Continuing rider education is the best way to improve riding skills and be safer on the road. Even the most experienced rider can benefit from the teachings of qualified instructors. Several members of the RoadRUNNER team recently attended CLASS Motorcycle Schools’ track session at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). CLASS is run by Motorcycle Hall-of-Famer, Reg Pridmore, who won the first three years of AMA Superbike from 1976-1978. Reg is all about sharing his experience and knowledge with fellow riders. He’ll even take you around the course on the back of his – or your – motorcycle. Witnessing his line on the track and feeling the smoothness is worth the money itself.
The day started at 7:30 a.m. with registration and tech inspection. All bikes have their mirrors removed or taped over, and the brake lights are either disconnected or taped over. Good tires and no fluid leaks are also a requirement. Our first in-class session started at 8 a.m. Reg introduced himself and his team, and then welcomed back more than half of the class who had attended the previous day. Based on the size of the class, either two or three groups are formed related to riding skills.
Many riders especially like CLASS, because you ride your own motorcycle. This enables you to better learn how your bike handles under extreme conditions, which you can then translate back on the road. I rode my Honda VFR800 Interceptor, Christa her Triumph Speed Triple, and Neale Bayly a CBR1000. As we talked to other participants, they said they liked Reg’s class because of the non-competitiveness on the track, and mostly courteous passing maneuvers, and we felt the same.
The first track session opened with the instructors taking groups of four-to-five riders at a warm-up pace around the track. You’re always nervous the first time out on a new track, and the instructors did a great job allaying people’s fears. The riders behind the instructor rotated through after every lap to get right behind the instructor and thus on his line. After the initial track session, the following sessions were basically a free-for-all. People could ride the track as they wanted, but the instructors were always available to provide more attention and assistance as desired.
The classroom sessions covered riding technique, motorcycle setup, and most importantly, smoothness of throttle and brake. The key factor in controlled riding is smoothness of inputs to the motorcycle: smooth on, smooth off with the throttle and brakes. We practiced a great braking drill where the focus was smoothly rolling off the throttle and simultaneously applying the brakes. The same goes for releasing the brakes – the smoother, the better.
Compared to other advanced riding schools this one was on the looser side. Although it was very well organized, as the day progressed, less people came back to the classroom. Instead, many riders went to their trailer to relax and hang out before heading back on the track. The first couple of classroom sessions had a topic with correlating posters, but the last few were based purely off of questions from the participants. It’s a good strategy if people have lots of questions.
For each session on the track, we focused on a different skill. After the seventh time, we all gained the confidence needed to push ourselves further. We ended the day with one last track session where everything seemed to come together. One thing’s for certain, we left Reg Pridmore’s CLASS better riders.
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