterday at the school it was only 7 Degrees and very windy! How much the English weather can change in 7 days!

 

I hope some of you can help,

 

Thanks in advance,

Dae.

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Seems like you're on a very high level already, still I would go for level 2 (even if it's just out of curiosity), the higher the level the more likely it is to learn something that really makes a difference in your driving.

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It's not a question about wanting to do level 2. I certainly want to and know that this is the area where I need the most improvement. My problem is that due to medical reasons after doing L1 I know that I wouldn't be able to take another day and do L2 - it's simply too much for my body to take.

 

Dae.

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It's not a question about wanting to do level 2. I certainly want to and know that this is the area where I need the most improvement. My problem is that due to medical reasons after doing L1 I know that I wouldn't be able to take another day and do L2 - it's simply too much for my body to take.

 

Dae.

 

Hi Dae,

 

A unique and unfortunate physical situation you have. We have had riders that have problems with being in good enough condition, but most were solvable to the point they could ride. I'm going to suggest that you contact the UK branch, and see if their might be some option to do your training in smaller bites. Or, if there is something that they could assist you with that would make it possible to do more of the day.

 

Glad the result was good overall, it is for sure not ideal to have the distraction of not being able to fully devote all your attention to the task at hand.

 

Best,

Cobie

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The big thing I learned yesterday was that my body simply can't take doing another course (level 2) as by mid-day I am in too much pain. I don't get this when I ride normally but that's probably because the on track exercises, standing around all day and constantly walking up and down stairs etc is far more intense than leisure riding. This is rather disappointing as I think the level 2 stuff (vision) is what I really need to make a big improvement.

 

Now my question(s). Given that it looks like CSS isn't an option for me, what do you recommend I do to try and improve my vision (corner assessment, RP selection and line)? Please bear in mind that I only ride on the street here in the UK. The main issue I have on the street is selecting a TP, Apex point and appropriate speed for the turn. I am usually over cautious and enter too slow. My riding is always described as "safe". Don't get me wrong, there's a time and a place but I do feel I could be a lot better without being over the top for the street. I've passed my IAM test, but discussing with someone yesterday confirmed my issue with this training - they emphasis chasing the VP which doesn't give you a definite point to make a positive and distinct action - in affect it sort of encourages lazy steering and just meandering through the turn.

 

Dae,

 

I am glad you had at least a half day of fun and skill building. I know even that much is not always possible when living with chronic illness. I have been hesitant to attend the school for many of the very same issues you face. My muscle strength is unpredictable from day to day, even hour to hour. All the things that make travel and riding fun are triggers and taking the class is almost certain to cause an attack, if not during the class, then certainly the next day. But, I have learned to cope.

 

Here are my suggestions:

 


  •  
  • See if you can take Level 2 at a location without stairs. This will save a lot of wear and tear on your joints, preserve your stamina and keep your pain level n check.
  • Bring a lightweight folding camp chair or stool. That way, any time you are hanging out, you can be sitting down.
  • Skip some of the social fun and go lay down during lunch. I know the social stuuf is half the fun and sometimes the key to understanding as the other riders reflect bak their experiences, but if it is too much, it is too much. (Personally, I hate this aspect of living with chronic illness, but there it is.)
  • Ride the exercises at 80%. Your body, inluding your eyes, will be more relaxed, helping you maintain your energy later into the day. You may also learn more if your attention isn't split between riding, doing the exercises, maybe learning a new bike, and trying not to drag your pegs too much and risk a fall. I bet a fall would hurt you more than the rest of the immotals in the class. :-)

 

As an alternative to CSS, I recommend hiring a private tutor or riding coach. Maybe some of the others can comment on this possibility. I know several schools and track day organizers can arrange this sort of thing. Pay for a half day of private coaching. You spring for lunch and everybody goes home happy. Good luck to you. Keep riding and keep your eyes UP!

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Thanks all for the suggestions.

 

I've put thought into trying to break a day down into multiple parts, but the sheer logistics of time and money mean this isn't really feasible.

 

I think at this stage I'm trying to figure out how I can develop my vision skills on my own, a bit at a time, when I go out riding. At least this way I'm not tied to a schedule and am in control of everything. Even committing to a future date is difficult as I don't know how I am going to be the next day, let alone 2 months in the future. However, if I wake up and am having a good day it would be nice to be able to go out and work on my vision skills on my own terms using some drills/exercises.

 

 

Crash: It's very difficult to explain how I'm affected, but I can tell that although the stairs contributed they aren't the fundamental issue. There's really no way to keep my pain in check - even on Morphine I'm constantly running at a 5-6 out of 10 with peaks above making it worse. I did the course Thursday and even today, Saturday, I am still in an elevated level of pain. I was riding at 80% throughout the day and trying to take it easy. In fact I limited myself to no brakes or gears for the whole day even whilst everyone else went mental once they got the use of all controls back. The peg only touched down once and I made certain it never happened again. Lunch was certainly spent trying to relax.

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I've just realised that my posts could have come across as being quite negative about the experience. I just want to make it clear that this is absolutely not the case.

 

I explained my issues to the instructors and they were very helpful. They were constantly checking to see if there was any way in which they could help me.

 

One of the symptoms of my condition is that my joints are extremely loose and unstable. As a consequence my body, at a microscopic level, is always tense in order to try and stabilise itself. These leads to 2 issues. The first is that I get tired quite quickly as even when I am still and "relaxed" my body is constantly working. As I described to my instructor you can see this when I am stood still - I almost always have a slight "swaying" and clenching/relaxing of my butt while my body tries to stabilise itself. I can't really ever stand completely still. The second issue is with things like find throttle control or if talking about non-motorcycle related activities things like writing. When I am using the throttle/writing a letter my elbow and shoulder tenses up to stabilise the rest of my arm. This can make fine control quite difficult - as an experiment try to write a paragraph or so with your elbow and shoulder tensed up. This is compounded by my affected proprioception (your body's awareness of where all its parts are in space). Basically your body knows where all its parts are by the length of your ligaments/tendons but mine are all too elasticated and as such my body can't quite work out where everything is. An example is if you were to reach out to pick something up from beside you on a table or reach out to put something on a shelf - I can only do this if I look at my hand otherwise I miss the object/shelf. Relating this to motorcycles it makes things like trying to fine tune body position quite difficult as something as simple as "move your foot back 1/2 an inch" means I would have to look at my foot to do it and thus take attention away from the road.

 

In the real world where I am riding for pleasure I have overcome most of my problems. This is mainly due to the fact that I ride in a rather sedate manner and only when I know I am up to it. Since I only ride (slowly!) on the streets I'm not concerned with things like BP and as such it never really causes me an issue except for having to take regular pitstops to stop myself becoming over tired.

 

My plan is to try and work out, from reading TOTW2 again, some exercises that I can do when I'm out riding for pleasure that will help with my vision and selection of RP/Apex/TP.

 

Thanks again for listening to me witter on. The main reason for the post was to help determine stuff I can do on my own on a weekend rather than you listen to me complain about my medical history, it's just easier if you understand why attending school isn't a viable/easy option as I know attending school is the answer to most people's problems.

 

Money permitting my wife will be doing L1 later this year so I will be down at Silverstone with her and take it as an opportunity to further discuss with the school what my options are. I tried a couple of times when I was doing L1 but as any of you who've done the course will know it's quite a tight schedule with not a lot of time left for long discussions.

 

Dae.

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Hi Dae,

 

Thanks for that clarification. You could hear from the UK guys, I had mentioned this to them, and for sure a good idea if you get there with your wife to look over the program, see if there is a way to make it workable.

 

Even if you can't do the school (usually the best environment to train, even our top racers like it), some kind of track time can be quite valuable. Just having a controlled road, with no distractions/liabilities, can be very beneficial.

 

Best,

Cobie

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Dae,

 

Here is visual games I like to play when I'm riding my bike. I call this game "The Open Road." It is a time and vision game.

 

As you are riding, look well ahead of the bike and find the vanishing point--the place where the road vanishes, or disappears, from site. The road might curve and disappear, or vanish over a hill. Note some marker--a shadow, a sign, a tree--that you see at that point. Then, count how many seconds it takes you to travel from where you saw the vanishing point, to your arrival at that point. You keep score by time.

 

You do NOT want to stare fixedly at the vanishing point you marked, or gaze mindlessly at the ever changing vanishing point as it moves in front of your bike. You DO want to keep checking the point you've marked, keep watching for traffic, and keep checking the new vanishing point as it shifts and changes in front of you. The game is to see how "far"--in seconds--you can see ahead of you. I tried this yesterday when I was out for a ride with my wife. The longest sighting distance I found was 59 seconds. More than once, I've seen problems so far ahead of me that I've applied my brakes and moved the bike before the car in front of me has even noticed the problem developing right in front of them.

 

If you decide to try "The Open Road Game," please report back with what you learned.

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Dae, feel free to drop me an email to spidey@superbikeschool.co.uk and we'll certainly see how we can accomodate you for a possible Level 2.

 

I was, unfortunately, given very limited information about your condition before the School and was told you'd fill us in on the morning of the School which made me assume that there was nothing insurmountable about your condition. However, our aim is to give everyone the best experience possible at the School so if we can make a thorough plan for your Level 2, we can approach it fully armed ;-)

 

All the best, Spidey

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Dae, feel free to drop me an email to spidey@superbikeschool.co.uk and we'll certainly see how we can accomodate you for a possible Level 2.

 

I was, unfortunately, given very limited information about your condition before the School and was told you'd fill us in on the morning of the School which made me assume that there was nothing insurmountable about your condition. However, our aim is to give everyone the best experience possible at the School so if we can make a thorough plan for your Level 2, we can approach it fully armed ;-)

 

All the best, Spidey

 

I'll drop you a line about it. I mentioned it to Glen who said "we know about you, speak to Chris". When I mentioned it to Chris she said the only opportunity I would have would be to grab my instructor in the pits but things got a bit confusing as I'd hired the FZ8 but they'd put me on an R6 which I can't ride due to ergonomics. By the time we'd sorted that out it was a bit too late to discuss it at length with anyone. I tried my best to let Mike (my coach) know, but it was a bit of an in the pits chat through helmets so hardly ideal. He was very understanding, but the main issue was just the amount of stress it put on my body and the fact that by mid afternoon my Morphine was wearing off and the pain was becoming forefront in my mind.

 

I'm not really sure that there's anything that you guys could have done to help. Without knowing in advance how hard work it was, which you can only know by doing it, there wasn't really any options available.

 

At least I now know how intense it is and can have a think about what I can do to make it better. It's going to be a while before I can afford level 2 so there's no real rush to sort it out. I think the only real option would be to do level 2 over 2 half days to give me time to recover between sessions.

 

Thanks for the info anyway,

Dae.

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