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Yamaha Champions Riding School... on a Bagger

513 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Bikesofbrads
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Yamaha Champions Riding School...
on a Bagger

I had an opportunity to sign-up for a 1-day YCRS course out at Quantico Marine Corps Base this upcoming Saturday May 20th. Quantico has a HUGE, 9-acre large, blacktop that makes for an excellent motorcycle training range. However, I waffled for too long in my indecision on whether to sign-up, and now I fear that the Saturday May 20th may be all filled-up. Bummer. I've taken a few MSF-Circuit Rider Courses on my big, wide, and heavy bagger, and they were a BLAST on that big, 9-acre large, blacktop out at Quantico. I sort of thought that the Yamaha Champions Riding School course would be the next step up, but I wasn't sure if there'd be other big, wide, and heavy bagger bikes in attendance. So I waffled... and waffled... for too long. And now that Saturday May 20th training course may be all filled-up. Perhaps I might be able to sign-up on a standby slot in the event some other rider no-shows.
Aside from waffling with indecision for too long, the weather forecast calls for a 65% chance of liquid sunshine that day. Admittedly, I'm not too keen on the idea of taking a motorcycle training course during liquid sunshine. I might melt.
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I hope you get in, because doing track work can definitely be done on a tourer/bagger, and it's fun.

I owned an XCT from new in 2012 until I sold it in 2017. Back in 2015, when I was a lot younger (67 at the time), I took that bike to a "Non-Sportbike Track Day" put on by Tony's Track Days (Tony's Track Days | No Cops, No Cars, No Limits!), a northeast track-day outfit mainly for track-prepped bikes.

But a couple of days each year, they said, "No sportbikes, but everything else, and this is a training day, not a race day." These were supervised by Ken Condon, an author (Riding in the Zone), trainer, and former safety columnist for some big-name motorcycle magazines.

The days worked like this:
  • A tech inspection at 7am, to make sure that your brakes and tires were ok, no fluid leaks, and glass taped over.
  • And then on-track, every hour from 8 to 5.
And here's how each hour worked (with three groups, with staggered times):
  • 20 minutes on track (with no passing on the inside of curves, and instructors circulating in and out, observing what you do), where you got to work on your cornering and braking all day.
  • 20 minutes of classroom time, with instruction mostly on the finer points of cornering, and sometimes instructors playing video of particularly stupid pet tricks in the session just concluded.
  • 20 minutes to take a break.
I did two of these days on the XCT (and then two on my 650 scooter).

That first time, in 2015, was at Thompson Speedway (CT). Here's Ken explaining some aspects of body positioning during a break ... on my XCT:

And here are a couple of pics of my riding that day:

In 2016, I did another one of these days, this time at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Loudon, NH). Here are a couple of pics from that day:

Since then, Ken has officially split off his training group, instead of piggy-backing on Tony's track reservations: Non-Sportbike Track Day Training – Riding in the Zone Rider Training (and if you look about halfway down that page, there's another pic of me on the XCT at one of the tracks).

So my recommendation is that riding on the track, especially in this sort of teaching/training environment, is a great way to enhance your skills. Besides the classroom instruction, you get to lean over a little more each time, tighten up that corner each time, as you repeat the same corners throughout the day. While parking-lot instruction is fine and dandy -- and I'm saying this as a former MSF RiderCoach, and I also took Lee Parks' Total Control parking-lot course a long time ago -- you just can't get this kind of practical experience at lower speeds.

So I recommend all those courses, and have personal knowledge of Ken's Riding in the Zone days in the northeast. And no cross traffic, no oncoming traffic, no deer, and runoff room. And, hey, if you make a mistake: two ambulances, no waiting.
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Excellent, glad you made it in (and didn’t get up early for nothing)!
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