After two decades as a professional motorcycle racer, Colin Edwards can certainly teach us a few things about going faster on a motorcycle...
Need to figure out how to go faster on your motorcycle? How about getting a bit of tuition from a MotoGP racer? How about learning a thing or two from Colin Edwards, who started racing in 1992 in the AMA 250cc national series, won the World Superbike Championship twice (in 2000 and 2002), won the Suzuki 8 Hours thrice (1996, 2001 and 2002) and who’s been racing in MotoGP since 2003. Edwards has raced a wide variety of machines – the mid-1990s Yamaha YZF750, the Honda RC45 and RC51, the Aprilia RS3 Cube, the Honda RC211V, the Yamaha YZR-M1 and, currently, the Suter-BMW CRT MotoGP bike. Admittedly, he hasn’t actually won a single race in MotoGP, ever. Then again, he has lined up on the grid in no less than 168 MotoGP races and finished on the podium in 12 of those, so the man probably knows something about going fast on a bike.
In a bid to give something back to the sport that’s given him so much, Edwards has set up the Texas Tornado Boot Camp on a 20-acre facility, 65km north of Houston, in Texas. ‘This camp is a one-stop shop for all ages and skill levels to learn, practice and build your motorcycle skills, with top of the line equipment at the finest facility around. This camp is where you will learn the fundamentals that will transfer to any motorcycle, dirt or street. We use Yamaha TTR 110s, 125s and 230s with semi-slick rear tyres on clay tracks. This will help you with balance, body position, where your eyes should be looking, and most important of all – feel. My instructors and I have done exactly this for years and I wouldn’t be where I am today without this experience,’ says Colin, on the TTBC website.
Among other things, Colin’s facility includes a 1/8th mile clay oval, a lighted 300ft x 150ft covered clay riding arena, a mini supercross track, a paintball course and an obstacle course. ‘For those of you out there saying “110s and 125s and 230s? What can riding a kid’s bike teach me about going faster on my 450F or 1000 Twin?” Well, I make my living going 200mph on some of the fastest and most exotic bikes known to mankind, and I'm telling you that I honed my skills and built my fundamentals riding small bikes on dirt tracks right here in Texas. Everything we will teach you here at the Texas Tornado Boot Camp will translate directly to whatever bike you are riding today, or plan to throw a leg over in the future,’ says Colin.
Cycle World magazine recently did a story on the TTBC, where Colin has given out his 10 Commandments for going fast on a bike. These are:
1. Eyes up! Look where you want to go.
2. Smooth inputs are key: Slow on the gas, gentle-onset braking.
3. Blend brakes and throttle to minimize the time from off-brakes to on-throttle, which leads to finding neutral throttle. Advanced technique: Crack the gas open before you’re all the way off the brakes.
4. Throttle control keeps the chassis steady. From off-throttle to pinned is one constant motion. Once you’re opening the throttle, neutral is okay but rolling off is a no-no.
5. Elbows out for maximum control, and grip the throttle like a screwdriver, not a caveman club.
6. Scoot to the front in the turns, sit on top of the bike and understand why Valentino hangs that inside leg off: It’s a balance pole.
7. Compress the forks with the brake and your weight to steepen rake and make the bike want to turn. In the dirt, use both brakes in every corner.
8. Push the bike down while keeping your spine perpendicular and shoulders parallel to the ground; again, we’re sitting on top of the leaned-over bike. Body position in the dirt is the only thing that doesn’t transfer to roadracing.
9. Weight that outside footpeg!
10. Slow down to go fast. This doesn’t work for really slow people, who should attempt to go faster.
11. Relax. Your bike will tell you when you’re on the edge, but you can’t feel it if your body is ultra tense.
12. Keep close track of your tyre pressures but even closer track of your opponents’ tyre pressures.
Oh, so that’s 12 tips instead of just 10 – may be indicative of the extra value that you might get for your money at the TTBC. And for those who might be a bit skeptical of spending a day hammering around a dirt track on a Yamaha 125/230, wondering if it’ll do anything to help them ride their GSX-R1000 better, here’s what the TTBC team have to say on their website: "A majority of our clients are road racers and/or riders. Having a full understanding of just what the motorcycle is doing underneath you is a skill everyone looks for. At our camp, you will be experiencing slick dirt tracks which are meant for truly finding the limit of grip."
"When grip is lost and then gained, we find a true understanding of bike control, throttle control and proper inputs into the motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle that is constantly moving around underneath you is a ‘feeling’ we want you to experience and get a grasp of while at camp. It is all about ‘feel’ and all of this immediately translates on to the pavement. Boot camp instructors consist of current MotoGP, AMA and ex-AMA Pro riders/racers and this is our ultimate goal – to get you to go faster."
Visit the TTBC website for more details