I am a firm believer in continuing education in all aspects. Especially motorcycle riding. I attended American Supercamp/Roadrace Factory and it was a life altering, two wheeled experience!
Written by Lee ‘Ridefar’ Heaver (www.ridefar.ca)
American Supercamp calls itself a motorcycle technique school. It is operated in the dirt (think motorcross without the jumps) on Yamaha 125s. Their training applies to anyone on two wheels. What they teach will help you become a better, safer rider in all aspects. I’ve been a street rider for 11 years and about 130,000kms/80,000miles. I have not ventured into the dirt very often and when I have, it is not a pleasant experience. Especially on street tires!
The locations vary but this particular course was held in Los Angeles (City of Industry). It is lead by the energetic & retired racer, Danny Walker. He is the founder of the 18 years running, American SuperCamp. He is also the lead at RoadRace Factory. Danny took care of the registration and made sure everyone was welcomed. The instructors for our course included Austin, Carter, Josh Hayes (4 time National Superbike Champion, Jake Gagne (2015 MotoAmerica Superstock 1000cc Champion), JD Beach (2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion). Having the opportunity to learn from such accomplished riders is truly an experience. Everyone was very friendly, approachable, and took the time to offer individual feedback. You just can’t ask for anything more from a motorcycle instructor.
We were all given a handout with a clipboard while Danny explained what we would be doing and the concepts behind it. Danny had a lot to say but it wasn’t long before we were out there riding around the arena. The skills start small and build up from there. The amount of information was overwhelming at times. The constant practice with each skill is what makes it happen. We were divided into three group of varying skill levels and we all had plenty of time on the motorcycles. The first day of American Supercamp was all about digesting the new skills. It was also a full day. We started at 830am and we were done just after 5pm. I am not sure the whole class could have taken much more.
Day two is where things really got interesting. The course was larger and the speeds, higher. The foundation we built yesterday was put into practice today. All of us were a little sore but the excitement took care of that. They also brought out the GoPros to record us riding individually. At the end of our sessions we were able to watch ourselves ride. This was key. Being able to see what you are missing really helps with the learning process. It can be difficult to make instant adjustments while you’re riding. There is alot going on.
Near the end of the day they setup an even larger course for all of us to ride around on. Even the instructors were getting excited about it. We spent the next 90 minutes ripping it up. Riding with your fellow students and accomplished racers was an incredible finish. The racers did not have a medium level of speed. It was either all on or all off. It was a absolute thrill to get passed and ride with them. It was many moments like this that will have me talking about American Supercamp for a very long time.
During the course and conversations with other students, there were several who had taken this course already. Some had even taken it multiple times. Why? Two major reasons. It was a lot to learn in two days. We all learn at different speeds and levels of comprehension. The other reason, it was just a lot of fun. There are 18 years of development into this course. It is just as much an experience as it is an education course.
Since you are learning and getting outside of your comfort zone. There will be crashing. For most, this sounds scary. Crashing is a part of motorcycle riding which is why you need to get it done and over with in a safe environment. The old adage; “There are two types of motorcycle riders. Ones that have crashed and the others that will crash.” This can be taken as very pessimistic but it is fact. During the weekend there were several crashes. Almost all of them were minor meaning they just got back onto the bike and kept going. The few that were a little more involved. All that was needed was a bag of ice and some Advil. Nobody had to leave or was carted away in an ambulance. I did crash, more than once. I am a little sore but I am confident that these small crashes will reduce the risk of a much larger crash on the street. Play the odds game when riding. The more you practice and take education riding courses, the less likely you will hurt yourself out there.
How does this relate to my road riding? Being comfortable with your motorcycle losing traction. Our automatic reaction might be to freeze. In fact, when the motorcycle is sliding you can regain the control. The only way you’ll get a chance to regain control is practice what American Supercamp offers. There are no guarantees riding a motorcycle (especially on public roads) so being better prepared can only benefit you. Increase your odds of getting home safely with courses like this. I will be one of those students that will attend another Supercamp. Skills take time to learn and when you’re having fun, you just want to keep on riding.