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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Photos by Neale Bayly
Words by Paul Sutton


As my truck rolls west on I-20 during peak rush-hour traffic in downtown Atlanta, my fearless copilot and I find ourselves in desperate need of escape from the 5 MPH thrills of the cubically-employed. Our thoughts and conversation wander to the blissful scraping of knee pucks and harmonious whines of brand new Yamaha R6’s on the tarmac Mecca known as Barber Motorsports Park I’m traveling with Neale Bayly— trusty companion and motorcycle journalist (with the bladder the size of a peanut) who has graciously invited me back to Barber after prezeling an anonymous celebrity’s brand new ZX6R test bike some 10 months ago. Rewind to June, 2007—my first track experience. After a frustratingly slow 4 sessions in the novice class I decided to make the jump to Intermediate class and I tucked the front in T2 carrying entirely too much entry speed. I learned a difficult lesson about riding within the limit of my ability when I go sliding off into turn 2’s blistering white gravel trap. Needless to say, my reputation of a crasher has been difficult to shake. I’m off to learn the proper skills and technique at the Jamie James Yamaha Champion Riding School. The next 2 days should provide fun and excitement with Jamie James, Scott Russell, guest instructor Rich Oliver, among other champion instructors who all have proven skill and measure in the AMA, WERA, NESBA, CCS, and Moto-ST circuits.

While unloading cameras and gear at dawn on day one, it becomes apparent that weather and track conditions are going to be ideal for 2 full days on the track. There’s one instructor for every other student – a ratio that’s unheard of in the multitude of track schools across the United States. This isn’t your typical “cram as many people onto the track” type event. I’m impressed with the sparkling new fleet of 2008 R6’s and FZ-6’s. After signing all the required legal forms, the classroom is in session with Instructor introductions and we’re suiting up for our first session of the day. Pilot suits and gloves, Arai helmets in all various colors and sizes, and TCX boots are all available at an additional fee with a damage deposit.






The first session is used as a guided tour of the track. It’s especially hair-raising because this is my first time back on the track after the epic low side. My mind and body are working conversely as I creep through the infamous T2 and up the hill toward Charlotte’s Web. Two laps later my tires come up to temperature and I’m sweating like a Corona bottle at a Jimmy Buffet concert when a leaf blows through the sweeping downhill right hander of T2 and I immediately target fixate on it. After what seems like an eternity, our 20 minute session has come to an end and we’re off to the classroom for our first lesson. Jamie James discusses the responsibilities of street riding and the concentration levels that today’s modern street bikes demand. Jamie then moves onto the benefits of track riding and exploring the high speeds of our machines in a controlled, safe environment.



 

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Discussion Starter #2




After an introductory course on track rules, flags, and signals, we’re off for our second session. Stan Simmerson, an instructor for the school and CCS national champion noticed that my body language was very tense during the first session and offers some much needed advice on body position. I explain to him my situation after having a big crash, and Stan offers his help for the afternoon. I’m still very nervous at the start of session 2, but I began to focus on breathing and loosening my deathly grip of the clip ons. The bike immediately responds in a positive way and I’m starting to control my nerves on the bike. I’m breathing more naturally and the throttle control becomes more controlled-- I’m beginning to feel a rhythm. We break for a catered lunch after an informative classroom lap of the track and I’m discussing diet and fitness with Rich Oliver over a plate full of grilled chicken breasts. Rich is a five-time AMA 250 GP Champion with 71 national victories, the most of any AMA rider in any class.




The next 3 sessions of the day become exponentially more confidence inspiring while we focus on throttle control, braking, shift points and cornering technique. The order of information taught in the classroom is very logical and each session, I have a breakthrough on the bike. Before anyone realizes, it is 5:00 and day one of the JJYCRS School has come to an end. We return to our hotel for a quick shower before heading to dinner at the Museum.

Dinner at the Barber Motorsports Museum was an unforgettable experience. The food was excellent and dinner conversation was the highlight of the evening. Neale Bayly starts telling Scott Russell, Stan Simmerson and I about his 2 wheeled travels-- meeting terrorists in Europe, bank robbers in North America, and a chance meeting with a priest on a motorbike in Peru. It’s always entertaining when Sir Neale is telling travel stories! We have an hour to tour the museum after dinner and I’m off exploring five stories of motor bikes and race cars from previous and current generations. Neale and I give Jamie James a ride back to the hotel and we recap the highlights from the school and discuss tomorrow’s events at the track.





 

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Discussion Starter #3
Its day 2 at the track after some much needed rest and we’re boarding the tram for a guided track tour. We begin the tour looking at the entry point and braking marker on the front straight heading into turn 1. Rich Oliver and Scott Russell give track demonstrations on an R1 instructor bike and on Russell’s blazing orange JJP Supersport prepped R1. They demonstrate the proper line into and out of the turn and we work our way around the track with Rich and Scott giving demonstrations. The highlight of the demonstration was watching Russell backing it into Charlotte’s Web. Rich gave an equally impressive show through the museum corner with ideal body positioning and excellent throttle control on exit while piloting Scott’s blazing orange R1. After the track tour ended, it was back to school with Jamie instructing on the fine points of being smooth with the previously learned skills and listening to the engine in response to certain inputs at different points on the track.





















The first session of day 2 was my worst session yet. I let my nerves control
every input of the R6 and it was like I had moved backward from the prior day’s instruction. My legs began to cramp and I came in early to hydrate and work out the knots in my legs. After downing numerous pints of water, we were back in the classroom with Rich Oliver teaching the finer points of corner entry. Keeping the bike in shape farther into the corner by using smooth brake modulation, entry downshifting techniques, and throttle control is the trick to getting on the throttle earlier in the apex and driving out of the exit of each turn. We also learned that the fast lap occurs when you smoothly operate ALL the controls of the motorcycle and hit your marks.













 

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Discussion Starter #4
Topics covered:

• Shift points down the straights
• Corner entry lines
• Brake markers
• Turn in points
• Brake release points
• Apexes
• Throttle Pick-up points
• Corner Exit line
• Shift points upon exiting the corner


After focusing on the basic skills learned from day 1, my final three sessions became significantly more comfortable as I begin to concentrate on smooth brake and throttle input. I began to find a suitable rhythm and begin to hone in on the sounds that the bike makes during various shift points. After braking on the front straight, it becomes evident that I am traveling faster than I have ever been on a motorcycle and the effort is not forced or labored. The smooth input, visual awareness, reference points, and breathing techniques taught over the last 2 days begin to take action and my concentration levels are beyond anything I’ve ever experienced on a motorcycle. Once I stop forcing the issue, the R6 begins to work in rhythm while I become conscious to what the suspension, transmission, smooth throttle, shifting, and brake inputs are doing to the bike. Jamie James refers to these rhythmic actions as “The Dance”.







The Jamie James Yamaha Champions Riding School was exactly the confidence boost I needed after the big crash I had in 2007. After attempting to ride my own skill and failing miserably, I learned the proper skills and technique needed to pilot a Yamaha R6 at one of the premiere venues in the country with expert instruction. The class value was incredible and I would recommend the JJYCRS School to all who want to build their riding skills and increase their confidence level for both the street and the track.










For more info on the JJYCRS school visit http://www.jamiejamesyamaha.com/

 

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Thanks for the write up. You really did an excellent job not in gaining more confidence but writing a really good review.

Anyone know how this school stacks up against SuperBike School of California?
 
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