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[REVIEW] HART - Advanced Riding Course - 09/09/07

Discussion in 'Businesses and Service Providers' at netrider.net.au started by doonx, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. On Sunday I did the HART Advanced Riding Course, held at Calder Park Thunderdome, it was a magnificent day.

    Arrived at HART on Sharps Rd at 8:37 for a 8:30 sharp start, oops! All good, did the obligatory paperwork, threw the rack bag into the HART Ute (with Lunch - BYO as there's NO facilities out there to buy anything at all), walk out to meet my steed for the day, a Safety Yellow coloured CB 600 Hornet, exactly the same as the 13 others behind and in front of it. A little armchair like, but not a bad bike nonetheless. Off we go in single file to Calder Park.

    We arrive at Calder, ride through the gates after the Instructor has done whatever, through the tunnel, through the Pit Wall and out onto the track to do 2 hot laps, unfortunately not on the banked track. Finally we pull into the Pit area and park at the Centre Control building at the end (or beginning) of the straight, go upstairs for the intro talk.

    There are 2 Instructors, Mars & Paul, both with an extremely long history with HART, in fact I believe Paul has been with them since HART started in 1989. There are 14 students, each introduces himself, says what he rides and gives a brief statement of what they would like to get out the day. The most popular response is in one term or another "Bike Control" ergo Technique.

    It transpires that we will be concentrating on 3 main areas:
    • * Throttle Control
      * Braking
      * Counter Steering
    Mars says: "If you came here thinking you were going to ride quick, or learn to ride quick, then I'm sorry, you're about to be very disappointed" - For the entire day, we never got above 60km/h.

    This was a tough course.

    The first lesson was to do with balance, and #1 - Throttle Control. We did this in a witches hat laid out course in the Pit Area. It is a tight course that I initially did not think was possible to do without tipping the bike over or at least putting your foot down on. My arms were ACHING at the end of about 30 minutes of doing it. This of course meant I was doing it incorrectly. I needed to be hanging onto the bike with a lot more knee squeeze and have a lot less hand grip. Relax people, always relax. The other part of this exercise was for us to try and NOT use the clutch, but we were told that we all would use it, so when we did to not pull it all the way in. It was hard, very hard. But I learned that a bike can be ridden slowly and that it's not going to just fall over. This will come in extra handy a later in the day.

    We went in and had morning tea.

    Next is #2 - Braking. So Paul is on a CB 400 and he comes straight down the Pits at 60km/h and hits the rear brake only, and of course goes whistling past us all, probably a 35m stopping distance. This was scary. Next he comes down and applies all front brake, and pulls up in about 10m or so. Lastly he comes down and uses both front and rear and stops a further 2m shorter than the front brake only. There was no real surprises in this. Our turn, but we're only going to do it at 30km/h and as we get better at it we can increase our speed. Well I can tell you, that at 30km/h in a straight line, knowing full well that when you go between 2 witches hats you have to pull up as hard and as fast as you can is not an easy thing. It's on the verge of being scary. We spoke about lock up, what to do, how to do it, what are the early signs you're locking up etc. All these things came up as we did one braking run after another. Eventually we were nudging 60km/h and this my friends WAS scary. But amazingly, not one of us washed out the bike or laid it down. It is truly amazing how hard you can brake and how quick you can come to stop with no skidding whatsoever when he can brake properly. It's also amazing how easy it is to apply strong brakes, but not have your head and eyes UP, you seem to naturally want to watch either the road immediately in front of you (and I mean 1-2 metres in front) or your instruments. That "squeeze" we all remember learning in our L's course can be done VERY quickly and yet never become a snap or a grab. There were plenty of stoppies done unintenionally. I learned that about 5% rear brake is ample. Mars even stepped on my toes with the same pressure he uses on the rear brake lever and I was amazed at how little there is. Just enough to track the bike correctly and assist the stopping distance.

    Thirdly (but by no means last) #3 - Counter Steering. No I know I Counter Steer OK, and crazily enough I kind of like the feeling of pushing the left bar, feeling the bike slightly blip right but then dip into a left corner, curve, bend or what have you. So this exercise I found to be the easiest. And yes we did the old through the witches hats and watch for the right or left light to come on to tell you which way to turn using Counter Steering. This did become daunting when the guys would hit the light later and later and we were starting to get quicker and quicker. The we went out of the Pit Area to do it in what they called the Wall of Death (recently changed to the Wall of Grass on legal advice - no, I'm not kidding). You ride throught the gap in the Pit Wall, straight at the light box and when you see the left or right light, turn your head first and spot a point a distance away, push on the bar, shift your weight with the bike to lean into the swerve or corner, and keep your knees in tight!. The distance this was done over was about a quarter of that done in the Pit Area. Don't react in time, or don't swerve the bike enough and you're into the grass area between the Pit Lane and the track proper. We did this over and over, each time having one of the guys critique us and give some pointers.

    This was a tough course.

    We stopped for lunch. There were a number of guys who were getting fairly tired and had some fatigue in the arms and hands, me being one of them. So we all are in the Control building having lunch and eventually have another whiteboard session to review what we'd done that morning, and more importantly why. The question was posed "When are you ever going to ride at that speed and be required to aggresively Counter Steer? Or as the course had been laid out, where are you ever going to ride where there is anything from a 60 deg to 180 deg corner ever 3-6 metres? Nowhere, but that's not what it was about. It was about gaining the skills that alloow you to be able to control the bike in those situations, and as Mars went onto say, if you can do it in that tight a corner, you can do it pretty much anywhere out on the road. But that is all conditonal on 1 thing. Practice. He said we should ALL practice what we were learning as it's only through practice that we get better and better. Of course he's right.



    So, into the afternoon. This is where we start to bring the 3 main elements together. First we have a slalom course of witches hats, straight line. This is about more throttle control, about smoothness. We have to go through the hats in 2nd gear only, but we have to use the bikes ability to accelerate to assist us in directional change. Paul demonstrates. The idea is to get rhythm, to be able to go end ot end on the witches hats accelrating out from one but decelerating before turning into the following one, and to do it all SMOOTHLY. Also, heads up, eyes looking at the end of the Thunderdome, using only porifferal vision to see the hats. No jerking of the bike, no bouncing up and down etc. Also, NO clutch. Paul does it effortlessly, you can hear the bikes revs going up and down as he leaves and approaches each hat. Looks easy right. Nah. Smoothness is very difficult to do in this situation, especially when you are trying to create a constant rhythm. Nonetheless it deomnstrates how subtle the throttle can be and how gentle difference can make big difference in the bikes behaviour. We all do this run many times. The we have to do it in 1st gear. This is where it gets ugly. Surges, heads bobbing everywhere, roaring engines, hats being hit. Oh dear, lots of pracrice to be on this one!

    Next we add to that, and look to combine throttle control, smoothness and cornering. To make it even harder, we are going to do it SLOWLY. Paul adds offset witches hats to the end of the slalom. So you come up through the slalom and at the end you corner right at about 70degs from your line and go left around a hat at about another 70 deg turn, 6-7 m to another hat and a left 70 degs turn. Each "#" is a hat, the dots mean nothing, they're just there to get the # in the right spots:


    .............#
    #
    .............#
    #
    .............#
    #
    .............#
    #
    .............#

    .......#

    .......#

    .......#

    .......#

    .......#

    .......#

    .......#

    .......#

    Here we are using no clutch, counter steering to initiate the turn, then leaning with the turn in order to not over shoot the entry point for the next turn. Oh, and we're doing this at 20km/h. About 4 m to the left of the top hats is the Pit Wall. Make the turn, or hit the wall.

    My arms - OUCH !!!! So they didn't have to say anything, I knew I had to use my legs more. And what a difference that made!

    Afternnon tea, thank god!

    OK we end the day in bringing together all the requirements we'd learned. And to do it Paul put the the Slalom Course, with the Offset hats so that the Offset hats ended with a break in the Pit Wall where we would go through and into the TIGHT course from the morning. At the end of the course he had set up more offset hats but they were further apart, ranging between 60 deg turns to 40 degs turns. The last one brought you back through another break in the Pit Wall that allowed you to be about 20m from the beginning of the slalom.

    The slalom and first offsets were the same as before, the course was the same as before, the 2nd offsets were the same but required braking well before each corner, the last corner required an aggresive counter steer to bring you back through the wall. We did it over and over and over and over again. I said to Mars how much better I had got at it all since the morning. He said "Great!!! Now try it all in 1st gear.....".

    :shock:

    Well thats a lot harder. But, I did it.

    Come the end of the day I was knackered. We rode back to HART and had a short debrief. Everyone said that they really enjoyed it and that they definitely got something out of it. I learned that when used properly, my bike is capable af a lot more than I may have ever though. I learned that bike control is not impossible at very slow speeds, in fact learning to ride at a very slow spped well, makes you a far better rider at speed. These are things I will now carry with me, and yes, I will practice whenever I can.

    I thought the course was well balanced, and very informative. The only real pressure I felt was from within. The Instructors were clear, good communicators and very knowledgeable. The value for money was also very good. The course make syou think and equips you with the skills that allow you to extend your riding.

    Unlike a lot of you here, I have only been riding bikes for about 5 years. 20 years ago when you started on bikes, I started on skis. What I know form taking skiing lessons a couple of times a year is the same as this course. A lesson is great, but if you don't take away a few things and then practice them, it's useless in the end.

    This was a tough course. Practice, practice, practice.

    Cheers
    Doonx
     
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  2. very good write up pete....am looking as we speak to book myself into a couple of these course too...

    cheers stewy
     
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  3. ....and Mars is a bit of alright, too :wink:

    Well written write-up, Doonx. Sounds like it was money well spent :cool:
     
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  4. thanks, I believe it was an investment in myself, and in my riding future.
     
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  5. Great write up... i'm close to booking myself in soon as well so well timed. When you say Advanced course is it actually called the advanced course or was that just generic terminology?
     
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  6. Thanks for the write up Doonx. Good report. Sounds like a very good thorough course. What "level" number was it?


    I've done a couple of those sort of courses - one had a slow speed gymkhana feeding out into a slalom, feeding into offest slaloms, around into an emergency braking exercise and back into the gymkhana... we did that many many times during the day. ouch!

    I still practice the ebraking routinely.

    Cheers
     
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  7. Hi Doonx,
    Sounds like hard work but well worth the effort,
    top write up too.
    I think I will invest in something similar,
    before getting back on the road on a new bike.

    Cheers
    Chris.
     
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  8. DRMAT - It's proper name is the HART Advanced I course

    Robsalvv - I don't know what "number" it is, and having had a look there doesn't seem to be any numbers on any of the courses any more

    From the course list, it seems that the Advanced II course is the highest ranked course that HART offer. Here is the HART Link ----> Click Here

    I believe the Advanced II course is done at Winton Raceway. You are allowed to use your own bike, or for $150 more than the course fee you can use a HART supplied bike. The $150 is to cover the cost of tyres, as the track apparently destroys them.
     
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  9. Thanks Doonx.... yeah seems they have changed their course naming... intermediate course is here: http://www.hondampe.com.au/wps/wcm/...ART+-+Course+Information+-+VIC+-+Intermediate
    I guess that makes it all less confusing with the licence stuff, then intermediate course, then the two advanced courses. I'm up for intermediate rather than advanced atm i think. Anyone know how they go with a P's rider who wants to use the 600 in preparation for moving up to a bigger bike? I don't wanna spend more time training on a cb250 like i did with my Ls and Ps.
     
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  10. you can do the intermediate on a 600, or even a scooter if you want!.
    completely up to you. I did it on a 600 and am now frustrated at waiting until I come off restrictions before I get one.
     
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  11. Cool thanks.
     
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