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Stay Upright Adv. Cornering & Braking Review

Discussion in 'Businesses and Service Providers' started by 99CIBBER, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. 12 hours prior to the course we were sitting back on the deck drinking beers and relaxing in anticipation of the following morning where we’d be heading out to the Creek for a full day of fun, speed and hopefully to come away better riders with more strings to our rider bows. After the course we returned home to more beers and with massive grins on our dials and the feeling of confidence and a swag of new techniques to master on the road. Geoff would of headed up the Old Road straight after if he got his way.

    We woke to beautiful clear skies, and by about 7am it was already pushing 30 degrees. The bikes were prepped the night before, tyre pressure: check, lubed chain: check, fuel: got some on the way.. Geoff whipped up a few sambos and I packed the Gatorades into my backpack. We suited up in our kevlars, boots, gloves and vented jackets, mine being a new purchase. I was relieved to say the least that I’d gone out a few days prior and snapped up a bargain on a new Summer full vented jacket, It did the job on the day but as Ecka pointed out it was riding a tad high up my back exposing my lily white ass crack. A photograph never lies…(yeah right, not in my business ;))

    Cruising out to the creek Geoff was fist pumping and pointing to the sky shouting, “how good is this!!!” We were getting amped at the thought of pushing our iron steeds further than we had ever done before. We arrive shortly before 8am and were greeted behind the pit garages by a few Stay Upright staff who gave the bikes a quick scrutineering. There was already 20 or so bikes and eventually there would be 42 in total. All makes and models from a humble Kawasaki GPX250 to a brand new Ducati Desmosedici RR and everything in between.

    The Desmo dude came equipped with spare fuel, race stands and tyre warmers. He even had a blonde chick helping to put on the tyre warmers between sessions. Man did that thing sound amazing, In the last session one of the instructors mounted the Desmo and took it out for a squirt. He was taking it somewhat easy as there was still noobs out doing laps but you could hear it from miles away, the throaty growl. I was unlucky enough to be sitting behind the Desmo waiting in pit lane when I was covered in spluttering rich exhaust fumes from the high set exhaust vents.

    We signed our lives away and took a seat in the air-conditioned comfort of Suite 12 where there were ample supplies of coffee, electrolytes, water, lollies and biccies. I kept saying keep the fluids up so by 8:30 I was stingin’ for a piss.

    8:30am we heard the intros from the staff, 5-6 in total all very qualified riders, ex racers from Oz and overseas with the main dude having raced for over 22 years. We would see their track talent later in the day. After a quick run down of the days procedures and track etiquette concerning passing and speed we were asked to choose a group to ride in. Touring or Sport… Now the night before both Geoff and I agreed that we were going to err on the side of caution and ease into the course choosing the slow group. Something took over me and my hand just flew up when the instructor said “Who would like to be in the Sport Group?” We both looked at each other wondering if we’d bitten off more than we could chew and the thought of mixing it with the quick guys soon became a reality as we headed down to our trusty machines.

    We filed into two rows, pretty much equal number of bikes in each. We rolled out of pit lane in succession for a quick session or sighting laps if you will. It was heating up and we could feel the sting of the sun on our backs, before too long we were cooling off with the wind breezing through my jacket across my sweat soaked shirt. Taking it easy through the turns getting a feel for the surface and what seemed like a vast amount of road width to use, going through the gears and braking way too early I knew it was going to take a while before I would feel comfortable tipping into the sweet corners. Rounding turn 12 and fark yeah here’s the straight. I cast my mind back to the Formula Xtreme racing we had watched a few months earlier and rolled on the throttle, snicking through the gears smoothly but still waaay within my comfort zone. Riders were already passing on the inside quickly. I’d dreamt of turn 1 and spoken to Ecka and Tim about the feeling of rounding this trick bend, getting it right would certainly be a highlight of my day, at the end of the day Turn 1 gave me the biggest thrill on the circuit.

    This 2nd session was all about Body positioning, vision and correct lines for racing and road riding. We headed out to turn 2 for a tutorial. Fark all shade meant we had the sun on our dials and my freshly shaved head suffered in the heat, Sunburnt again… Turn 2 is notoriously tricky and can bring riders unstuck if they get the lines wrong or if they are greedy with the throttle. The instructors rounded the corner half a dozen times alternating between a racing line and a road riding line. Double apex for racing, and a slower wide entry for road lines, however corner speed was the same for both riders. The static instructor marked up braking points and Apex points on the tarmac and rammed into us the importance of throttle control through the corner, don’t be greedy with the gas or you’ll have to give it all back when you run wide and stuff up turn 3. I found it very helpful seeing the difference between Racing and Road lines and decided to practice the road line on this corner exercise. The sport group grabbed their bikes and headed out to practice what was explained to us. Instructors were also taking notes on our riding. Posture, lines, braking and everything relating to correct riding technique. Although this session was focussing on turn 2 in particular we still completed the full circuit and with every lap I became smoother and quicker. What quickly became a stark reality was a few things. I am riding fast! I need to concentrate bloody hard. I need to prepare early for turns. I need to get my technique right. I need to look right through the corner. I need to be smooth, relaxed and breathe. It’s not a race, It’s about me and my ride, forget everyone else, concentrate, concentrate, concentrate.. With all these things running through my brain it was a lot to process during the day. But with repetition comes confidence and belief in your abilities. Corners become familiar and with each lap I started chipping away, braking later, getting on the gas a bit earlier, using the entire track. (this took a while to do as my brain is conditioned to stay to the left of the road!) While the sport group were riding the touring group were looking on and critiquing all riders through turn 2. I’m sure there was a bit of interesting commentary going on by our fellow class mates. The session finished up and I felt like I hadn’t quite got the knack of turn 2. I was still running a bit wide on exit, mid track. I wanted to finish tighter to straighten out turn 3 and set up for the quick down hill run and silky right hander of turn 4. I’d need to work on my entry point and throttle control in the next session. We headed back to the pits for morning tea.

    Back up to the suite for a drink and a smoke. The air con was bliss. To be honest I could have gone without the morning tea break. Both Geoff and I felt like we’d just started to get into the groove and wanted as much practice as possible. What were we doing sitting down twiddling our thumbs??? (In hindsight, maybe it was good to have a break at this stage, because we were pretty knackered by the end of the day and the question I asked myself was how would we be feeling if we didn’t have the morning tea break??) Anyway after a drink and a vegemite sambo we headed back down to the garages for a post session briefing. Split into a 6 or so groups the instructor gave feed back on our riding and how we did through turn 2. Although the feedback was meant to be individualised I felt it was a bit general and could have been more specific to each rider. Geoff’s instructor seemed to be more detailed in his comments and he came away with a clearer insight to his technique.

    Session 3 would be a following session. Smaller groups headed out and students completed a full lap with the instructor following before pulling into the pits for feedback. This session was great, as I was about 8 from the front I was able to practice and follow the leader before being followed myself. Geoff states that he had his worst lap of the day on the following lap. I couldn’t quite hear what the instructor was saying to Geoff but I feel it was not indicative of the way Geoff rode throughout the day. One look at Geoffs rear tyre and you could tell he was pushing his personal limits and the bikes. I overtook Geoff a few times on the straights and around turn 1 but I couldn’t catch him through the back section of the circuit. Then It was my turn to take the lead. A few deep breaths and I was rolling out of pit lane. The brain kicked into focus mode and I took turn 2 to the best of my ability, gassing it out of turn 2 getting my ass cheek off the side of my seat, switch over to the right running it close to the apex of turn 3 and accelerating down the hill, back on the brakes and tipping in smoothly for turn 4. Plonk the ass back on the middle and then plonk to the left hand side of my seat for turn 5. Up the hill, pushing hard straightening out the kink running and braking over the concrete edge changing down and hooking into turn 7, getting on it early still arse off the left hand of the seat for the fast turn 8. This corner always gave me a bit of a heart jump as it is over the crest as can come at you rapidly! Anyway hugging the corner tightly and change down and set up for the tight turn 9, felling good looking through the turn as far as I can. Keeping the weight on the right peg still ready for turn 10 a short shift and then braking and changing through the kink of turn 11 and shifting my butt over to the left for the long left hander, tipping in, a bit of throttle to stabilise the bike rolling on a bit more trying to use as much track as possible pick an apex and point the chin towards the exit and more gas for the exit and then the straight. Pulling into the pit lane sitting up taking a breath and then to a stop. Kill switch , key. The instructors first words were positive, noting that I was smooth and relaxed but I needed to shift my weight side to side in one motion, not plonk my butt in the middle then shift off again. Also to get my upper body further outside the centre line and basically to tweak my technique as he reckons I have the fundamentals ok and I look relaxed with arms bent and I am generally moving well on the bike and looking through the corners well. (You can always look further though.) What I have been doing previous to the course is this: When approaching a corner: change down gears => brake => shift weight off the seat => steer => constant throttle => roll on throttle. What they were teaching was: shift weight off the seat => brake => change down gears => steer => constant throttle => roll on throttle. So getting this system going was a challenge. Correct braking is something I personally wanted to learn and improve on. Having the CBR for about 6 months now I still wasn’t totally confident in the bikes braking abilities. How much force can I put on the brakes and how far can I run the bike into a corner with the front brake on. This would be addressed in session 4 after lunch.

    Back to Air conditioned comfort for a well deserved lunch break and an impromptu snooze! Ha! After the 45 minute lunch break we had a quick briefing about the use of brakes when cornering/steering. Examples were given about taking corners too hot, grabbing a handful of brake, rolling off the throttle and loosing your way through corners. One thing that the MOST beginners course teach you is to only brake in a straight line. But as you guys know when your riding steps up a notch you push the envelope a bit harder and will encounter a situation where you head into a corner at speed and start think oh sh!t I’m going too fast!! What this exercise would teach us is how to keep applying the brakes to keep the bike stable and smooth through a corner by trailing off the brake as you steer through the corner.

    The instructors demonstrated how this was done on turn 9. Again one rider showing a racing line and another a road riding line. We all stood very close to the corner and observed the riders right hand to see how far he applied the brakes into the corner. We were blown away with the speed and skill of these guys, hammering into the corner braking hard into a lean and slowly releasing just before the apex and almost instantly getting on the gas for a blistering exit out of turn 9. The road riders line would take the corner wider and release the brakes earlier but still into the corner, then maintaining momentum with a little throttle then a tight exit with a deeper apex point. The instructors repeated this many times getting their knee down easily. Respect to these guys.

    Then it was our turn to give the trail braking a crack. At first I was tentative in doing so and took it slowly but within a few laps I felt like I was entering the corner faster than ever and trailing the front nicely with two fingers and exiting smoother. A big pat on the back for me as this was a biggie in my eyes. J After this session it was back up to turn 9 for more feedback from our instructor. They singled out a student who was nailing the corner braking consistently, the Yellow firestorm rider. Props to him. We then had the chance to critique the touring group and see how they faired at the exercise. It became clear the difficulties we face in cornering. Some riders were all over the shop. Braking waay to early, too late and running too deep, not looking through the corner enough and rolling on and off taking a couple of goes at it, also some riders seemed very upright and tense. Apart from a few riders one being a chick on a CBR250RR and a dude on a BMW GS800 most of them struggled with this exercise.

    We got some further general feedback from the instructors whilst sitting on the grass at turn 9. After the touring group finished their session it was time to put all that we had learnt into a few nice quick laps. Session 5 was an opportunity to practice anything we wanted and string a few nice corners together. This is where riders began to push the limits of their ability. We were all tired from the heat and were asked to take it easy. I said to myself don’t do anything stupid now stevo…After a few nice laps the riders were spaced out nicely and I felt I had the track to myself, farking awesome!! Third last lap I spot Geoff around turn 11. I give it a bit of schtick and have him in my sights. Coming out of turn 12 we are both overtaken by a rider like we were standing still. At the end of the straight Geoff brakes for turn 1 and tips in I’m flying up behind him and take a later turn in, ripping past him on the outside, the bike felt incredible as it stuck to the track as I’m leaning off the bike with the gusty wind lashing at my helmet. I pin it down the little straight and brake hard sitting up and snicking down ready for a tight turn 2. By this time I’m shouting faaaark!! Woo hoo damn that felt good! Let’s do that again. Almost cruising down the back section as the adrenaline is pumping hard I set up for my final sprint down the straight, exiting turn 12 wide I hear a bike up on the inside, I pin it down the straight redlining through the gears and just before my 200m braking marker the gixxer 750 takes me on the inside. His line is all wrong and hammers into turn 1 damn hot, starts braking and starts to run wide across my line. I kept my peripheral vision on him the whole time as I knew he was going to stuff up. Anyway I slow down to let him drift across and zip up the inside of him. The chequered flag was waved and I completed my lap and pulled into the pits for the close of play. Gixxer dude pulls up next to me and apologises for stuffing up the corner.

    The day was a blast and I felt it is a must for anyone wishing to improve on their cornering and braking. The feedback was a little hit and miss but I think I got enough out of it to be a safer road rider. I gained a lot of confidence that was lost after my off and I feel I know the CBR more intimately than I did before the course. Anyone can go fast in a straight line but to be able to corner and brake safely and smoothly takes years to master. You never stop learning and there’s always a better rider than you. Well worth the money, $420. Riding on a race track was nerve racking and a bit intimidating at first but once I settled into it, I was at ease. Thanks to Ecka and Brad for your tips prior to the course.

    Rubber Down!


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  2. Epic write up, nice work!

    Sounds like you had a ball.

    Definitely on my to do list.
  3. Top post, thanks for taking the time to write it up and share.

    Never heard that they seperated the touring and sporting group. Is touring more a way of saying "slow". Do you know if they do this for the advanced as well?
  4. G'day Robbie,
    Cheers, It was a bit like that but more along the likes of, touring = medium/fast. Sport = fast/faster. To be honest there seemed to be fast and slow riders in each group mixing it up if you know what I mean. I was probably toward the slower end of the Sport group. I'd read somewhere in another review (Oran Park) they split the group up in 4 seperate groups and called them Fast, Faster, Faster than Fast and Fastest. ha!

    Don't know exactly if they do the same for the Advanced group but chances are they will.

  5. ^Thanks again.

    Just hate always being the slow one, hate to feel like I'm holding anyone else up but want to get my moneys worth as well. Training at the track is a bit intimidating as well but looks like everyone seems to suffer those jitters before heading out there and end up loving it at the end.
  6. No worries mate, Don't worry about feeling like you're gunna hold anyone up, there's plenty of places for riders to pass safely. Ride your own ride, spread out etc.. You're there to learn and have fun, It aint a track day . :)
  7. Well done 99CIBBER and well-written account of what you experienced - made us feel we were there with you (y)
    Sounds as though you had a fantastic day !
  8. Thanks for the write-up Cibber - I'll be looking into doing the same one after winter.
  9. Hope your. Excellent writeup inspires some others to take such professional training. IMHO, you can learn more on the track in one day, than 6mths on your own on the open road.
    I was particularly pleased to see a lesson specifically covering 'braking while turning' since that is something that can often be required with little warning in advance.

    A very worthwhile event I reckon.
  10. Cheers guys for the kind words.

    Raven, You're right in regards to the learning, the track and professional feedback is the key to a steep learning curve. :) I've been practicing my trail braking into corners and it's starting to become very natural , I feel so much more in control. (y)
  11. I totally want to get some "proper" training now.
    (no offense to all those who have already told me what I am doing wrong)
  12. Nice write up mate and glad you enjoyed.
    But I have to say this “I can’t believe you didn’t wear full leathers and I can’t believe they let you on the track like that”. Down the straight you’re hitting around 270km/hr and around turn 1 you’re going around 160km/hr, Kevlar aint going to save shit at those speeds if you come off.
    I’m glad you enjoyed it and took something from it, but it seems like this course is a total contradiction to CSS and what it says in TOTW.
    Let the flaming begin.
  13. Great write up. I'm off to the advanced course there on Monday. Looking forward to it.
  14. I just read this story word for word again in last months Australian road rider, do we have a budding motorcycle writer in our midst?
    Was reading the article thinking i know this story i have read it not that long ago on netrider
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Ha Ha! It got a run, nice! My dream job would be as a Motorcycle Travel writer/photographer... Bikes/Travel/Words and Pics... The 4 passions in my life!
  16. Issue number 70 the september edition of Australian road rider, page 56
  17. Well done mate.
    Sounds like you had a hoot. I know I would.
    Pity they didn't have a shade tent set up on turn two for you guys.
    The track is the only place to start pushing boundaries. Once you know them you can use them for the better on the road.
    And the track you have run off for when you get it wrong. And everyone else is going in the same direction.
  18. Cheers Bretto, yeah a shade tent would have been a godsend.. I might suggest that to the Stay Upright team. Good Idea. I'll be booking in for a track day soon. The skills i learnt were invaluable.