The most amazing thing about working as a coach for the California Superbike School, is seeing the improvement of the students over the course of the day. I get to know the nuances of their riding, their fears, their concerns and aspects of their personality. I have the opportunity to encourage them, to teach them, to watch them grow and change their riding dramatically.
Sometimes when leading a student around a particular corner that they have been having difficulty with I’ll look behind me and see them charge through it with a grace and ease that they have never exhibited before and I’ll throw my hands in the air giving them a triumphant thumbs up. I often see the grin on their faces glowing from inside their helmets.
Sometimes I’ll be following a student and I’ll say to myself “look into the turn, look into the turn,” and then as if by magic I will see their head turn for the first time and look towards where they are going, their line will tighten up and they will run through the corner better than ever before and I’ll beam in my own helmet, ecstatic that I have seen improvement in the students riding, grateful that I have been a part of that positive change.
By mid afternoon after a quick lunch, bathroom break and a refuel, I head out for a few more sessions. I’m exhausted, but I always manage to find the energy, the enthusiasm, and the concentration to go out and do a good job. I think it’s the adrenalin rush and the absolute high of working with such a varied group of people that keeps me afloat.
The majority of students are men in the 40+ age category but we still get a nice mixture of young and old, male and female, racers and regular street riders. Sometimes I’ll ride my butt off chasing and leading a local road racer who’s ridden the track dozens more times than I have and I’ll feel proud when he tells me that he learned several new things throughout the day. Sometimes I’ll ride slowly with someone who is nervous and anxious about riding on a track for the first time and the encouragement they receive from me and the skills they learn in the classroom is the perfect combination to help them feel more and more comfortable throughout the day.
At 5 pm the riding stops, the students have their final debrief with their coaches, gossip with their friends, and share stories about who was faster and who passed who, before returning home to the various states and countries from whence they came. They thank us profusely, sometimes exchange contact information, sometimes hand out tips, and they always leave smiling.
I change out of my stinky smelly leathers, throw on my uniform once again, take a moment to grab a snack, rest for a split second and then get back to work.
The dance resumes as we set to work riding the 30 odd bikes into the mechanics trailer, loading up all the tools, wrapping the extension cords, heaving boxes, and somewhat magically tucking away a small city’s worth of tools and equipment into two large trailers.
At 6:30 the dusty, dirty, and tired crew sit down together to share our stories of the students accomplishments and our own personal experiences of the day. Dusk settles in and the trucks drive off into the sunset, heading towards the next destination, the rest of the crew grabs a bite to eat and returns to the hotel for some much needed rest, before catching a flight to the next track the following day.
The days are long and tiring but they are always challenging and always interesting. The tracks are fun, the riding is varied, the students unique and personable. I have the opportunity to constantly work on my own riding skills as I practice the techniques taught and work to demonstrate and teach the fundamentals of riding.
The perks of the job are rewarding, meeting new people, riding at different tracks, traveling and riding motorcycles all day, but the most amazing aspect of all is the ability to positively influence someone’s riding and to teach them something new. I worked with a man in his 60’s at one of the schools who said to me at the end of the day, “Young lady, with your support and encouragement on track, and with the exceptional classroom instruction, I’ve learned more in one day than in my entire 40 years of riding. Thank you, thank you.”
No, thank you.