By Dennis Dumapias
My friend and fellow blogger AJ covered the value of riding coaches before. If she had her reservations about commissioning a riding coach, I not only shared them but also had it worse.
I like figuring things out on my own. It’s almost a hobby in itself to take up something as a hobby and figure it out along the way. We live in a time now when there’s almost nothing you can’t learn if you just know what you’re looking for. So, like with a number of things I’ve taken up in the past, I self-educated myself when it came to track riding. I’m probably not the best teacher, and the progress may have been slow, but for the longest time there was satisfaction in slowly chipping away and seeing progress.
But the second half of 2018 was a new era to me, even if unplanned. I have the same goals despite moving on to a different steed to get me there, but while I still gave myself time to learn, I didn’t want to take up too much time. So I employed a riding coach myself: Riding Coach Rob.
Fortunately for me, he didn’t have to cost me anything, and he was great at what he did. I would send him the data from my lap timer to analyze, and he’d regurgitate it back to me in a manner I understood. Even if he was telling me things I already knew, they were backed up by empirical evidence: data. And even better was when he’d tell and show me things I didn’t know.
And my one biggest takeaways so far in my coaching from Rob was when he told me that I rush corners.
He pointed out by way of my data how my tendency to brake deep and late into corners more often than not resulted in me scrubbing off too much speed by the time I complete my turn-in, so my speed through the corners suffers.
And he was right.
The thing is that earlier on in my track riding I was so reluctant to use the brakes to make up more time, that I specifically worked on becoming more comfortable with hard braking. I would do this by incrementally pushing my braking markers later and deeper, staying on the throttle longer just prior. I used to be bothered by the bike moving under braking, so I forced myself to become comfortable with it to the point that if I was braking and the bike wasn’t moving underneath me, then I wasn’t braking hard enough. Because I probably wasn’t going into the corner fast enough. And I think with time, I just overdid it. Especially when I was on my 02 R1, a bike that was so underpowered with its age that the only way I could make up time on people was by out-braking them into corners.
And while Rob singled out my braking in how I rush corners, the truth is that isn’t the only thing I rush. I also have a tendency to turn in too soon for some corners, even slow corners that I know are better served by turning in late. But I don’t know why it is. It’s like as soon as I see the corner stripes I just start aiming for them, trying to clip that apex as soon as I can. Most of the time it’s fine, but some apexes are called late apexes for a reason. But I just get this slight case of red mist in front of me, especially once I get going. It’s almost like being in the zone also leaves me zoning out and at times I forget to act on better judgment.
But it has helped me that Rob has voiced it out. It’s like I needed to hear it, for someone to not only show me but tell me what I may subconsciously already know. It’s almost like now knowing someone else already knows what I’m doing wrong has forced me to actually do something about it, instead of continuing to ignore it. And I have been working on it.
I just have to make sure I don’t rush it too.