The most amazing thing about this sport is that it’s incredibly humbling and inspiring. There will always be someone better and more skilled because there’s absolutely no ceiling; even Rossi has had to adapt his riding style and learn new techniques to remain competitive.
This month I had the privilege of attending Jason Pridmore’s STAR Motorcycle School. The entire experience was incredible from the very moment I arrived. Let me preempt this with the fact that I usually never have any expectations of people or situations, however I have to admit that going into this I had set a pretty tall level of expectations after researching Jason and his school. And oh boy, I was NOT disappointed!
I did 2 days which were broken out into 2 groups— “Street” and “Advanced”. I decided to go into street since I’ve never been to Chuckwalla Raceway nor had done any type of advanced training. I was assured however that the same things were covered in both classrooms (you bet your butt I want to learn what the advanced kids are learning!) After an introduction to the team in a short riders meeting, the advanced group went out on track first thing at 8:30am sharp while the Street group stayed in the classroom for our first lecture. After about 30 minutes we were all ready to file up with our instructors and head out on track. The overall group in general was very small which is fantastic because you can get a lot of one on one training. When we broke out into smaller groups for the first session we had 3-4 students per instructor so that they could watch and evaluate our current skill level.
While in the classroom sessions, Jason leads all the lectures. I don’t know if he used different terminology and vocabulary for our “street” group, but he had this amazing way of explaining everything and making it click. I like to think I’m no novice to the track and always try to soak up as much info whenever I’m around racers and coaches so I hope I have a pretty solid basic understanding of how to ride. However there are things that you always end up experimenting with and learning on your own, such a trail braking, knowing when to get on the gas, safe lean angle and contact patch dynamics, picking “your” race line, proper braking technique and so on. Jason went over all these things throughout the classroom sessions in such a clear and factual manner that it was downright inspiring. Every classroom session you cover a new topic and then go out to practice and string it all together in a manner that seems all too natural.
While you are out there, you’re being watched by all of the instructors. It’s amazing to me how they can tell exactly what you are doing and then coach you on improving yourself. Often I found a coach tailing me to watch, then they would get in front, tap their tail and had me follow for a couple of laps. Afterwards we would roll into the hot-pit and discuss what was happening and how things felt. Sometimes I would get pulled in right away to discuss something they questioned or saw me doing incorrectly—this helped tremendously! I’m a no bullshit type of person, I’m here to learn and learn fast, so I greatly appreciated the honesty of everyone. With that said let me make it clear that all the coaches including Jason seemed to know just how much to push me so that it wasn’t overwhelming or dangerous. They had me try something new all the time and expand my limitations and mind out there. But it was step by small step where I could absorb it all. I’m certain that this feeling is different for every student attending the school. I know there are people out there more daring than myself (I’m quite a slow learner) so I was very impressed with how comfortable I felt with all the coaches; they were all very patient with me.
All in all I think I worked with 5 different people throughout the 2 days. Chatting with Jason was truly a great experience; he’s got this amazing way of instructing you and building confidence. He listens and takes in all that you say as if studying your history and experience on 2 wheels. We all come in with bad habits and inaccurate knowledge, but Jason doesn’t judge that. He lets you talk if you want to and then guides you in the proper direction without you even knowing in a non-critical way.
To me that’s a true sign of a great teacher, someone that can inspire and excite you to want to get out there, forget your fears and just ride your heart out better than ever before.
Along with the classroom sessions Jason also offers 2up rides on his zx10r. If you are planning to do the school then most definitely do not pass up this opportunity. I can’t even begin to explain how valuable and confidence inspiring a couple laps with Jason can be! After learning about all the techniques and then practicing them for a day and a half by myself, it was amazing to see them in action done by a pro. When you ride with Jason it’s like an AHA! moment because you finally get to see how smooth and fast everything can be. I think the biggest thing for me personally was getting to see just how much faster it is possible to go. Obviously I’m crippled by my own limitations which allow me to go only so fast. Riding with Jason let me see that so clearly that as soon as I got back on my bike I was instantly 15 miles an hour (just a guess 😉 ) faster through the turns. In fact I was so excited that I got on the gas way too soon in full lean (out of turn 4 going counter clockwise) and almost washed out…yikes! I remember telling myself “woah slow your roll girl, don’t forget all you’ve learned today lol”.
Another thing we did were braking drills; this was a very short exercise but so very valuable. Jason along with his lead instructors wanted to see how smooth we can be on the brakes and how we react in a panic situation. As an example, I never use my rear brake…ever (well except in gravel/dirt). My second go around the drill I came to a stop so quick that I had no idea what I actually did to stop (front brake, then rear to settle the bike from doing a stoppie, but also pulled the clutch in too soon). I had actually had my first official panic stop. Jason watched all of this and walked me through what I did and how to do it properly the next round, it was very insightful having someone break down my actions—it’s amazing how your body and muscle memory takes over when your brain is overwhelmed. The next round I nailed it…(ensue girlish squeals and hugs).
So as I sit and recollect my experiences from the school I still can’t help but feel excitement and a resounding sensation of deep satisfaction. I know that everyone is different and we all have different levels of what gets us excited. However I don’t doubt that everyone can benefit from such experiences and bring out their beast mode 😉 I feel gratitude and respect for all of the teachers at Start Motorcycle School for helping me cross yet another monumental moment in my riding career. Thank you all for helping me push myself into new comfort zones repeatedly and most of all making me believe in myself.
There’s no greater sensation than realizing you are capable of conquering your inner demons and fears; and I truly feel blessed for having been able to experience this.
Thank you Jason Pridmore, James Rispoli, Benny Solis, Wyatt Ferris, Conner Blevins, Michael Gilbert! Also a massive thank you to Dainese for making this amazing experience happen! Not only do you protect my behind but you make sure I constantly progress and grow as a rider and human being. Much love and respect to all!