Having Co-Hosted several Track Schools in United States, most if not all my former students understand why attending these schools would make them a better and safer STREET rider. I have run into the odd person (some who even proclaims to be "professional" motorcycle instructor) that are completely hostile to the concept that riding on a track can have ANY benefits to street riding. Having a discussion with my friend Reg Pridmore, a 3-time AMA Superbike Champion who runs an advance STREET course thats conducted on various track venues; agrees that he has had the odd student that simply could not understand how his race experience related to how to become a better street rider. Can you re-create the scene where this student (an accountant who's also a "professional" motorcycle instructor) telling an AMA Hall of Fame member how to brake! This guy was actually debating with Reg??!!!
Where is this going? Picked up the latest Sport Rider Magazine; found an article by Kent Kunitsugu on this very topic. Pick it up if you can or here's a brief summary. It's chopped down, so pick it up for the full version.
It's starts off;" Do track schools really teach anything useful to street riders." Now let's think about this, there must be a level of ignorance or close minded riders that warrants Kent to print such an article.
Kent: During a conversation with several riders at a local bike hangout, the subject of track schools and their real value was brought up by an individual who felt they are only useful for those who want to ride on the racetrack. "That stuff is only for racers and wannabes," he scoffed. "Riding on a track and riding on the road are two different things entirely. How is it goiing to help you avoid that hazard waiting around the corner?" When I asked him if he had ever taken a properly supervised and organized track school, he immediately blurted out, " Well, no but..."
Knowledge is power. Yes, you obviously cannot treat the street and the racetrack in the exact same manner. But the knowledge and skills you learn will surely pay dividends in any number of canyon riding situation. To simply pigeonhole their benefits as track only is a mistake of the grandest proportions.
Dat: Kent then points out how track training can and will improve you as a street rider.
(1) Vision skills to ride at racetrack speed-concentration, using peripheral vision, looking far ahead down the track. These skills would probably help 90% of accidents suffered by novice riders. There's no safer area to acquire seat time necessary to become accustomed to maintain this concentration than the racetrack.
(2) Riding at Speed also demands that your control actions become quicker and more aggressive, and learning to do this decisively and firmly with greater confidence will help you when you need to take evasive action or try to correct a mistake on the street.
(3)Track schools also teaches the importance of bike setup. You also learn how changing conditions (cold tires, cold pavement, etc..) can affect the amount of traction. You can push certain performance aspects such as braking in the shortest time and space, something essential for street survival that cannot be practiced safely on the street.
The plain fact is that sportbikes requires a far higher skill to pilot properly. No I'm not saying track schools are the end all for learning proper skills wherever you ride. But to offhandedly dismiss their possible benfits is completely ignorant.
Dat: Well said Kent. I have heard the same agruements from the Pridmores, Code, Sullivan, Team Hammer, Oliver, Walker....I'm sorry but I think they got some credential don't ya think? So the next time you run into a motorcyclist that think your track riding is just for racer wannabes...you know what Kent Kunitsugu was talking about.
That's why I will continue to work with REAL professional such as Edwards, Oliver, Pridmore, Alexander, Sullivan, Walker, Ulrich...and pass those skills and knowledge to my students, making them better street riders. I look forward in 2005 to work with Troy Bursty of the Westcoast Superbike School and Next Level to improve all street riders. Yeah, these guys are racers (certainly not text book generals)...and no they don't race on the street. We don't either! I would never claim to be the best rider or claim to know it all...when you ride with friends with regular apperances on SpeedVision, I would get a good smackin' . See you on Jan 29th.
Sorry for those who don't agree; I'm not changing my teaching style.