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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just completed my first tour of the California motorcycle riding schools. Didn't have the time or the budget to hit Jason Pridmore's Star school, but I hope to correct that next year. I did a day each at Keith Code's California Superbike School, Reg Pridmore's CLASS riding school, and Dennis Pegelow's dP Safety School. Specifics on the schools are available on their respective web sites, so I'll discuss my general impressions of each and let you do your own research on the dates, tracks, prices, etc.

Keith Code's California Superbike School

This is the most structured of the three schools. Each student, not matter his/her experience or skill, starts in Level One. The classroom sessions concentrate on one specific drill, and the track sessions allow you to practice those drills. I took this at the Streets of Willow Springs on one of the school's Kawasaki ZX-6Rs. Awesome bike, and perfect for that track.

Because of the strict structure and specific drills taught, this is probably the best school for novice riders. However, even after riding for more than 20 years I learned something in the first classroom session, and my lap times improved by 12 seconds from the third session to the last.

My on-track instructor was gentle, but no nonsense, and spotted sevarl flaws in my technique. One tip he gave me in the third session led to an immediate six-second improvement in my lap times, and I wasn't working as hard as before the tip.

This school teaches you to go into corners deep and snap the bike over.

Reg Pridmore's CLASS Riding School

Reg's teaching methods are more free-form than Keith's, but the man knows what he is doing and knows how to get his message across (as does Keith). I also took this at the Streets of Willows Springs. I didn't learn as much as I did at the Keith Code school, but that was partially because I took the Code school first, and partially because I put myself in the faster A group to begin the day, so I missed the technique discussions in the morning. Reg concentrates on mental aspects with the A group and techniques with the B group.

The on-track instructors are not asigned specific students, so any one of them may pull you over to discuss your technique. In Code's school they assign an instructor to four or five students. Both methods work well.

Reg teaches a much tighter line than does Keith. I like Reg's line better, but I'm not sure it's any faster around the track. One of Pridmore's instructors pulled me over in the second session and told me I was going into corners too deep. When I told him I was taking the line Code's school taught, he asked me "What line do the fast guys take in races?" Point made. I was riding my Triumph Sprint RS at Reg's school, and by the afternoon sessions (with the slower B group) I found myself able to take a wide line when passing slower riders, or a tight line to let faster riders by.

Reg's school can teach a novice rider some necessary information on riding, but the less-structured environment makes it a second choice to Code's school for novices.

Dennis Pegelow's dP Safety School

This is the least structured of the three, but also the least expensive. The classroom sessions concentrated on the proper racing line through the corners, with one session on braking technique. Dennis believes the racing line is also valid on the street, so teaches that line on the track. I took this school at Laguna Seca, riding my Triumph.

The first two sessions were follow-the-leader drills so we could learn the track. In the first session the students followed the instructor. In the second session the students took turns leading while an instructor followed. By the third session we were pretty much on our own unless an instructor saw a glaring error in technique.

After the third session the school puts sign-up sheets on a board, and students can choose an on-track instructor for the remaining sessions. I didn't sign up for an instrcutor because I was working on techniques I learned at Code's and Prodmore's schools. Maybe next time when I've mastered what I learned before.

Conclusion

This may sound like a copout, but I liked all three schools and believe they all offer excellent instruction. Code's classroom intructions are best, but Pridmore's are also valuable. Pegelow's classroom sessions were the least valuable of the three schools, but the signup sheet offers students the chance to get one-on-one attention on the track, which can be invaluable for correcting poor technique. And watching Doug Chandler smoke everyone in the A group was a learning experience in itself.

All three schools emphasize smoothness and control. Pridmore and Pegelow include braking drills for the slower groups. Code includes a cornering drill. Pridmore runs two groups, which translates to more track time during the day. Code has the best refreshments and snacks. Pegelow has the best lunch.

I plan to attend all three again next year, but will start my son with Code's school. My wife doesn't like the idea of running deep into a corner and snapping the bike over, so she wants to go to Pridmore's school. I'm trying to convince her to take both Code's and Pridmore's schools. I'll hit Pegelow's school two or three times to refine what I learn at the other schools, and because he offers the most days at Laguna Seca, which is 45 minutes from my house.

If you've never taken a riding school, choose any of these you can get into. You'll have fun, and at the end of the day you'll be a better rider.

Warning: These schools are addictive. Attending them can lead to a growing need to get on a track. The great news is that track days are less expensive than speeding tickets.
 

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Great write-up!

If you have a pic of you at one of the track schools I would like to put this article in our editorials section.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Robert,

Unfortunately, I was too busy to take any photos. Not even one of my Triumph all taped up. I should have taken the digital camera and handed it to someone to snap a photo, but I didn't think of anything that simple. I did take the Hasselblad, but didn't use it.

If you want a write-up for the editorial section I'd be happy to work on this and expand it. I banged this out while eating lunch at my desk. I'm going to a Club Desmo track day at Laguna Seca next week and can grab some photos then. If it rains (the forecast calls for scattered showers) I'm riding my wife's Monster 750.

One thing I forgot to mention is how slippery the Dunlop 207GPs on the Triumph got when the clouds moved in and the track cooled off. Way scary. They were great at the Streets of Willows, where the sun was shining all day and the temp was 15-20 degrees warmer than at Laguna Seca.

Darron
 

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Darron,

If you want to work on it a bit before I put something in the editorials section that would be great! I would also like to include a picture of you with your bike (even if it's not a track day pic).
 

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Darron - Let me reiterate Robert's comments. Excellent write-up. My buddy and I signed up for two days of the Reg Pridmore CLASS school on Aug 5,6 in Pocono. I was pretty sure it would be useful but you helped confirm that. We are both still novices (2000 riding miles over about 1 year) so I think this should be a good experience for our first time out on a track. Do you have any recommendations as far as pre-class preparation other than the listed bike prep and how to make the most of the class. Thanks.
 

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Personally I'd save a few buck and join a local club that does track days. You get more track time, about 7 to 9 session a day, depending on the amount of people that show up. Instructors are there for you guide you each step of tha way and to ask questions to all day. Pridmore school is $250 opposed to about $150 for a track day.

I ride and instruct with Team Pro-Motion, personal preferance, but NESBA and REDUC off the the same basic programs and at about the same cost. You stated that you were going to Pocono, which all 3 club off track days at, along with other tracks on the east coast.

As for how a day is run at Team Pro-Motion, for a beginner, First timers get a brief class about the do and don't on the track. First track session is a lead around for the first few sessions at a slow pace to show you the line and to with each session picking up a little speed. Then by the afternoon you are allowed out to go arond at your own speed, with restricted passing allowed. If at any point in the day you need an instructor to follow around, just ask one in the paddock or when you line up to go out on to the track. Also instructors will be out there with you watching everyone and to help you if we see you using the wrong line or look like your having trouble. After each session instructor stop in the pit out area to talk to.

This is simular to how most club run a track day. Below are the link for each club I mentioned.

www.teampromotion.com
www.nesba.com
www.reduc.com


Just my 2 cents...
 
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