I flew to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for an end of season two day mini-camp with California Superbike School. The best school for track riders in the country. Keith Code himself and his coaches are always able to find imperfections in my technique and give me tools to ride faster and safer.
Last weekend I flew down to Las Vegas for a California Superbike School two day min-camp. It was an intense two day, 14 track session training event with a great group of riders including, again Christian Bale. As always the coaches were able to pinpoint my problem areas on and off the track helping me to advance a few more riding levels. And the weather was great too…
Everyone was happy with my ‘predictable lines’ – I may not pass many riders yet, but I am becoming much harder to catch.
I think Christian Bale said it best, “I’m like a dog on the loose, just lapping it up.”
Special thanks to my coaches, Mike and John and the staff at California Superbike School.
I’ve been spending most of my time working on X2Engine these days, but last Tuesday I was able to sneak out for a Kegwins track day at Infineon Raceway – Sears Point. After taking a break from track riding this summer I was pretty excited to get back on the track – and with a new bike.
Eighteen months ago I bought a new BMW 1000RR and have had a ton of fun riding in it at Laguna Sega and Infineon tracks. But….I have never been able to really enjoy this bike and have always felt uncomfortable riding it. I think its becuase I am tall 6’1 and am used to riding a road bicycle with a tall, narrow riding position. The BMW with its sideways inline four cylinder, 190hp engine feels short and fat to me. Like riding a large Tuna fish.
So….after a lot of thought I traded in this new generation bike, with all its state of the art engineering for an older, less powerful, less smart – Aprilia Tuono which I absolutely love. The Tuono is a naked bike (no faring) with smooth 1000cc, two cylinder 120hp engine. The suspension though not as smart as the BMW is very adjustable and I was able to have it setup to my riding style in about 15 minutes by Dave at Catalyst Reaction…
Last Tuesday, the track day itself was fantastic. You never know if its going to rain this time of year and Tuesday’s weather could not have been more perfect for riding super bikes on a great track. Special thanks to Keigwins and for more on Aprilia checkout SJBMW.
Nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than two beautiful track days with California Superbike School at Infineon Raceway. Although my RR is still undergoing custom modifications I was able to rent one of Keith’s for the two days of training. As usual the coaching was excellent and my fellow riders fun to ride with.
Below is a short video of riders being cleared on to the track to practice different riding skills. The instructors follow students around the track and debrief them after each session. I spent most of the two days refining my “two step” turn entry skill. At the end of day two John Groom my coach suggested I take turns 1 through 6 in second gear topping out around 11,000 RPM.
The suggestion worked great and I was able to take 6 seconds off my personal best lap time of 2:40:06 – which is still pretty slow. But improving…..
This year I rode eight track days on three raceways; Streets of Willow, Sears Point and Laguna Seca. After spending most of my time training with Keith Code and his superbike school. I am now focusing on applying the riding techniques I have learned in a more open track environment provided by Lance Keigwin of Keigwins@thetrack. Both Keith and Lance offer excellent programs for learning and applying the required skills to master the art of track riding some of the most powerful superbikes built today. I plan on spending more time with both of them in 2011. I am also looking forward to riding Thunderhill, Miller and Buttonwill racetracks, I hope.
Yesterday I rode Laguna Seca with Keigwins@thetrack. It was an odd day in that it rained most of the day. Most riders including myself aren’t to keen to ride superbikes down Laguna’s five story ‘Cork Screw’ drop in the poring down rain. The turnout was lite, and most of the riders that did ride retired early. I rode about five sessions, then decided to call it around 2PM with myself and bike intact. The odd thing about the day though, was that I had a great time. The track was wide open, my bike slid around but for the most part was fairly stable – and I did not crash, like a lot of other folks (no injuries thankfully). I think the reason I enjoyed the day was because after all of the training I have had this year my riding finnaly started to click. I was a happy boy.
After committing to BMW’s S1000RR superbike this fall I have been learning how to become one with the machine. I like the fact the bike is light, 448 pounds and features an incredible 185 horsepower inline four cylinder engine. The good news is that it also features a very smart computer mounted on the tank that provides traction control including a gyroscope, abs brakes and on the fly suspension tuning for rain, sport or track setups. The suspension is also very adjustable. So adjustible you need an expert to help fit the bike to you. About a month ago I took it my local shop and spent about two hours with an engineer going over the suspension documentation fitting the bike to my height 6’1 and weight 192pounds. We did it by the book and the bike felt pretty good or so I thought.
During a break at the track yesterday, I had the bike checked by a racing suspension expert Dave Muse of Catalyst Reaction. I thought Dave would confirm my previous settings, but instead he changed my setup completely. He said he liked the bike, but the brakes were ‘too good’ and the fork springs not strong enough. He was right, in my next session the bike felt completely different. It was firm and smooth in the turns and the back wheel did not spin and push the tail up on the straightaways. Net, net I am now a big fan of Dave and plan to spend more time with him tuning the bike to my body and riding style this next year. I also would caution in not putting too much faith in BMW’s suspension default settings. Get a racing suspension expert to help, it can make a big difference to your riding and enjoyment.
Based on feedback from friends and relatives, I realize that not everyone is into superbikes. For what its worth,…I take training and rider safety very seriously. Track riding on a controlled circuit like Laguna Sega is much safer then riding on the open street.
Three years ago I started riding motorcycles. It’s been an evolution from riding road bicycles for the past 25 years. I got lazy…bought a bike, then the whole hobby got out of control. Lately I’ve been trying to stay off the street and just focus on riding tracks. Below are a couple of pics from Laguna Seca a few weeks back on my new BMW S1000RR superbike. – john
Thanks to GotBlueMilk.com for the Photos.
In order to become a competent (less jittery) track rider this year, I decided to get some training by one of the best, if not the best superbike instructors in the country, Keith Code of – California Superbike School. More on Keith and his fantastic school later, but one of the side benifits of taking his school is the opportunity to meet other superbike enthusits.
This week I took one of Keith’s min-camps at Sears Point raceway in Sonoma, California. During my class I was in a group of four other riders, and we spent two days on the track and briefing rooms discussing our riding with the goal of shaving seconds off our lap-times. For the record I think I was the slowest in the group, but I am improving, slowly.
In my group were a couple of really cool people and I enjoyed spending the two days with them trying to perfect our lines. Attached is a pic, with me on the left, next to Christian Bale one of the nicest guys I have ever met, Leon Camier a factory World Superbike rider for Aprilla and Anil Swami another CRM software guru. -john