Advanced Street Skills
June 19, 2010 at 10:51 pm #4051
On Friday I took the Advanced Street Skills class offered by one of the local training companies here (Seattle). This class was developed by this company so I guess what follows is really only relevant to those in this area.
The aim of the class is to improve your cornering abilities with the emphasis on street riding. This means your line through a corner is not optimized for speed but for safety. It teaches you how to read the corner through use of the vanishing point, road camber, tree lines and other clues. It explains (and demonstrates) the differences between apexing mid corner to late apexing and how that affects your exit. It also places a lot of emphasis on smooth throttle control and body position while cornering.
When I booked the class I was not sure if I wanted to do this class or the Lee Park’s Total Control class. At the time I wasn’t really sure what the differences were. I now think Total Control spends a lot more time on body positioning and bike control whereas this one is more focused on reading the road and picking the correct line. But one HUGE difference is this one takes place at a race track and not a parking lot. To be honest that makes it much more fun.
I was a little disappointed in the class room sections of this class as it was flip chart presentations outdoors to 25 people. Some people found it hard to understand some of the concepts being presented and I was not surprised. I was okay as I had learned the theory that was being taught (and more) from a DVD from this site http://www.mikewaite.co.uk/
But, I quickly found out there was a big difference between knowing the theory and applying it correctly. Once out on the track (no more than 25 people at a time) there was one instructor per 4 or 5 students. They could easily spot all the things you were doing wrong and they would pull you over and give you some tips. This was really where this class excelled. You are taking real corners at real speeds with a critical eye seeing where you could improve.
At the end of the day the lead instructor said a common approach is to take the Total Control class after this one, where you get into the nitty gritty details of how to control your bike, and then take the more advanced version of this class which is on the track again where you get a chance to hone the skills learned during TC. Oh, and the instructors voted on who had the best lines during the day and the winner was yours truly
+1 for 3 wheel scooters
A little snippet from the day
June 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm #27112JackTradeParticipant
I like the idea of a more realistic-speed training class, rather than moving around a parking lot.
BTW how did they “pull you over” to correct you? Did the instructor’s bikes have flashing lights on them?June 21, 2010 at 7:56 pm #27114
Actually one of the instructors had modulated blue point lights (like the PIAA lights) on the front of his bike. Hard to imagine that would be legal. At the very least I would expect to get serious grief from LEOs with that on. Would be nice though But as you can see in the video they just pull in front of you and point to their ass to get you to follow them.
The whole day was fantastic. Maybe a little too much time spent waiting around but the lessons learned were invaluable. I’ve actually learned some more by watcing my videos from the day. I can see how my lines improved during the day but the big thing is watching the form of the instructors whenever I was lucky enough to be directly behind one. They just make it look so easy and graceful.
There were a few students who got on my nerves. There was one guy on that huge Triumph cruiser (forget the name but it has something like a 1900cc engine). He would blast down the straights and then mess up the corners. Wouldn’t have minded but he almost took someone out in front of me as he tried to pass them under braking. Can only imagine the marshalls were asleep as it looked dangerous to me.
Bad news is I am now drooling over that completely impractical Ducati Hypermotard.
Oh, and I forgot to mention one of my fellow students was the MSF instructor who took my BRC class two years ago. That means I had better lines than he did. That made me feel goodJune 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm #27115JackTradeParticipant
My internet connection was somewhat balky, so didn’t see the entire video (and so missed the pull-over…sorry!)
I’m very jealous…I wish they had this on the East Coast. I’ll probably do Lee Parks at some point soon, as that’s pretty much all we have here in the mid-Atlantic area, barring track days of course.June 21, 2010 at 11:50 pm #27118kirkParticipant
Man that looks like fun. Wish I had a track like that here:(June 24, 2010 at 8:07 am #27157eternal05Participant
Kinda nuts to see how poor the pavement is in some places, isn’t it? Especially through turn 9 (the sweeping left-hand turn at the end after the four-five parallel white/yellow stripes in the track), that road surface can be really dicey.
Looks like a lot of fun and like a great way to learn a lot. I am a bit confused to watch the lines they showed you, as those are not traditional lines around the track (obviously I’m ignoring the many corners interrupted by cone-enforced slaloms, etc.). It’s always weird to watch somebody else ride a track you’re familiar with as you’re always thinking “no, don’t go there!” What was the main focus behind the lines that they chose? I can see that there is a lot of very late apexing going on, and obviously on the road, that can be a good thing, but especially through the complex on the backside (after the back “straight”), what motive guides the path the instructors take?
So would you recommend that class at the end of the day? Do you feel more confident now?June 24, 2010 at 4:13 pm #27163
I started avoiding the outside of that turn 9 as it was worse than even the public roads. I was very surprised how bad some of the tarmac was in places. Kind of scary if you hit some of that at speed.
We were not supposed to think of the track as a racetrack, instead it was a controlled environment. So our lines had nothing to do with the fastest way round the track but the safest way to take a corner on the street. In a S type situation like that the line for the first corner is outside-inside (as opposed to outside-inside-outside as taught in MSF). Staying on the inside of the 1st corner means you are automatically on the outside for turn 2. As you noted there is very late apexing going on. Idea behind that is the later you turn in the further round the corner you see and you also straighten the corner out. Straightening the corner means less time leaned over (where you are using some of your finite available traction).
Would I recommend it? Absolutely, but probably not for you. Not sure how you would think of it as obviously your bike control, body positioning etc is at a level far beyond what they are teaching here. The area that is probably new to you is how to read the road, what are the tell tale signs on where the road is going. But to be honest that video I linked to does a much better job on that and that only costs about $15 (its a very cheesey video though). This is one area I know I have lots of room to improve as I tend to focus intently on the road I can see. Need to pick up on all the other clues as to what is going on. And to be brutally honest, a large part of why it was so much fun was because we were zipping round a racetrack. Much more fun than toodlin round a parking lot. But that’s old hat to you and where I was doing 60mph, you are used to doing 160mph
Am I more confident? Well I certainly have lots of areas to focus on but I think once I improve on them I will be a more confident rider.June 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm #27168eternal05Participant
I don’t have NEARLY enough street-riding experience to really have skill predicting what is to come. I mean, I’d register obvious clues in the landscape and long-range vision, but I definitely don’t know how to “read a road” really well, at least not beyond what I can see.
I guess that’s what I assumed, with regard to line taken. In terms of visibility and navigating a road you haven’t seen, the line you guys take through 5 and 6 (that left-right S on the backside) definitely makes more sense than the “racing” line. Oddly enough, I think it’s arguably worse (from the point of view of safety, not traversal speed) if you DO know where the road goes…but then again that wasn’t the point of the course, was it?
Still, sounds like a lot of fun and a great learning experience. If it were free, I’d definitely do it. These things tend to be pretty pricey though, so I’ll have to think twice before shelling out the dough.June 26, 2010 at 1:46 am #27213ranetteParticipant
That definitely looks like more fun than the ARC, too bad it’s 3000 miles from home.
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