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Hi,

Troopers around the Twin Cities might be interested in this: http://www.zaluskyridingschool.com/

After my first season last year, I really want to learn to *ride*. At the Mpls. Motorcycle show I ran into Jessica Zalusky, an AMA racer who's taking a break because she suffered a minor stroke. She runs a riding school at the Dakota Counter Technical College, which has a large driving range that can be set up like a small track (see the first attachment) - I think they said the total length was 1.1 miles.

Woohoo, what a blast! The session ran from 5-9pm on Friday, consisting of a ride around the track in the back of a truck (for the first-timers) while the instructors pointed out salient features, markers for the best lines to take, and one nasty sport where there had been an oil spill the previous season. Then there were four sessions consisting of 20 minutes of instruction, 20 minutes on the track, and 20 minutes break/prep for the next one. The instruction was kind of light, talking about basics like body positioning, countersteering, a very little bit of braking, and so on. The 20/20/20 minutes format kept the first-timers on the track by themselves, with beginners/intermediates taking the second spot and the advanced the third spot in the rotation. All in all, there were probably 30 bikes there; almost all were sportbikes, many full racebikes with no signals/lights/sidestands, but there was me on the Vee, one guy on a Honda touring rig, and couple of supermotos (DRZ's I think).

On track, there were three students to one instructor for the first-timers, with five first-timer groups on the course together. First time around, we kept behind our instructor, trying to follow his lines and hit the turn-in markers. On the later sessions, he'd wave us past him one at time to watch from behind. Now, I'm sure we first-timers were all slower than molasses, but it felt freakin' fast to me! I only got a few chances to glance at the speedo, I think I hit 80mph on the back straight. The track is so short and the curves come very fast so I ran almost all of every session exclusively in 2nd gear, with a few shifts to 3rd on the straights. The carousel (turn 12) was a total blast, but the double apex (near the end, it's more pronounced than the picture show) almost caught me twice, nearly ran off the insider where it sharpened up.

On the whole, I'd give it a thumbs up. I don't really have anything to compare to, having taking no instruction yet other than the MSF course last year, but for $65 it seems like a great way to get your first experience riding on a track. I'm also signed up for Lee Parks Total Control at the end of May, I'm betting that there I will actually "learn" a lot more, but this was a hell of a lot of FUN for relatively little money.

I didn't have a chance to take any pics myself, but the "official" photos are here: http://www.photoreflect.com/pr3/thumbpage.aspx?e=4692530 (I'm in #61, 62, 87, 97, 101, 142, 156-159, 162), and there are videos from the back of an instructors bike here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6bftCEC_1M and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai8AjXM8hb4

Greetings, Jim
 

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Congrats! I had my first track day a year ago at a racing school at VIR. There's no real way to convey the difference between riding in traffic or on mountain roads where you can't see the oncoming truck and the flock of turkeys fleeing its path against the unobstructed, clean, immaculate pavement of a track.

It's remarkable how far you can lean a bike on qualifier racing slicks. I drug stuff all morning. With some coaching, I actually improved my curve speed with less lean angle, so I quit dragging stuff for a little while.

It's amazing how hard it is to pull yourself up from the side of the bike to the saddle when coming out of a curve at full throttle. The wind is just inconceivable.

Whatever 13Krpm in 5th gear on a Kawi 636R is in mph, that's what I hit on the back straight. It's a good 3/4 mi long with a slight dog-leg right. That dog-leg came at me so fast, it was like I was in the wrong lane of the freeway. Only maybe a 10 degree angle, but I had to lean into the handlebar to stay on the pavement!

Really happy you had the experience. Be careful out in the real world. It is not the same.
 
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