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Monday was my first time at a Keith Code School. Ducky talked me into it, as she's done it a couple of times now. We tried to get into the same group, but were unable to swing it--so we just visited in between classes and on-track sessions. For those of you that don't know, Code's Superbike School is presented as a series of days covering four different levels. I only took Level one, as this is the required starting point for all riders, regardless of their speed, past experience, etc. The format is the same for all levels: classroom session followed by a 20 minute on-track session.

Ducky and her steed:



The school is well-organized. They offer bike, timer, and leathers rentals which most people attending the school seem to take advantage of. I believe it's a couple hundred bucks more to go this route in addition to the actual trackday cost. I brought my own bike and leathers. It was kinda weird--no pits. Everyone parks along one edge of the hot pits and that's it. So, if you're like me and don't have a kickstand...you should come prepared with a rearstand or chock.

My "pit"


I've been riding about three years and had done four trackdays prior to this. Overall, I had a good time out there. It's a trackday after all...I'm not working...it's a beautiful day...it's gonna be pretty good. ;D The attention I got from my on-track instructor was great. I was a little disappointed in the classroom sessions, however. The material was pretty rudimentary (not that revisiting the basics from time to time isn't a good thing) and little was covered in terms of actual execution. For instance, we covered the idea of "quick turn." Sounds good. I'm all ears...so we're told to countersteer quickly. OK. Good stuff, uh huh...and what else? What do I do with the rest of my body? How do I incorporate the rest of my movements into that concept? Now maybe I was overthinking this whole thing, but everyone else seemed to either be really advanced on this technique or was too afraid to speak up. Then again, in all fairness, I had to start at Level I (there are four levels apparently.) I'm guessing that levels II-IV are a bit more enlightening.

There were other exercises that appeared to be very simple on the surface, but which turned out to be really good. The first on-track session we had was to work with the idea of speed and throttle control: 4th gear, no brakes around the entire track. It's a lot harder than it seems, and I found it to be a great way to learn the track slowly and work up my speed and confidence as I nailed down reference points and faced the idea of passing without the safety net of brakes. The next session out, we were allowed to use 3rd and 4th gear and no brakes, while we worked on another concept. After that we were allowed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears and light brakes. It wasn't until the last session of the day that we were allowed the use of all of our gears. They emphasized light braking. I'm going to start out very slow at all tracks from now on and use a version of this "easing into speed" concept.

The 'Belle gettin' her lean on:



The ontrack sessions were a little funky. They were very good about making you repeat what your goal was before you actually rode on the track. Supervision was excellent and the instructor to student ratio was great 1:3. The grouping on the track had nothing to do with speed. Not that I'm flying up on anyone at 150 mph on a FZR400, but still...it's nice to follow some faster guys to watch their lines and technique. I tried to put a positive spin on this and worked on my passing--which I botched in a big way during one session. I got my ass black-flagged, and deservedly so. I didn't know who I stuffed into that corner, but I apologize. Aaaaaanyway, there was a guy on a white Triumph S3 that kept smokin' me. It was fun to watch him for about 2 seconds before he'd pass out of sight again.

I'd say that the experience was a positive one. I met some interesting people, including a couple of women. I've rarely seen more than one or two other gals at any track ever, and having two in my group was a blast. I also have a couple of new things to work with. I'm going to see if I can reasonably incorporate them into my arsenal of "go-fast, be safe" tools. At $420 a pop, not sure if I'd be willing to fork over that kind of dosh again, however. I'm still waiting for Ed McMahon to get back to me on that Publisher's Clearing House money, and if he pulls through, I'll head back to finish up my Code training.

...waiting for my pro shots to come in the mail



...and the "Bigfoot" shot, as Tigre calls it. [laugh] My form has come a looooong way, and I'm very happy about that, but it still needs work. I'm well off the bike in this shot, but I think I'm still too upright--tough to tell from the shot. I also appear to be on the ragged edge of the tires...not so good. (Damn that leg is skinny. [cheeky])



Every time I go to the track, I feel better about it. I have no idea if I'm faster than I was since the my first trackday, but I'm definitely feeling more confidence and control of the bike. I've refrained from using a laptimer, up until now. I think I'm ready to start writing down my times as I try new techniques.

P.S. I posted a version of this on BARF originally. One of the Code guys saw it and followed up with a lengthy email and an offer to address some of my specific concerns personally via telephone. Pretty cool. [thumbsup]
 

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Belle, you looked very good and smooth out there on Monday [thumbsup]

This has been a great moto year for me. It was all learning how to ride. I am happy with my riding now especially after earlier this week with the superbike school.

It's funny Belle brought up quick turn as example. Steering had been my problem for a long time - like a year. It was a year ago this week that I took my first superbike school class where I learned quick turn. I thought I was doing it -- afterall, I ride just fine, thousands of miles of twisties. But I know I don't turn the bike like the instructors; I know something is just not quite 100% with my turning. After the 10th class this week, my quick turn/steering problem is finally fixed, horraay [clap] How do I know it's fixed? One indication is lap time, another is speed and how my bike felt (also feedback from my ride coach). I had never before gone so fast at the same time felt so stable and in control. Previously, I tried to follow my instructor's speed and lines, I pull it off but I didn't feel all that comfortable and in control. I think not everything that I was supposed to do was connecting.

I didn't spend 10 classes fixing steering - there were many things to fix besides that. It seemed each time I felt good, I was able to go faster and some techniques would fall apart at higher speed, then I had to fix those techniques before I could go even faster. The cycle repeats.

Two big lessons this week at superbike schcool. First, my ride coach noticed that I seemed a bit lost in the turns - I had good turn point and exit, but my line through the turn seem inconsistent like I didn't know exactly where I was going. Great observation because I had always felt I didn't have a complete picture of the entire turn. I thought I was just going too fast to see everything and that was okay. Wrong. I didn't have a mid turn reference so I wasn't hitting the apex or had to make a steering correction to hit the apex (that extra steering compounded my steering problem). I was taught reference points before but simply forgot. Once this was fixed, I had clarity throughout the entire turn - no more fuzzy spots or uncertainty of where the bike was going.

Second success: No more steering problem :) The instructors had me take away all input except from the arms, so no hanging off or any body position, just sit low on the bike so the elbows are bent at almost 90 degrees. At each turn, just push the bar to turn the bike. We needed to get me to feel my push with just my arms. That was good because I felt how I was turning the bike and sometimes I needed to apply more pressure to turn it quicker. Then we discovered that I didn't just turn the bike once - I made steering adjustments throughout the turn. I had to stop that - I had to re-learn to trust that the bike and the throttle will hold the line once I set the turn and lean one time. After I did that okay, guess what, speed picked up. The ride coach then said we need to re-introduce getting off the bike. Everything came together. Then I started riding like I was possessed >:D

That was a great feeling and it was a great way to end the year. I remember episodes of frustration and feeling 'what's wrong with me, why can't I do that' when I watch riders go fast, pass me, and drag knee. I especially felt retarded when level 1 riders were going faster than me after I had attended a few classes already - I even questioned if these classes were a waste or if I'm just beyond help. All worth it. Great year of learning. I'm where I want to be. Lots of room to improve and still more to learn, so I can't wait to get back on the track next year ;D
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Grio said:
Glad you girls had fun.
I'm jealous. The track still seems so far away for me.
You're what...a couple of hours away from Thunderhill? Not too bad. I plan on heading up there in 07 at some point. Never done that one. It's tough not going to Sears--it's so close. And so fun.

desmoquattro said:
Very nice, ladies. You have me convinced...I just signed up for Level I on 3/15 at Laguna Seca ;D
Laguna?! You suck. [laugh] One day I'm gonna ride that track. I think my Pebble Beach mansion might actually be getting off the ground, and I'm hoping to mooch a night or two at the guest quarters at some point. [thumbsup]
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
drivetrane said:
Great write up Belle.Your looking faster and faster each time. [thumbsup]
Thanks. :) I don't know why but this whole motorcycling thing has not come naturally to me. I've never been painfully slow, but I've got a lot of bad habits to get rid of. ::) It's fun to continually make improvements. I had hit a flat spot in my progress a few months back and have recently felt a few major things coming together for me.

Ducky--wish I could have watched you. My in-class sessions always overlapped your on-track ones. Enzo said you looked very consistent. [thumbsup] That is something that I'm definitely not at this time--every turn is a new adventure and every lap around the track is like I'm seeing it for the first time. [laugh]
 

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Track testing at the MOB secret lab. [laugh] But seriously it just dawned on me you have to be turning pretty fast on t11 at 4th gear!dam your smooth. [thumbsup]
 

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desmoquattro said:
Very nice, ladies. You have me convinced...I just signed up for Level I on 3/15 at Laguna Seca ;D
I'll see you there, but most likely see you before then [thumbsup]
 

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Hey Belle,

Thanks for a great write up... I am so mad that I couldn't get into that class. Definitely going to sign up for the next class.

Looking forward to riding with you again.

Hope you had fun on that BARF ride instead of coming out with the MOB, Barryessa was kick ass that day!!
 

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Ducky said:
That was a great feeling and it was a great way to end the year. I remember episodes of frustration and feeling 'what's wrong with me, why can't I do that' when I watch riders go fast, pass me, and drag knee. I especially felt retarded when level 1 riders were going faster than me after I had attended a few classes already - I even questioned if these classes were a waste or if I'm just beyond help. All worth it. Great year of learning. I'm where I want to be. Lots of room to improve and still more to learn, so I can't wait to get back on the track next year ;D
dont worry too much about it, its all about seat time. There is no way around it unless you have a healthy dose of amazing talent. The more time you have with your bike and time on the track the faster you will be. Practice, practice, practice. [thumbsup]
 

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Not everyone can be blessed with natural talent (like Furious).

Mostrobelle said:
Thanks. :) I don't know why but this whole motorcycling thing has not come naturally to me.
 
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