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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The dream biking year continues…

Today was the first of three days of Freddie Spencer School, “Sport Rider Level II.” I did the first level back in March in Las Vegas. This time it’s at the spectacular Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.

As I did last time, and due to popular request, I’m going to document my experience through this little blog, both to help me remember it to the maximum extent possible, and also so that friends who may be interested will have some idea of what the school is like.

Day one was an outstanding day from start to finish, and makes me that much more excited about the prospects for days two and three. Perfect weather today – about 80 degrees or so, and it’s supposed to be beautiful the next couple of days as well.

We met in the hotel lobby at 7:30 AM. Familiar face Nick Ienatsch (one of Freddie’s instructors) was there with a few of the students when I came downstairs. Within minutes all of the riders had assembled and we got into the vehicle that would take us all to the track. In Vegas it was a big van, like a hotel courtesy shuttle. In Utah it was a stretch Hummer limo. Seems kind of backwards, doesn’t it? :smilebig:

Anyway, Nick and Jeff Haney rode with us on the half hour journey from Salt Lake City to Tooele, home of MMP. But there was another distinguished rider in the limo with us – AMA pro Jason DiSalvo! It turns out he was going to be joining us in riding on the track and getting training from Freddie and the gang. I didn’t know the kid was so small! He’s Pedrosa-esque in stature, but the guy can FLY!!

A much smaller group this time around than in Level I. Only 11 people, with the same three instructors plus Freddie. I’m feeling that it’s going to be great to have such a low student to instructor ratio, to get lots of individual instruction.

So, we get to the track, Jeff and Jason jump out of the limo, but Nick stays in with us. It’s time to tour the track in the limo, with Nick giving a guided tour of each turn. We’re riding the East track today and tomorrow, and on Tuesday they said we might run the West track, which would be cool. I’d ridden the West on two different trackdays, but this would be my first time on the East. It looks fantastic – wide and forgiving, with lots of runoff. And there are some elevation changes, like the “mini-corkscrew”, certainly more so than the West. I can’t wait to get out on it on the bike!

After several laps around, we park the limo just off the track between turns four and five. Nick has told us that turn four is a very slow turn that you really have to be careful with. We jump out of the Hummer, and stand alongside the track, while Jeff Haney takes a number of passes through four and five on his CBR1000RR. He does it several times the wrong way (and we see and discuss what was wrong and what the consequences were). Then he does a few the right way, and it’s pretty amazing to watch. It’s getting us even more pumped about trying it ourselves.

We climb back in the limo and head back over to the paddock area, and upstairs to the classroom. What an amazing facility this is. First class in every way.

We go around the class, introducing ourselves and saying what bikes we ride, whether we race (or want to), where we live, what we do, etc. It’s remarkable that I’ve been to the school twice in the same year, but one guy has been to the school four times over the last few years, another guy seven times! I guess they must be pretty happy with what they’re getting to keep coming back!

One main difference between this school and the previous one, is that these riders all seem pretty focused. There aren’t any really novice bikers like there were in the first class. These guys (all guys this time) all know what to expect, and are ready for serious and focused improvement, which is very cool. Some club racers, a French guy from Korea, an Aussie from Maui, and so on. But only 11 of us!

Next, Freddie walks in the room, and of course that gets everyone’s attention. He’s a very likeable, approachable and unpretentious fellow, but heck, he’s a multi-time world champion! He welcomes everyone, and then gets right down to business by going over the track layout, and starting to talk about the process of making successful turns on the track. He really breaks each turn down into three logical parts – entry, mid-turn, and exit. He says that many riders are thinking so much about the exit, or where they’re headed, that they screw up the first two parts. He says that if you get the first two parts right, the exit will follow as a natural result, and you will get through the turn much quicker and safer.

I ask Freddie to help us figure out how deeply we can brake into a corner, and how hard. I know that my inputs on the brakes and throttle need to be gradual and not abrupt, but when coming to the end of the straight at very high speed into a tight turn, it feels pretty abrupt when you’ve got very little time to slow down, your bike is pitching your weight forward, and yet you’re trying not to unsettle the front end.

Freddie replies that there is no magic formula or percentage, and that you don’t want the bike so pitched forward, and you want to be moving away from maximum brake pressure when you are moving into maximum lean angle. Get your heavy braking done while the bike is standing up more. Then gently ease off the brake as you lean the bike into the turn. Makes sense. I resolve to work on that when we get out on the track.

He said something else pretty interesting. So often we worry about braking into a turn causing us to tuck the front. He said that he can never remember tucking the front on the brakes, but he sure can remember doing so when he abruptly released the front brake and caused the front suspension to unload. He and Nick both mentioned the idea of using the brakes to set the geometry of the bike into the turn, which also makes a lot of sense. Again, this is using the brake not as an on-off switch, but a rheostat.

Finally, it’s time to get our bikes and get out on the track! Nick reads each rider’s name and the bike number they are assigned (each bike has been set up for our size, weight, etc.). I get assigned number 17, which immediately makes me happy as a big Miguel Duhamel fan.

We go downstairs to the GP garages, and the bikes are all lined up (see photo). Mine is a 2006, red, mostly stock except for HyperPro steering damper and a few other minor mods. The bikes are shod with brand new Michelin Pilot Powers, which I’m told were set at 37 PSI cold. BTW, all day long these tires worked great, and I continue to be impressed with them. The instructors are on CBR1000RR’s with Power Race tires.

For the first session, a couple of the other students and I are to ride with instructor Dale Kieffer, a former AMA #3 in Formula Extreme, and a really good guy. We start following Dale around the track at a moderate pace, each rotating behind him after each lap so he can watch us in his mirrors and give us hand signals for what we need to improve on (like “look out further ahead through the turns” and “move all the way to this side of the track out of that turn” and so on).

There are two cones set up at the apex of each turn, showing us the line our bikes should be parallel to as we go through. If not parallel, we should at least be getting to that second cone, which sets up the exit drive. There are also cones that provide reference points out of certain turns, which give you a target to shoot for at the exit, which is really helpful. I find myself wondering how I would do without the cones, especially at the entrance to the corkscrew, which is quite blind otherwise as you are cresting a hill.

Once as I was rotating to the rear of the line of three students and the instructor, letting them all go ahead of me, there was one more rider there, and I was momentarily confused, and started to motion him past going into turn one. Suddenly I realized it was Jason DiSalvo, on his factory R6. He then motioned “No, no. You go ahead.” So I did – right under his line into turn one. It will be the only time in my life that I ever pass Jason DiSalvo on the inside going into turn one at Miller or anywhere else! :cool:

When we stop for a couple of minutes to get verbal feedback from Dale, he tells me to stop focusing so much on hitting the apex cones just right, and to look out through the turns more. I try this and it really helps things flow nicely. We talk more after the session and he is very complimentary of my riding form.

The East track is really nice! I loved the West, but now I’m trying to decide which one I like better. The East is considered a little more technical, and I might like it a little better, but they’re both great. Next weekend I’ll have a chance to try both at the same time, with about 20 buddies along for the ride! ;)

Have you seen that commercial that has Tiger Woods going to the driving range? There are a bunch of hacks there, but once they see him and start trying to copy his tempo, and do it like Tiger, all of a sudden they all start hitting the ball beautifully. Well, that’s how it started to feel for me whenever I would follow Dale, or Jason DiSalvo (I couldn’t keep up with him very long!) around the track. I tried to just shut off my mind of the 1,000 thoughts about body position and apexes and trailbraking and peg weighting, etc. and just “flow” along with them. When I did that, it was so cool! Just flying along, effortless and fast.

Now to try to get to a point where I can do that without an instructor to follow!

After a short break for water and energy drinks and bars, we start doing a drill with cones. This is a slow speed slalom course where you are in second gear, working on acceleration, trail braking, body position, and so on. When the course is tight and slow, the bike shows your mistakes pretty clearly! One of the instructors is toward the end of the cone course, yelling at you through a bullhorn, telling you what you need to do to fix it. At first I’m not really thinking this is helping me much, but as I get back out on the track, I really find that the exaggerated mechanics of that process really help me set the bike into the corners out on the track. Maybe these guys really do know what they’re doing.

We go through the cone drill along the straightaway, then continue on through the track at full speed, then stop in turn 8 where Jeff is having us do another drill. This one is on hard braking, but before we come to a complete stop, we have to release the brake lever gently, slowly, so that the front end comes up very slowly, not jerking back up. 80 MPH or so to zero in a short distance, but then easing up on that brake so the front end doesn’t bounce. Then we continue through 9, 10, 11 and back to the cone drill on the straight.

On the full parts of the track I feel like I’m really starting to fly now. Not all of the turns are perfect or consistent, but I’m starting to feel more comfortable with each lap. The bike feels great, the track is really fun and challenging, and I’m having a blast.

Lunchtime. We grab our box lunches in the classroom, and Freddie talks to us and teaches us as we eat. He mentions that his kids are over on the adjacent motocross track having a great time. He says (like Nicky’s dad) that he never has to encourage them – they love to ride, ride, ride.

Freddie tells us what he’s observed in the morning sessions: We must use more of the racetrack. By not doing so, we make our corner exit radius too tight, causing more lean angle and less speed. One of Freddie’s mottos is “I will win the race using as little lean angle as possible.” He also talks to us specifically about high-speed corners, saying that we must plan them farther ahead, not looking too far ahead, but starting earlier. He says that the only real brake pressure on a fast turn should be just when you set it into the turning angle.

After lunch, Nick sets us up for another drill. This time through turns 10 and 11, which are a couple of 180’s that exit into the straight, so it’s right then immediate left. They want to watch our transition between the two. We stand trackside through that stretch and watch Jeff demonstrate the many wrong ways to do it, and then the right way. He actually shows us how even if we get the first turn wrong, we can still correct the next one.

Now it’s our turn. Dale and Jeff stay there and watch each of us come through, and then radio the results to Nick, who waits for us back at turn nine. We go around the rest of the track at full speed, and then stop at nine, Nick gives us the feedback of what they saw, and then we do it again, and try to get it better this time.

The feedback for me is again to quit focusing on hitting the apexes and get my vision up to the exit more, where I’m headed. Also to be smoother across the bike as I shift my weight from extreme right to extreme left. Not so easy for us big guys on 600’s! But lap after lap I feel myself improving, and the instructors confirm it.

A couple of times as he’s zooming around the track, DiSalvo passes me during the drill right as I’m going into ten. So of course I try to follow him perfectly, which really helps, although it doesn’t take long for him to disappear ahead of me. Still fun to chase such a great rider, though.

The rest of the track is getting really fun. We’re finally getting our first chance to experience hard braking and downshifting at the end of the straight going into 1A/1B, which is pretty tight! A couple of times I feel the rear end getting squirrelly as I unload the rear while downshifting and braking. The 600RR is still feeling great, though, and doing the job well.

Next we take a break, and then Jeff demonstrates on the front straight, the art of downshifting and braking. Again, first way wrong, and then perfectly right, blipping the throttle a couple of times while downshifting and hard front braking. He also does one of his absolutely mind-blowing “backing-it-in” demonstrations into 1A that leaves us all shaking our heads and smiling in amazement.

Now it’s our turn to work on it. I definitely am comfortable blipping the throttle while downshifting, even with a slipper clutch as I have on the RC. I do it all the time. But doing it while braking hard at the end of a 100+ MPH straight is quite different. I do the two finger front brake, but am still getting comfortable with the two-finger clutch. So, lap after lap I try this, and we stop and talk to Nick each lap at turn five to get feedback on how we’re doing. I still have a lot of work to do on this skill, but it’s getting there. I need to stop being so abrupt releasing the clutch in this method, and a bigger blip is also needed. I’ll continue to work on it, as I can see the value in keeping the bike settled going into the turn.

Also during this session is when each of us do our video lap with either Jeff or Dale following us with the camera. They ride on the perfect line, while you try to do the same. The video will definitely show if you aren’t!

Suddenly it’s my turn for the video lap. Dale is behind me, and I’m determined to get it right. It’s very tempting to try to go really fast to impress the instructor (and I sort of fall into the trap), but mostly I feel like I kept it smooth, kept pretty good lines, and found a nice balance between being speedy and quality riding. When we finish the lap I’m expecting Dale to say how great I was, but it doesn’t quite work out that way. “You’re still trying to hit those apexes and it’s hurting your exits. You’ve got to use the whole track. Keep your butt of the center of the seat on the short straights – be ready for the next turn instead.” Okay, so I wasn’t exactly perfect. I guess that’s why I’ve got a couple more days here!

I continue to do a bunch more laps, working on those things he told me about, and I feel like I’m improving. We’ll see tomorrow, I guess.

Late in the afternoon, we all head back into the classroom to watch the videos, so we can dream about what we need to work on tomorrow. Each rider is viewed and critiqued, using lots of slow motion, rewind, freeze-frame and so on. Nick, Jeff and Dale all make observations about each rider, and really help us to understand why we need to do things differently. Body position, get that head down through the corner and exit, trail braking (the brake lights all work on the bikes so we can see on the video where the student is braking), etc. They help us understand the consequences when someone enters a corner wrong. They ask, “Now what will happen?” and we can tell them what the mistake will lead to next. They show a video lap where Jeff followed Dale and he is so perfect compared to the students!

The last student they show a video lap of is me. Overall they are very complimentary of my body positioning (which makes me feel like a million bucks), saying that I really get off the bike well, keep my head leading the bike through the turns and exits, and good trail braking. However, on a few of the turns I go in way late, causing me to blow the exit by being too tight in my radius. They tell us that if we’re not using the whole track on the exits (going all the way to the other side of the track), we could be going faster. Definitely something I’ll work on tomorrow!

Everyone looks way better on the video than the Level One riders did. You can tell that this group has some pretty good riders, very interested in getting better. The number one fault we see in the videos from lots of people, is being "twisted" on the bike, i.e. butt off the seat, knee out, but head still over the windscreen. That's 30 pounds or so of mass that isn't leaning into the corner like it should, and it automatically leads to more lean angle on your tires. Bad. They tell us to watch the MotoGP guys, and how they get that head down beside the windscreen through the turns. They particularly mention Hayden and Pedrosa being very good at this.

DiSalvo, surprisingly, sits in on virtually all our sessions. He’s doing his own thing somewhat and getting some individual instruction and tuning, but still seems to have something he can learn with us.

They also tell us that we will be learning specific things in the next couple of days about passing. I had asked earlier in the day about passing people at trackdays. We’re being taught the perfect lines through corners, but sometimes when passing we have to deviate from that line and then recover, and I’d like to know how to do that better. I’m looking forward to what we will learn about that.

So far, so good! I’m really happy to be here, and I can’t wait for tomorrow’s session. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
DAY TWO

Ouch.

No, I didn’t crash – I just have really sore legs, and sore cheeks from smiling so much! It was a really good day. Not ALL good, mind you. There was some frustration along the way too, but I’ll get to that in a bit. It definitely wound up on a very positive note going into tomorrow, which has got me really excited.

Another beautiful, sunny day here in Utah. Started out around 60 and got up to high 80’s maybe. Really perfect riding weather.

Like yesterday, we pile into the Hummer limo at 7:30, again with Nick, Jeff, and Jason D along for the ride with the students. Instead of just a quiet ride to the track, Nick uses the opportunity for interaction and discussion. He asks us what we thought about last night after day one. All of us mention that it was tough to go to sleep while thinking so much about where we need to improve, different corners, apexes, body position, trail braking and the like.

I ask Jeff and Nick about one of the things they had told me during the video feedback session. On the short straights they want my butt to stay off the seat more between the turns, instead of going back to the center of the bike, making me more ready for the next turn. I mention that when my butt is off the seat, it feels natural at this point to also have my knee out and head to the side of the windscreen – good things during a turn, but not very aerodynamic in a straight. I ask if I should be tucking in directly behind the windscreen with my head, with my butt still off the seat a bit, which feels a bit twisted (and is the number one mistake we see on the video from riders in the corners). They say that absolutely that is what I should do, and then raise up my head and chest when braking into the corner. Then, entering the corner, drop my head into the corner, keeping it furthest down and out when exiting the corner to decrease lean angle and get on the gas. I’m determined to do this today.

We arrive at the track, and assemble in the classroom. Within a couple of minutes, Freddie comes in and pleasantly welcomes us back. He wants to know how we liked the videos from the afternoon before. Most kind of groan, because we know how much room there is for improvement. He asks how we’re going to fix what we saw, as he definitely wants us thinking about that when we get out on the track.

Freddie starts to teach us specifically how we need to improve in the corners we all seem to be having the most trouble with. The group agrees that the most challenging ones for us are the most complex ones – 1A/1B, 6A/6B, and 7A/7B/7C (Miller’s corkscrew, or what they have named “The Attitudes”). Freddie talks to us about our center vision versus our peripheral vision, and how this can help us navigate complex, double apex turns like this more effectively. We have reference cones that we are shooting for at both the apex (double cones) and exit line (single). He says that the corner is a process of focusing our center vision on the apex point first as we approach the corner, but then we move it into our peripheral vision as we change our focus (center vision) to the exit line. Before we get to that point, our center vision looks out to the next apex point, letting the edge of the track move to our peripheral vision, and so on to the next exit point. I hope that makes sense as I’ve written it. It’s really a process of keeping our vision ahead, and not focusing so much on what’s right in front of us (or stressing about the apex we just blew). I try this out on the track later and it makes a BIG difference.

I mention to Freddie that at the mid-point of double apex turns 1A/1B and 6A/6B, it seems like we’re taking a somewhat straight line in to that point (keeping the bike at less lean angle during braking – a good thing), but then it feels like we’re then expected to make a 90 degree turn at that point to steer the bike to the exit line. Imagine going straight to a point on the outside edge of a corner, trail braking hard and then dropping the bike into a very hard corner that feels like a right angle. Why not just make the turn more of a sweeping turn, instead of so abrupt? What Freddie explains, and we see very clearly on the video of students later, is that by making it more of a sweeping turn, the bike is at an extreme lean angle for a much longer period of time. Not a good or safe thing. It also makes your line through the apex and out to the exit much more inconsistent and unpredictable. Using Freddie’s method you’re slower for a split second during that transition, but it enables you to be much faster (and safer) going into the corner, and much faster (and safer) coming out. The student videos confirm this again and again. Those that do it right are so much better at exit than those that don’t, which sets up the next turn so much better.

At the end of his early morning classroom talk about these turns, Freddie says “Don’t worry. I’m going to lead each one of you around the track individually and we’ll work on it together. I’ll show you the lines, braking points, and vary my speed to your comfort level.” How cool is that? Individual instruction on the track from Freddie Freaking-Spencer! :hyper: At that point I was pretty jacked, and I would think the other students were too.

Nick finishes up the classroom session with some tips for us to think about on the track:
  • Don’t rush the corners
  • Set up for the exit
  • You pick up time on the exits and straights by being smarter (which sometimes means slower) through the corners
  • Straighten out the corkscrew to improve exit
  • Take more speed into and through 8 because it opens up on the exit
  • Go wider exiting 2, enter 3 mid-track
Nick also asks us if we ride better behind the instructor than we do by ourselves. Of course! He says that it may be because we are looking out ahead at what the instructor is doing and where we’re going, whereas without the instructor we focus to much on where we are right now – a shorter focus. Definitely makes sense to me.

Now it’s time to head out to the track to try all of this stuff out, and work on the stuff we saw on yesterday’s videos. This time my group of three will ride with Jeff.

We head out to the track, and do some “follow the leader” with Jeff. Jeff keeps a pretty fast pace, and I find myself thinking “Hmmm… Are these Pilot Powers really going to be able to handle this? How much time do they need to warm up?”

In some corners I’m fine, but in others I am very uncomfortable turning at such a high rate of speed. I start getting a little concerned. No, a lot concerned. Kind of pissed at myself. Why can’t I go faster? Jeff can. Some of the other guys can. What’s my problem? Is this it? Have I reached the limit of my courage and trust in my tires? I hope not! I’m supposed to be here getting better, not depressed because I’ve reached the end. Very frustrating! :rant:

We stop at one point and Jeff works with each of us on body position at the side of the track, with our bike on the sidestand. He shows us where he wants our butt, knee, chest, arms, and head at corner entry, mid-point and exit.

When we start taking laps again, I try to figure out what it is that’s holding me back. I’m getting way off the bike, dragging knees on both sides, rapidly grinding down sliders on knees and toes, and I feel like I’m getting my head in the right position as well. Why am I not going faster in the corners? Is the memory of last year’s violent lowside making me a total wuss that won’t trust his tires any further? Come on, Brian. Quit being such a baby and let that bike turn! I start to think that the problem may be that I’m just refusing to allow the bike to lean when it needs to, to get more speed through the corner. Can I do it, or am I stuck at mediocre speed forever?

When we take our morning break, I talk to Jeff and Dale about this. I tell them that I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to carry more corner speed. I’m way off the bike, but it seems to not want to turn, but just run wide. I tell them that I think maybe I’m just not allowing it to lean enough, which is sort of the reverse of most riders here. Not getting off the bike enough and requiring too much lean angle seems to be more of a problem. Jeff wonders if maybe it’s something in the setup of the bike’s suspension, which could certainly be a factor. He also says that maybe I’m using the same basic lean-off position over and over, at all points in the turn. That sounded like a possibility for sure.

They also hit on the idea that I may not be using enough trail braking at the right points in the corner to set the bike into the line I need. That makes sense to me too, as I have been working on braking earlier and not so much during the turn. The problem with that is, when you release the brake lever, your front suspension can unload a bit, making the bike want to drift out.

I resolve to do two things in the next session – be more careful with strategic trail braking, and also allow the bike to lean when it needs to. And when I do, you can guess what happens. Suddenly I’m MUCH better through the turns. The track starts flowing, and I’m flying along faster and more comfortably than ever. Frustration departs, and smiles return! I start nailing 1A/1B and 6A/6B. This is fun! :D

Next we do the cone slalom drill again on the straight, in second gear. They start to surprise us with different cone spacing, sometimes removing them to create a little straightaway. This forces us to keep our vision ahead so we plan for what’s coming up, instead of just a predictable slalom course. We then continue around the track to a braking drill in the middle of turn 6. We fly out of 5, down a short, fast straight, and then turn left into turn six while braking hard. This shows us that if we needed to slow quickly in mid-corner, if we do it properly, we can do it without fear of crashing.

With each lap I’m also working on my downshifting while braking, trying to get smoother at blipping the throttle while slowing quickly. It’s getting better, but in pressure situations (like at the end of a longer straight at high speed going into a tight corner like 1A/1B), it’s tough to do it smoothly. I need to keep working on this. I’m forcing myself to do the two-finger clutch all the time. It’s starting to feel a bit more comfortable. It’s amazing how little you actually need to pull that lever back to engage. They showed us that by having us try to roll our bikes in first gear with the engine off. At what point is the bike able to roll? It doesn’t take much.

Lunchtime, and I’m hungry! Like yesterday, it’s a working lunch, with Freddie immediately coming in to give us classroom instruction. He’s ridden with a few of the students in the morning, but not me yet. I’m sure not going to let him forget about me!

He tells us about what he’s been seeing so far from the students. He said many are having the same problem on both turn 4 and turn 10 – turning in too early. He also says that our objective is not to add lean angle and accelerate, but to take away lean angle and accelerate!

Nick mentions that we’re going to be spending the rest of the lunch hour talking specifically about suspension, how to set it up, what each change does, and why, as some of the students have asked for this training. Sounds good to me, as I’ve only done minor tinkering and still feel a bit clueless about it. Freddie says that it is very important, but tells us a little story about how it’s a whole lot less important than the rider’s input on the bike.

He tells us about some suspension testing he did a few years back with Nicky Hayden. First Nicky did some laps with settings they agreed were about perfect for him. Next, Freddie changed the settings to the absolute extremes – almost no rebound to full rebound, almost no compression to full compression, and so on. He told Nicky what that would do to the bike, and how to counteract it with his inputs. He said Nicky was able to run laps within 2/10 of a second off of his laps with the perfect suspension. Pretty amazing, and revealing about how much control we have over the bike despite the settings.

Freddie says that most people have their suspension settings too stiff, because they are very abrupt on the controls – hard on the brakes, making the forks dive. He said he likes his set up fairly soft so he has better feel, as his inputs are very smooth and gentle.

For the next 45 minutes or so, Nick and Dale go through a whole bunch of details about suspension setup – measuring and setting rider sag, rebound, compression, etc. They tell us that damping is speed related, spring is load related. I won’t go into all the details here, as there are lots of internet resources on suspension setup and results, but I do feel that I have a much better understanding of them now, and I’m looking forward to testing my suspension more actively in the future as a result. Nick mentions that at every trackday, he’s making adjustments and making notes about them to improve his bike’s handling for that track. I’m committed to taking better advantage of this tool.

Dale, who is a regional Michelin rep, says that at the press intro on the Pilot Powers a couple of years back, they did a bunch of testing with Nicky, Colin Edwards and Max Biaggi. They started with cold pressure around 28 PSI and tried all sorts of different pressures. They figured out that at the lower pressures, they were definitely much more greasy. They found that they worked best around 37-38, and that’s what they run them on our school bikes – 37 front, 38 rear. On the Power Race tires I’ve been using on the RC, it’s a totally different tire composition. They recommended cold front pressure of 30-32, and cold rear of 21-23. No, that’s not a typo. Amazing, huh? I’d heard that before but still couldn’t believe it. I ran them a bit higher at Grattan, and found them to be pretty darn good, but maybe it’s just because I wasn’t all that fast. Anyway, that’s what they said, and Dale’s the rep and winning races, so that’s what I’m going with.

They also mention that most modern bikes have very good stock suspension, but that they definitely don’t last as long as the quality aftermarket components.

After lunch we do an emergency braking drill. We’re to fire out of turn 11 into the straight at very high speed, to some cones set up halfway down the straight. Then we are to use the front brake as though there was an emergency in our path making us stop NOW. But, we also have to be smooth. Rather than jamming on the brake, it’s gentle, harder, HARDER, then gentle again letting off at the stop. We don’t want the front diving so much, we don’t want the tire to break traction, and we don’t want the front end to snap back up – ever! They tell us we should always brake this way, starting and ending gently. This also compresses the tire better, giving us a greater contact patch for stopping.

First, Jeff demonstrates on his CBR1000RR, at ridiculously high speeds. He does it wrong several ways – like staying tucked rather than sitting up, or being so smooth he doesn’t slow down quickly at all, or being too abrupt. Then he does it right and it’s absolutely amazing. The bike is going so fast, and then smoothly comes to a stop in an amazingly short time.

The students all try it, get feedback about how we did, and then continue around the rest of the track, working on all of our corners and techniques.

Our next drill is stopping in turn 7 with Nick. He gives us feedback he’s hearing from the instructors who are riding around on the track with us about how we’re doing. They also set up a series of four consecutive cones going into the apex of turns 6A and 11. What we’re to do on those is use them as trail braking references. Start gentle trail braking at or before cone 1, a little more at cone 2, max at 3, and then easing off before cone 4. The instructors on the track are watching our brake lights through these points to see how we do. They’re also capturing our video laps for today during this session. Freddie’s out there too, working with individual students. When’s he ever going to get to me?

Nick then tells me it’s my turn to be captured on video. Gulp! I’ve been practicing with each lap, imagining “How would I take this turn if I was being filmed?” Now it’s really time. Okay, let’s go, Jeff. I’m feeling pretty good, flying along, hitting apexes, leaning off where I’m supposed to, really keeping the butt somewhat off the seat even in the straights (yet still tucked in for aerodynamics), trail braking where I’m supposed to. Lots to think about, but it’s feeling pretty good, and fast! We fly down the straight, suddenly I’m running out of track, downshift very abruptly (CRAP!), and then TOTALLY BUTCHER 1A/1B, which of course I’ve been nailing all day. But no, not on the video lap! DAMMIT!! Of course, that screws me up for two, but I’ve still got a bunch of turns left, and I’m going to redeem myself. 3 feels great, 4 really good, 5 feels perfect, and I nail 6A/6B. Phew. Good recovery, Whip! So what feedback does Nick have for me that Jeff has radioed to him?

“On the right-handers, Brian definitely needs to get his butt off more and head out more. Looks really good to the left, but rights need some work.” Okay. Even though I’m getting WAY better and more comfortable with rights, lefts are still more comfortable. I can fix what they said in the feedback. I still know it’s going to be very embarrassing when the class sees the video of me looking like dog crap on 1A/1B. Oh well.

A bunch more laps, working on the rights, and on better downshifts and 1A/1B. Better, for sure. Almost the end of the session. At last – my turn to ride with Freddie! He says to follow him and he’ll watch in his mirrors and give me feedback. I can tell that he goes just fast enough to match my maximum comfort level. I do pretty well, but a little rough in spots. The guy is just so smooth. It’s kind of tricky sometimes because you’re trying to stay close and match his lines. But then he turns, and you’re like, “Okay, do I turn now, or 20 feet ahead where he just was?” If you go to where he is now, you might be turning in too soon. Anyway, it goes pretty good. We pull over, and he says that I look good, but that there were a few places where our lines were not the same, like into turn 4. He says we’ll do another one at a slower pace, and that I should just match his lines exactly. We do this, and it’s so revealing.

He just makes it flow so smoothly. He uses the whole track, which just makes the track flow. I definitely learn from these couple of laps, not just lines for this track, but how to ride better on any track (or road). Planning ahead, but being smooth between points and using the whole track, to decrease lean angles, carry more speed, while reducing risk and being smooth. Too cool. Basically private instruction from Freddie Spencer. I could get used to this!

We head back into the classroom, where Freddie talks to us about what he saw. He mentions that the 600’s need to carry more corner speed, so that we might take a slightly wider corner entry and line than on a literbike. He also talks about the differences between the lines we’re using, the racing line, the passing line, the chasing line and the protecting line. All slightly different, but the same basic rules apply.

Next we watch our videos. Everyone looks better than yesterday, and most were pretty good yesterday! Up comes my video on the screen. I’m trying to pay attention to the first parts, but dreading seeing how crappy I was on 1A/1B. Nick says that turn 8 (one of the first on the video since we started at 7) looks AWESOME – perfect. Cool! 9, 10, 11 all look pretty good, but I could definitely get off more to the right. Also, I’m accelerating too much through a lot of the turns, driving me wide on the exit. Other than that it looks really good. Down the straight, into 1 – hey, where did Brian go? Jeff’s on the perfect line, but Brian’s not on camera anymore. Dumbass! (they didn’t say that, but I was sure thinking it). Oh well, the recovery turns 3, 4, 5 and 6 look excellent. Not too bad overall. I guess it would be kind of boring if I had nothing to work on tomorrow, eh?

Nick mentions that this sport is as much fun as it is, largely because it’s so hard to perfect! Inches on the track make a huge difference in lap times.

Nick also mentions that lots of people think that when you get older and have kids, you have to slow down because this sport is too risky. He says what we’re doing is not adding risk by going faster, but reducing risk by going faster the right way. He uses Dale as an example. A wife and three kids, not a kid himself, but still winning races – including a WERA one a few weeks back. Very inspiring for an old dude like me!

I’m sure tomorrow will be another great day, and I can’t wait. We get to ride the west track, which I’ve ridden on two previous occasions at track days. It’s a faster, flowing circuit with some really challenging turns. I’m excited to see what I’ve been doing right there, or wrong, and how I can make it better in the future.

Thanks for reading (that’s a lot of reading!), and for all of your kind feedback. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
DAY THREE

Awesome. What an amazing day! I’ve been blessed to have had some great days on motorcycles (including three incredible ones in June at FBo Days at Grattan), but today may have been the best one yet. Incredible. I’m so glad I did this.

Another nice day. Warmer, and breezy in the early morning when I walk a few blocks to go get something to eat (no continental breakfast at the Ramada). When we get to the track it’s not just breezy – it’s windy. Not really gusty, just continuous, hard wind. Hmmm. I wonder how this will affect the riding out there today.

We head for the classroom, and it’s fairly tough to climb the stairs with my sore thighs! I told Nick about them in the limo, mentioning that although I bicycle several times a week, I still seem to get really sore thighs at trackdays. He replies that Freddie says if your legs aren’t getting sore, you’re not getting off the seat enough. That’s reassuring.

Freddie greets us first thing, as he has in the previous couple of days. He tells us he’s going to review apexes with us, while explaining the preferred line around the West track, which is the track we’ll run today. The previous two days were on the East, and the West is really quite a bit different. Much of it is more open, high speed, and flowing, but there are a few really tricky turns, with both double and triple apexes. I’m feeling pretty good about it, since I’ve been on the West track twice before at trackdays. I felt like I already had the lines all figured out. Apparently, I was wrong.

Freddie tells us that our apex is really dictated by our exit. Where is the exit? If the corner opens up, we apex earlier. If the corner closes up, we apex later. Makes sense, but it’s amazing how many of us want to apex too early. Sometimes (if the corner tightens), an early apex is a good thing. But if we apex early on a corner that opens up at the exit, we sacrifice all kinds of drive at the exit.

He says that we’re almost always better off sacrificing entrance speed for exit speed, not the other way around. So many riders charge the corner, thinking if they can go in deep hard on the brakes, they’ll be faster than the other guy. Not if it makes their exit slow, or on the wrong line. I really find this out later in the day out on the track.

One of the turns I thought I had pretty well figured out was 5A/5B, which is a really tricky one at the end of a long straight. It’s a double apex hairpin to the left, that really comes at you fast under hard braking, and then immediately closes up on you. Lots of riders run off the track there. I was sort of breaking it into two parts, trying to use the whole track. WRONG. Freddie explains that your drive out will be much better if you go slower into 5A, really nail the apex, and keep a tighter line on the exit, as you will be pointed in the right direction down to 6. Okay, I believe him, I guess, but I’m going to have to try it on the track to be sure, because I was just certain I knew how to take that one.

He also covers some of the other tricky corners on this track – 7A/7B/7C (triple apex), and 10 (which he calls a “sucker” corner). Later in the day it suckers a lot of us, including me (unfortunately it was while I was being videotaped, darn it!).

He talks about the importance of where are revs are on the bike in various types of corners. For example, on a high speed corner, if you’re in too low a gear, when you gently release the throttle you get too much engine braking. I experience this later in the day on the track as well.

We talk a bit about the use of the rear brake. He says he rarely uses it – only if he needs a little extra, and more in left-handers where you’re not up on your right toes on the peg. He used it more back when he was racing two-strokes, dragging it through the corners with the throttle open to preserve the narrow powerband those bikes had.

I jokingly ask if he can teach us to take turn 5A like Danny Eslick. If you watched the AMA Supersport races from Miller earlier this year, this young kid (former dirt tracker) Danny Eslick would consistently back it in to 5A at high speed, dropping it right into the apex at the last second, often under someone else. It was amazing, and I knew Freddie would remember it since he was working the TV broadcast that day.

This got us into an interesting discussion about backing it in. Freddie says while this looks really cool, it really wears the rear tire quickly, and that toward the end of the race it’s toast. He says if you watch Rossi and Pedrosa, they almost never do it – maybe just in certain situations if they’re slipping in under someone into a corner.

Next, Nick tells us that there will be surprises out there for us today. Like Dale holding up a flag at the end of the cone course. When he raises it, we have to stop. This will make sure that we’re looking out ahead the way we’re supposed to, instead of just down at the cone in front of us.

He tells us that our goals today should be to really exaggerate getting off the bikes more in the corners, and working on improving the flaws we saw in yesterday’s videos. Today our group will ride with Nick. Nick’s really fun to ride with, because he is very hyper-expressive in his hand signals and motions to show you what you should be doing out there. Not only that, he is just such a good guy. Always friendly, upbeat, positive, and teaching. Really a born teacher. Perfect guy for this job, and he’s the one we’re hearing from the most, in and out of the classroom.

So here we go, follow the leader on the West track, three of us chasing Nick around, taking turns directly behind him. He has the other guys go first, since they haven’t been on the track before as I have, which is cool. Gives me a chance to use my newfound skills on a familiar track at a moderate pace. When it’s my turn behind him, he really picks up the pace! This is already faster than my fastest laps at the trackdays. I can tell by my exit speeds out of certain corners. I’m doing okay, but in a couple of corners, I feel my front end drifting wide, instead of going where I want it to go. Like when you go hot into a turn and you feel a bit helpless, hoping you can save it by adding some lean angle. Not feeling totally in control. Why is this happening?

I talk to Nick about it when we stop, and the answer becomes pretty clear. There’s a lot to think about out there, particularly as you pick up the pace. How’s my body position? Is my head down enough? Should I upshift here, after all, I’m pushing up against the rev limiter - but I’m going to have to downshift right away anyway? Don’t forget to blip the throttle as you’re downshifting while braking and using that two-finger clutch. Problem was, I wasn’t focusing on one of the most important tools I have – trail braking. By not doing so, I was allowing the front suspension to unload, causing the bike to drift wide. So how do you make it turn then? Add lean angle. Not good, and it’s asking a lot of the front tire. So often we think “I can’t brake into that corner at that speed.” If done properly, gently, it’s the best thing you can do. Not only is it slowing you down gradually, it’s changing the geometry of the bike. You’re in control, not drifting. It doesn’t mean go flying into the corner, lean it over and jamb on the brakes. No way. It’s a technique that takes some practice. But when you get it right, it’s unbelievable.

The next session out, I focus more on this, and now I’m “absolutely floying!” It’s really true, that often you must “slow down to speed up.” By slowing, under control, in the right places, it enables you to get on the gas so much sooner, and it’s an incredible feeling of control, safety, and speed.

The wind is a factor, but not as much as I feared it might be. I felt it when dipping into turn 1, and coming out of 2 up the hill into 3 it was coming straight at me, and being kind of a tall guy, that headwind wanted to make me sit right up, so I had to really work at staying tucked. No problems at all as a crosswind going down the straights.

We stop in turn 6A/6B and watch JD (Jason DiSalvo) go through. Sweet. I can’t believe how well he can scrub off so much speed, so smoothly, into the corners. Very inspiring, and something I’m going to continue to try to get better at.

We do more laps, and I’m really making good progress. I find myself wishing I had a lap timer to see how much better I’m doing than my last trackday. Turns 2, 3 and 4 are a succession of very high speed turns that are a blast. 4 is the only turn on the track where we don’t brake – the throttle on my CBR600RR is pinned. At my last trackday, feeling pretty good in the “A” group on my RC51, I was exiting that turn at around 90-95 MPH and feeling pretty fast. Today on my better laps, by setting it up better through 2 and 3, I was exiting that same corner at 110-115 MPH. That’s some incredible improvement, if you ask me! And I really didn’t feel at all at risk, or out of control through that section. Awesome.

Next we focus a bit on the rear brake. First we watch Jeff and Dale go through 7A/7C with the right hand waving in the air, showing that they are using just rear brake to set lines and get through. They’re moving pretty fast, too. DiSalvo tells us that on this track he uses lots of rear brake, but very, very gently. In fact, he tells us that on all of his bikes he only uses stock rear brake components, because he doesn’t need or want greater stopping power there. I had noticed that he had upgraded front brakes on his R1 this morning (see photo), but was surprised that the rear was stock. Now I see why.

DiSalvo also tells us that the grip on this track is just unbelievable. There are times he’s actually tried to get the tires to break loose and they just don’t.

Another interesting DiSalvo observation – we checked out his R1 in the paddock in the morning before we went out. I bounced the suspension (after getting permission, of course!), front and rear. Amazingly stiff. I mean really, really stiff. The guy only weighs like 120 pounds. Why so stiff? Nick was surprised too, and said that it’s certainly the trend among a lot of today’s riders.

We’re then to take a couple of laps ourselves, trying to (carefully!) use rear brake only on the left-handers. I do this pretty successfully, starting very early and being really judicious in my use of that lever. The only place I have a problem is at the end of the straight into the very tight 5A/5B. That turn’s coming up fast and I’m not slowing enough. A little more pressure, and SCREECH – I lock that badboy up (briefly), and my better judgment tells me to add some front before I fly off into the dirt runoff. Phew.

We also do some drills where we intentionally try to lock the rear (in a straight line), then release, then lock it up again, then release, etc., to get a feel for what it takes to lock it up (not much!).

Next it’s time for the video lap, and I’m first up. Yikes! Can’t I practice some more first? Oh well, let’s do it. I feel like I’m doing pretty well, but I’m rushing the corners a bit (bad bwhip!), and I just totally butcher 10. Remember Freddie calling it a sucker corner? Just call me sucker, I guess. Way too hot going in, poor trail braking, just butchered. Oh well. Let’s fix 1 through 5 (we started at 6). These are pretty good. Again I know I’m going to be embarrassed at lunch when the class watches me in 10, but hey, 1 out of 10 turns mangled isn’t too bad, I guess.

Lunchtime. Freddie talks to us about turns we like or don’t like on this new track. Everyone loves the fast 2, 3 and 4. Everyone hates 10. I’m about the only one that says he actually likes the tricky 5A/5B, but using Freddie’s line (rather than the one I used to) is magic. It really makes it fun and much easier and less stressful. All of the students are learning (as I did) that they need to do more controlled trail braking in 6, 7 and 9. Most are really struggling with 7A/7B/7C. It’s pretty tricky – a triple apex.

I tell Freddie that sometimes in mid-corner I know I should be applying gentle trail braking to get the bike to change direction, but it feels like I should be accelerating, not slowing down! Several others nod their heads, indicating that they’ve experienced the same feeling. He reminds us that sometimes out there we need patience, going briefly slower to set up going faster right after that.

We watch the videos. I’m first. I wish they could just fast-forward through 10 and ignore it, but of course they don’t. It’s reassuring to see that quite a few people blow 10 as I did. Freddie tells us that if we make the same mistake three laps in a row – why? Stop doing it! He says in this case, slow down, go in mid-track, pick up the apex sooner, and have a target ahead of you. I try this after lunch and start just nailing it! Why was this turn so hard before? Seems incredible.

The rest of the video looks very good. Definitely a few rushed corners, but the body position looks excellent both to the right and left, trail braking is good, and I’m using the whole track on most of the exits. Definite improvement, and the instructors are very complimentary. I still see room for improvement, but am really pleased at the progress.

The video of the 15-year-old is pretty darn good, I must say. He’s got excellent lines around the track, good body position, and excellent speed. The few flaws are pretty minor. Punk. :smilebig:

They show some pretty cool video of Nick, Jeff, and Dale all mixing it up on the track. Nick is missing apexes on purpose, trying to keep a really tight line around all the turns, and so on. Looking pretty much like a lot of typical trackday riders. Fast in the straights, but poor lines through the corners. Then Dale or Jeff, with the video bikes, will show where they have opportunities to pass such a rider, to teach us about smart passing (and blocking too, for the racers). Jeff shows off a bit, backing it in to 5. Absolutely amazing. Un-freaking-believable. I’m glad the 15 year old can’t do this yet, or I’d quit.

They tell us it’s very important to ride the track – not the rider in front of us! Easy to do at track days – follow the poor lines of the guy in front of us. How are we going to pass them if we aren’t using the better line, improving our exit speed?

They tell us the number one e-mail they get from former students is “I can catch people at track days, but I can’t seem to get around them. How can I do this better?” This video, and what we do later on the track, shows us how.

As I watch all the videos, and do a little self-examination of my own riding tendencies, I realize that I’m a little bit competitive. Okay, not a little bit, but really, really competitive. Not “I’ll kill you rather than lose to you” competitive, but the “I don’t like to lose, I don’t like to be passed” kind of competitive. A character flaw, perhaps, but it is what it is. Part of who I am. But what does this do to me on the track sometimes (a lot)? I want to go get the guy in front of me, or leave the guy behind me in the dust, causing me to do dumb stuff – go harder instead of smarter, be abrupt with throttle and brake instead of smooth. All the stuff that actually makes me go slower when I’m trying to go faster.

So how can I go faster? Pretend the video bike is behind me, and I want it to look perfect. Smooth. Controlled. Smart. Ahhhh, a revelation. Hopefully one I won’t forget.

The instructors have told us repeatedly, in both Level I school and Level II school, the four main reasons we crash:
  • Lack of focus
  • Abrupt inputs
  • Repeating mistakes
  • Rushing the corners
In the afternoon, we do the cone drill in first gear, which of course requires more care to stay smooth. Also, Dale is down the course with a flag, and we’d better keep our eyes on him, because if he raises the flag, everyone needs to stop immediately. Everyone does this pretty well. I’m not sure that would have been the case two days ago.

Then, the coolest and most fun thing for me of the whole three day experience – we get to practice trying to pass the instructor! In my case, this is Nick, again leading our group of three around. He’s told us beforehand that he is going to be the typical track day rider, fast in the straights, but blowing the apex for various reasons, giving us opportunities, particularly exiting turns 5 (into 6) and 9 (into 10), to pass him. He says that if we don’t get the proper line ourselves, it will create a great opportunity for him to pass us back, which we of course don’t want. The other two guys go first, with varying degrees of success, before me. Nick isn’t exactly making it easy on us! He gives us opportunities (just like that trackday guy on the literbike), but they close in a hurry.

My turn. Yeah, baby, bring it on. Ooops, check that competitive fire, Brian. Be smart, ride the track, go slow to get fast. I can do this. Nick’s taking some pretty poor lines, but even though I’m so used to following him, I stay disciplined and take the right line, staying close so that when he blows it on 6 or 9 I can blaze by him and then block him by hitting the perfect apex and proper exit line. We go through 5A/5B, and he hugs the inside line, right according to plan. But he’s on the gas pretty good, so even though I’m on the right line I need to get on it. But my line is better, giving me better exit drive, and I blast by. It feels awesome, but there’s still work to do. I’ve got to brake for 6, which is approaching fast. I let off the gas a bit too early, and see him creeping up beside me on the left. No way! I decide I’m going to “Noriyuki Haga” him, and late-brake him into the corner under trail braking, but SMOOTHLY. I do this, nail the apex, fire out of the exit, and don’t see him again until a turn or two later. What a great feeling! On 9/10 it works in very similar fashion. Again, he doesn’t give it to me, I have to earn it, but when I do – by being smart, not just fast, it’s the coolest feeling. I’m just beaming inside that helmet. Even more so when Nick compliments me afterward. Worth the price of admission right there, for sure!

After that, we take some open laps. Everyone is getting a bit tired, but still working on improvement. I’m trying to ignore the cones at each corner and reference point, knowing they won’t be there next weekend when I return for trackdays. I can’t wait, as I know I’m riding better than ever. Faster, but safer. Hard to imagine a whole lot of things better than that!

Back to the classroom for “graduation” ceremonies. Everyone is beat, but totally satisfied and happy they came. I sure am.

Again, I must compliment the staff of the school. They are the best. Freddie, Nick, Jeff and Dale, along with Norm the mechanic, are such cool guys. Not only brilliant riders, but great teachers, friendly and approachable, both on and off the track. You can tell how much they love what they do. They have a great interplay between themselves that shows what great friends they are, and it sure makes it fun for the students, too.

The whole Level I / Level II thing makes more sense to me now, too. Before doing Level I, I remember thinking “I’m an experienced rider, not some street-riding newbie. Can’t I just go straight to Level II?” I learned so much in Level I, and really wouldn’t have been ready for this more advanced, focused class at that time. I believe it really set me up well to get the most out of Level II. And I can also see now why people would take Level II multiple times (in the case of this group one guy having done it five times, and another seven!) There is so much to learn, and you can just keep getting better and better, faster and safer. I can definitely see myself going back.

Tonight I can hardly walk, and my wallet’s sure a bit lighter. But I am so thrilled about having had this experience. To have that much fun, learn that much, and see and feel the improvement in myself and the other students, is one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. Again, I’m very grateful.
 

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Awesome report my friend! I really enjoy the way you give such indepth details of what they teach, what you are going through while trying to incorporate everything into your riding, and the outcome after you have been working on it all day. I'm like you in that I love to watch the pros up close as they rip past me on the track!!!

Can't wait for the next two reports!

Thanks bwhip....... YOU ROCK!
 

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:plus1: good thing yuo saved space! this is going to be one of those drool threads. add some naked chics and it would go on forever!
 
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Awesome! Keep the reports coming!! I'd love to do Freddie's school, too, to see how it is compared to Kevin's, but it's sooo far away! Interesting that they set the pressures on the Pilot Powers to 37. I thought they should be higher, like the Diablo Corsas. At Kevin's school they set them to 32 front and 30 rear. Odd.
 

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Whipper, as usual, thanks for the excellent write-up, and making it plainly obvious how much my life sucks compared to yours. :rotfl:

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: YOU DA MAN!:nworthy::nworthy: :nworthy: :nworthy:
 

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Whipper, as usual, thanks for the excellent write-up, and making it plainly obvious how much my life sucks compared to yours. :rotfl:

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: YOU DA MAN!:nworthy::nworthy: :nworthy: :nworthy:

I think you speak for all of us.

Whip, I am so envious of you. I don't know if I can wait the couple months for the vid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Whipper, as usual, thanks for the excellent write-up, and making it plainly obvious how much my life sucks compared to yours. :rotfl:

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: YOU DA MAN!:nworthy::nworthy: :nworthy: :nworthy:
:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: I thought you were the one with those fat oil profits! Put a crowbar in your wallet and drag that new CBR1000RR to Miller! :smilebig:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I think you speak for all of us.

Whip, I am so envious of you. I don't know if I can wait the couple months for the vid.
Envious of me? I am fortunate to be doing this, for sure. But man, not only is there a guy here who's been to the school seven times, there is a 15 year old kid in the class who wants to be a pro racer. His dad (a big-time beer distributor in Vegas) has sent him to the last five schools in a row they've had this year alone. The kid rides pretty well and is improving, so maybe he'll do okay. At 16 my dad told me to get the hell out of the house and get a job and an apartment! All relative, I guess. :idunno:
 
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