California Superbike School
By Ross Sharp - 25 Sep 18
STOP PRESS - CSS is now closed in the UK, but the global franchises are still operatingOK, time to let the cat out of the bag, step out of the closet and come clean - I don't know what I'm doing. Yes I've been riding motorcycles for over three decades, have lived from the back of a bike for months on end and reviewed the latest machinery alongside the world's best journalists but the truth of the matter is, it's all been a bit of a blag. Apart from a recent foray into flat tracking I've never actually been taught how to ride. My mate Danny once showed me how to let a clutch out without looping or stalling, but that was when I was 12. Since then I've just done what felt right and learned along the way with a degree of caution and plenty of experimentation.
Luckily my coach pulled a few strings and I spent the last session on the all-new Ducati Supersport. The slightly higher bars and less aggressive position instantly felt better. After setting the steering at turn-in I could have done a bit of Tindering (is that what it's called) with my inside hand, the bars gripped loose and neutral. The pace quickened and I played follow-the-leader once more. A complete revelation of how to use my legs and lower body to brace myself made me feel like a new man. I could have lapped the twisty Stowe circuit until sunset. Boots were scraping (need to point my toes in more), lean angles were increasing and I was smashing through the box, loving the Ducati's quick-shifter - a new thing for me. Compared to the taught 959 the Supersport moved around a lot more through the turns and despite my visor being covered in water droplets I felt 100% in control. If the front had tucked I'd wager I'd have been able to catch it. Earlier in the day? No chance, what I had thought was the bike's suspension becoming weighted was in fact my outside arm pushing against the pressure applied by the inside. I won't lie, I'd been a bit crestfallen that I couldn't make the initial invitation to attend the next week's school at the iconic Brands Hatch. Stowe by comparison is a slightly dull looking airfield based track but in hindsight it was perfect. No scary grass run-offs or distractions of thinking Shakey came through here to take the title in..... just me, the bike and the job in hand. I could whittle on for another 2000 words about the various intricacies of each lesson but I'm really struggling to convey just how good this method of learning is. And not just for the track. Our classroom tutor was an accomplished ex-bike cop with decades of experience and a plethora of advanced riding certificates under his belt who occasionally referred back to road riding and how these new learnings could not only be useful out on the open road but could prevent an incident. I'll definitely apply these new skills and awareness on my commute, and beyond. If you're a belligerent know-it-all perhaps do everyone else a favour and stay away, but for anyone else I can't recommend the California Superbike School highly enough. As soon as the 2019 dates are released I'll be booking Level 2, 3 and 4! Find out more about the California Superbike School Web | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram Images thanks to California Superbike School (apart from the smartphone ones of random bikes)My Gear Helmet - Nexx XG100R Suit - Helstons KS70 Gloves - Knox Orsa Boots - Knackered Alpinestars S-MX from a touring trip 10 years ago Back protector - Knox Defender Elite