Wednesday, August 25, 2010

ART Class

A group of us from Corvallis, Albany and Lebanon went to ART this week. Advanced rider training that is. It was a fun, overwhelming, exhausting, informative day. Brad, Rick, Eric, and I rode up together, while Stacy and Stacey joined us at the track.

We started in the class room going over the day's objectives, reviewing techniques, and discussing all things related to riding safely on the road. Irondad was our instructor for the classroom portion of the day. He kept the discussion lively with  class participation. After class we had a lunch break. Those who stayed at the track for lunch were treated to the instructors having fun out on the track.
Boys and toys
Towards the end of lunch students began moving their bikes to the staging area. Gulp! I don't want to go out there. I'm really starting to believe this is a big mistake. I start Sam and we ride into staging. This is really a big mistake!! I don't calm down until we move out onto the track. Not that I get much calmer, but I'm distracted with the tasks at hand, moving at a pace I rarely set for myself. There isn't much time left for nerves. We worked on braking, swerving, stopping in corners, cornering and linking corners, and probably a few things I've already forgotten in all the happenings for the day.
Sam Glam shot. Check out the hottie in front of her.
I learned that the bike can lean over much farther than I thought and still stick to the road. I mean, I knew that the bike can lean, but now I've  experienced it. It's an important distinction for me. Pegs remain unscathed (this is not a complaint). Now I just have to believe that the tires are as sticky out on the road as they are on the track. This wasn't an "Ah ha" moment accompanied by fireworks, but a progressive running through the corners, leaning a little more as I go around. Throw in a few too hot ones...(must press more)...damn the bike didn't even flinch. Later in the day one instructor said my lines weren't bad...Really? Really?? This after going for a ride with one of the instructors, and then following the instructor around the track for a lap or two. I'll have to take his word on it, they didn't feel that good to me.

My only complaint is I never did catch on to some of the tighter turns. Thinking about it later I realize it's tight right turns that challenged me the most. I think I took them six ways from Sunday, and never the same way twice. By the end of the day I'm obsessed with them. I struggled with linking turns as well, but I think I caught on enough to continue practicing on the road.
Photo blatantly stolen from Musings of an Intrepid Commuter, who probably stole it from God knows where...cuz I don't believe that tree story for a minute, and photoshopped with cheesy graphics, also stolen from someone online, not associated with this bunch of right-click happy, copyright flouting,  thieves. :D
As much as I distrusted the differing textures on the track, I liked learning that the bike didn't mind them at all. She sticks to any of the surfaces and seams she rides over. This was also nice to experience on a track as I've been suspicious of surface changes, too much so at times.

A couple of times I caught myself using the rear brake in a my mind not as a brake, but as some kind of control/modulator? I don't know how to explain it exactly, and I don't know when or why I started doing this. I don't do it often, but It's a weird thing I picked up somewhere along the way. Dumb question probably, but is that what trail braking is, sort of?

Quick Stops...
I loved having a chance to practice quick stops. I've been afraid to try it out on the road all alone. On my last try at the quick stop I had some rear wheel chatter. I guess that's what it was. First off, I didn't know I could get feedback like that  from the tires. I just figured the tires stick until they don't, then you slide. My best guess is maybe I need to lighten up on the rear brake a bit more at the end of the stop. I'm jazzed that I even used the rear brake. For most panic stops in real world riding, I'm not sure I use the rear brake. 

Swerving was fun. The only cone I killed was during the swerve and it was at the starting line, not the swerve gates. I swung wide on the turn (big surprise) and nailed the little varmint. I was sure I'd mix up the signals during swerving/braking. I'm not good with signals. It's like with old sayings...I always get them wrong,  mix them up. I watched all the signals to riders in front of me, brake-swerve, swerve-brake. I thought I'd mess up  and take someone out, but I didn't.

Quick stop in a corner...
I almost dropped Sam on the first quick stop in a corner. (bars not squared.) She got a little sideways, but we stayed upright. Somehow I think a motorcycle clunking down on the track would reverberate across the county followed by deathly stillness. (someone dropped another one, Martha...) I didn't want to go there.

Sam never missed a beat. Whatever I asked of her she paid back in spades. That I come nowhere near the bikes capabilities helps. I always have plenty in reserve. (Would that it worked that way with my bank account). Come to think of it, she never missed a beat even when I blew it. I'd press in more and she just hunkered down and went for it. Good little bike!
Maybe it's a good sign...
The corners on the road home were easy (excepting one right hander). I hope that's a good sign. The were a piece of cake after the track. Almost...sedate.

Dan, I'd probably never tell you in real life, so if you read this, you and your fellow instructors did an awesome job instructing and coaching the class. I'm again impressed with the caliber of Team Oregon classes. There is a nice consistency of teaching coming from a variety of instructors, and the quality of instruction is top notch and well presented. That's true of my earlier classes and this one. More fun here though, without the threat of "a test" hanging over our heads, and once I could relax just a little. You've mentioned ego a few times. I saw no egos from anyone, but rather a passion to share experience, training and knowledge. I don't know if it's simply a heart for teaching, or a passion for the subject. Most likely it's both of these things.  Whatever it is, it shows. A big thanks to you and all the instructors at the track!
K - hallmark moment over...turn off the smarmy muzak, and cue a little ZZ Top!


  1. I was incredibly impressed by your riding out there. I know you were apprehensive but you pushed through it and didn't let anything stop you.

    Reading your description of the things you had trouble with triggered a serious feeling of deja-vu. I have the same issues with tight right handers and using too much rear brake. You and I ought to practice together. :)

    Thanks for the writeup.

  2. Oh how I would have loved to have been there with you all!! Sounds like Irondad is a great instructor! Dang!!! Good work Kari! Sounds like Sam is really on top of things! Dang!!!!

  3. Nicely captured. I have the feeling that I was just right with you on the track. Good for you!!!

  4. Terrific post. Thanks for entertaining me - I hung on evry word. The nerves and honesty shine throughout. I love it when you wrote about going on the track for the first time. What is it about tight right turns? I don't like them either.

  5. Hi Stacy,
    Really? Thank you! I felt so out of my element (I usually do on the bike). I thought you looked very graceful out there - just floated around the turns.

    Stopping is never an option. I love it too much to quit. Now I'm looking for some nice, quiet, tight turns to go play on. Some practice runs would be good. :)

  6. Hi Eve,
    Sometimes I wish you lived closer, it would be great to have you along! Dan is a very good instructor (as are the others there). I very much appreciate instructors who are passionate about what the teach. I've been blessed to have several good ones in my life. It takes learning to another level.

    Sam has never let me down :)

  7. Thanks Sonja,
    lol - You'd probably be better off being with one of the other riders on the track. Sometimes I wasn't sure I was going to make it back around!

  8. Thanks Gary,
    The nerves started a good five days before class then built to a nice crescendo for "that day". Thank goodness that once I started riding I kind of mellowed out. I didn't mention it in my post (and I should have!), but having friends there for moral support really helped. I'm not sure I would have signed up or made it through on my own.

    I've decided right turns are evil. I'd avoid them altogether, but I can't figure out how I'd get back home....then again, it might be the start of a really long tour! :)

  9. Ha ha, why is it that so many people have problems with right turns, too close to the edge of the road? :-) I love your honesty. I also want to get a pure sport bike, they are so much fun and I love speed. I'm trying to convince my wife to get a bike too, I'm going to show her your pictures. What's the highest number of miles you have done in one day and how comfortable is the Ninja?

  10. BlueKat:

    You look like a pro on the track. You make it look so easy

    Wet Coast Scootin

  11. Hi George,
    I haven't done any long rides. Most of my riding is commuting. (I hope to change that one day!) My longest day on the Ninja was around 170 miles. The stock ninja seat is notoriously uncomfortable. It was good for about 70 miles, then the squirming began. I recently had the seat shaved down for ground clearence (you can see the post below). The guy who shaved it is a pro seat builder, and while I now have minimal padding, he shaped the seat so it's quite comfortable. I hope your wife takes an interest in riding. My husband and I both ride and it's a lot of fun riding together.

    Hi Bob,
    lol - look like a pro, HA! Thought I was gonna die on every corner. Now Stacy, she made it look easy! I should know I watched her pass me several times :D

  12. You were fine. You bravely overcame your nerves and actually did the track part. You were never a hazard to other riders by being too slow. You were coachable. The improvement showed. You came away with new or increased skills. If you remember, I passed you on the straight after following you for a couple of laps and gave you a thumbs up.

    That all sounds like things in the "win" column to me. I will forever have the memory of having the privilege of being one of the instructors for my group of friends. Another win, I'd say.

    Like I said at the end, training teaches us what we need to practice. Nobody is ever expected to come out of the class a perfect rider.

    By the way, hope us boys didn't scare you when we played on the track at lunch time! We get a bit competitive. Weird, isn't it?

  13. Thanks Dan,

    That's good to hear from you. I trust your opinion. I'm not sure I have a good perception of how I do on the bike. Certainly noticed a difference on my riding this week, even those darn right-handers.

    lol - No, the boys didn't scare me. It was fun to watch. Bet there were some grins behind those helmets. :D

  14. bluekat,

    I thought you did a great job out on the track and on the ride home when we were all exhausted. You handled the track with skill! I would be happy to ride with you anytime!!!

  15. Thanks Rick,
    That means a lot to me, and I appreciate it.

    ...Good thing you didn't see my right turn out of the gas station, but you can't take it back now! :)