It’s 5:30 am and the alarm rings for the 5th morning in a row, fiercely interrupting my dreams. It sounds like a train wreck rattling my brain. I bury my head under the pillow and groan and then the phone rings for the wake up call jarring me once again. I heave myself out of bed and like a robot go through the motions of getting ready for another day of coaching at the California Superbike School.
The air conditioning is cranked as I get ready but I still feel hot, the humidity of Alabama seeping through the crack under the hotel room door. As I step outside in my polyester white, blue and red uniform the heat attacks and I’m instantly sweaty. “It’s going to be another hot one,” I think to myself as I climb in the rental car with my half asleep co-workers and we drive in that dazed morning silence to Barber Motorsports Park for the last time. It’s our fifth day in a row teaching here and tonight after a full day of riding and coaching we will pack up the two large trailers with our hefty amount of gear, and head off to Virginia International Raceway for more school dates.
At promptly 6:30 am we arrive at the track, sign in at the gate and marvel at the usual one or two eager students who have shown up early for their day of riding. Giddy and excited they wander around and watch with keen interest as the morning routine is executed by the 15 superbike school staff. It looks so choreographed it’s almost like a dance, each staff member fulfilling the duty of the morning with grace and ease, working together to produce a flowing series of events.
All hands work to unload the two massive trailers, tire pressures on all the school bikes are checked, snacks for the day are made and laid out neatly (complete with flower arrangements and garnishes) the mechanics area is set up, a large area for sales is nicely put together, registration opens, instructor assignments are made, each student is greeted personally by a member of the staff and students who are riding their own bikes (not the rented ones from the school) are told where to park their machines. I’m assigned to technical inspection so I get straight to work, taping mirrors and headlights, setting tire pressures, inspecting student bikes to make sure they are safe and ready for the day.
The students register and relax with coffee, fresh fruit and morning snacks. They admire the track and the organized set up, and watch the dance unfold. Eighteen BMW S1000RR’s, are the pivotal point of the students interest. Lined up in a perfect crisp straight line, they glitter in the morning dew. Behind them are 10 or so coach bikes and four unique training bikes that Keith Code has developed including the Lean/Slide bike, the brake rig, the BS steering bike, and the over the shoulder video bike.
At promptly 8:00am the students all gather in the classroom and each staff member is personally introduced, the morning seminar and flag briefing begins. There are three groups of students who rotate throughout the day; seminar, on track riding, rest, seminar, on track, rest etc….. There are five seminars throughout the day for the students, and five 20-25 minute riding sessions. Each student is assigned an on track coach who will follow them on track and note specific areas of improvement and areas that need work, will lead them for a lap or two around the track and will then take a few minutes at the end of each ride to debrief them about the session. Each coach is assigned 1-3 students in each group and must ride every session, that’s 15 sessions per day!
At 8:45 am I go to the student services trailer and put on my leathers and boots and gather up a snack, a hat, lather up with sunscreen, and guzzle some water. The track goes hot at 9am and it’s going to be a whirlwind day.
Suddenly the school bell rings and I grab my helmet and gloves, get on my BMW S1000RR and head to the start finish line. I’m doing the orientation lap this morning so I patiently wait as the first group of the day lines up behind me, is given a short instruction from course control and off we go in a slow, single file line around the track. We pull back up to start finish line and I jump off the bike, I’m already sweating from the heat and the humidity. I locate my students in this first group and walk up to introduce myself to them, “good morning, my name is Misti, I’ll be your on-track coach for the day.”
The session starts and the first group of students goes through the first drill of the day, I find them on the track according to bike number, follow them for a while, and then lead them giving them a hand signal and demonstrating correct technique. I take note of their strong points and notice areas of improvement, even specifics such as what corner they do well in, or more so what part of the corner they do well with. At the end of the session I pull into the pits, meet with my students, guzzle a liter of water, maybe run to the bathroom if I have time, jump on the bike and do the same thing again with groups two and three.