As some of you might know, I had the opportunity to attend Reg Pridmore's CLASS on Friday at Streets of Willow. I have a couple of riding friends who are instructors and it just so happened that the day landed on a Friday that I was scheduled to be off. Soooo like anyone would, I siezed the opportunity.
I had a litle bit of an idea of what to expect, as I had been hearing about it for the last couple of years or so whenever I met up with the guys for the routine Sunday ride. The only reason I hadn't been able to make it out sooner was the fact that they usually only do their events on weekdays. So it was that the planets aligned just right and I had the money AND the day off. So I dropped my bike off at my friend's house to be hauled on Thursday, and at 6:00...okay, okay 6:30 Friday morning... I set off to meet everyone out at the track.
I got there with plenty of time to spare for registration. Since my friend hauled the bike, he had also taken the liberty of running through tech on it as well, so I didn't have to wait for that either. The morning was off to a great start. The sun was out, the temps were in the 60s and there wasn't a cloud in sight. There were only about 30 people in each group, and there were quite a few ladies out there as first-timers. There are two groups, A (faster) and B group and they alternated sessions: When A group was on the track, B group was in class (and vice versa).
Reg made it abundantly clear from the get-go that this is a school for street riding; it's NOT a race school and we wouldn't be running "race lines" on the track. The first session of the day was all about learning the CLASS line on the course. I had a lot of trouble with this since I had ridden that particular track several times and had gotten used to running track lines and turn-in points (a-la CSS). It wasn't TOO much different but there were some areas where it felt completely foreign to me for the first couple of sessions. There were designated passing zones; the front and rear straights (and one section before entering into "the bowl") being divided by an imaginary dotted line into two lanes; a fast lane, and a slow lane.
My first session out, I was grappling to overcome my habit of taking the track line. They had done the sight lap, but for whatever reason it wasn't sticking. Apparently, I wasn't the only one because upon returning to the classroom there was a general lecture about those of us "taking the race lines" and immediately I felt a tinge of shame as I cracked a nervous, guilty smile. Of course, I could have been the only one, but I'm pretty sure that the dude in the race-suit who was riding behind me was also taking the wider line in some areas
. The next session out I pulled my friend aside and had him drag me around the track. Under these different lines, a few more corners were harder to see around so I felt myself struggling with speed and confidence.
Throughout the day different topics were discussed, primarily in the areas of body position, braking, suspension and keeping the rev's up for better cornering stability. Reg and the staff were really good about answering people's questions and wording things in a way that was comprehensible to riders who aren't into track days, don't follow racing, and really just want to be able to throw down on some canyons without meeting face to face with a motorhome. I remember thinking that this class should be on the must-attend list for anyone who really wants to introduce themselves to sport riding.
Most of my sessions out were met with compliments on my BP and throttle control. Once I got the lines nailed down, the only thing that I was really struggling with was confidence, which is to be expected given the hiatus I had taken from riding. I enjoyed the different approach, I enjoyed the fact that I was challenged to try different techniques, and I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that the street isn't a race track and that it shouldn't be ridden the same way. I like the fact that they encourage you to use less of the lane than what you actually have because that is something that I already try to implore just to develop safe riding habits.
I had a stellar time (although, I usually have a stellar time when I'm at the track). I highly recommend CLASS to the folks who probably won't do very many track days and who have a habit of running a little close to the center-line when they, don't know a lot about their bikes, or are employing those racing lines to the street.
I'll try to get some pics put up shortly but CaliPhotography hasn't put up the pics from Friday's event yet. If you would like more info on CLASS, you can visit their website here: CLASS Motorcycle School - the nation's best street riding school!