I recently coughed up $400 to attend the Stay Upright Advanced I course. The course has two parts: a three hour theory seminar delivered at their Hoppers Crossing premises; and a full day track session held at Broadford. I did the theory seminar a little over a week ago, and I spent a beautiful, sunny day out at Broadford today. The theory seminar was interesting, but I have to say it was nothing new. I'd done the HART Intermediate course previously, and the material covered in the theory seminar was very similar to classroom sessions from the HART course, and also the Learner and License courses for that matter. I guess this isn't surprising, given that the goals are similar. It probably also helped that it seems like half of the Stay Upright team have worked at HART at some time or another. (I recognised Anthony from his HART days, for instance.) We covered things like hazard perception and road position, and I gleaned a few little nuggets of wisdom from the guys giving the course. The theory seminar was optional, and most people didn't bother to attend. There is one theory seminar for two track days, but maybe only a couple of people from the track today had been to the seminar. Not surprising, I suppose. For most folks the track was the reason they signed up. After a fairly chilly ride up to Broadford we gathered around to watch a lesson how to get onto a motorcycle. I thought this was a pretty basic thing to be demonstrating in an advanced course, but there you go. Then there was a bit of a chat about the rest of the day before we saddled up and did a few laps of the racetrack. It was my first time on the track, so I was basically learning the various corners without really thinking much about lines or technique. Next we stopped on the main straight (closest to the pit lane) and saw a bit of a demonstration of some slow speed riding. The exercise that went with it involved coming to a stop - preferably blipping the throttle on the way down through the gears - and then doing a fairly simple figure S around some cones. I used to blip the throttle on the CBR 125 when we had it, mainly because it had massive engine braking for such a little bike, and if I didn't blip my 'nads were not too happy. But I had real trouble blipping the throttle on the Striple. Definitely something to work on. The slow maneuver was actually pretty easy in comparison. After that we watched some swerving demos and a bit of a slalom through some cones, before going on to do this ourselves. Between slaloms on the two straights, we got to ride around the rest of the track. This was fun, and gave us a chance to become pretty familiar with the corners. Sadly, there was one bloke who was significantly slower than everybody else on the track, and I was stuck behind him for this exercise. (And the warm-up laps, now that I think about it.) As a result I didn't really get to push myself on the slalom or the swerves that we were suppose to do around a pair of cones set up at the end of each slalom. After morning tea we did some braking practice. Once again, the exercise started with a demo, showing the virtues of front brake versus back brake, and the increase in stopping distance between 60 kph and 120 kph. We also saw how to do a quick-stop in a corner by standing the bike upright and then doing a stop as normal. This exercise ran pretty much up until lunch, with a stop on each straight and one corner stop on the left-hand hairpin just before the pit straight. I was reasonably happy with this, working my speed up to 85 kph before the quick stop, but it was over before I had a chance to try it at 100 kph. Which brings me to my biggest complaint about the day. The best thing about having the course at Broadford is that you can try things at road speed (or faster!), but it comes at a cost. In other courses I've done, which took place in comparatively small spaces, we got to try each exercise heaps of times, until I felt that I could see a real improvement in my technique. But because the swerves and stops were interspersed around the whole track, we spent more time doing laps than actually practicing the stops and swerves. I know most people think that is exactly as it should be, but we knew that we'd be spending the whole afternoon doing laps. I would rather have had the chance to spend more of the morning actually working on my braking and swerving. After lunch we watched two of the instructors demonstrate different cornering lines, and then split into two groups. Half of us stood by the right hander down near the pits while the other half were divided up into groups of four. Each small group followed one instructor as he showed good lines and cornering form around the track. We each got to tail the instructor for two laps, and then fell back to the end of our little group so the next person could tail the instructor. And here is my second complaint. I managed not to get stuck behind the very slow person, which was good, but I there was a moderately slow person in our group. I found that I couldn't see the instructor very well for more than half of the laps because he was a turn or two ahead of us. That was annoying, but I heard from somebody else that even when it was their turn to tail the instructor they couldn't see what he was dong because the instructor was riding too fast for them and was too far ahead. This person told me that he felt pressured to keep up with the instructor, which ended up in him having a bit of a scare coming out of the chicane and deciding not to try to keep up any more. The next exercise was a variant of this. Six or so riders were teamed up with each of four instructors, and the instructor would ride second in the group. We'd all do two laps, and then pull in to the pit lane by the main straight while the instructor gave feedback to the rider he'd been following. That rider would drop to the back, and the instructor would fall back one place to tail the next rider in the group. I thought this was the most useful exercise. When it was my turn in front I could ride my own ride without trying to keep up with anybody, and then after two laps I got some comments about my technique. Very useful, and also heartening as the comments were pretty positive. After a break for afternoon tea, we repeated this exercise, but with different instructors. I thought it was a good idea to get feedback from more than one instructor. Finally, we reversed the direction of the laps we'd been doing. (From clockwise to anti-clockwise.) This was surprisingly difficult, as some of the corners were rather nasty when going in the other direction. I wish we'd had time to do more of this. Because Broadford has so many right hand corners I now have uneven chicken strips! I was hoping to have a chance to even them up a little, but a bunch of us got stuck behind the slow guy so I never got a chance to get a decent lean going in any of the left hand bends. Overall, I'd say that the course was well worth the money. Yes, it is expensive. But the experience was worth it in my opinion. The highlight for me was cranking the Striple up to 145 kph in second gear - the first time I've managed to get higher than 10,000 rpm. I think that the most useful part was actually practicing braking hard from high speed, which is just plain risky to do on the road with other people who can come along and collect you at any moment. The most fun part was probably going around those right hand sweepers and noticing that I was doing them 20 - 30 kph faster at the end of the day than in our first few laps.