I attended the Zalusky Advanced Riding School (ZARS) for the third time this year on Saturday. I was in intermediate one group this time. The class was held at Dakota County Technical College’s (DCTC) driving range. This is the fourth time I have been at a riding school at this location in 2010, and the seventh time over all. Lucky for me there was an oil spill on part of the track, so we got to run the long course which I’ve never had the opportunity to do. It was a nice change from the standard configuration. This was also my most productive learning experience save for my first time there.
I had a great instructor today who really helped me understand what my legs were supposed to be doing while I was going around the corners. I knew they were supposed to be supporting me, but his example of 5% on the hands really clicked today. With his bike on a stand, he demonstrated exactly what to do with the feet, ankles, knees, and butt. I will need to practice the technique at home with my bike on the stand to really make it stick. Right now it is taking too much of my concentration.
I spent the rest of the sessions trying to unlearn some habits I acquired at previous schools, specifically using the bars to assist shifting my weight. When I transition from side to side (left turn followed by right turn), I like to hold on tight to the bars and it it upsets the suspension and the bike doing it that way. I practiced moving from side to side with only a feather’s touch on the grips. It really help a lot. The bike was more composed and didn’t bounce around as much as it used to.
We also learned how to drag the front break into corners to set the attitude of the bike for the turn to make it easier to turn in. I struggled with the transition from gas to break to gas because I always wanted to have a bit of coasting time in the middle. I found it useful to learn how to use the front break just slightly, only enough to make the caliper kiss the rotor made it possible to feel what the front end of the bike was doing. Even with my crappy stock suspension it was useful.
With all the new things to practice, I was exhausted before the last session. 140 minutes on track is a long time! We had seven sessions of twenty minutes. The track is about a mile long with 17 turns! My legs were shaking, and I am sure I’ll be quite sore tomorrow. It was a good day.
If you are in the area and haven’t attended a ZARS class, I highly recommend it. It’s a riding school, and not a track day. The instructors are the best in the area and they are very helpful. The full day sessions are 140 minutes on track. I believe my next session is after we get back from our Great River Ride in August where we will be riding the entire length of the Mississippi River.