Notice: This is long, sorry
For a few years I've read about the advantages of getting onto the track but never managed to have a bike that was appropriate until recently. With all that reading, it seemed obvious that the right place to start was with one of the premier schools so I chose California Superbike School
. Encouragement from a friend who's a long-time track rider and corner worker for CSS suggested Mid-Ohio since he expected to be there. So I took the Level 1 training on 8/6, along with a co-worker who's been to NESBA's trial track day
Now I understand why its called an addiction. Why people say its the most fun you can have with your clothes on
While those seemed like cheap, surface statements I accept them as a fact now. Even today I was riding in and Turn 7 (my nemesis) entered my mind and drew a huge grin
So, here's a brief about CSS's way of doing things. Food is provided, water (and coffee) is provided, salt and potassium pills are provided, discounted Dunlop Qualifiers are available, and lunch is provided. Keith and Dylan (his son) Code
deliver your classroom material pretty concisely with examples from on and off the track. You take that lesson, then, out to a session where that is the main point of focus. Your coach follows you and has you follow him/her, allowing you to clearly see and apply the classroom concept.
Last, you come in from your session and your coach quizzes you on how it went with the lesson and why. Your coach will also add to your next session (
) some areas where you can work on control, speed, or whatever in the next session (along with your focused classroom lesson). I had James Toohey who was good at asking questions that drew out whether I knew what the hell was going on or not and challenged some of my statements or experiences. My co-worker had the same coach enabling us to hear the coach's one-on-one with them and leverage the feedback there as well.
As for the track itself, my favorite curves were the ones I found to be the most difficult. At the start of the day, turn 12 (the decreasing radius) was it simply because I couldn't figure out the right throttle position to get through it quick yet be setup for turn 13
By session 5 (yes, there were 5 lessons in all for Level 1) I had shifted to concentrating on Turns 6, 7, and 8, which should flow well from one to the other. The cause for the focus change was an incredibly lucky moment when I had entered 7 (a rise onto a hill while cutting pretty sharp left) too hot and had two choices: slow it down, stand it up and drive off or push it over further and give it more gas to get more clearance. I did that latter, which was wrong
and I got lucky enough not to high side, though I felt the rear slipping as I ground the left peg on my bike down. Toohey gave me a few strong words about that after the session and said I was lucky he didn't pull me from the session for a quick verbal correction. For another session and a half I sweated those turns but took them easy and by session 5 was enjoying them immensely
After returning, I mailed the friend who'd been many times to Mid-Ohio and he indicated what he didn't like about the track: it doesn't flow well. He's right, too. I believe he referred to it as a series of bus stops, which seemed to fit with my overall view, even despite having no comparison. I hope to hit Putnam and Blackhawk next year for comparison.
Now as I ride on the street, I'm amazed how simple everything really has become. Focusing on turns at high speed vastly altered my perspective about public street turn difficulty.
It was amazing, I can't get it out of my head, and I want to do it every day.
One last note on the day. In the first session, about 5th lap, a guy on a 500 Ninja crashed in turn 7 (we believe) and was carted off in an ambulance for observation. The bike was driven back to the pits but the time delay put us off the track that night at about 6p. Thanks to CSS for still giving us our track time