Let's say you're on a twisty backroad and can't see through a turn. How do you know there isn't an SUV crossing the centerline? That's just one reason Streetmasters Workshop teaches a late-apex cornering technique. According to co-owner and lead instructor Walt Fulton, "The delayed-apex line isn't the fastest way through a corner, but it offers the most options. And options are a good thing."
Fulton, a former MSF RiderCoach, wanted to do more than teach basic riding technique in a parking lot. He knew a closed course would give students a chance to practice advanced techniques. So how do you make riding on a racetrack more like the real world? Put a centerline down the middle of the Willow Springs Horse Thief Mile and have students keep to the right. Elevation changes, sharp curves and that ever-present centerline make the track feel exactly like the backroads we all ride.
Even though the workshop is held on a track, it's not a racing school. If you're looking to scuff off those chicken strips, sign up for something else. Otherwise, it's for anyone who rides a motorcycle on the street. The goal is to give graduates more confidence and a solid grounding in proper technique, which they can apply on any road.
Registration is a snap, either online (www.streetmasters.info), by fax or snail-mail. Since tech inspection starts at daybreak, Fulton recommends booking a room nearby the night before. Take his advice because you'll get a full day of riding. Just bring a valid motorcycle license, proof of insurance and full riding gear. No half-helmets allowed, and Streetmasters suggests that you have at least two years' riding experience.
Students are divided into groups of four per instructor to maximize one-on-one learning. Streetmasters uses the building-block method, taking away your controls and then giving them back one at a time. The workshop included paddock drills such as U-turns, emergency braking and parking-lot maneuvers. Slowing to 15 mph without using the brakes or shifting kept us focused on the delayed-apex line and looking through the turns. Speeds gradually increased once we were comfortable with the technique and got our controls back. "We have found that technique suffers as speeds come up," Fulton explains. "We start slow so folks can master the basics first."
Instructor Colleen Kevany demonstrates emergency braking while downshifting to first gear.
Gold Wing Billy shows us how it's done, looking where he wants to go instead of at the con
Lead instructor Walt Fulton shows the class photos and diagrams illustrating the late-apex
The road-course training was well organized. Instructors led their groups for two laps, and then each student took the lead for two laps with the instructor in tow. After that, everyone pulled off the track for a critique session. Riding on my own in subsequent sessions, I found instructors pointing out those late apexes to be the most helpful of all.
Our day closed with a two-part graduation exercise. First, the slow-speed test: figure-8s in both directions and alternating U-turns, followed by right-hand circles around a cone. This portion was tough-I need to find an empty parking lot and practice. The road course test was more interesting. After spending the day riding counter-clockwise around the track, we were sent out clockwise. Let me tell you, that first turn almost caught me off-guard!
Tuition is $390 per rider, which includes lunch and refreshments. No matter how long you've been riding or how good you (think) you are, you'll leave with sharper skills and more confidence-which is exactly what Streemasters is striving for.