I've updated my Resources page for you to include recommended intermediate/advanced training courses for street and offroad riding.
These include schools that offer highly attentive, full on training (not just open track days) on and off the racetrack, on the dirt or in the woods.
I'm trying to make this list valuable for anyone riding on the street or the dirt. So you get the idea.
So after you've taken your Basic Motorcycle Safety Class which teaches you the *very* basic skills to get started, these classes are for after you've maybe ridden 2-3,000 miles on your own and now it's time for more training.
Or, you've ridden for 5-10-15-20 years and you're looking to refresh your riding skills. Because you know that we tend to get a little complacent with our riding as we get older ;) If you don't retrain every so often (~3-5 years) you may find yourself falling into bad habits or losing some of your mojo. I recently did a track day and it was absolutely amazing for my street riding skills.
Track days mean a lot of things to a lot of people, so I hope you will read my blog post about the class I took, and how it affected me on the street. As well as my list which includes really great classes to help you with street riding, NOT necessarily competition level racing.
In July we signed up for our first track day with California Superbike School.
We had such a great time the first time around, we squeezed in another one before the riding season starts to freeze us out. I learned so much from them the first time, I knew going back for a second round at Level 2 would be well worth it.
As you can see, there is no knee dragging! Ha. I'm too scared to drop my knee down at this point. But it had nothing to do with that. It all had to do with riding smoother, more consistently and with better focus. For me, it was all about figuring out how to ride more effectively so I could go exactly where I needed to without going too wide, or missing the next corner. But I think as I start to get closer to the edge of my tires that I'll need to start shifting my weight over. And I hope that with more practice next Spring I'll get there.
When we went to our first day in July, we decided to get more track specific tires that we could still use on the street. We went with Michelin Power RS's and they performed quite well. No tire warmers necessary! But who am I kidding? I'm not going that fast and my bike isn't a track only bike. So I opted for something that could be ridden on the street too, just with a lower tread life than say the Pilot Power 3s. They were ridiculously sticky and it showed.
One thing I was able to add for this track day was a track helmet! I borrowed the Bell Race Star, their carbon fiber track helmet (just below the Pro Star). Well conveniently borrowed from work of course. I really enjoyed this helmet on the track. I didn't have the chance to wear it on the street but I have a feeling I would enjoy it there as well. :) Check out my review here.
But by the time my next track day rolls around (likely Spring, ~April) I'm going to have to start improving my body position where my butt is concerned. I struggled with trying to lean more while having my hands much higher than a traditional track bike like the rider behind me. But I feel like I learned so much more about how to manage all the excess real estate of the race track. The corners can be so spread out, figuring out how to focus where you need to without missing the corners can be daunting.
I feel like they gave me the tools and techniques I would need to ride that track again more consistently and smoothly. But that translates to the street as well, since focusing on where you need to be while keeping track of everything around you is extremely to difficult to juggle especially with all the excess distractions. Riding on the track seems so much easier at this point.
I'm excited to go to the track and practice what I've learned so far before heading back again for Levels 3 and possibly 4. (They have 4 levels of instruction).
If you've never done a track day ever, I highly recommend doing one with CSS as your first. You'll learn more than you ever knew possible and it'll be one of the best track day experiences you've ever had.
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.
I'm excited to tell you that I've signed up for a trackday with California Superbike School.
I've read and heard great things about the school, the training and the experience from friends and the interwebs. The school was founded in 1976 by pavement god Keith Code, it was the first to offer one on one track instruction. He's written several books including the famous "Twist of the Wrist, Volumes 1 and 2".
I've had a couple track days and I've had 2-3 interactions with track coaches to give me advice about my riding. However, I'm really hoping that I'll get more consistent feedback from a coach who can watch me throughout the day to see how I'm doing from start to finish. It's an all day class, starting promptly at 7am and presumably finishing up in the afternoon. They even provide lunch and drinks/snacks.
"You will improve. You are a far better rider than you’ve ever let yourself hope to be. We have a system that works." -superbikeschool.com
I'm not here to race, I'm certainly not here to ride better than everyone else. I want to simply ride better than Myself. Improving our riding skills is always something that we're responsible for as individual riders. One on one instruction and attention is difficult to get a regular track day, so I wanted more. I'm not necessarily looking for someone to stand next to me the entire day (which would also be cool) but having input every time I get out on the track sounds like a great way to improve my skills.
There are some misconceptions about track days, that they're only there to teach you how to race your motorcycle. False. California Superbike School is one of the many exceptions to this rule. If you have a high performance machine, you owe it to yourself to learn how to ride safer and simply become a more capable rider.
Because I've never ridden with them before, I start at Level 1.
"Level I addresses the six most common errors riders, from novice to world-class racers, make and why. " -superbikeschool.com
YES! I love this.
For $475, I signed up for a 1 day course on July 31st at New Jersey Motorsports Park. I will be riding my own bike, so the cost is a bit lower than renting their BMWs. I can't wait to take Goldie to the track again with Keith Code and friends. Hopefully he's there so I can get a selfie!