C.J. Lileikis: From Total Control to Track Champ

CJ LileikisMeet Mr. Mild Mannered.  By night he uses his photography background in his professional life, and by weekend he’s winning racing championships.  Not bad for a motorcyclist born as a cruiser rider!  C.J.’s story is unique, and yet we think you’ll find some relevance in his experience even if you’ve never won a motorcycle racing championship.  He is one of us and the story below is our story.  

Birth of a Rebel

I should start by saying that as a youth, motorcycles were firmly forbidden by my parents.  Not negotiable.  But strict orders like that, to the budding young rebel I was becoming, just became a challenge.  To be fair, my mother was an RN for many years.  She had seen the results of vehicular misfortunes, and wanted to keep that out of the family.  So I had to go undercover with my pursuit.

It was 1976 and I was 15 when I first got on a motorcycle.  It was among a group of other under-aged suburban kids whose parents actually promoted motorcycling – what, are you kidding me?  I could hardly believe it!  It looked like so much fun! I asked if I could try and ride one of theirs, and one guy said “sure, just do this to go, and do this to stop”.  Hmmm… not exactly your Basic RiderCourse, but man, the opportunity was ripe. 

I straddled the bike, a mid-70’s Yamaha 125 Enduro, and I was ready to go.  All of the controls were new to me and my right hand gripped the throttle as if I were going to rev it to the moon.  I’m sure it was amusing to that group of kids to see me wheelie and stop, wheelie and stop, over and over down the street, trying to figure out how to control the damn thing.  It was through sheer will and dumb luck that I didn’t end up in a heap on the ground, or worse. 

After that circus show was over, one of them offered to show me how to ride.  His name was Rick, and he is still to this day a great friend and accomplished dirt bike rider.  He was patient and gave me what I would call backyard basic training.  Not knowing any other kind, I was game and learned to function on a bike with those second hand skills.  I loved the feeling of freedom it gave me, and I was hooked.

Rekindling the Fire

Along the way C.J. had dalliances with motorcycles here and there and even attended the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse.  It wasn’t until a sign (actually a bumper sticker) opened the flood gates.

Honda VTX 1800It was in Portland, OR, in 2010 when my inner rider demanded another bike.  You know the bumper sticker, “Some people go to therapy, I ride a motorcycle”?  Yeah, that.  I started looking for bikes and right away found the prettiest, beefiest cruiser I had ever seen – a 2006 Honda VTX 1800N, with the drag-style tire-hugging fenders.  It was clean and mean and knew how to get up and go.  A couple of test rides and few signatures later, I had a new ride!   The therapist is “in”! 

The VTX was by far the biggest bike I’d had, and because of that, I felt the need for more proficient riding skills. So I looked up some local riding classes and took them. They were good, solid – basic “plus” I would call them, and progressed through them for a couple years. During this time, I would ride often through the canyon twisties and sweepers that led to higher elevations, surrounding the Valley of the Sun. I was glad for my move here, it was fantastic riding! Constantly pushing myself to get better, tighter, and faster through the corners. However, after a couple of near-misses and some dragging parts of the bike that weren’t meant for that sort of thing, I knew I had plateaued with my skills and reached the limits of my bike. I wanted more. More knowledge, more skills, more “oneness” with my machine. I look at it like each bike is a teacher of sorts – and this big cruiser had taught me all it could about itself and what I could do with it. I was in search of a more technical bike and teacher.

Advancing His Skills

C.J. acknowledges his inner desire for a more sporting motorcycling experience.  His path to knee dragging stardom begins here:

cj_concoursIn 2013, I broke my streak of cruiser styles and picked up a 2010 Kawasaki Concours in great shape.  Right away I wanted more advanced training to bring me up to speed with my new steed. This bike was built to do way more than I knew how to do with it, and I wasn’t going to pretend otherwise. So, I talked with the dealer at Kelly’s Kawasaki and they suggested TEAM Arizona as some of the best local motorcycle training available. I also looked through the library and bookstores and picked up a few books on skills improvement. One of the books stood out and really resonated with me – the title was “Total Control” by Lee Parks. I had no idea then, that these connections I had been making would lead me to train with Lee personally in a few short months.

Right away I contacted TEAM Arizona, and because of the previous training I had, they recommended the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic Level 1. That clinic was a game-changer for me. Bill and Kevin were two of my coaches, and they were amazing! They were able to explain exactly what goes on during the act of riding proficiently, and then showed us students how to do it. The drills were specific and repetitive to drive the concepts into muscle memory, creating new habits.  I wanted more and went on to do their Skills Practice Series on the third Tuesday of every month. Counter steering, counter weighting, cornering, head turn, hazard avoidance, emergency braking, slow-speed maneuvering, friction zone, and many other techniques helped bring me closer to that “oneness” with the bike I was yearning for.  I also learned the important lesson that motorcycling skills are perishable – if you don’t use ‘em, you lose ‘em.  To this day, I practice a medley of these drills at some point during every ride I take.

 Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic Track Day

The Total Control Track Day is not just for racers.  Essentially, it is for anyone who wants to ride a mountain road better, with more skill, and more safety.  Tracks offer the unique environment where all traffic is going in the same direction, the roadway is groomed and surface hazards are eliminated, and feedback from professional instructors is immediate.

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Lee Parks (left) with C.J. Lileikis at Horsethief Mile

Later that year, still pumped from the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic (TCARC), I think it was Coach Bill who suggested that I sign up for the Lee Parks Total Control Track Clinic at Horsethief Mile in California.  TEAM Arizona bases their curriculum on lessons from Lee Parks, and this clinic was yet another catapult of consciousness for me.  Along with Lee, many of the TEAM Arizona coaches were there helping to make it all happen; Tealdo, Bill, Ron, and several other coaches from different parts of the country.  It’s kind of a big deal!  We explored all the skills from TCARC in a track environment, which takes everything to another level.  You are not limited by the distractions, obstacles, and many of the hazards of street riding, which allowed me to really stretch what I had learned to new limits.  By the end of the first day, I was even getting a knee down on that 670 lb. Kawasaki Concours!  Wow – thoughts of doing that, or even being on a track were not on my radar just a few months prior! 

This whole time, it feels like I am on a personal treasure hunt, and each new experience with my bike brings me closer and closer to the buried treasure within.  

After that first track clinic with Lee, I knew I needed a track dedicated bike for my next goal – track days.  Just as life presents opportunities when we seem to be ready for them, a little bit of research turned up a used bike within my limited budget, allowing me to keep the Concours 14 for daily riding.  It was a craigslist special – a 2003 Kawasaki zx-6RR – somewhat neglected, but just what I was seeking.

Now that I had the bike, I signed up for another track clinic with Lee and the gang, to get the proper training on the same bike that I’d be taking to the track on a regular basis.  Again, the coaching was outstanding – I was able to progress readily with some of the more track specific drills; picking a line through the corner, advanced body positioning, where to look, where to be on each section of track.  All of it invaluable training, not to mention the solid camaraderie – I’m really looking forward to the next one.

Desert Road Racing

TEAM Arizona used to run its own track day organization.  Due to a change of focus within the business, the school no longer runs a track day, but has aligned itself with the preeminent track day/ motorcycle racing organization in Arizona.  Desert Road Racing is an organization run by TEAM Arizona friend Jayson Citron.  C.J. and Desert Road Racing happen to make a match!

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C.J. leads the way on his new track bike

While I was logistically and emotionally working out the details for a track day experience, something pleasantly unexpected happened.  A new track day organization emerged – Desert Road Racing.  Apparently they had worked out a deal with Firebird Raceway (now called Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park), and were starting up with their 2014 series.

Here I was, on the verge of another paradigm shift with my riding goals.  Desert Road Racing did track days and racing!  I had no previous intentions to actually race, but this was another opportunity to take my current skills to the next level – and ideally learn some new ones.  The excitement within me was pumping!  I signed up, went to their race school, got my racing license, and began my amateur race career.  (No, I didn’t quit my day job – ha!) 

As an amateur, I entered every race in the Middleweight and Open categories in 2014, and while I wasn’t coming in 1st yet, I wasn’t coming in last either.  It was incredible learning and ultimate fun!  As it turns out, consistency pays off as I took the Championship for Amateur Middleweight 2014!  I think I was as surprised as anyone, and because of that win, I was bumped up to Expert Class for 2015.

My goals for 2015 have been to get on the podium in the Expert Class, which I did in January, with a 3rd place in each of the Middleweight and Vintage categories.  On a commitment level, I’m enrolled in Keith Code’s race school to sharpen my skill set, leading into my third big goal of getting into the top 3 for the 2015 Championship Expert Middleweight Class.  Long term – thoughts of becoming a rider coach as a way to pass along the importance of pursuing total control on a bike, is a strong possibility… stay tuned!

C.J. Lileikis Racing Champ

 For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

 

AMSAF EVENT: Riding For The Long Haul

AMSAF Riding For The Long HaulTEAM Arizona will have a booth at this year’s “Riding For The Long Haul” event produced by the Arizona Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Foundation.  Proceeds from Riding for the Long Haul will help underwrite the cost of motorcycle training scholarships for anyone needing training and certification. Riding for the Long Haul is an interactive educational event designed to help our community reduce motorcycle accidents and fatalities.  Please join us and help us meet our goals for the betterment of the motorcycle riding community!

Here are the event details:

  • When:  Saturday, March 7, 2015; 10am to 5pm
  • Where:  Community Church of Joy,  21000 N 75th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85308
  • Who:  Everyone is invited!
  • What:  Motorcycle Rider Training Scholarships will be given away, raffle prizes, special guest speakers, live music will be performed, precision riding demonstrations, food trucks, and much more!

 For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Kelly’s Korner: The Value of Confidence

Ride With ConfidenceWhat is the value of confidence? I’d argue it’s difficult to put a price on the concept, the feeling, yet worth considering.

Here’s an anecdote to go along with that. When I crashed in 2008 at the Grand Canyon, I did so in my custom leathers and my Chris Vermeulen Shoei helmet. At first I had balked over spending that much money on riding gear. But forking out $2,000 ended up saving thousands more in medical bills, and insurance covered a new helmet. Just as important, that entire experience taught me the value of riding in gear and with more discernment. I have developed into a more confident rider who pays attention to how she feels and, as a result, to how she rides, and to how street strategies are applied for safe motorcycling. Riding is too potentially dangerous for us not to tune in to our mental and physical states, and adjust as needed. I now have the confidence to ride my own ride.

Ride A Motorcycle With ConfidenceThe understanding above marks a big change from when I first got on a bike. Then, I was shaking and had zero confidence in my capacity to handle even a tiny 125. I wasn’t the first, I won’t be the last. I also felt I had to keep pace with my friends who had been riding far longer than me. That frame of mind will not end well. I am glad to say that taking classes over the years, going to track days, and simply remaining open to new ideas and old basics contributes to a level of confidence I never thought possible. I’ve also written before about how great it feels when the confidence that comes from riding seeps into everyday life. It’s quite a journey and one that I would love to see more people, especially women, experience. To start to gain that confidence, though, I had to overcome the inclination to see riding — gear, classes, time on the bike — in dollar terms only. I had to recognize the intangible benefits that no one will ever be able to take from me.

AMSAF Event PosterOn that note, what is confidence worth to you? What is the confidence of someone you love worth to you? A little time, a little money? If the answer is yes, I encourage you to check out the Arizona Motorcycle Safety & Awareness Foundation (AMSAF) event, “Riding for the Long Haul,” in Glendale on March 7. The aim is to educate more people on motorcycle safety and reduce fatalities. That’s why admission is free but proceeds from the raffle will go toward the underwriting motorcycle training scholarships. At the same time, AMSAF will give away 20 Basic Rider Course scholarships. If you’ve ever wanted to ramp up your confidence level on a bike, this is a great chance. Same goes if you’ve ever wanted to pay it forward as a rider.

Check out “Riding for the Long Haul” on Saturday. In addition to the raffle, a precision rider will perform every hour, vendors will be on hand with booths, guest speakers will talk about motorcycle safety, and there will be food trucks and music. Above all, there’s the value of knowing that at least 20 more confidence riders will emerge as a result. Hard to place a dollar value on that.

Kelly Teal Signature

 

 

 

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

TEAM Arizona Riding Tip: ESCAPE PATHS (ROUTES)

Motorcycle riding strategies are continually evolving.  As more research is performed in the area of rider safety, massive amounts of data flows in, and organizations like the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) analyze the data.  The MSF, from their data analysis, reaches conclusions and revises their curricula accordingly.

One major change from MSF in 2014 was the introduction of ESCAPE PATHS or ESCAPE ROUTES.  A conclusion MSF reached by looking at crash data is that riders are not planning in such a way that allows for ESCAPE PATHS (ROUTES) when riding.

Motorcycle Escape Routes

Not having sufficient safety margins invites risk. Riding at any speed requires an adequate space cushion to brake and/or swerve. Our goal is to create enough time and space around us to respond smoothly to a hazard and maneuver safely. Choose available escape paths that allows you to avoid a collision. An escape path can be in front of you, to the right, or to the left. Escape paths can be within your lane, in the next lane over, on a shoulder or median, or even off the road if conditions permit.

We use our overall strategy of SEARCH – EVALUATE – EXECUTE to help us determine where the escape routes are located and which escape paths will provide us with the best outcome should we need to perform evasive action.

Motorcycle Escape Paths RoutesIt is best to have more than one escape path open so you don’t get trapped . If your escape path requires a hard swerve, be sure to separate the swerve from any braking. The beauty of riding a motorcycle is that we can often position it in places where other vehicles cannot travel.

Some roadway areas that may require additional thought about possessing an escape route:

  • Intersections:  both when stopping behind vehicles and when traveling though an intersection.  Where do you place your bike behind a vehicle when stopped?  In the middle?  Why would the left or right be better?
  • Fixed Hazards:  Curbing, raised medians, concrete barriers and more are fixed hazards so we may want to locate escape paths that avoid these hazards.
  • Curves:  Where are the collision traps?  What if a motorist enters your lane?
  • Freeways:  When traffic comes to an abrupt halt, so you want to be sandwiched between vehicles?

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

What do you think about this new addition to the Basic RiderCourse?  Do you think this will help reduce rider crashes?  Will you think about escape paths the next time you ride?

Join the discussion on our Facebook page; happy riding!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Kara Sella: TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month March 2015!

Kara-Sella-Rider-of-the-Month-2015-MarchOur TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month for 2015 comes to us from Tucson, Arizona.  Actually, her origins put her from St. Louis, Missouri, but we formally met Kara at the Tucson On Any Sunday Movie event.  We’re always excited to see women motorcyclists participate in our events.  Kara immediately caught our attention as one of the very few women who attended the Tucson event.  After an engaging, interesting discussion, we just had to make Kara our ROTM!

RETURNING TO RIDING

A large portion of the folks who seek TEAM Arizona’s services are motorcyclists who are returning to the activity.  As the story goes, life gets in the way and motorcycling fades into the background for a bit.  While Kara’s motorcycling story began twenty-five years ago (rode a turquoise Yamaha 750), she started her recent motorcycling journey with a Basic RiderCourse in September 2014.  Kara wanted to refresh her skills and earn her motorcycle license.  Even though she had prior riding experience, when asked what she learned in the course, she responded:

There is more than one thing.  I had bad habits that were discovered during the Basic rider course that were a safety issue for myself.

She made several wise decisions in her return to motorcycling:

After so many years of not riding, I started off on a smaller bike until I built up my confidence. Then moved up to a larger more powerful bike.  Also, when I started again I always go on rides with experienced riders who sandwich me between them so I can learn by example and so they can keep an eye on me.

What has Kara discovered by returning to motorcycling?  In her words, a LOT!

It gives such a feeling of freedom. The smells of the restaurants as you drive by. The fresh air and the warm sunshine.  I could do without the bugs though. My bike is my therapist.  It’s my “go to” when I’m stressed, sad, happy, or even angry.  Just about anytime I need a quick get away, I can go for a ride and come back refreshed, refueled and relaxed.

Refreshed?  Refueled?  Relaxed?  In this day and age of hyper-connectivity and hustle bustle, who wouldn’t enjoy that state of mind?  Thanks Kara for being our Rider of the Month!

Riders, we want to honor YOU!  Do you know someone who should be TEAM Arizona’s Rider of the Month?  Entering their name is SIMPLE.

  • Email Bill (bill@motorcycletraining.com )
  • In the subject line, type “Rider of the Month”
  • In one paragraph, tell us why this rider deserves the title TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month!

Let’s have some serious FUN with this gang!  There are some great stories out there and we don’t want to miss them, so tell us about yourselves!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

WILD TIMES AT AWESOME MOTORCYCLE EVENTS THIS MARCH 2015

What would spring be in Arizona without a TON of cool motorcycle events to attend?  This year, TEAM Arizona is excited to take part in several events, including providing hazard avoidance demonstrations at Arizona Bike Week.

To get the scoop at these events, check out the following web sites:

phoenix bike fest 2015 logo

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Arizona Bike Week 400w

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For a full calendar of TEAM Arizona events, CLICK HERE

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Rusty Creed Insurance Sedona Getaway Winners Announced!

Julie Rick NichiAt TEAM Arizona we’ve partnered with Rusty Creed Insurance for the past several years because he understands motorcyclists and, more importantly, he treats people very well.  Julie and Rick Nichi will be on the receiving end of some of Rusty’s outstanding treatment as they plan their ride up to Sedona to celebrate winning the Sedona Getaway Prize Drawing!

What did they win?  Check out this AWESOME package:

  • Night Stay at The Sunset Chateau (5-Star Rated Bed ‘n Breakfast)
  • $100 Fuel Card to get them up there
  • $100 Dining Card at the Award-Winning Mesa Grill

THE CONNECTION

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Rick and Julie with Jan from Rusty Creed’s Office are all smiles!

How did Julie and Rick make their way to Rusty Creed?  First, they came to TEAM Arizona through their affiliation with the Superstition Harley H.O.G. chapter.  As members of the chapter, they visited TEAM Arizona for the Confident RiderCourse.  Once or twice a year the H.O.G. chapter will make the course available to its members as a way to promote safe riding.  Members also get $50 in HOG bucks upon successful completion of the course, so the cost to attend is minimal and the benefits are HUGE.

Second, Rusty approached them in a parking lot and asked them if they had an insurance agent who understands motorcycle insurance policies like he understands them.  And Rusty isn’t the only rider.  Everyone who works at Rusty Creed Insurance rides motorcycles.  Easy to understand why Rusty is now their agent!

By taking the course, the Nichis automatically receive the newsletter and saw the Sedona Getaway Promotion.   The rest, as they say, is history.

THE WINNING COUPLE

Rick Nichi

Rick standing proudly next to his 2015 HD CVO Road Glide

When we caught up with the two winners, they were in great spirits even though they were about to have their bright, shiny Harley-Davidson motorcycles rained upon.  In a peaceful fashion Rick just stated he doesn’t mind the rain or the clean up whatsoever.

Rick shared with us that they live in Florence, Arizona, after several years of renting in various places around Arizona to determine which area suited them best.  After more than a decade of traveling back and forth from Wisconsin, they finally settled in Arizona.

Julie Nichi

Julie has a “handle” on her 2014 HD Street Glide

Julie announced that they will be heading up to Sedona the first weekend of May.  Why that weekend?  For their anniversary!!!  They’ve stopped to shop and passed through Sedona, but they’ve never taken the time to stay overnight.  We could tell they were both excited to spend quality time in Sedona.

Once again, TEAM Arizona is proud to partner with Rusty Creed Insurance.  Just another example of the high quality, dedicated service Rusty provides to the Arizona motorcycling community.

Keep your eyes peeled…another chance to win a prize from Rusty is just around the corner!

 For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Kelly’s Korner: Riding Long Distance Solo For The First Time

Kelly's KornerA friend recently was asking me about my first (and so far, only) solo road trip and the emotions that experience created. Even though that adventure took place almost six years ago, I still remember exactly how I felt once I decided that, yes, I would ride 1,000 miles to and from Boise, where I grew up, by myself: Fearful, excited, full of self-doubt, excited again, terrified, anxious. Turns out that I was looking for a way to prove to myself that I could live, and thrive, outside of my comfort zone. There’s almost no more effective a way to achieve this, I think, than taking a lengthy ride alone.

The fear, excitement and doubt all set in as soon as I nailed down the dates for the trip and started preparing my Ninja 650R and me. At first I couldn’t believe I was really about to do this. Then I realized I had a lot of planning and mechanical work to do. Having some tangible projects to tackle helped ease the chaos inside.

Of course, as luck would have it, my mechanic (read: my husband) was out of town and couldn’t help me. Our friend Pete stepped in, because he’s that kind of guy and he knows how to work on bikes. First up, a fork rebuild. Once that was done, we did an oil change, various miscellaneous checks and, finally, covered the tank of my pearl-white bike with clear Contac paper so the tank bag magnets wouldn’t scratch. (I invested three months in sanding every fairing and painted that bike on my 11th wedding anniversary. No way was I going to let her get ruined.)

Pete and I spent a night in his shop going over the entire bike so she would be ready for the haul. I can’t recount all of the steps Pete showed me but I do recall feeling more confident as I helped take my bike apart and put her back together. Having a sense of what was on the inside, what would carry me across those unknown miles, gave me knowledge I didn’t have before. Knowledge equals power.

After that, I began to feel a little less fear and a little more excitement. I next had to figure out how to pack light, make sure all of my gear, including leathers, were up to par, and determine my route. And then the time came when I’d strapped on the tail pack, attached the tank bag, packed my phone and pepper spray, and had no more excuses. It was a late morning in August, in Phoenix. I could have used the heat as a reason to delay but when I’m ready, I’m ready now. So I was off.

The fear crept back in as I headed for the Beeline Highway. You’ll laugh, but one of my biggest stressors was the road itself – whether the lanes, especially as I got into the mountains, would be wide enough in case I had to make an emergency maneuver. I was going to ride through Payson, Strawberry and Pine and take the Lake Mary Road to Flagstaff. And suddenly I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough space or someone would pull out in front of me on one of those fast-moving two-lane roads and kill me.

Fear is almost never rational and a solo road trip is a great way to beat that paralyzing kind of anxiety right out of you. And, for me so far, my fears have proven worse than reality.

At the top of Lake Mary Road, where the road crests and you get the panorama of the lake and, in the other direction, the San Francisco Peaks, I started to relax. I had two more days of riding to Boise ahead of me, but that was the moment I began to internalize my own capabilities. I could do this. I would enjoy this. I would learn new truths about myself and I would process and act on them. I felt empowered.

But as you probably guessed, my feelings fluctuated throughout the trip. I’d feel energized, then the fatigue would kick in and I’d wonder if I had the mental and physical strength to keep going. Self-doubt ran as rampant as I let it. After a stop and food, though, I’d feel energized and optimistic. Later, in northern Utah, in rain and road construction, I wouldn’t feel my booty anymore. In southern Idaho, in cold rain that felt like bullets even through leathers, I felt angry. What was I thinking? Riding into Boise, those last 30 minutes to my destination, I felt empty. (Hint: That’s a sign to stop for another rest, not push through out of stubbornness.) And, on my final day of riding, at the Chevron on the 89 just as you come into Flagstaff from the north, I hit that dangerous wall that motorcyclists confront: I want to be home NOW. I shouldn’t have pushed myself. I should have stayed another night or at least until the sun was setting. But I gave in to the impatience and kept going, to the point that I induced heat exhaustion from riding in 110 degrees in full leathers. Lesson learned: Even when I feel a certain way, I don’t have to act on the impulse.

emotional spectrumThat trip triggered emotions that traversed the spectrum from total, invigorated high to angry, exhausted low. Many of the feelings were unexpected and sudden. Some passed swiftly. Some stuck around, for good or bad. There were moments when I wanted to quit and others when I never wanted to get off the bike. The whole way, in between interactions with people at gas stations, restaurants and motels, all I had was my own thoughts. Sometimes I slipped into that Zen state we all seek, where you’re aware and awake, cruising along in a place of serenity, and sometimes I got mired in my crazy head. And I was the only person who could get me out of it. Those whole 2,000 miles, the only person I could count on was me.

That ride to Boise and back was a huge undertaking for me, someone who heretofore took few risks and who could talk herself out of any challenging idea in a second. It taught me to trust myself a little more and question the negative messages I can tell myself. It showed me a big, beautiful part of the west, complete with epic wildland fire burning just off the I-15. It showed that I can rely on just me and emerge from the experience a better, more interesting, more confident person.

My next solo adventure is long overdue.  First, I want to invite you to join me on a pre-adventure trip to meet my commitment of getting back to basics.   Back to training I go.  I am fearful, excited, full of self-doubt, excited again, terrified, anxious for the 2015 that awaits!

Kelly Teal Signature

 

 

 

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

TEAM Arizona Riding Tip: CORNERING STRATEGY Search-Setup-Smooth

Motorcycle rider perspectiveMotorcycle riding strategies are continually evolving.  As more research is performed in the area of rider safety, massive amounts of data flows in, and organizations like the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) analyze the data.  The MSF, from their data analysis, reaches conclusions and revises their curricula accordingly.

One major change from MSF in 2014 was the introduction of a CORNERING STRATEGY.  We as riders know that cornering a motorcycle means an elevated risk from straight line riding.  A conclusion MSF reached is that riders are lacking (or not implementing) a CORNERING STRATEGY.  Thus, the introduction of Search-Setup-Smooth.

SEARCH

road sign curvesBefore entering a corner, motorcyclists will need to acquire a lot of information.  The way we acquire the information is by SEARCHING amongst several key variables:

  • ROADWAY:  What is the condition of the road?  Is the road crowned?  What is the radius, type, and grade of the curve?  Where is our entry point, apex, and exit?
  • MARKINGS:  What signs are present that can help a rider determine entry speed?  Direction of the curve?  Sharpness?
  • MOTORISTS:  What potential risks do oncoming motorists create?  Could curve sharpness create a situation where approaching vehicles could cross the center line?

Before the entry of a curve, it is the job of the motorcyclist to use their vision to acquire as much information possible so that we can make good decisions for the next step.

SETUP

Riding through curves is a lot of fun, especially if we set ourselves up in a manner that maximizes our safety margin and reduces our risk.  When setting up for a curve we are answering these two simple questions:

  • At what speed and gear should we enter the corner?
  • What lane position (Outside-Middle-Inside) should be select and does it maximize our safety margin?  (MSF likes a middle-middle-middle strategy; meaning enter in the middle of the lane, apex at the middle, and exit at the middle of the lane)

Cornering-Strategy-Lane-PositionSMOOTH

We aren’t massive fans of using the word smooth for training unless we obtain agreement about its meaning first.  At TEAM Arizona we define the word smooth as slow, gradual, and precise.  In the new MSF Basic RiderCourse, the word SMOOTH specifically applies to how the rider uses their controls.  In essence, operating the controls in such a way (slow, gradual, and precise) that prevents the motorcycle’s suspension from being upset.

The benefits are many to having a motorcycle that is composed when cornering, including adding ground clearance through smooth throttle application.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

What do you think about this new addition to the Basic RiderCourse?  Do you think this will help reduce rider crashes in corners?  Will you think about this cornering strategy the next time you ride?

Join the discussion on our Facebook page; happy cornering!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Scott and Alec Gastony: TEAM Arizona Riders of the Month February 2015!

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We love it when everything seems to fall in place perfectly.  When we established the On Any Sunday Movie Events, we weren’t sure if this movie would connect with modern day riders like the original did for us in the 70’s.  The result?  Nothing short of spectacular for one Father-Son combo.  Meet the Gastonys!

For the Gastony family, the riding story starts with Scott’s father (aka Grandpa Mike) in 1972, when Scott’s father decided to start riding because of the oil and gas crisis.  He liked riding so much that in 1973 he started the Loveland Motorcycle Touring Club in Loveland, Colorado.  Scott tells us the part where motorcycling and On Any Sunday infiltrated his life:

old on any sundayThe club was just a bunch of like minded motorcyclists who got together and rode on the weekends.  My Mom and sister rode their own bikes and I used to ride on the back of his Kawasaki Z1 900 on all the rides.  I have lots of great memories of riding all over Colorado with them.

My Dad and I went with a small group of club members to see the original On Any Sunday movie at the local theater.  I remember it was so cool.  What I remember most vividly were the scenes with the ice racers with their studded tires.

FAST FORWARD 40 YEARS

As luck would have it, TEAM Arizona worked out an agreement to create two exclusive viewings of ON ANY SUNDAY: THE NEXT CHAPTER.  RiderCoaches who grew up on the movie were stoked to see the new version.  We knew what it meant to us, but would it resonate with other motorcyclists?  Scott clues us in again:

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Alec and Scott basking in the win of the EXCLUSIVE movie poster. Congrats guys!

When I saw that the new On Any Sunday movie was coming out I knew I wanted to take the family to see it.  Unfortunately my older son had to go back to school and my wife couldn’t make it so Alec and I went together.  It was pretty cool to get to see the movie with my youngest child and re-live going to the original with my Dad.  Alec was very close to Grandpa Mike so it was pretty special for him too.  I’m sure Grandpa is looking down on us when we ride, proudly acknowledging to himself that he ignited a passion for riding together as a family.

Heavy stuff.  If that doesn’t make a person teary-eyed, we’re not sure what will.  So how did TEAM Arizona stumble upon this great story?  The Father-Son combo won an EXCLUSIVE movie poster that we gave away before the viewing.  Could there have been any better recipients of the poster?

We know Grandpa Mike’s answer.

Riders, we want to honor YOU!  Do you know someone who should be TEAM Arizona’s Rider of the Month?  Entering their name is SIMPLE.

  • Email Bill (bill@motorcycletraining.com )
  • In the subject line, type “Rider of the Month”
  • In one paragraph, tell us why this rider deserves the title TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month!

Let’s have some serious FUN with this gang!  There are some great stories out there and we don’t want to miss them, so tell us about yourselves!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE