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Old 02-18-2020, 10:47 AM   #1
senpai71
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I've been riding for about 15 years (I'm fast approaching 50, so I started pretty late). I've had multiple bikes - cruisers, dual-sports, sport-tourers and now my main bike is an 'adventure bike' (Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT). I like doing long, multi-day solo rides out to the middle of nowhere, but sadly a lot of my riding tends to be in SF traffic.

I'd like to think that I'm a pretty good rider (don't we all!), but after a couple of weird 'scares' during the last two rides (gravelly road during a turn, and some issues with blind corners freaking me out), I realized that I'd like to do something to become a better rider.

I've done a couple of Doc Wong clinics/rides, which were great, but I don't have any interest in doing track days - my love of speed has diminished a bit with age - although some folks say that doing a TD will improve my overall riding ability.

What are my other options? After as long as I've been riding, will I get much from one of the advanced CMSP/MSF courses?
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Old 02-18-2020, 11:02 AM   #2
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Track days is not just about speed...
There are lots Technics being taught at the race track, which will make you be more aware of your limits and the bike, and eventually these skills can be used on the everyday riding commute.
Example, How good and comfortable are you as far as using the rear break and or trail braking?
How often do you practice power stops and how good are you?
Do you practice body positing and throttle control on the turns?
Even though I've been riding for many years, wasn't until I started to go to the track and getting private lessons that I actually learned about those things...
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Old 02-18-2020, 01:40 PM   #3
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What you are describing as your issues are things that are directly dealt with in the total control intermediate riding clinic and advanced riding clinic.

These clinics are available quite widely all over the state at many of the CMSP training sites.

Since you are in San Francisco The best options are Bay Area motorcycle training and northern California motorcycle training Other options include Pacific Motorcycle Training and two wheel safety training.

another class that's out there that's pretty good is the roadrider 2.0 class offered by zoom zoom track days. Generally the road rider 2.0 is taught in the paddock area at Sonoma raceway but we have a few dates this year at mission college in Santa Clara.
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Last edited by motomania2007; 02-18-2020 at 01:42 PM..
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Old 02-18-2020, 02:38 PM   #4
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Old 02-18-2020, 02:54 PM   #5
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I was also hesitant about track days as I'm not really interested in going all out fast. I still try to do one a year, sticking with C group. It's a good way to work on picking lines, and cornering, I just don't bother trying to go flat out on the straights. I've also done the alameda county PD class and total control L2.

My next challenge is getting good at cornering and lifting the front wheel on dirt with my DRZ. Was practicing at Carnegie on Sunday and I don't seem to have a large enough pair to get the front off the ground, cornering was decent but still stiff at times, and the bike got lazy and took a few naps.
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Old 02-18-2020, 04:22 PM   #6
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A very huge part of cornering is vision. You need to be looking far enough ahead, 10 seconds is a good reference, using big picture vision to keep reference points in context.

The second big element of cornering is the correct technique. Slowing properly, turning the bike and getting back on the throttle early in the corner. On the throttle doesn't necessarily mean accelerating, just not throttle off.
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I am also a Patent Attorney so if I can help you with any IP matters, please just ask.
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Old 02-18-2020, 04:29 PM   #7
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Does "outside inside outside" work in cornering in dirt?
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Old 02-18-2020, 05:41 PM   #8
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I signed up for the basic Alameda County Sheriff course in June, and am looking for an intermediate school in addition. Not sure which one yet, just hoping there isn’t too much redundancy?
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by senpai71 View Post
I've been riding for about 15 years (I'm fast approaching 50, so I started pretty late). I've had multiple bikes - cruisers, dual-sports, sport-tourers and now my main bike is an 'adventure bike' (Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT). I like doing long, multi-day solo rides out to the middle of nowhere, but sadly a lot of my riding tends to be in SF traffic.

I'd like to think that I'm a pretty good rider (don't we all!), but after a couple of weird 'scares' during the last two rides (gravelly road during a turn, and some issues with blind corners freaking me out), I realized that I'd like to do something to become a better rider.

I've done a couple of Doc Wong clinics/rides, which were great, but I don't have any interest in doing track days - my love of speed has diminished a bit with age - although some folks say that doing a TD will improve my overall riding ability.

What are my other options? After as long as I've been riding, will I get much from one of the advanced CMSP/MSF courses?
Dirty surfaces and blind curves cause crashes. Not necessarily due to loss of grip or an unmanageable radius, but to panic that leads to overbraking or failure to maintain visual focus on the road (target fixation). So for recognizing the problems and wanting to fix them. Advanced training, and especially track training (not just going out and running laps), really improved my riding--and it's great fun. But you mentioned those situations specifically, and training may not help immediately.

I recommend instead that you attack them directly.

Take that big dirt bike out on a dirt road and get a feel for cornering. Not fast, just enough to recognize how it behaves. On pavement, look for dirty corners and ride through the dirty bits. Actual dirt riders can give you much better advice than I, but my rule is to try to get braking and steering done on clean pavement and go through the dirt with lean already established and lightly on the gas.

Check out the thread The Vanishing Point. It recommends a visual technique for reading a curve and setting entry speed before committing to a line. It really works well on blind curves. Also study the visual process described in this post. The discipline of a well practiced technique for using your eyes to get through a turn (whether it's the one in that post or something else) goes a long way toward preventing panic in blind curves.

My way of dealing with situations that give me a scare is to figure out what I should be doing, then hunt them down and practice. Over and over. Soon, they're no longer scary.
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Last edited by DataDan; 02-18-2020 at 08:36 PM..
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Old 02-19-2020, 05:30 PM   #10
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Couple of thoughts:
1. +1 for signing up for a trackday instruction course, as others have already mentioned.

2. Work on being able to deliberately put your bike on the cornering line you want. Gravel in the corner is often a function of right-handers, where vehicles hang their wheels off the pavement into the inside shoulder, dragging dirt/sand/gravel out onto the pavement. On tight, blind corners this can catch you by surprise because you can't see far enough ahead to change your line. What to do? Practice different lines through corners - early apex, mid-apex, late apex. Most schools of thought hold that late apex is the default for general street riding. The reasons are several, but in this case, being comfortable with setting up and executing a late apex gives you greater visibility through the corner than a tight line. This extra visibility means you can carry more speed safely into the corner because you'll have more of a chance to change line or brake when you see something in the road. Part of the beauty of track work is that you have the chance to play around with different cornering lines in a controlled environment, which will give you a sense of what early/on/late apexing feels like.

3. Work on not being surprised. If you get into a corner too fast, for whatever reason, it means you failed to anticipate something. Blind corners need to be treated with special care, because you don't know about debris in the road or coming the other way. Think about how you'd ride at night versus during the day - same idea. You naturally want to slow down until you feel comfortable about being able to stop within the limits of your headlight.

Riding competently is a skill that develops over time - with lots of practice. Don't beat yourself up for scaring yourself. But do learn from it and figure out what you did that contributed to it, and therefore what you need to adjust in order to keep it from happening again. You might find Lee Parks' book, Total Control Motorcycling contains some helpful tips on this, too.

Good luck - enjoy the ride!!
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Old 02-19-2020, 10:44 PM   #11
motomania2007
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Originally Posted by ThinkFast View Post
Couple of thoughts:
1. +1 for signing up for a trackday instruction course, as others have already mentioned.

2. Work on being able to deliberately put your bike on the cornering line you want. Gravel in the corner is often a function of right-handers, where vehicles hang their wheels off the pavement into the inside shoulder, dragging dirt/sand/gravel out onto the pavement. On tight, blind corners this can catch you by surprise because you can't see far enough ahead to change your line. What to do? Practice different lines through corners - early apex, mid-apex, late apex. Most schools of thought hold that late apex is the default for general street riding. The reasons are several, but in this case, being comfortable with setting up and executing a late apex gives you greater visibility through the corner than a tight line. This extra visibility means you can carry more speed safely into the corner because you'll have more of a chance to change line or brake when you see something in the road. Part of the beauty of track work is that you have the chance to play around with different cornering lines in a controlled environment, which will give you a sense of what early/on/late apexing feels like.

3. Work on not being surprised. If you get into a corner too fast, for whatever reason, it means you failed to anticipate something. Blind corners need to be treated with special care, because you don't know about debris in the road or coming the other way. Think about how you'd ride at night versus during the day - same idea. You naturally want to slow down until you feel comfortable about being able to stop within the limits of your headlight.

Riding competently is a skill that develops over time - with lots of practice. Don't beat yourself up for scaring yourself. But do learn from it and figure out what you did that contributed to it, and therefore what you need to adjust in order to keep it from happening again. You might find Lee Parks' book, Total Control Motorcycling contains some helpful tips on this, too.

Good luck - enjoy the ride!!
Total control IRC and ARC cover these topics quite nicely.
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If you are not having fun riding a motorcycle, you are doing it wrong.

The best performance upgrade is upgrading the operating system of the operator. It is cheap, easy, fast, safe and works on every bike you will ever ride.

I am also a Patent Attorney so if I can help you with any IP matters, please just ask.
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Old 02-20-2020, 07:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by motomania2007 View Post
Total control IRC and ARC cover these topics quite nicely.
Having drunk the Total Control koolaid, I will say +1 to this.
It's been a number years now since I took them (Lee was the main instructor) but they were game-changing and affect me every time I ride.
Looking forward to taking them again with my son who is just getting started.

Also a big fan of the Z2 Novice School and Brian Bartlow's Feel Like a Pro Dirt school in Kelseyville.
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Old 02-20-2020, 10:40 PM   #13
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Having drunk the Total Control koolaid, I will say +1 to this.
It's been a number years now since I took them (Lee was the main instructor) but they were game-changing and affect me every time I ride.
Looking forward to taking them again with my son who is just getting started.

Also a big fan of the Z2 Novice School and Brian Bartlow's Feel Like a Pro Dirt school in Kelseyville.
Z2 RoadRider 2.0 is good too!

I haven't been to Brian's class but I have done Rich Oliver's Mystery school. I learned a lot and really enjoyed it
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If you are not having fun riding a motorcycle, you are doing it wrong.

The best performance upgrade is upgrading the operating system of the operator. It is cheap, easy, fast, safe and works on every bike you will ever ride.

I am also a Patent Attorney so if I can help you with any IP matters, please just ask.
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Old 02-21-2020, 02:04 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by motomania2007 View Post
A very huge part of cornering is vision. You need to be looking far enough ahead, 10 seconds is a good reference, using big picture vision to keep reference points in context.

The second big element of cornering is the correct technique. Slowing properly, turning the bike and getting back on the throttle early in the corner. On the throttle doesn't necessarily mean accelerating, just not throttle off.
Not to be "that guy" FWIW, you're spot on with the eyes. I'd alter the idea of getting back on the throttle early and say "when the bike has made its direction change THEN start picking up the throttle.

+1 to RoadRider 2.0 and getting some track time to work on fundamentals. Think of the track as a closed course environment to work on skills. That doesn't have to mean: All out speed. Also, don't think 50 years old means you can't ride well, fast, and learn while doing. One of the fastest 600 guys in the AFM just turned 50.
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Old 02-21-2020, 06:41 AM   #15
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Track days will only help you go faster on the street, it will not help you on roads you don’t know.

Why......cause track riding does reflect real world street riding. Only riding on the street can do that.

You can not practice hard braking to a stop that is needed on the street on the track.

You can not practice quick evasive moves that are needed on the street on track.

There are truly no blind turns on a track. Why, because the course is known, it is in your brain. Even thou you can’t see Turn 3 exit at Thill, you still know where it’s going, and if there is any on track incident, the corner works are there to let ya know.

Now, Road Rider 2.0 is different. Even though it’s at a track, it’s is more focus on street riding than track. What I saw was class time, time in the paddock doing drills and some on track.

Well, now there are two Road Rider 2.0 that are being done off track. Mission College I think.

What I suggest is find a really good street riding partner and go ride more streets you don’t know. It appears you just have too much commuter riding and not enough touring type riding on unknown roads.

Try some of the meetup rides.

It’s street experience that makes one a good street rider. As mentioned before, right turns can have a tendency to get dirty. Knowing how to identify those types of turns can not be learned on track, only on the street.

Good street rider.........what the hell is that. It’s a high mileage street rider that knows how and when to go slow, how and when to go fast and how and when to just cruise.

I do not know of a track that has any turns or road conditions that can be encountered in street riding. Take Jameson Creek road, Alpine, Page Mill, MT Hamilton road, Mines, Del Porte and so on. The only way to get experience for those types of roads is to ride them. Some of those roads, the line through them all depends on the bumps and dips. This never occurs on track.

Just as seat time is important in being fast on the track, seat time riding in a variety of roads and conditions can you only become comfortable dealing with the unknown that occurs in street riding.
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