Exercising Demons

LAS VEGAS — Remember studying literary conflict back in high school English class?

If you don’t, I won’t ask you to dust off your textbook to tell me what the three types are. I’ll give it to you. There’s man vs. man, man vs. the environment and man vs. himself.

Thrilling stuff, right?

At the California Superbike School (CSS for short), you’ll find these types of conflicts, but they’re not written in the program’s syllabus, nor will you be asked to identify them to your classmates in hopes of a gold star.

That said, the potency of overcoming one particular “conflict” will surely have you fist pumping your way off the track on the last session on the last day. That’s man vs. himself. Or in my case, woman vs. herself.

It has been a roller coaster of emotions leading up to the last laps that were concluded by the waving of a checkered flag, set to the backdrop of a cotton candy pink sunset with the temperate desert air whirring around my bike-hugging body.

I parked the number 25 BMW S1000RR in its spot, dismounted and walked over to Cobie’s rendezvous point. Cobie Fair is my on-track coach. He’s also the CSS’s chief riding coach worldwide. I’m in good hands.

Patiently I await my turn for feedback. He’s debriefing with his other grasshopper (there’s a 2:1 student-teacher ratio) before we have a chance to talk. I’m hoping for positive reinforcement and the smile on his face as he turns to me is the validation I need.

Yes. It’s hard to contain my enthusiasm.

I’ve been wrestling with my inner demons for the duration of the two-day course; the demons being some bad habits I’ve accumulated over my riding career.

I feel I finally kicked them to the curb, like a bad-for-my-soul kind of boyfriend. It was tough, but I won’t miss them in the long run.

It has taken the collaborative effort of highly skilled professional instructors mixed with theory/classroom sessions, as well as on- and off-track demonstrations to get to this point of self-praise.

And I even received a few tips from Keith Code himself, school founder, writer of A Twist of the Wrist books/DVDs rider extraordinaire and more. No pressure! It was not an easy ride (pardon the pun).

Needless to say, Levels 1 and 2 of the program are physically and mentally intense, but the good kind. Working with the German litre bikes posed no issue. We started off in rain mode, and when you were ready, they popped it into sport mode. Yes, they can be intimidating machines, but the equipment was the least of my worries. I know the bike could do what I asked of it. I couldn’t necessarily say the same for myself.

You’ll work muscles in your body you didn’t think existed.

And your cranium will be nourished with information to help you better your riding skills.

If you’re doing something wrong — even though you feel it is right — don’t be surprised if it’s being pointed out to you.

Alexandra Straub gets ready to ride the camera bike and have her riding reviewed.

Alexandra Straub gets ready to ride the camera bike and have her riding reviewed.
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If you don’t believe your instructor, then watch the photographic evidence from the camera bike you ride during the program. Team members will go over footage with you to help bring you to the next level.

The coaches are there to work with you, so leave the ego in your gear bag. They’re also not passive with their comments, which means the instructors ask for your input about your session rather than telling you what was going on.

Then they offer positive and constructive criticism.

CSS is offered at a myriad of tracks around the United States with affiliate branches worldwide. My course happened to be at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, complete with fighter jets flying overhead thanks to the nearby Nellis Air Force Base.

When in the classroom, information is presented one piece at a time; like a deliciously layered cake being stacked one sheet at a time. Then you go out on the track, work on the concepts presented and see how all the dots connect in the end.

Fellow Canadian, Joseph vanEllenberg, made the trek from Calgary to become a better rider. Mission accomplished.

Fellow Canadian, Joseph vanEllenberg, made the trek from Calgary to become a better rider. Mission accomplished.
Alexandra Straub,

Calgary’s Joseph vanEllenberg, 29, was a fellow Canuck at the school. People travel from all over the globe to take the world-class training. Another gentleman was from Mexico and another from Argentina. Joe, a financial analyst by profession, started riding two years ago and owns a Kawasaki Z1000.

After seeing Keith Code’s A Twist of the Wrist online it was his dream to come to the school.

“After two days, it has been so much fun. They take you from zero to hero, step-by-step,” he remarks. What did he learn most?

“Confidence in the corners.” You couldn’t wipe the ear-to-ear grin off his face even if you wanted to.

When talking with Keith, what would he like to see students leave with?

“We always want to do more (in the program), but we know from vast experience — over 14 million track miles — that you do what you can and you do it well. And every time you get the rider up to another step, you’re just building a great foundation for them,” Keith comments. “It’s so rewarding to see the evolution.”

It feels even better for the rider, speaking from personal experience.

Another tool used to help perfect form while riding.

Another tool used to help perfect form while riding.
Alexandra Straub,

If you want to be faster on the track, hold out on the big bore kit, the carbon fibre accessories or even a trick exhaust. Invest in your education. And get ready to be humbled.

Because as soon as you stop fighting with yourself, listen to the instructors and accomplish what you’ve always wanted to be able to do, it won’t be because of the brawny pipes on your ride.

It’ll be because you’ve worked hard for it and the California Superbike School is a perfect tool to whip you into shape and take you to the next level.

Visit superbikeschool.com  for more information

About Alexandra Straub