Saturday, November 14, 2009

Streetmasters Motorcycle Workshop - Part 2

Streetmasters Motorcycle Workshop is owned and run by Walt Fulton (pictured above) and Nancy Foote. Walt is a former motorcycle racer, winning three times at Daytona, and Nancy, an experienced rider in her own right, is known as the Queen of the Backroads. I had the wonderful opportunity to take their workshop today. We started our day at the Hampton Inn conference room in Lancaster, CA. Early on, Walt emphasized the need for head turns and to "look where you want to go". He stated, "If your neck isn't sore by the end of today, I'm going to be disappointed!" The course also teaches a delayed apex in a corner for street riding. The delayed apex gives you a better look into the turn before committing to it. It also helps you stay clear of the center line (and potential center lane crossers) and sets you up for the next corner. It should be noted that this is very different than how you would approach a corner on the race track. The idea of the "tipping point" was also discussed. One comment I found to be very helpful is that your tipping point (the moment you "tip" or "lean" into your turn) should happen once you can see through the turn, allowing you to make a more informed decision about how to approach it.
After our short instruction in the classroom, we all rode over to the Willow Springs Raceway in nearby Rosamond. The course primarily takes place on the Horse Thief Mile track, which is set up like canyon road, but without any pesky oncoming traffic. You may recognize this course from numerous car commercials. We worked on our newly learned techniques and received constant feedback on our progress. I was lucky to have Walt as my track instructor. Actually, the entire staff is great all around. The other instructors are also extremely experienced and "the moms", Peggy and Liz, were there to make sure we ate a good lunch, drank enough water, and to answer any logistical questions. In addition to the "track time" we also worked on "precision exercises" on the practice pad, such as U-turns from a stop and emergency braking. Our graduation exercises consisted of a figure eight and offset weave course and another chance at the Horse Thief Mile, but this time in the reverse direction. I appreciated this final exercise as it allowed me to get a sense for the real progress I had achieved that day. The progress came in steps throughout the day, with a deeper understanding of the concepts as I went along.
In this course, I learned a lot and improved my skills, but I also met some great people - instructors and course participants alike. I had the opportunity to get to know some fellow BMW riders from the BMW Owners Club of San Diego and riders that follow Oh yeah, and my neck was sore at the end of the day, just like Walt had promised.

I am anxious to practice my newly-learned techniques. I can only hope that the Chicago weather affords me the opportunity....

Note: Special thanks to fellow-student, Kevin Wilson, for use of his photos for this blog.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Streetmasters Motorcycle Workshop-Part 1

No fear. Today is Friday the 13th. Something bad is supposed to happen, right? Today it was all good. Last February, I entered a raffle to benefit the Women's Motorcyclist Foundation and Breast Cancer Research. In that raffle, I was the lucky winner of a free motorcycle class, but not just any class, the Streetmasters Motorcycle Workshop in sunny California. My hosts, Walt Fulton and Nancy Foote, rolled out the red carpet. Walt picked me up yesterday at John Wayne Airport. We stopped at Kawasaki Motorcycles North American HQ in Irvine, CA, and I got a tour of the facilities. My first bike was a Kawasaki Vulcan Classic, so I have a soft spot in my heart for Kawis.

Today, Nancy and I met Phil (one of the track marshals at Streetmasters) at the Hill Street Cafe in La CaƱada for breakfast . (Walt was kind enough to lend me his 1997 R1100RS!) It's located at the base of Angeles Crest Highway. Unfortunately, we couldn't take it, because of recent fires, it's closed... With Nancy, Queen of the Backroads, leading the way, we took 210 West to 5 North to 126 West in Santa Paula, and this where it starts to get interesting. 150 W goes to Ojai where we tooks pictures and got gas. Beautiful vistas. From there 33 North - my favorite part - as we came down the mountain - ahhh sweepers. And Nancy has mad skills, so she was the perfect person to follow (and emulate).

We stopped at the ranger station, Phil and I switched bikes and I rode his Goldwing for a bit. A first for me. I liked it and could see its benefits, especially on the expressway, but I felt way more comfortable on the BMW. From there, we took 166 to the Cerro Noroestre to the Mil Potrero Highway. We had a delightful lunch at La Lena at Pine Mountain. It was startin to get cold, it was in the 30s up there (and we saw snow on the mountain tops)! So I put on my winter gloves and we made our way to Lancaster. A rough guess at our route was taking Frasier Park Road to the old highway to Gorman Post to 138 to 3 Points Road through Elizabeth Lake on Lake Hughes Road to Quartz Hill through Antelope Valley into Lancaster. It was cold when we got there! In the 40s, but it seemed colder because of the wind. Happy to get inside and warm up.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Love of Chrome Thermal Give-Away

Leslie loves veggies and Leslie loves
motorcycles too. Leslie Loves Veggies Blog
and VaVaVroom got together to honor
Leslie's late brother, Ricky. Check out
Leslie's post and learn more about Ricky
and how you can enter to win a
The deadline is November 11, 2009.
Thanks Leslie!