This week, while you suckers were talking about Sheds of Doom and getting rained on, I had hopped a jet to sunny Southern California where I visited my sister, some other family … and hit up the SoCal Supermoto school at the Adams Kart track in Riverside, CA.
I've done my share of track days since starting them about three years ago, and have progressed to the point where I can ride the fast group. I'm not the fastest guy out there, and any time I start to feel like I'm doing pretty good, getting passed by Spero - riding with someone two up, of course - or getting schooled by BK Jay on a gutless 250 always brings me back down to earth.*
I figured some further training was in order, since, while I may ride a supermoto, I have no idea of actually howto ride it. WCSS doesn't have their supermoto school anymore, so I started looking further afield. SoCSS has a great rep, and it would allow me to get some time in with my family, so I signed up for two days of instruction.*$199 for instruction, rental bike, lunch and trackside photography. Not a bad deal ...
First impressions of the SoCSS: A really casual, friendly group. Awesome facility. I'd never ridden on a kart track before, so that was a different experience. A rental DRZ comes with the school fees, and while they're cosmetically not the prettiest, they're functionally solid and do the job well.
There's a two-crash policy, where if you go down on the asphalt twice, you get handed a beer, a lawn chair and a track-side seat for the rest of the day. They only really enforce it if there's a maniac out there who rides like a douche.*Dirt crashes, though, are unlimited. Go down as often as you like!
The first day went like this: 8:30 a.m., riders meeting. You get introduced to sumo technique, and the differences between sportbike style and foot-out style. It's totally opposite from what I have burned into my muscle memory, so it took some time to get used to. You can see by the pics my form is … well … let's just say it's not quite there yet. But I have all season to work on it.*
They'll lead you around the track a couple times, then follow each rider for a few laps. One of the instructors watches from a few corners, then they give you some feedback when you come in from your 15-minute session. With the exception of one guy who'd done the course three times before, and does off-road endurance races, no one had been on a supermoto besides me. A bunch of them had road-race experience, and one was an MX guy. I figured I'd do pretty well comparitively.
Yeaaaaah … no.*
I have a whole lot of bad road-race habits I have to break, while most of the other guys took to it pretty quickly. By the end of the day, I was mid-pack speed.*
After an amazing BBQ brisket lunch - all you can eat - we set out for the afternoon sessions, which included the dirt section in track's infield. Here's where it go really fun, even if all our faces still had the rictus from the permanent grins slapped all over over mugs.*
I'd never been on the dirt, and had no idea what it was going to be like.
Fishtailing all over the place, jumping tabletops, gassing it around the berms … daaaaaaaamn good time! I suck at it, but it's fun! I didn't make the noobie front-brake mistake (don't touch it in the dirt) though I did end up doing a superman overtop of one of the berms after a guy went down in front of me. I was graceful enough to land on my feet after coming down from six feet in the air, and break into a run … just like I mean to do … lol.
I learned a lot, and can't wait to get back out on my bike and start practicing the stuff I learned.*
Day 2 was actually a Sportbike Fundamentals class, but run on the kart track on the DRZs. It was interesting how different I felt going knee down around the kart track as opposed to foot out. I was waaaay faster, obviously since it's the style I was used to, and actually picked up even more techniques to work on - mostly braking and establishing proper lines.*
I was the only guy from the previous day, and it was another mixed bag of riders - from a brand-new rider (only been on a bike three times) to Harley guys who'd made the switch to a multistradas, to a Gixxerthou rider with 20+ years under his belt. (I got to talking with two guys who work on the private yacht of a certain Russian billionaire … they shared some great stories … Moral of them being, don't f**k with the Ruskis!)
To sum up, some things I learned:*
- If you're going to use new gear, for chrissakes … BREAK IN YOUR BOOTS FIRST
- Seeing someone back it in from 100 feet down the track to the corner is far more impressive in real life as opposed to youtube.
- Clear your memory card before you try to use your GoPro. Otherwise, you're in for a whole lotta disappointment.*
- It's not the bike, it's the rider.*
- Riding dirt is fun. And dirty.*
- If a Russian billionaire wants to watch a soccer game, you'd best make it happen for him.*
- When getting air over a table top, more gas and speed is better than less.*
- If you have the chance to go to the SoCSS, do it. You won't regret it.*
TO THE PICS!
Need to work on my form a bit. OK, a lot. :P
Hairpin turn 1. Where I was backing it in all day long. OK, maybe not.
Turn 1 again.
Looking like a gorilla humping a moped.
Lining up for the afternoon session.
Oh, so that's how you take the tabletop.
This guy was a former AMA racer. He was like a Spero on dirt - crazy fast. Backing in S-turns both ways, doubling up jumps, wheelying out of corners leaned over ... very impressive.
Everyone tired but happy after a long day.
Tons more pictures from the first day are here: CLICKY