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Old November 20th, 2019, 09:56 PM   #1
Yakaru
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MOTM - Jun '16
A year of Riding Schools - CSS, CodeRace, YCRS

Could put this in a few places -- skills, ride reports, track... so why not general!
Be prepared for quite the essay! I hope every finds it useful!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: School Overview
Chapter 3: California Superbike Levels 1-3
Chapter 4: California Superbike Level 4
Chapter 5: CodeRACE
Chapter 6: Yamaha Champions
Chapter 7: On the technique of riding, my biased discussion of YCRS vs CSS technique
Chapter 8: Results
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Old November 20th, 2019, 09:57 PM   #2
Yakaru
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MOTM - Jun '16
As a kid I will admit I had a bit of an interest in motorcycles . I certainly didn't own one of these:

Link to original page on YouTube.

But as I got older and life got busier, I sort of 'forgot' about it in a strange way. That was until my best friend ( @Momaru ) and I caught up and he mentioned he had purchased a Ninja 250. He was shocked he had gotten a bike before me. Gauntlet thrown. I had my own bike within a few months. A while down the line we met up for an epic ride together, through many scenic routes and parks, and then my first time on the track as the finale at California Superbike School.

It became tradition. Every summer we would meet up somewhere and ride. California Superbike School was the core of our tradition (both for the instruction and the ability to use their bikes). Every year he would claim I was improving faster than he, and that surely next year I'd be the better rider of the two of us.

Unfortunately, at the end of 2018, he passed away. I never got to see him be proud of me surpassing him – if that moment ever would've come. Still, I felt I owed it to him to try; so, in memorial I decided this would be the year I really got serious about riding. This included a lot more school time than I’ve ever done before, and some programs I hadn’t tried yet (namely CodeRACE and Yamaha Champions). These are my reflections on things as a rider.

I'll admit to some biases – I have done so many California Superbike days (not just this year) that I can't claim to be neutral, but I'll do my best to provide good information and to talk about my progress. So I'm going to break things into a few segments and then a summary of how this all came together at the year’s end.

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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:04 PM   #3
Yakaru
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MOTM - Jun '16
So the "Big 2" schools I've always heard about have been California Superbike School (CSS) and Yamaha Champions Riding School (YCRS). There are some others (Pridmore is probably the best known past these), and many track day organizers offer instructors, but CSS and YCRS are the big ones.

Top line: If you can attend a school instead of a normal track day, do it. YCRS and CSS are both solid programs and worth the extra expense because you're not paying just for track time but for the instruction.

California Superbike School: CSS has a 'leveled' program. You could be Rossi or someone with only commuting experience but everyone starts at Level One. You progress through the levels, one per school day, until you reach Level 4. Despite my efforts I have never been able to get into Level 5. You have an instructor (or consultant for L4) teach theory and technique in class and an on-track coach who both follows you and leads you to observe and demonstrate the techniques you’re working on. Coaches have 3 students (2 at ‘camps’) and are able to spend one-on-one time with each both on track and then, after a session, doing a debrief on how the drill went and any observations as well as some Socratic style questioning to probe at a rider’s understanding of both the proper technique (and why) as well as their own riding habits.

Yamaha Champions School: I’ve only attended the 2-day “Champ School”, so I will restrict my comments to that. The school is not leveled – everyone gets the same instruction for the most part. They have a variety of techniques and drills that are demonstrated, and on track coaching is primarily done via 3 methods: a “Lead and Tow” where a coach leads a small group of riders, video review where a coach follows and videos a rider, and for a few drills “on track discussion”. I’ll get into these more in that school’s section. They’re generally very receptive to questions and have a more back-and-forth style discussion vs CSS’s lecture/debrief format.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:19 PM   #4
Yakaru
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MOTM - Jun '16
California Superbike Levels 1-3

Everyone starts at level 1. Some people dislike this but I have found it's usually because they don’t understand how the program is structured. The levels do not reflect a level of skill like at a trackday. The best riders at some schools have been level ones, but I rarely hear of someone who engages with the program who didn't gain from it no matter their starting skill. Instead of speed, CSS groups the levels by the skill they're working on, roughly: controls, vision, and body position. Exceedingly attentive track control combined with a low number of riders on track lets this function despite potential large differences in rider skill. (As an aside: Trevor, CSS’s Head Track Control, should frankly teach classes on how to run a track).

While some people might say, “I have excellent control skills and want to work on body position,” thinking they should be able to jump straight to level 3, I have found this is nearly always a mistake. People often focus on skills that are in fashion and don’t have as good an understanding of their competencies; additionally, by having a strict progression CSS can be sure that riders in Level 2 all are aware of the signals and techniques of Level 1. Finally, the techniques build on each other – if your turn point selection is weak and inconsistent, your visuals are more likely to be confused. Focusing on body position without an understanding of control technique can easily lead to things like being crossed up or hanging too far off which actually destabilizes the bike.

Further, everyone can always improve these skills. I recently went back and redid the first three levels and even though I already knew the techniques I found that revisiting them often led to a greater understanding and could contribute to addressing my problem areas in ways I didn’t expect.

As mentioned above, the school follows a specified exercise approach. Every session starts with classroom discussion of topics related to the drill, followed by a ride with a specific riding technique to be practiced (for example: picking and using turn points). When you ride you have a coach who will follow you and then lead you, addressing any specific issues you are having. After this the coach debriefs with you, with a semi-Socratic technique – they try to help both themselves and you understand your thought process and identify holes or weaknesses that can be addressed.

Over the years, CSS has also developed a series of hand signals which allows a coach to remind you of something – most often the technique you are performing, but they will use previous signals if they notice a technique which is suffering. This allows for instant feedback. Coaches have mirrors and get a feeling for a rider’s pace which means they will generally ride at your level, or if appropriate, push you just enough that you up the pace without introducing errors nor getting ‘sucked into their tail’ and just mimicking them blindly.

Over the years I’ve heard some people say things about CSS that I didn’t understand, but after more discussion have usually identified the issue to be related to the drill structure. I’ll use one of the early drills, turn point, as an example. When the drill for turn point is given, the instruction is (to over simplify and paraphrase) to accurately pick and use a turn point, and to do this you should finish all braking beforehand. People take this as, “The CSS way to turn is to finish your braking before you turn,” (that is, don’t trail brake) when the goal is to make you focus on your turn point and not be distracted by other factors. The drill isn’t about brake technique. Another one I’ve heard is misunderstandings on why every first session CSS actually goes a step further and says “No Brakes”. I’ve seen some really out there reasons for this but the best explanation for what the school is doing is here: https://ytcropper.com/cropped/2Y5dd61c0e9aca8

Personally I think this approach is extremely valuable. I meet so many track riders (both ‘friendly advice’ from other participants and from track coaches/marshals) that focus on finesse techniques like trail braking while a rider is still getting their fundamentals down. While there is an argument for trail braking often being safer or easier (for me one of the big advantages is minimizing suspension bounce), but it takes a lot of mental space to manipulate multiple controls in concert well, and thus it isn’t a place I’d start with.

An anecdote that I think applies is when I began learning how to operate a car with manual transmission. My first instructor was trying to teach the technique as a full system – ease off the clutch and onto the gas all as one big process. It didn’t go well and I never quite got the hang of it. Later, another person offered to teach me, and they had me just set a very low amount of throttle and hold it steady, then ease the clutch out super slowly. By doing one action at a time and paying attention to it I had success, and before long I was performing the smooth combination because I had more confidence in each action and could understand the interplay.

The final thing I’ll add is that CSS builds its techniques from a strong basis of research. They use real race data analysis and study the physics and biology related topics exhaustively, which sometimes goes against ‘common wisdom’ in many circles. Some people tend to react negatively to this, and will feel like there is a sort of ego involved when they try to dissuade the point.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:20 PM   #5
Yakaru
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MOTM - Jun '16
California Superbike Level 4

Something I’ve said to more than a few people is that “this is where things really get started.” Most of the complaints I’ve heard from students/prospective students are complete non-issues in Level 4. In a sense, while you will virtually always will get a benefit from levels 1-3, after a few level 4s you’ll start to see those levels more as prerequisites so that you can discuss riding with a common language and understanding of technique with the staff.

In level 4, you move away from the classroom lecture into a consultant style format. Just like before, your coach will follow and lead, but then in the debrief you will discuss the biggest issue to address and the coach will write notes usually mentioning things going particularly well, problems observed, and a suggested drill.

These notes go to your consultant, who then goes over it in more depth with you one-on-one. They make sure the problem observed is correct (are you actually having the vision problem your coach suspects or are you unsure of your turn point which is causing your visuals to be disrupted?) and then assigning a drill. The school’s set of Level 4 drills is notably large and grows every year – and sometimes your consultant will invent a new one for you (especially if your consultant is Keith Code), which I’ve had happen quite a few times now. This drill is then delivered to your coach and you go out and practice.

Level 4 is, in my opinion, the best riding program out there. It has consistently given me not only huge gains, but helped me refine my ability to diagnose my riding during track days. While it requires a bit of investment in time and money to gain access to, I absolutely adore it.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:21 PM   #6
Yakaru
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MOTM - Jun '16
CodeRACE

CodeRACE is a special program offered by California Superbike which moves the focus from general technique to race specific refinement. Rules are changed appropriately: passing is allowed to be more aggressive (but still polite/safe), and a few tools are utilized around this, such as alternate line analysis and speed demonstration/experimentation via radar. While it does not have a specific California Superbike prerequisite, I would say that I’d recommend having done at least levels 1-3 to get the most from the program.

The lectures are less formal and much shorter, and usually focus on things like race mindset. Things are discussed with an eye towards maximizing race performance – one of my favorites was a discussion of how many riders will try to ‘push’ their skills when they are already near the limit, while they would benefit more from areas where the limit is farther away on top of not risking going over the limit and having a “Bad Time”™.

Discussions with the coach follow the lecture, and are less Socratic and more student directed. There are a series of practice sessions, some more open in format than others, a few techniques that are specifically focused on are things like high line/mid line/low line and race starts. After these there is a qualifying session which determines grid order and then an actual race.

I will say it is hard to concretely evaluate and describe the CodeRACE experience relative to all the other programs. I won’t say I prefer it to them but I do find it an incredibly valuable supplement, especially for someone interested in (or already) racing.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:23 PM   #7
Yakaru
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MOTM - Jun '16
Yamaha Champions

I’ll open by saying this review is going to be much more prone to error/misunderstanding, as I’ve only attended Yamaha’s school one time. I will post any response I receive from them as an addendum if they wish and happily correct any errors.

The Yamaha program is not leveled at all; everyone attends the same lecture. They have a rule of, “students get what they need,” and questions are asked by students constantly through the lessons. Yamaha in particular has a heavy focus on using the brakes, which is a theme throughout the whole day.

There are a number of demonstrations through the lectures. Usually one instructor will discuss something and then have another coach riding a bike demonstrate. In a sort of “half-amusing half-annoying” (to me) way, through all these demonstrations and discussions they often show the extreme (without crashing) of what not to do in what comes off as a hokey but practiced skit. Perhaps because I’ve done so many schools prior with CSS, I found frequently these lectures belabored the point but I also realize that not everyone has that kind of a background and others may need the extra demonstration time.

Another thing I found a bit interesting/odd was that the focus seemed to switch frequently between what I would call ‘street techniques’ and ‘track techniques’. This may be related to the fact that, “The Yamaha Champions school is an MSF-recognized Tier Three school, the only one in the country.” There are also a few things that were belabored constantly that I found a bit obvious (the biggest one being having a foot to put down in a U-turn… maybe just the fact that I'm a short rider made this a necessity very early in my riding experience).

Yamaha has a formal “evaluation” grid in the notebook they give you, listing a number of factors they consider most important while riding. I really liked this. After every ride you rate them from 1-10 and you put special focus on any of them that are relatively lower. While I might change what specific things I evaluate, I think this is a valuable complement to my personal track day plans to combine with my CSS inspired analysis.

Another theme I really liked throughout the day was the focus on being smooth. While this was another item that I already understood really well, it is one that, similar to CSS, is always worth spending some time on.

For the first ride the school asks riders to ‘sort’ themselves by speed/level into groups of 4. I found this to be a bit disconcerting – I’ve potentially never ridden with any of the other students and even if I have I often haven’t specifically noted their skill level. This feels like a place that could also be very easy for ‘masculine ego’ to play a larger role than it should.

I personally felt that I had probably sorted myself ‘too high’ but it did end up being just fine when we went out on track. After sorting yourselves, the coach takes a group of four out and leads them in what I can only call ‘duckling tows’ where the riders all fall in line. From time to time they will give a hand signal and the front rider will fall to the rear and everyone else moves up. If a rider is unable to keep up, they are told not to push themselves past comfort and another coach will come by to pick them up.

Another drill in the program was a brake drill, focusing on smooth use of the brakes. After some demonstration, they had us go out to the track and ride, with coaches standing on the side of the track at various points. As you rode they would point at riders and when they did that rider was supposed to smoothly engage their brakes and stop at the line on the track with that coach, who would then discuss it. While I think the drill in the context of being smooth on the brakes is extremely valuable, I found the ‘to a stop’ part to be less than ideal. I ‘brake to a stop’ in a different way than I ‘brake for a corner’ and I have a hard time trying to force my corner technique to work for a stop. This is not only because of psychological reasons but because of things like mechanics – a stop requires a full clutch engagement (and/or shifting to neutral), which causes a very different set of priorities for me. One of the common refrains I had in this exercise was that my technique was super smooth and solid but I could brake more aggressively… I definitely would’ve/could’ve if it were a setup brake rather than one to a stop.

My favorite drill is probably the cones drill. In this session the coaches take small traffic cones and lay them on their side at various points on the track. The instruction is to take a line which puts you on the side of the cone it points to (like an arrow). This was a great way to explore alternate lines and see how changes in corner shape change the needed technique. My favorite was when I noticed they set the cones up to force a fairly accurate “race line”, which is definitely a good way to help riders (combining this with CSS’s visual drills would be a real winner for either program).

The day ends with a rider taking some laps and being followed by a coach who films them. After everyone has done this the whole class grabs some food and watches all the videos together. While this can be a bit intimidating, it can have advantages in that you can observe other rider’s errors and issues and potentially apply them to yourself.

All in all, I enjoyed the Yamaha program but I am curious if returning a second time would be valuable in the same way. Because the format is the same in particular I’m less confident in the value I would receive outside the more specific advice you receive, which is far less frequent than in CSS. They do have a “ChampGrad” program which requires you to attend the regular program twice, and I would love to give it a shot and see how it compares, especially vs Level 4 CSS.

Another thing YCRS does that I am a big fan of is their “Champions Certified Coach” which is a program they run to help local track orgs train up their staff in order to up the level of instruction skills. This is a great program (at least in theory) and I support that a lot. I love teaching and coaching, and would definitely be interested in pursuing this myself.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:33 PM   #8
Yakaru
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Name: Yakaru
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MOTM - Jun '16
On the technique of riding, my biased discussion of YCRS vs CSS technique

There were a few things I found intriguing about the instruction of the programs. One comment I made during YCRS is that “CSS has a bit of focus, especially early, on smooth use of the throttle; YCRS has a focus on smooth use of the brakes”. That YCRS’s program never formally covered throttle control was honestly surprising to me (Throttle Control Rule#1: Once the throttle is cracked on, it is rolled on evenly, smoothly, and consistently throughout the remainder of the turn.); but it did make the programs mostly complementary rather than rehashing the same ideas. In a similar regard, outside level 4, it wasn’t until recently that brakes were specifically addressed as a session’s focus (it is now in Level 2).

There were also a number of times I disagreed fairly strongly with some things taught at YCRS. My hope is that these are misunderstandings, similar to the misunderstandings I discussed about CSS. I want to be clear that I would like to attend the class again, and they are right about the proper techniques far, far more often than not. Their coaches are also absolutely top notch in their skills. I could also be the one in error and will try to keep an open mind when I do so.

My suspicion on many of these is something I’ve seen before which is what I’ll term “perception vs physics”; which is knowing what is actually happening and why one is easily misled by the perception of it. One good example of this is a common thought, from some EXTREMELY fast and skilled riders, that rolling on the gas will stand the bike up. It doesn’t, but it certainly can feel that way! For some techniques it’s actually worth going over both the perception and the physics to give a rider a full picture.

Here is a list, in no particular order, of things I felt worth commenting on specifically:
  1. Eyes: YCRS doesn’t talk about this very much, but they encourage a technique of “scan back” where you move your eyes from a point further out and then scan back. This is especially a good technique for street riding with unpredictable drivers around, but I do worry about how it might be interpreted in high speed track riding. Every time you move your eyes you lose a tenth of a second in a way you don’t even realize ( https://twitter.com/foone/status/101...922624?lang=en ). After discussing this with YCRS post-school I got a little more explanation (and an apology it wasn't covered more) -- they're using techniques that they've heard from racers and fighter pilots and after some reflection I think it makes more sense; though as I said I think it could be misinterpreted. CSS has a technique series on Wide View (and Wide View Transitions); from knowing a few fighter pilots I think this is the same technique -- wide view is about keeping a wide perspective and being able to accurately identify things in the periphery. This means that you can keep awareness without having to saccade (wide view) and where you do, your identifying where it is means you can move your eyes directly to it (wide view transition) instead of needing to hunt. Data does show that as riders improve, their eyes become smoother/more precise and change where they are looking far less often. Here's an article by a fighter pilot about using your eyes while driving that might be elucidating: https://www.portsmouthctc.org.uk/a-f...-on-the-roads/
  2. Steering: When YCRS discusses counter steering, they discuss it as a “where appropriate” technique, specifically calling out places you steer while on the gas as a major example. They also describe counter steering as, “cutting a steak with an ax,” and that you want to be finer than that. I disagree with this quite strongly. If you want to turn a motorcycle carrying any momentum at all you must counter steer.

    Link to original page on YouTube.
    There are ways to counter steer other than bar pressure, but all techniques that cause a bike to turn are counter steering. I’ve heard YCRS instructors state, “you steer the bike by weighting your inside peg,”

    Link to original page on YouTube.
    and that you are steering this way due to the gyroscopic effect. This may be the way it feels, and it may lead to proper technique, but in my experience and opinion this is untrue. The gyroscopic effect is involved in how a bike functions, but it is far overstated, and the vast majority of it actually makes turning more difficult due to Newton’s Laws. After talking with YCRS I do realize that they differ on the definition of counter steering that I use -- for me it is any action that causes the bike to move the tire 'away' from the turn, forcing a lean, followed by a pro-steer into the turn. YCRS treats it as only pushing on the bars -- not even including the release of the bars to allow the pro-steer. They also said the CSS video above showed counter steering was "abrupt"; but I think this is misinterpreting -- the demonstration was to show how fast counter steering *can* be but it obviously can be slower and smoother, as appropriate for the turn.

    Link to original page on YouTube.
    This video is one of my favorites and goes over why countersteering works, and in part why I define it as the entire process instead of only pushing on the bars and include things that aren't bar pushes (though these are generally less effective).
    Also I generally don't like to link to this video, given the copyright issue, but: https://youtu.be/odJJXhg79j8?t=149 (this link should jump to 2:34, where this is shown; you can see how body steering is causing a slow and minimal counter steer which leads to a slower turn. I also feel it's probably less predictable, though I'm sure this can be improved if you explicitly practice it.
    https://www.nature.com/news/the-bicy...matics-1.20281 is an excellent read on bicycle/motorcycle physics by the way.

  3. One thing I feel neither school addressed as well as they could've: In my experience, just moving left and right on the seat has a tendency to rotate you around the tank instead of purely strafing. To compensate for this I usually think about moving my thigh/butt ‘backwards and towards the seat’ – this both helps get the leg out naturally instead of feeling like a yoga pose and tends to correct the counter rotation. -- see the attached pictures. Both schools talk about 'about a fist off', YCRS advises "one cheek off" while CSS has generally advised slightly less. I think this depends a bit on leg length -- I should move off the seat way less than someone who's 6'1" because otherwise I need to hold on with the bars.
  4. Throttle/Slowest Point in the Turn: I had a debate on this with the instructors. They referred to the slowest point in the turn as the point where you let go of the brakes and get back on the throttle. I brought up that this is technically incorrect – you just ‘decelerate slower’ until you hit somewhere between 25%-50% throttle, depending on the turn. The instructor stated that this would only be true if you were in too high a gear. Pro race data I’ve seen disagrees with this. I think some fairly trivial experiments can tell you why: If I’m going in a straight line with my throttle at, say, 90% and then I roll off to zero I will decelerate. I will continue to decelerate until my throttle reaches nearly 90% again. This doesn’t mean I should downshift – I’m near the top end of my current gear and downshifting would cause me to need a lot more clutch finesse and I’d quickly redline the engine. This is the one point that YCRS and I continue to disagree; and I feel in part it can be related to the SPEED of roll on rather than the AMOUNT -- you can roll on quite aggressively and early for turn 6 at Laguna but you are going to be slowing until you reach 50%+ throttle more often than not.
  5. “Do what champions do”: generally this can be a good philosophy but it can lead to bad theory work if you don’t understand why and how they do these things. For example, racers tend to have bike customizations that general riders don’t, like customized gas tank shapes, which gives them options that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
  6. One of YCRS’s most famous lectures is their “100 points of grip” discussion which I like but have some refinements I feel to be important. I think they’d agree with this, given their time spent on smooth controls and “load the tire before you work the tire” mantra, as well as their first 5 and last 5% being the place you should focus the most on smoothness. They discuss that your grip can be used for brakes, lean, or throttle. If you want to add throttle you need to take away lean, for example. I think an important note is that the smoothness and aggressiveness of inputs here has a huge impact that is understated in this lesson. If you’re at lean and roll on the throttle very, very slowly you will be able to get to an extremely high amount while maintaining grip, far more than you might suspect given the 100 points lesson -- the metaphor I like is it's like a person's attention -- if you sneak up behind them and shout suddenly they'll jump and you'll take away all their focus. On the other hand there are some actions that will make the 100 points a bit irrelevant (though partly still applicable) -- if you add lean and throttle at the same time for example you aren't just "using up points in two places at the same time" but you're causing other issues. One way I describe this is that when you roll on you're asking the rear wheel to keep going around the curve (or, if sufficiently aggressive, to widen it as speed increases radius), while adding lean -- generally to tighten the turn, is telling the front wheel to deviate from the current path. The tires disagree and down you go. I also feel that they don't cover how to know how close you are to the 100 points; but neither does CSS in my experience.
  7. One thing I really liked was hearing the “same lesson a different way”. For example, YCRS has a lesson of ‘head lowest at the exit’ which is similar to a lesson from CSS (the “pick up”) but with a different focus on the approach. I find that hearing these sort of things with those different philosophies is often extremely valuable.

In the end, I felt I was able to take the lessons and methodologies of both schools and combine them into a superior end result. I used CSS’s “no brakes for sense of speed” along with YCRS’s “brake until you’re happy with speed and direction” to refine my ability to not over slow for a corner entry by using a very minimal amount of brake to help psychologically calibrate my speed not to the point I started leaning but to the point I had the bike at lean and, usually, pointed where I wanted.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:34 PM   #9
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Results

This year was an amazing experience and my riding has improved by leaps and bounds, which was particularly welcome after a very rough 2018 where, due to minimal riding, my skills deteriorated and I spent most of the year trying to get back to my 2017 skill level. At the beginning of the year I rode Streets at Willow with a best lap time of 1:43 and an average lap time for my best session of about 1:51; my last session of the year ran a 1:30 with a spread up to 1:32 – a vast improvement in both lap time and consistency. I credit a number of factors for this: the sheer amount of time I spent training on the bike this year, the variety of programs I attended, the right drive and focus. I tip my hat to CSS and YCRS for the incredible amount of help they gave me. Unfortunately I know my budget won’t support quite as extravagant a program next year.

I want to thank @Misti, Chook, Cobie and Adam from CSS as well as Nick from YCRS – you all helped my riding immensely this year. And thanks to you for reading this! I hope this leads to a productive discussion and is helpful to any riders considering a school.
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Old November 21st, 2019, 01:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yakaru View Post
Results

This year was an amazing experience and my riding has improved by leaps and bounds, which was particularly welcome after a very rough 2018 where, due to minimal riding, my skills deteriorated and I spent most of the year trying to get back to my 2017 skill level. At the beginning of the year I rode Streets at Willow with a best lap time of 1:43 and an average lap time for my best session of about 1:51; my last session of the year ran a 1:30 with a spread up to 1:32 – a vast improvement in both lap time and consistency. I credit a number of factors for this: the sheer amount of time I spent training on the bike this year, the variety of programs I attended, the right drive and focus. I tip my hat to CSS and YCRS for the incredible amount of help they gave me. Unfortunately I know my budget won’t support quite as extravagant a program next year.

I want to thank @Misti, Chook, Cobie and Adam from CSS as well as Nick from YCRS – you all helped my riding immensely this year. And thanks to you for reading this! I hope this leads to a productive discussion and is helpful to any riders considering a school.
EXCELLENT WRITE UP!!! I read every single word and think you did very well in explaining all aspects of both schools. Nicely done and thank you for sharing. Your riding has come SO FAR from when I first coached you and I know that Paul would be very proud. Keep it up and I'll see you on the track next year!
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Old November 28th, 2019, 10:06 AM   #11
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Just as a heads up, I've been speaking with YCRS and have some corrections I'll be making for things I misinterpreted; I'll try to call them out in this post for people who've already read it and want to just see the delta.

Some updates I made:
- I misremembered the 'twist your hips in' I think (I rewatched their youtube on this); I think this was probably from one of the ride coaches at the track day I did the weekend before school.
- We disagreed on the definition of counter steering, which partly led to the disagreement; though I do think you can be extremely smooth with countersteering via bar pressure and am a little skeptical that body weighting is more precise.
- Added some references to "first 5 and last 5 percent" in the 100 points of grip; this is a good focus and I simply forgot to mention it. I also added some more critique of the idea; though it is generally applicable.
- Updated the section on vision, I definitely misinterpreted what they meant.
- Updated the section on "slowest point in the turn", this is a point we still completely disagree on.
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Old December 2nd, 2019, 01:59 PM   #12
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YCRS made a post recently -- https://www.facebook.com/ridelikeach...7265699134035/
For those without facebook it reads:
Quote:
In a very short time, the leading instructor uses hand signals, bike placement, brake lights and body position to concisely show the students their next steps. Quick glances in the mirror allow the instructor to adjust his or her pace to best-match the student's rhythm, always working on the next steps each rider needs. It's not really "lead/follow"...it's real-time, real-speed coaching aimed at immediate improvement.
I have to think this almost might be a response to my review

I'll expand on that section of my review a bit: YCRS doesn't use many hand signals and they aren't formalized -- all I saw was "tap tail" to follow and the rotate rider order one. I also feel that, without theory lessons, some parts of what they're doing may not be obvious. When you're following a rider there are also a number of things that are very easy to not pay attention to -- if I am watching him am I paying attention to my turn point or just turning where he turned? Did I look into the apex to judge my turn rate or just imitate his? How fast is his roll on? How fast is his trail brake release? You can make estimates but understanding that -- as well as why he picked those points -- can be lost. In particular I feel that this ride being done so early in the day can mean a rider doesn't have a lot of context.
The fact that it can theoretically be teaching "everything at once" could also be overwhelming to a less experienced rider -- while CSS could be critiqued for requiring you attend 3 times in order to get the "whole program" it also allows for very specific focus. I can see advantages to both, but it's worth noting.

While this may seem like a strong complaint, it isn't meant to be. This is a critique directed towards improving the program; at least from my perspective.
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Old December 2nd, 2019, 02:05 PM   #13
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Some more things that came up in my discussions of the review with YCRS; these aren't disagreements per say so much as interesting points of discussion:

Weighting hands - YCRS advocates this, CSS advocates as little as possible. I try to minimize my weight but am prepared to take some weight, especially in the earliest phase of braking (which is also the heaviest, you want to be 'fast (but smooth) when you apply and trail out slowly as a general rule) -- while I've moved off early I still want to absorb what I can through my legs squeezing the tank -- I don't want to risk having my body move forward (which YCRS covers well in their video) and if I want to prevent that in my hands it means they have to be relatively rigid. What weight I take I try to not let past my elbows, which means I try to moderate the mix between hands and thighs. (Obviously, as you've set up early, your inside thigh will be less ideally placed but it can still do the job); by minimizing this weight I minimize the chance of the bike being unable to self-correct from any unexpected surface/traction conditions and reduce the odds of accidental steering inputs. By using them a little, I require less active effort to keep my position on the bike by squeezing the tank, which can help with stamina.

YCRS advocates transitioning across the bike with a miniature squat - I like to think about a "Hockey Hip Check" -- I get light by using my pegs but don't 'lift' in the seat (at least not too much), and then use my inside thigh as a lever point to "check" my hips to the other side (quickly & smoothly, not violently). I prefer this because if I lift in the seat then I have to almost 'reorient' to ensure I haven't accidentally rotated or moved fore/aft in the seat; it also can risk unintentional bar pressure to stabilize your upper body rather than engaging your core.
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Old December 2nd, 2019, 03:31 PM   #14
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Thank you for your excellent reviews and insights! Based upon these posts, I will be attending several CSS and CodeRACE this next year!
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Old December 2nd, 2019, 03:47 PM   #15
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Thank you for your excellent reviews and insights! Based upon these posts, I will be attending several CSS and CodeRACE this next year!
Then I'll see you there (I'm at least going to run into you at CodeRACE, as I'm doing both)
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Old December 4th, 2019, 12:46 PM   #16
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Just one small correction @Yakaru

You say "Weighting hands - YCRS advocates this, CSS advocates none at all."

None at all is unrealistic. We aim to reduce any extra pressure on the bars under braking but realistically speaking there will still be some pressure transferred forward and some pressure on the bars. Our goal is to use the tank and our legs gripping the tank to anchor our lower body so that the pressure on the arms/hands is reduced as much as possible. Here is a quote from Twist of the Wrist II that explains this.

"Weight transfers on the bike are an obvious source of traction reduction, as we have seen in the throttle control chapters. But this business of holding on has a huge effect on traction as well. There are a number of ways to minimize this effect, once you understand it. Braking is a good example because most riders go pretty stiff when they get on the brakes and thus transfer more weight onto the front than is needed. Taking some of the weight off braking-deceleration against the tank lessens the amount of weight on the bars and the result is: 1) You have the rear wheel on the ground (in really heavy braking) a little longer: and 2) in less-than- all-out-braking the front end has more travel to work with the pavement ripples, maintaining better stability and traction.

Stiff Corners: After braking, some riders stay stiff-armed on the bars; the upper body is driven forward by a deceleration force of about 0.2 to 0.3 G leaving extra weight on the front-end of the bike. Potentially, up to 100 pounds of weight is transferred tot he front end when that weight could be on the seat or tank, 24-36 inches further back. Forgetting to relax is all this really is."KC

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Old December 4th, 2019, 12:51 PM   #17
Yakaru
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Originally Posted by Misti View Post
Just one small correction @Yakaru

You say "Weighting hands - YCRS advocates this, CSS advocates none at all."

None at all is unrealistic. We aim to reduce any extra pressure on the bars under braking but realistically speaking there will still be some pressure transferred forward and some pressure on the bars. Our goal is to use the tank and our legs gripping the tank to anchor our lower body so that the pressure on the arms/hands is reduced as much as possible.
Heh, ironically that is what I do already so w00t. I had an argument with Ken Hill about this a few months ago where I advocated exactly that -- I've got to say it was a really poor experience (see my thread over in riding skills where I talk some about that)
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