Monday, March 7, 2011

Texas Tornado Boot Camp Review

Colin Edwards & Freddie Spencer
Texas Tornado getting slidewayz!
The camp is great for all ages and skill levels.
Me trying to get the form down.
Fast Freddie
From left to right: Mike Meyers, Merle Sherb, Shea Fouchek
Me on the 24 bike receiving instruction from Shea Fouchek

This past weekend I was one of a select few riders invited to participate in a one day mock school to fine tune the instructors/drills before the camp opens its doors for business March 24, 2011. This first class is sold but you can check the schedule for dates and spots available-there is both two day and four day camps.

Colin has taught at many schools around the world over the years and wants to provide an unparallel learning experience where the fun doesn’t stop at five o’clock. At Camp Tornado, you will be taught the fundamentals of balance, body position, keeping your eyes up, and the feel of the bike and what it is doing underneath you. Some of the skills learned include:

Ø  Pushing the front
Ø  Sliding the rear
Ø  Looking through a corner
Ø  Trail braking
Ø  Corner exit techniques
Ø  Counter steering
Ø  Avoiding target fixation
Ø  Body position

 Colin honed his skills riding dirt bikes in Texas and knows what it takes to compete at the highest levels of motorcycling and has done so consistently for many years. The camp will provide your bike and gear, plus lodging and food. The bike is equipped with a street tire on the rear and a knobby on the front. The clay tracks are slick and everything you are taught will transfer to the bike you ride now or any you plan on riding in the future.

The camp is set on 20 acres and contains the following:

Ø  5000 sq. foot Salon/Hotel/Classroom
Ø  Lighted 300ftX150ft covered clay riding area
Ø  1/8 mile clay oval
Ø  Mini supercross track
Ø  World class paint ball course
Ø  RC car track
Ø  Obstacle course
Ø  Firing range

My experience went like this. After introducing the instructors and a short rider's meeting where Joe and Colin asked us to leave our egos behind so we could really get the form down and let the speed come to us later in the day; we grabbed a bike, and got our gear on, both of which were provided by the school. I was both nervous and excited. We then split up into groups to do some free riding to get used to the bike and see the tracks. After a few minutes of free riding we adjusted the groups and went into some drills. I learned about balancing the bike with my core, using the back brake and throttle to get the bike turned while still being in control, and the art of crashing when not in control, LOL.

Shea Fouchek and Mike Meyers were the instructors teaching my group the drills. They really showed all of us  a “no rider will be left behind attitude.”  If a rider struggled in certain drills, one of the instructors pulled that rider aside and the rider got one on one attention until he/she was up to par. This helped the rider gain the confidence and the skills to get around the track easier. Colin Edwards and Joe Prussiano floated around and worked with everyone. The instructors would demonstrate the drill and then watch as each rider did the drill making sure the rider knew what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong.

 One of the things that seemed to really work well was they let the skill of the riders dictate what drill we would do and how long we would do it. My group seemed to have the same struggles so we moved from drill to drill, both tight sections and open sections until we were all confident in what we could do with the bike. Then we went from the obstacle course to the tt and oval tracks. A highlight for me personally, was the free riding that we got to do where I was able to be on the track with the likes of Shea Fouchek, Colin Edwards, Joe Prussiano, Mike Meyers, Linz Leard, Freddie Spencer, Merle Sherb, and all the riders who were there for the school. One of the things Colin and Joe spoke about was being able to be in control of your bike at all times and be able to precisely put it where you wanted to put it and not where you ended up. Oddly enough, this is one of the things I struggle with. At the end of the day I felt I gained the ability to be more in control of my motorcycle and put it where I wanted to, and not let the bike dictate where it would end up. I learned from the crashes what to do and what not to do. The instructors did not seem bothered by the crashes, as one of the missions of the camp is to help you find the limit, and when I crashed I certainly found the limit. And the next time I went out I was able to find the limit without pushing past it.

The day ended with Joe Prussiano combining all the tracks we worked on together for superpole. Each instructor/student had one lap and their time was recorded. Unofficially, Colin beat Joe by less than a second. I was totally beat by the end of the day, but I went for it anyway. I was actually surprised at how well I did and how much easier I got around the entire course.  I won’t say that I am instantly 2-3 seconds faster at any track, but I know I have learned some of the skills needed to find those 2-3 seconds and many more. A couple of the instructors stroked my ego by telling me I did great for a guy who had no dirt experience, and that I showed signs of having some of the basic skills down pretty good by the end of the day. Proof that I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge/skill that I will continue to work on and hone every time I ride.

In summary, I give this camp 10 out of 10. If you are ride a motorcycle or plan on riding a motorcycle then this class is for you. This facility is world class and with all the celebs that are likely to show up on a given weekend, this is a must do school-no matter what level or what type of racing you do. Even if you are a beginner with no experience you can take these skills learned and practice them on the street, dirt, or road course!

A special thank you to Linz Leard for the pictures and to Joe Prussiano for giving me the invite! The Texas Tornado Bootcamp gets the official GoFast-DontCrash approval! The only thing that will stop me from doing the 4 day camp this year is money. The 4 day class is $2500 and the 2 day is $1250. But my opinion is that it is worth every penny. So if money is not a factor, check the schedule and see what date works best for you. In fact, I mentioned earlier today that riding with Colin Edwards all day and crashing his motorcycle would have normally cost me the figures I just mentioned, but drinking a beer with him at his own place is priceless! I hope you get to experience what I did this past weekend! Be sure to tell him Dean sent you! :)

P.S. It is rumored that Ben Spies will be one of the special guest instructors this year!

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