This past weekend I took an opportunity to try out SportbikeTrackTime (STT)
at the Autobahn road course, North Circuit, in Joliet, IL. My objective has been to find an organization that fits my learning style and it was compared directly to my previous experiences with California Superbike School
STT requires, as did NESBA, a membership fee before being allowed to sign up for any events. The membership fee includes some goodies like a t-shirt and a discount coupon for new tires (at a trackside event). There are other benefits like free lunch, bananas, and Gatorade at the track events as well; see STT's site for all member bene's.
We arrived on site, parked, unloaded, and tooled over to sign up with our bikes. The location was not well marked, as I've noted no track schools seem to do for whatever reason. But the process was reasonably smooth with signing of the waiver taking ~5mins. NESBA's more convenient here in that you get the paperwork in advance and simply turn it in and head to the tech inspection. After signup, the tech inspection was in effectively the same location and it was far easier than NESBA's. They checked lever operation, tires, taping, maybe a couple of other things, but no gear check. NESBA had a pretty strenuous inspection including suspension check, full gear check.
The rider's meeting clarified how the Beginner's (Novice?) group was different than the rest. Advanced basically had a track day, with the option to ask for some follow-and-feedback from the rider coaches (RCs), but otherwise had their free 20-min slot to do with as they pleased. Intermediates had a pretty similar freedom but with more emphasis on 6' separation during passing. There are coolant requirements for both these groups, I believe; Engine Ice, water, and Water Wetter were allowed.
The Beginner's group was run similar to how CSS was run, with a classroom session before each track time. The focus was only on one or two things at a time. As I've noted before, this approach is more friendly by far to those new to the track, and thus the reason I recommend STT over NESBA for track newbs. The difference between CSS and STT, in hindsight, was more substantial than I expected. Each RC had 5-6 bikes to track and for the first four sessions (out of 8) in the day, they lead the group with NO passing allowed. It wasn't until the afternoon that the RCs did some following and gave rider-specific feedback for each member in their group. CSS did follow-feedback in roughly the third session and the RCs had 3-4 bikes each, so there was quite a bit of feedback. That said, the cost difference between the two and from a value standpoint, STT was better for it.
The lessons differed from those coming out of CSS, with the first session riding the track in three distinct lines (all outside, all middle of the track, all inside). Some overlap certainly existed, like throttle control, but emphasis was markedly different for the rest. As it turns out, this worked really well for me because STT's last lesson was on body positioning, which I hadn't messed with at all to date. In my opinion, this is not as relevant as turn entry, throttle control, looking through the turns, quick turns, and others presented by CSS in their Level 1 training. But that's just an opinion.
The rest of the day I spent working on body position, mainly. After the second session a muscle on each leg just above and to the inside of center of my kneecap was killing me. I trooped into the 7th session despite the pain, figuring I'd just get off if riding didn't feel right. Ironically, it felt really comfortable and I didn't let up on the legs. By day's end, my legs were incredibly soar but I had had my most comfortable time on the track yet!
After session 5, my RC stopped by to basically say, "I know you think you are, but get your a$$ off the seat 'cause you're not."
Perhaps colored by my new-found level of improvement, the ride with STT was spectacular and I will be repeating that at least once more next season hopefully.