A great day with a great CLASS Team
Say what you will about the desert, it’s beauty, it’s starkness, it’s highly contrasting and sometimes grueling weather conditions help make it exactly what it is: a challenge.
My riding days have always been and always will be the experience that points me toward fun and survival. From the days back in the streets of Hornchurch and the surrounding area, outside of London. If you didn’t like to ride in the weather, you might want to find another hobby. I imagine it’s still the same now. On the other hand, California nearly always offers my favorite type of riding conditions. Oh, it does rain here. I love riding in the rain and I love the challenge of beating a scary wind at its own game.
Streets of Willow is renowned for its testing ground and there have been pictures in most every motorcycle mag in the country showcasing the incredible beauty of the California high desert. What those pictures don’t show is the wind that can blow out there for days on end.
Monday’s school at Streets gave us those desert winds. I think the forecast was 25 mph with gusts to 40. In the afternoon you had to be careful how your parked your motorcycle because the wind was strong enough to blow it over. Dealing with this condition at speed became more of a task if you wanted to play the game. But everyone there met the challenge head on and trained to cope better than ever with challenges the desert has to offer.
The morning started off a bit cool, in fact the track stayed on the cool side most of the day so warming up those black round things was top priority all day long. But I must give props to everyone in attendance because throughout the day, there was only one slide off attributed to cold tyres.
A windy condition such as we had on Monday really steepens the learning curve and can actually build skill and confidence at a faster rate. It helps teach the importance of relaxation on the bars, all the while using the lower body and even the throttle to keep the bike from being blown about. When you take these new skills out to your favorite road and find some unexpected wind, things are going to be much more familiar to you than if you always avoid riding in inclement weather.
But even with the desert windy day challenge thrown at us, the day was as good as it gets. It was a fantastic group of excited and appreciative students. Many of them already very good riders, others new to the track and a little nervous, and of course everything in between. I believe we had two minor slide offs that day, but as has become the norm at a CLASS event, the ambulance stayed parked in one place all day long.
Huge thanks to everyone who made Monday such a great CLASS. And speaking of everyone who makes it possible, I just want to add a few words about my instructors.
I can say this at 100% of my schools, but I’ll just add that the CLASS team on Monday was outstanding, with about 10 of us including our latest addition to the crew, FNG Troy Simmons. Troy did something at our Laguna Seca school the prior week that made me know he was going to work out just fine. I was about to leave the turn 5 area with the B group on the morning track orientation, when Troy saw from the back of the line my tail-light dim as I tried to start my bike. My battery was dead – and he was alert. Within seconds he was giving me his motorcycle to continue on my way, and he proceeded to bump start mine and catch up with us a few minutes later. I single out Troy here, but I could tell you similar stories about every one of these blokes. I am extremely happy with the team we have at this moment in time.
What do I look for in an instructor? Sure, a skilled rider is a must. But as important as that is, their situational awareness and ability and desire to help other riders is paramount. If you’ve ridden with us you know that my guys are not the ones continuously popping wheelies past the slower riders showing everyone how good they are. Most of them are very fast, and the occasional front wheel goes in the air, but for the most part, my guys are there to help you become a better rider. To work with you at whatever level you’re at, to help you climb the ladder of skill and accomplishment on a motorcycle, regardless of your current skill level. I choose these guys with special qualities in mind, and I’m happy to say we are often complimented on our professionalism, friendliness and the quality of the people who are the CLASS Team.
Ride safe, think fast.