Bike Review sent Winston to California Superbike School (CSS), Level 2, to further his training... Words: Winston Taylor Photography: Tim Munro
Since completing CSS Level 1 about six-months ago I’ve attended a couple of track days at SMSP, with both days boasting great weather, while I had an awesome time putting the techniques I had learnt to use during the Level 1 course into practice.
I was looking forward to learning more in Level 2 in hopes of being able to further improve my skills, so I could hang with the boys in yellow group!
We were blessed with another clear day, on the day, and my K3 GSX-R1000 street fighter was all fueled up and ready for action. Having done Level 1 previously I knew the day would start with scrutineering, where they check and ensure your bike is road (or track) worthy, and tape up your speedo and mirrors, to keep distractions at bay.
The day itself consisted of a series of 20-odd minute classroom sessions followed by a 20 minute track session – about eight laps – where we would practice the drill we were given in the classroom.
I struggled all day with trying to concentrate on the drill and not just riding flat out and trying and pass whoever was in front of me.
During the sessions my instructor (Lyle) would also follow me for a few laps and observe my riding and then get infront of me and demonstrate the particular drill we were working on.
After the session he would debrief me (and each of the other riders in my group) on what he observed and we would talk about what we could work on for the next session to improve my technique and ultimately lower lap times.
CSS Session 1 – Reference Points
Our aim during the first set of sessions was to look for reference points around the track to aid us in putting the bike where we want it to be and give us a smooth flow of information which helps to avoid target fixation.
I managed to find a few helpful points that marked my turn in points and I found a nice big black tyre mark on the turn 9 ripple strip which I used as my guide for where I thought I should be hitting the apex. As that corner seemed to be never ending at times, it was helpful to have a point to aim the bike at.
CSS Session 2 – Change Lines
Our goal in session two was to spend an entire lap riding on the left hand side of the track and then a lap on the right hand side of the track.
This was to show us how wide the actual circuit is in order to help us actually use the entire track where and when we needed to.
This opened my eyes as to how wide the track is, as at times the track can appear to be just a few meters wide.
CSS Session 3 – Three-Step
This was the next step (literally) of the Level 1’s two-step drill. It now included looking at the exit of a turn as early as possible.
In this drill I concentrated on taking my eyes off the apex when I knew I was going to hit it and looking at the exit point as soon as I could.
This really helped me to get on the throttle earlier, especially on turn 12 which I feel I was struggling with as I have on occasion been overtaken on the straight by bikes that I feel I should have been able to stay ahead of.
CSS Session 4 – Wide screen view of the track
The solution to target fixation is the wide screen view of the track. We were taught the importance of perfecting our wide view and the effect it has on our sense of speed.
Our aim was to try not to ride with a narrow view but to be using our peripheral vision on the track.
Concentrating on this helped me in a few high speed overtaking maneuvers and also hitting a few apexes.
CSS Session 5 – Pick up
Session 5 was an introduction to Level 3 and our goal was to try and pick the bike up as quickly as possible after exiting the corner. This gets the rear tyre on the widest section aiding in traction and getting back on the power.
This one was a battle for me as I have always felt safest having my bum firmly on the seat and knees tucked in through a corner. I found this drill helpful in being able to wind on more throttle earlier when exiting a corner.
Seeing the chequered flag on the final session was a bit disappointing as I was having such a good time. It was another awesome day that ran like clockwork and was run by true professionals.
I highly recommend the course, not just riders wanting to lower their lap times but to all road riders wishing to improve their riding skills.
Thank you so much to Steve, Lyle and the whole team.
For more information about California Superbike School, or to book in, visit: California Superbike School
You can also read about Winston’s Level 1 experiences HERE.