WHILE the rest of the UK was sunning itself in the recent apocalyptic heatwave, our Laura decided to swelter in leathers at a California Superbike School – not once, but twice!
Here’s what she thought:
“Following Level 1 the week before, I was unsure of what to expect from Level 2.
“Some people had told me it was the best level, while others claimed to have learnt the most in the first. But different strokes for different folks so I started the day with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
“And learn I did. As I mentioned in my level one first impressions, what stands out about CSS is its depth. The teaching is just so thorough, covering everything you could think of, and everything you don’t. Level 2 focuses on visual skills, and follows on from the two-step turn that we learnt in the last session of Level 1.
“Firstly we focused on reference points- locating physical marks on or nearby the track to aim for when entering/exiting a bend. Then it was on to the ‘Change Lines’ drill, in which we were instructed to try a number of different lines on the track. This really opened up the space on the track, proving that it was far larger than my brain had allowed me to think before. With this larger space came increased confidence, and in this second session on track I really noticed myself moving around the tarmac a lot more. The third drill, Three-Step, expands on the aforementioned Two-Step by adding a third visual marker as you exit a bend - reminding the rider to keep looking ahead.
“Drill four was the final visual skill, introducing the concept of ‘Wide View’ – keeping obstacles and hazards in your peripheral vision to avoid target fixation. For example, instead of looking at the rider you’re planning on overtaking, keep them in your peripheral vision and look ahead of them. This not only allows you to see overtaking opportunities earlier, but also better positions you to be prepared for what’s ahead and makes for improved speed retention.
“As with Level 1, the final drill was a transition exercise to Level 3. Pick up was all about hanging off the bike into bends, and righting the machine as soon as possible after the bend – and before readjusting your body position – in order to roll on quickly into the straights.
“California Superbike School Level 2 really opened my eyes – quite literally – to visual skills on track. Previously I had taken a much more ‘in the moment’ approach to track riding – dealing with situations and corners when I arrived upon them. The drills I learnt at Brands allowed me to prepare for corners and obstacles in advance, and therefore progress through them faster, and with improved stability. Level 1 was good, but Level 2 was excellent. It not only improved my riding tenfold, but also my mental approach to track riding – I was no longer apprehensive and actually felt like I had a vague idea of what I was doing…”