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Things I Learned At Superbike School


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Some of these things will be random, and others I'll try to organize better, if I can.

 

I. Speed results from precision

 

It took a while to sink in during my training, but speed really isn't a problem. It's all individual, but in my case I think speed shouldn't even be the goal. I should aim for maximum precision in my riding, and the increase in speed will come as the natural result of riding well. As I improve my body position, my entries, apexes and exits, my view and of course my throttle control, the increase in speed will come almost as an afterthought.

 

During my most recent training at Thunderbolt, at some point I allowed myself to not worry about going fast – in fact, I slowed down to the proverbial 75% of my ability, and tried to ignore the fact that everyone seemed to be passing me. My goal was performing the drills well. My riding continued to improve, even though my speed was lower than before. Then during the last couple of sessions I let myself loose, and no one was passing me – except for my coach. The lap times showed half a minute improvement.

 

II. Clutchless downshifting is the easiest

The important thing I learned about downshifting without the clutch is that the throttle blip should be really tiny, a micro-blip. The stronger is the engine, the smaller should be the blip. Also, there are two ways to downshift without the clutch: I can downshift during the initial split second of the throttle blip, or immediately after. That's how it works on my ancient Kawasaki. School's BMW's make it even easier, it seems that I can really shift down almost anytime at all, even if I neglected the blip. Back home after training, I also practiced it a bit on a 2005 Honda CBR 1000rr – not as easy as on BMW, but not a problem whatsoever with a micro-blip.

 

III. The Pick-Up improves speed –

– as well as other important things: the line through the corner (making the turn less sharp and a lot more like a straight line), the motorcycle stability, and safety. It also somehow helps with the 3-step (I found the two techniques closely interconnected). With the Pick-Up out of the corner, I was able to get on the throttle earlier and roll it on harder, while feeling more in control of a motorcycle. What I learned about the Pick-Up technique is that should be a powerful, "epic" move, in which smooth but decisive throttle roll-on coincides with straightening up the bike. The Pick-Up shouldn't be too abrupt.

 

Also, it IS possible to overdo the Pick–Up, as I discovered by riding about a dozen yards alongside the curbing – on the other side of it.

 

 

To be continued...

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it IS possible to overdo the Pick–Up, as I discovered by riding about a dozen yards alongside the curbing – on the other side of it.

Vorontzov;

The pick up drill is used to get the bike more verticle more quickly so you can drive out harder - if I understand it myself correctly. It would be after the apex of the corner so how you ended up on the other side of the curbing is puzzling. Can you explain this a little bit more?

Also if you were at NJMP, which turn did this happen in?

Mika

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Yup, if the pickup is done too early in the corner, it can make you run wide.

 

Congrats on all your excellent observations, I totally agree with you on the clutchless downshifts - some bikes are easier than others but once you get it, it's much quicker than using the clutch. Wow, a half minute improvement!! Well done.

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Hi Mika,

 

I'm by no means an expert, but I think your understanding of the Pick-Up technique is correct. In my case, the Pick-Up also happened to be an excellent fix for my tendency to not use the whole width of the track in a corner, but rather to aim through the middle of the track at the exit. Simply by applying the Pick-Up, I was able to end my turns near curbing at the exit.

 

But as it is with anything else in life, there could be too much of a good thing even with the Pick-Up. So, by pushing a little too far on the outside grip, I made the bike actually briefly go past the vertical and lean in the opposite direction, while I was still hanging off on the other side. By the time I got the bike and my body centered, I was bobbing happily right next to the curbing, on the other side. Not that it was much of a problem; I actually kinda enjoyed the experience.

 

I think my brief riding on the other side of curbing happened at turn five at Thunderbolt – but please keep in mind that my turn count can be different from yours, because Thunderbolt offers a few possible configurations (with or without chicanes, with first chicane but without the second, and vice versa). The turn numbering would depend on the specific configuration.

 

This topic actually reminded me of another little recent discovery that I had:

 

IV. Riding on the curbing can be fun.

 

Not that I advocate that as a legitimate line selection, but I experimented with it a bit during a few riding sessions. Being too close to curbing used to bother be somewhat, and affected my ability to reach the selected apex – so I forced myself to take a few rides on the curbing, just to put my mind at ease. The traction is not as good on the curbing, but I'm no longer afraid to ride right on it, if I ever have to.

 

 

To be continued...

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Hotfoot, thank you very much for pointing out the important reason for a possible pickup error. I'm making a note to check if that's what I tend to do, the next time I ride.

 

And obviously, at this point of my training half a minute improvements are still nothing miraculous – now, if I had made a half a minute improvement having started at your speed, that would have been a different story. biggrin.gif

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IV. Riding on the curbing can be fun.

Please mind you, that

can also lead to pain (you're hurt) and/or tears (the bike is hurt!).

 

On my 2003 R1, clutchless downshifts can only be done at low RPM (<3500) if I want it to be smooth. So there it's not the "fast way around". YMMV.

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khp, I think you're absolutely right. Thank you for saying this.

 

One thing I'd like to add to what you're saying is that in my opinion there's no such thing as "motorcycle safety", but rather "motorcycle risk management" – if we aim to improve our riding, we should develop our ability to appreciate the risks and manage them. In my case, in order to improve my ability to recognize and manage the risks involved in riding a motorcycle on a track I had to make friends with curbing. Obviously, I would never insist that others should do the same, but it did help me.

 

I also want to point out (to prevent a possible misinterpretation in case a beginning street rider whose native language is not English ever stumbles upon this discussion) that by "curbing" I do not mean the curbs on the streets (also spelled sometimes as "kerbs"), the barriers that separate the street from the sidewalk – when I talk about the curbing, I'm implying those striped things on a racetrack, marking the turn entries, apexes and exits.

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khp, I think you're absolutely right. Thank you for saying this.

 

One thing I'd like to add to what you're saying is that in my opinion there's no such thing as "motorcycle safety", but rather "motorcycle risk management" – if we aim to improve our riding, we should develop our ability to appreciate the risks and manage them. In my case, in order to improve my ability to recognize and manage the risks involved in riding a motorcycle on a track I had to make friends with curbing. Obviously, I would never insist that others should do the same, but it did help me.

 

I also want to point out (to prevent a possible misinterpretation in case a beginning street rider whose native language is not English ever stumbles upon this discussion) that by "curbing" I do not mean the curbs on the streets (also spelled sometimes as "kerbs"), the barriers that separate the street from the sidewalk – when I talk about the curbing, I'm implying those striped things on a racetrack, marking the turn entries, apexes and exits.

Parts in Bright fluorescent colors usually make you much more visible; imho thats the hardware safety in respect to visual safety... A FF helmet in bright colors helps too imho.

 

 

As for risk management, I'd say its the "software" part , and the TOTW helps alot.

 

Its good to know and use properly both tools imho ^^

 

 

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Funny you should mention that, ktk_ace, because your remark has reminded me yet another discovery I've made as a result of my Superbike School training:

 

V. Relaxation improves observation

 

It should have been obvious, because simple common sense can tell you that an overly tense rider can't properly use his attention to see things – but I learned the connection between the "Relax" drill and the visual skills on a highway, while riding back home after the bootcamp at NJMP. The color of my bike can be described as "scraped black", and I have leathers and helmet to match. Not the brightest colors. The sun was quickly setting, and to make matters worse, the road was enveloped in really thick fog. There was plenty of traffic. Oh, and I should probably mention that the headlight wasn't working on my bike (fuse problem). Normally, all these things should have been enough for me to check into a motel and wait till morning, but I was only a hundred miles away from home and really wanted to be back. So I rode on. It started to drizzle. I kept going.

 

I'm pretty sure I wasn't particularly visible, so I had to rely on my own ability to see things, and I should tell you that the conditions I described did not add up to the most pleasant street riding experience. I felt my body tensing up, and not only I started feeling every bump on the road, but also I noticed that the road got rather slippery – not enough to cause damage, but enough to make me even more preoccupied. I was also getting worried about being stopped by New Jersey cops, who are famous for being tough on motorcyclists (especially on those who ride in the dark, rain and fog without the headlight).

 

Then I remembered that there's a technique I can use to improve the situation, and I made myself relax. Things went a lot better after that. Everything improved – my control of the bike, my mood, and most importantly, my ability to observe the road and the traffic, even despite the fog. I actually began to enjoy the challenging ride – and got back home safely.

 

What made me remember to relax was an interesting thing that happened during my practice at Thunderbolt. (Well, it was interesting to me, probably because it didn't happen to me. If something like that happened to me, I probably wouldn't have called it "interesting".) One of my favorite CSS coaches caught a bolt in a rear tire, while doing about 70 mph in a turn. The tire exploded, and yet he managed to prevent the crash. I asked him how did the bike feel after the blow-out – "real squiggly", he said – and what did you do to keep it under control? – he was drinking orange juice at this moment, so instead of explaining his bike-saving techniques verbally, he simply did the "chicken" – the nonverbal sign the coaches use to remind students that they should practice the "Relax" drill. I was impressed.

 

 

To be continued...

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V. Relaxation improves observation

 

What made me remember to relax was an interesting thing that happened during my practice at Thunderbolt. (Well, it was interesting to me, probably because it didn't happen to me. If something like that happened to me, I probably wouldn't have called it "interesting".) One of my favorite CSS coaches caught a bolt in a rear tire, while doing about 70 mph in a turn. The tire exploded, and yet he managed to prevent the crash. I asked him how did the bike feel after the blow-out – "real squiggly", he said – and what did you do to keep it under control? – he was drinking orange juice at this moment, so instead of explaining his bike-saving techniques verbally, he simply did the "chicken" – the nonverbal sign the coaches use to remind students that they should practice the "Relax" drill. I was impressed.

 

 

To be continued...

 

Vorontzov;

 

I was working in the garage when that happened; I know I was impressed when I heard that he rode it out as well. You've got a good thread going here - generating a lot of reaction and an excellent way to affirm your training at the School. Keep it going and as a further affirmation, anytime we get "Hottie" weighing in on a topic we know we've got a good thing going.

 

 

 

Rainman

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Some of these things will be random, and others I'll try to organize better, if I can....

 

Welcome to the forum Vorontzov! Thanks for the thoughtful thread.

 

Please mind you, that

can also lead to pain (you're hurt) and/or tears (the bike is hurt!).

 

Ouch Kai. I got up on the curbing at VIR in turn 6 (where you straighen out the Snake) while it was raining a few weeks ago. Fortunately it was just some "extra" slippage as the bike was not at any significant lean but it was enough to drive home the fact that those things can be troublesome....

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My next discovery cost me almost two days of practice.

 

VI. Go easy on "hanging off"

 

The "road racing" body position doesn't come natural to me. I'm so used to being far on a high side of a motorcycle with my foot off the inside peg, that hanging off on the low side still feels wrong, especially in the right turn. (I'm not an ambi-turner.) So, as with anything else that is new and requires some effort, I tend to overdo things.

 

As I was practicing on my own, before coming to school at Thunderbolt, I forced myself to get farther and farther out of the saddle on the low side of the motorcycle – until I was all the way off, perched sideways on the plastics right next to the engine, resembling one of those creatures from "Lord of the Rings" that come crawling down walls in the first movie. I thought that was the right position, because being in it I could drag non only my knee, but actually even my butt... and that's before leaning the bike. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but only a little.

 

Imagine my surprise when I learned that the proper body position requires only a slight shift of the butt relative to the saddle. That meant that the whole thing was a lot easier than I thought, to begin with, but by that time I was so accustomed to being all the way on the side that it took me forever to re-learn. I think I got it right after a couple of days, but I still fight the urge to slip out of the saddle.

 

What I found interesting is that my coach was able to recognize the problem with my "lock-on" by observing my inside leg bobbing up and down in the turn (I want to remember that indicator of the wrong body position).

 

My observations about what I now see as the proper body position:

 

a) It starts with the ball of the outside foot pushing against the foot peg (not the heel and not the toes), with the heel coming up. My left heel ends up on the side of the swing-arm, and my right heel, on the muffler.

 

b ) The push on the foot peg forces my outside knee against the curve of the tank.

 

c) My butt is practically all the way to the back of the saddle (that could be different for a different rider).

 

d) My butt should slide very slightly (subjectively, about 1 - 2 inches) out of the saddle in the direction of the intended turn.

 

e) The body follows, leaning in the direction of the intended turn in the way that allows me to rest my outside arm on the tank, and relax it completely.

 

f) The inside knee opens into the turn simultaneously with the counter-steering input on the handlebar. (There's a certain weight and certain tension on the inside foot and leg, but not as much as on the outside.) No throttle input until the bike is settled in the lean.

 

 

(Obviously, these things are also combined with the proper head turn into the corner, because human eyes can only turn about 15 degrees in either direction, and I need to see through the turn. Then there's throttle roll-on that should be done no earlier than the lean angle has been established, as I mentioned, followed by the Pick-Up after the apex - and a couple of other interesting and useful things that can be done. All of those things are related to the body position, and tend to improve with the improved body position).

 

The reason why I see my corrected body position as proper is because I'm actually able to move in the saddle without tensing up on the handlebars or making small inadvertent steering inputs. Whenever I did that, the bike gave me the immediate feedback by wobbling rather violently, especially in quick series of turns. Once I had it more or less sorted out thanks to my coach's help, the wobbling stopped.

 

To be continued....

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Mr. Kane (Rainman), thank you for your kind words. I remember you from NJ school as someone who is busy handling school's motorcycles non-stop, it's a pleasure and honor for me to be greeted by you online.

 

warregl, thank you for the warm welcome!

 

I'm pretty sure that the stuff I want to jot down in this thread is nothing new to most of the members of this Forum, but these things are new to me, and I find them personally useful and important. I just want to make notes of all those things that keep popping up in my mind even a couple of weeks since my bootcamp, hoping that more skillful and experienced riders comment to what I write and share their insight.

 

Here's one commandment that I remembered just now:

 

VII. Thou shall not race –

 

– unless thou art learning how to race, or actually taking part in a proper racing event, that is. I wasn't, and yet I was always tempted to rely on faster riders to motivate me improve my speed. Very little good came out of it.

 

Some of the most memorable moments to learn from:

 

– early on the first day I picked up quite a bit of speed on the longest straightaway to pass all the guys that passed me all through the previous lap – and ended up having tunnel-vision as tight as a laser beam, goggling at the turn one entry while trying to talk myself into letting go of the front brake lever.

 

– somewhat later I thought it was a good idea to try and keep up with my coach after he was done with me and sped up to find the other (faster) student. How very wrong I was.

 

– as I just mentioned, the guy I shared my coach with was quite a bit faster than me, which caused a great deal of distress to my ego. At one point during the day two, after he passed me (again!) I rolled on some gas and followed him along a straightaway... and then I nearly followed him into the bushes, where he went in the very next turn. A lesson to remember: I can actually target-fixate not just on something I see as a problem or a hazard, but also on a faster rider, whom, I guess, my mind perceives as the "prey".

 

– sometime in the afternoon of day two I saw Dylan on some kind of exotic bike passing me casually on the way out of a chicane. (I think he was whistling a tune.) By that time I was already quite conscious that I shouldn't try to catch up to faster people, but what I wasn't conscious of was the combination of my low blood sugar (impaired judgement) and high curiosity. I wanted to take a closer look at the bike, and simply forgot to slow down before the next turn, which I'm sure added a few gray hairs to my head.

 

 

I'm making fun of my mistakes here, but I really shouldn't think of these things too lightly, because every time I raced someone, I was pretty close to crashing. My coach had quite a conversation with me about that, and it was definitely the best thing he did for me in the course of the entire bootcamp. Speaking seriously, it all boils down to my observation # 1: speed comes as a direct result of skillful riding. Any moron can rev up the engine, and a couple of seconds later already be praying to supernatural forces to get him out of trouble. Being in control of the machine and, more importantly, in control of myself, is what I should aim for.

 

To be continued...

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– as I just mentioned, the guy I shared my coach with was quite a bit faster than me, which caused a great deal of distress to my ego. At one point during the day two, after he passed me (again!) I rolled on some gas and followed him along a straightaway... and then I nearly followed him into the bushes, where he went in the very next turn. A lesson to remember: I can actually target-fixate not just on something I see as a problem or a hazard, but also on a faster rider, whom, I guess, my mind perceives as the "prey".

 

This is such a true statement - DAMHIK! It is very humbling to know that no matter how fast we all become, we still get passed by someone faster. Certainly a truism for almost all new track riding students. Also, I target fixed like you described and came oh so close to following a student right off T9 - the long Carousel at the far end of the track. Also like you described below, it was later in the day when it is easier to lose concentration but fortunately the School's training is so ingrained that I was able to recover but it was a great wake up call to stay focused.

 

 

– sometime in the afternoon of day two I saw Dylan on some kind of exotic bike passing me casually on the way out of a chicane. (I think he was whistling a tune.) By that time I was already quite conscious that I shouldn't try to catch up to faster people, but what I wasn't conscious of was the combination of my low blood sugar (impaired judgement) and high curiosity. I wanted to take a closer look at the bike, and simply forgot to slow down before the next turn, which I'm sure added a few gray hairs to my head.

 

Dylan went out on two exotics - a totally tricked out new Ducati Panigale and a Metrakit 250. The Panigale sounded totally unique; almost like a WWII P47 Thunderbolt. If you could keep up with him then you did REALLY good at the School that day!

 

 

Speaking seriously, it all boils down to my observation # 1: speed comes as a direct result of skillful riding. Any moron can rev up the engine, and a couple of seconds later already be praying to supernatural forces to get him out of trouble. Being in control of the machine and, more importantly, in control of myself, is what I should aim for.

 

To be continued...

 

 

 

Thank You for your kind words as well - but also for your extending your experience over a series of well thought out observations. Somewhere Hotfoot will jump in, I can just feel it.

 

 

Rain

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Funny you should mention that, ktk_ace, because your remark has reminded me yet another discovery I've made as a result of my Superbike School training:

 

V. Relaxation improves observation

 

It should have been obvious, because simple common sense can tell you that an overly tense rider can't properly use his attention to see things – but I learned the connection between the "Relax" drill and the visual skills on a highway, while riding back home after the bootcamp at NJMP. The color of my bike can be described as "scraped black", and I have leathers and helmet to match. Not the brightest colors. The sun was quickly setting, and to make matters worse, the road was enveloped in really thick fog. There was plenty of traffic. Oh, and I should probably mention that the headlight wasn't working on my bike (fuse problem). Normally, all these things should have been enough for me to check into a motel and wait till morning, but I was only a hundred miles away from home and really wanted to be back. So I rode on. It started to drizzle. I kept going.

 

I'm pretty sure I wasn't particularly visible, so I had to rely on my own ability to see things, and I should tell you that the conditions I described did not add up to the most pleasant street riding experience. I felt my body tensing up, and not only I started feeling every bump on the road, but also I noticed that the road got rather slippery – not enough to cause damage, but enough to make me even more preoccupied. I was also getting worried about being stopped by New Jersey cops, who are famous for being tough on motorcyclists (especially on those who ride in the dark, rain and fog without the headlight).

 

Then I remembered that there's a technique I can use to improve the situation, and I made myself relax. Things went a lot better after that. Everything improved – my control of the bike, my mood, and most importantly, my ability to observe the road and the traffic, even despite the fog. I actually began to enjoy the challenging ride – and got back home safely.

 

What made me remember to relax was an interesting thing that happened during my practice at Thunderbolt. (Well, it was interesting to me, probably because it didn't happen to me. If something like that happened to me, I probably wouldn't have called it "interesting".) One of my favorite CSS coaches caught a bolt in a rear tire, while doing about 70 mph in a turn. The tire exploded, and yet he managed to prevent the crash. I asked him how did the bike feel after the blow-out – "real squiggly", he said – and what did you do to keep it under control? – he was drinking orange juice at this moment, so instead of explaining his bike-saving techniques verbally, he simply did the "chicken" – the nonverbal sign the coaches use to remind students that they should practice the "Relax" drill. I was impressed.

 

 

To be continued...

 

Hi Vorontzov, how do you relax? as in the method? I find myself unable to do that sometimes and a drill might help lots in my area :P

 

 

Also , I personally offload quite abit of my $10 of attention to my hardware part (bright parts and reflective tape in lots of areas) helping me concentate more on areas other than observation too :D

 

 

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OK, OK, I'll jump in. :)

 

I'm at Barber in the midst of schools, working on an iPhone so I wont try to include any quotes! I laughed aloud at the descriptions of trying to follow faster riders. It's happened to me, too, of course, most memorably at Fontana. A guy ahead of me was going into Turn 1 faster than I had ever gone, and I thought -well, if he can do it, I can do it! But he didn't make it, he went straight off into a runoff area! Suddenly I had to decide whether to follow him off or turn. I made the turn (barely) but I definitely learned a lesson, you have to ride your own ride!

 

We see it at the school, of course - a rider gets passed and then gets a little red mist going - but as everyone here seems to have learned, it can certainly fire up all sorts of SRs to suddenly find yourself entering a turn at Mach 10!

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OK, OK, I'll jump in. :)

 

I'm at Barber in the midst of schools, working on an iPhone so I wont try to include any quotes! I laughed aloud at the descriptions of trying to follow faster riders. It's happened to me, too, of course, most memorably at Fontana. A guy ahead of me was going into Turn 1 faster than I had ever gone, and I thought -well, if he can do it, I can do it! But he didn't make it, he went straight off into a runoff area! Suddenly I had to decide whether to follow him off or turn. I made the turn (barely) but I definitely learned a lesson, you have to ride your own ride!

Fortunately, I've never tried this before myself - but Hotfoot, your description really many me laugh!

 

Kai

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Wow, while I was away, so many responses have appeared in the thread. I forgot that the members of this forum tend to be fast. I should try to catch up.

 

smile.gif

 

Rainman, what you said about it being easier to lose concentration later in the day, reminded me about something I learned from my conversation with a fellow Superbike School student who, shortly before we had a conversation, crashed one of the school's Beemers:

 

VIII. Bad things happen after lunch break

During lunch, people relax, and by the end of the ride their mind may not be fully engaged in riding yet.

 

When there's food in the stomach, some of the blood flows away from the brain toward the stomach, making the person slightly – or very – drowsy.

 

More importantly, most or all of the bikes are not being ridden for about an hour, and the tires quickly cool down.

 

The student I had a conversation with went out after lunch and pushed the bike the more or less the way he did before lunch. His tires were cold, and his front wheel just washed out.

 

Note to self: go easy a first couple of laps after the lunch break.

 

 

Another useful discovery, related to the one above:

 

XIX. Weaving (zigzagging) doesn't really warm up the tires

That one was important, because until I came to Superbike School, I believed that the heat in the tires comes from traction. As I learned, traction does NOT add any significant heat to the tires; the flexing of the rubber does. So the only way to warm up the tires is to actually go out and do a couple of full laps, but go easy at first.

 

 

And one more.

 

XX. Think it through

After I checked into the Quality Inn and Suites in Jersey, I noticed a curious sticker on one of the walls. It was a black and white, artistically made photograph of a slender young man, or rather, a teenager, who looked like a cross between the Abercrombie and Fitch types and Harry Potter, astride a motorcycle with an old-fashioned helmet in his hands. The inscription underneath the photo said, "Think it through".

 

Somehow, the sticker made me stop and muse for a few seconds.

 

Later, during one of the classroom sessions, I noticed an identical sticker on a copy of one of the school's books.

 

It's been almost two weeks after my practice with Superbike School at Thunderbolt, and yet I keep going through various memorable moments from there, and trying to understand what they all mean. So I guess, the message from the sticker got to me somehow: I'm still thinking it through.

 

I'm pretty sure that thinking through whatever I learned is one of the best ways to improve my riding. So when I write these random things that come to my mind, I actually have an ulterior motive. By jotting all this down I'm actually working on going faster, being safer and more in control. Sure hope it works.

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Hi Vorontzov, how do you relax? as in the method? I find myself unable to do that sometimes and a drill might help lots in my area :P

 

 

Also , I personally offload quite abit of my $10 of attention to my hardware part (bright parts and reflective tape in lots of areas) helping me concentate more on areas other than observation too :D

 

 

 

 

 

ktk_ace, I think we should remember the difference between street riding and track riding. Bright colors and reflective parts can indeed help in street riding (to a degree) but I suspect they they may be relatively less useful on the track (especially reflective tape). I mostly post stuff about track riding in this thread, but if we talk about street riding briefly, I think it may be wise to not rely too much on your visibility – or audibility (loud pipes). I knew a guy who had a bike painted poisonous green with illumination all over it, and the pipes beyond legal, and yet he still managed to get sideswiped by an old lady in a sedan. (He was wearing a t-shirt and shorts during the event.) Other motorists on the road may "see no Evel, hear no Evel", no matter how flashy your bike or leathers are – if their own $10 of attention is all spent (on their cell phone conversation, for example). I would recommend to rely more on your observation and riding skills, then on theirs.

 

As for relaxing when riding, I'm sure there are people on this forum better qualified to talk about that than I am – for example, the coaches. It would be great to read their thoughts on the topic. I usually do my best to relax my hands on the handlebars (holding the grips with loose, relaxed fingers, and using the handlebars for steering, rather than for holding on to the bike) – and I also try to relax and drop my elbows – because locked elbows wouldn't let me steer the bike.

 

I remember Keith mentioning that the best way to relax is to be 90% relaxed, 10% tense, because the 10% of tension guarantee the best response time – but he also usually adds "if you can find exactly 10%".

 

Relaxing, by the way, is important not only because it frees your attention, but also because the tense rider serves as a medium that transfers every bump on the road surface through the entire motorcycle, which can undermine the balance, and also mess with the rider's sense of speed.

 

A tense rider also tends to be too rough on controls, which leads to choppy ride. Which reminds me about another useful thing I learned:

 

XXI. Braking starts with your feet and legs

 

I caught myself a few times approaching the corner entry a little too fast, and having to brake too hard to feel entirely comfortable. Because of my own body weight transfer forward during braking, I actually realized on a couple of memorable occasions that I couldn't let go of the front brake lever. It felt like Catch-22: the harder I brake, the harder I brake, the harder I brake, and so on. I asked one of the coaches about that, and he explained to me that braking begins with the proper foot position on the pegs, and the proper legs position against the tank. If I support myself firmly in the saddle with my legs, I won't be grabbing the brake uncontrollably, unable to release it.

 

This advice definitely improved the situation.

 

I think relaxing upper body, especially arms and hands, can be best achieved by holding on to the bike mostly with your legs, which means that your legs will be tense. It's a bit of a paradox, but it seems to work best. That also coincides with what my coach told me – a rider should work out, paying particular attention to developing strength of the leg and core muscles.

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This one is a minor thing, but I was pretty happy when I figured it out:

 

XXII. In a quick series of turns, the exit of each previous turn is the entry of the next one.

I may find a better approach sometime in the future, but a Three-Step done like that seems to improve speed, and feels very safe.

 

 

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It was a black and white, artistically made photograph of a slender young man, or rather, a teenager, who looked like a cross between the Abercrombie and Fitch types and Harry Potter, astride a motorcycle with an old-fashioned helmet in his hands

 

It wasn't this guy was it ?

 

 

ack.jpg

 

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Bingo, T-McKeen, that's the photo I saw. There's something special about that kid, am I right? I don't know, maybe it's just me, but he strikes me as someone who may become important to a lot of people.

 

smile.gif

 

 

Anyway, here's another lesson I remembered just now:

 

XXIII. Your place at start-finish matters

 

– If you want to have maximum time during your session, be the first there (just be ready next to the motorcycle and make sure when the group is called, all you have to do is let out the clutch).

 

– If you're moderate-to-slow, and want people not to pass you for a while, be first at start-finish

 

– If you're slow, and want people not to pass you for a lap, be first at start-finish

 

– If you're fast, and want to be alone on the track, be the first at the start-finish.

 

– If you're fast, and want to practice passing people, be the last there –

 

 

– and so on. You can figure out the practice strategy and select your place at start-finish accordingly.

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This one is a minor thing, but I was pretty happy when I figured it out:

 

XXII. In a quick series of turns, the exit of each previous turn is the entry of the next one.

I may find a better approach sometime in the future, but a Three-Step done like that seems to improve speed, and feels very safe.

I suspect you won't find a better approach (but you never know), since this method is how CSS teaches to handle a quick series of turns.

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I suspect you won't find a better approach (but you never know), since this method is how CSS teaches to handle a quick series of turns.

 

Great minds think alike! My coach simply didn't have time to work on this with me, because he was too busy handling several more immediate challenges in my riding - but I'm glad I got it right, it means I and CSS are "in sync".

 

Here's another thing I figured out during the traning, and even though it may seem like a platitude, I'm still working out its implications:

 

XXIV. To pass a rider taking a perfect line through a turn, I have to be able to ride faster along an imperfect line

(I don't have anything to add to that.)

 

 

And here's what I actually learned from one of the coaches:

 

XXV. Delayed entry (secret line # 1):

 

Entering the turn "past the X" can allow faster exit.

 

Obviously, it's just one of the possible options, but an interesting one.

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More:

 

XXVI. Break a long turn in two halves (secret line # 2)

 

A long, 180+ degrees turn can be interpreted as two turns: a shallow curve, followed by a quick flick at the second entry, and a second shallow curve. You may stand the bike up and slow down a bit before the second entry, but accelerate harder throght the second line.

 

That approach is not necessarily better than simply smoothly going through the long turn, but it's different, and "different" is what's needed for passing people.

 

The two parts of the turn don't have to be equal - their choice may depend on the unique riding situation.

 

 

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