Last month I was fortunate enough to attend my first Track Day with California Superbike School (CSS).
OMG. OMG. OMG. SO AMAZING.
That just about sums up my experience with them. This was my 4th trackday ever, and I enjoyed my experience so much that I'm about to do my 5th in another week with CSS yet again. I've never done two track days in one year, let alone two track days in 4 weeks! Yikes!
But I learned so much, and really had such an incredible experience that I was willing to spend another $475 to do another 1 day class again with them so soon.
I had very different experiences with each school I've attended and up until now I honestly didn't know that a track day could be this good! Whenever I talk to people about going to do a class like this I find that many of them have misconceptions about what a track day is, and isn't. Even the name sounds intimidating "TRACK DAY". Racetrack. Speed. Racing. Isn't that what everyone thinks of when they think of a track?
Firstly, I want to note that doing a Track Day means you *already* know how to ride your motorcycle aka have proficiency in operating your vehicle in a capacity beyond the parking lot and your introductory MSF Course. Ideally, I would say that you should have some experience riding at highway speeds and some comfort riding in the twisties. This school along with almost all the others are not there to show you how to ride your motorcycle. You should already know how to do that. What you might not know, is how to ride it better :D.
Second of all, it's important to note that track days vary by the organization you choose to sign up with. My experience with the organizations I chose as far as what I learned and what I walked away with varied tremendously each time. And with CSS they also took care of us all day including:
- breakfast snacks and coffee
- hydration station all day with unlimited water
- assigned coaches
- mechanic on site in case of emergency repairs
I would say that CSS offered another level of service you won't find at a traditional track day. Typically, it's up to you to feed and hydrate yourself. Coaches are usually floating with a larger student to coach ratio (more like 1:6) and they're not always required to follow you and give you feedback.
Looking at each 'school' gives you a slight idea of what they are trying to accomplish with you as a rider, and a student. Every school is different, as far as how much teaching and coaching they provide, and the level of oversight they give as you ride throughout the day. The biggest difference between a program like CSS and traditional track days is instruction. You simply get a lot of it.
We opted for a 1 Day Course on our Triumphs. My goal was to learn how to ride it better and get to know it a little better on the track. When I rode on the same track 2 years ago I felt like I didn't leave feeling that much more confident about my skills. This time I felt completely different.
Something I noticed in my group (Novice, Level 1) was the varying degrees of experience that each rider had. There were people there who'd never ridden a track, people who raced competitively and people who were somewhere in between like myself. The coaching ratios were extremely low as well, which is MUCH lower than traditional track days. 3:1! For every 3 students, there was 1 coach who would follow you *every* time you went out on a session. And you would follow your coach once every session. Feedback was always given every time, before proceeding onto the classroom. And classrooms weren't optional. You had to attend, or no go for the next session.
What I also loved in every class was a specific lesson for that session. We discussed strategies that we needed to implement so we could apply that skill to the next session. Then we'd do that all over again for the following session. Every time I went out I had a goal in mind and I did my best to achieve it.
I'm not going to tell you what those are, so you'll just have to register for a class to find out!
I wasn't going nearly as fast as some of the more experienced riders in my group, but I did have fun passing a few people :-D. My goal wasn't to pass as many people, or to ride as fast as everyone else. My goal was to learn, learn and learn and hopefully pick up a little extra speed, consistency and confidence at the same time. I would say that all of those goals were achieved and exceeded.
Focusing on improving specific skills for each session helped me greatly focus in on where my weaknesses and strengths were. Having a coach provide constant feedback was also helpful, so I could ask questions and get immediate answers.
One goal that I achieved which I was really excited to understand was my body position as it related to my elbows. My Triumph has handlebars, so as a result my hands are much higher than a racebike would.
I could never tell if I they were in the right position or not. It just doesn't feel as natural as an aggressive racebike would with lower bars. The weird feeling of my arms way up in the sky is normal!
I feel like Goldie and I rode away feeling a little closer to each other. I trusted her, as well as her new Michelin Power RS Tires and she performed better than I expected.
They warmed up quickly, and I certainly didn't need tire warmers (I never have).
After 1-2 laps around the track, they were ready to go. After we mounted the tires at Moto Guild we headed straight to the track the day before our class. So I didn't even have time to wear them in on the street!
They were awesome, I highly recommend them as an aggressive street tire with a much softer compound than say, the Diablo Corsas which come with the bike.
THANK YOU California Superbike School for teaching this old dog a few new tricks.
See you in 5 days!
Visit www.superbikeschool.com for more details about classes and schedules.