California Superbike School – Motorcyclist’s Matriculation

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Day Two

The second day also saw me rise before the alarm went off and bolt for the racetrack. Post attendance, we assembled in the classroom, all prim and proper. The day began with instructions on how to pick out reference points. Reference points help you make friends with a corner. Once you have picked out at least three (turn point, apex, and exit), you have to ensure that you look from one to the other progressively and not flick your eyes from one to the next. Popularly known as the “lazy eyes” technique, it enables you to map out your line visually.

For the second drill, we were asked to explore the width of the road by riding on one side of the track for a lap and then on the other side for the following lap. I kept to both extremes of the track for a couple of laps, sometimes riding on the bumpy kerbs. When I resumed normal riding for the third lap, there was a noticeable difference in my perception of the track.

From there, it was a smooth transition into the “Three Step” drill, an evolution of the final drill from the previous day. We were briefed about different corners and scenarios and how to adjust our vision for each one. Once past this milestone, we were taught the skill of “Wide View”, an absolute must for both road and track riding. Target fixation and narrow vision are two of the main reasons why people crash. With a wider view, the rider gets more time to react to a situation and this results in smoother, more composed movements on the motorcycle.

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Having taught us all there was to the vision aspect of motorcycle handling, it was time to head into the first machine-handling drill, the “Pick Up”. The idea behind the exercise is simple: you get maximum power to the ground when your rear wheel is upright as compared to when it is leaned over. Furthermore, it is much safer to wring the throttle when your rear tyre has a larger contact patch.

Day Three

The last day of school focused on the finer techniques of machine handling. Post a quick revision of the previous days’ drills, we were introduced to “Hook Turns”. To execute the hook turn, you have to drop your elbow and head close to the handlebar and send weight forward. This helps to tighten your line through a corner. Initially, I was sceptical, for I believed I would lose the front if I put my weight on it, but when I tried it during the track session, I was pleasantly surprised that this trick worked. The next drill was about how to steer the motorcycle while entering high-speed corners. We were shown how having the arms parallel to the tank offered more leverage than grabbing the bars at an angle. A firm push on the inside bar and then relaxing both arms while opening the throttle smoothly saw me power out of corners faster than before. Code’s tip on using the outside foot-peg to exert pressure on the tank worked for me and I was more stable on the motorcycle while cornering.

The next couple of drills were fun and required a lot of focus. The “Knee to Knee” and “Hip Flick” helped me get rid of any instability I had on the motorcycle previously. For the last session of the school, we were taught how to determine good “Attack Angles”. Taking the example of the turn points drill we had done earlier that weekend, Code showed us how to approach a turn point in order to get the fastest line out of the corner. Eager to practise this new counsel, I headed out on to the track. After a couple of failed attempts, I slowed down and did the drill patiently, implementing everything they had taught me over the past three days. Soon enough, there was a noticeable difference in my riding. My coach, who usually appreciated my effort with a thumbs-up signal, overtook me and burst into a volley of air punches and under the helmet I was beaming. Soon he disappeared from view, leaving me to enjoy the last few laps. I practised and perfected everything I had learned; gaining more confidence with each corner.

For all you riders and motorcycle enthusiasts, if you want to learn and hone your riding skills safely, this is the place to be. As for me, I have moved this to the top of my list of favourite schools.

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