Yamaha Champions Riding School | Demo Ride
Motorcycle Riding School Thrill
Having been going to the motorcycle races as a spectator for a few years now, I’ve found that I have developed a healthy curiosity for what it’s like to ride a motorcycle at speed, and especially what it’s like on a track. Nick Ienatsch – Chief Instructor at Miller Motorsports Park’s UT. brand new Yamaha Champions Riding School-holds two-up rides for those brave enough to try it on a pair of the school’s Yamaha FZ-1 street bikes. He and one of his lead instructors, Ken Hill, spin through the notoriously fast ‘Attitude’ turns at Miller’s World Superbike race layout, side by side, at true racing speed. Having both bikes running so close to each other-and even appearing to dice with each other-adds another dimension to the already adrenaline filled high-speed thrill ride.
Speed is only fun if it’s done in safety, and the first order of the day was to select the right gear to wear. The school has a huge selection of full race suits, racing boots, and gloves courtesy of Alpinestars for every rider. A top of the line Arai helmet also helped make sure that I was comfortable and felt truly protected.
We were given some basic instruction first. "Hold on tight" is obvious, but more than that, it was interesting how they taught us to plant our hands palm down on the back of the gas tank so that we can push hard and support our weight (and keep it off the rider) while braking. Nick also emphasized gripping with our knees and placing our feet on the pegs with just the balls of our feet; this prevents any toes dragging when at maximum lean angle! The tank was a little far away for my shorter arm reach, so my first thought was "I can’t do that" but once underway my worries were dispelled.
Upon take-off, the acceleration down the long front straight was initially very strong and very intense, so much so that I started to feel as though I was about to be ripped off the back. So I just wrapped my arms around Ken as tightly as I could with a death-grip that must have stopped him breathing! Thankfully Nick’s instructions were spot on; and as I relaxed I found the system worked. As we gained even more speed into the super fast Turns 3 and 4, I actually became comfortable enough to be able to move my head from side to side so I could see more of what was going on. Nick and his passenger were close-heck, they were within reach! But now I’m glad I didn’t shut my eyes, as the sensation was really intense and not something I’d want to have missed.
A big part of Nick’s training at the school is his emphasis on smoothness. "Smooth is fast" goes his mantra, and I have to say I was incredibly impressed by how both he and Ken are able to practice what they preach. Turning in to Turn 1 at the end of the straight having hit almost 140 mph before coming on the brakes at an impossibly late point is scary as hell, but both Ken and Nick were riding so smoothly it was actually a piece of cake.
The only thing I’d change is for the riders to lose the ‘speed hump’ on the back of their leathers as I found my helmet chin piece would catch on it occasionally which was a little distracting and made it difficult for me to turn my head enough to see. But overall, I enjoyed my race experience immensely-and it’s all done for charity. Your $75 entry fee will go to a good cause, but the places sell out fast, so if you’re up for the challenge you’ll want to get in touch with Operations Manager, Daniel ‘Shorty’ Short and book your place.
Nick and Ken’s Miller 2-up thrill ride is something I would unhesitatingly recommend to all thrill seekers out there. Call me crazy but this was the thrill of a lifetime, and I’m now able to appreciate even more what these racers do every day in their passion to go ever faster and entertain us at the same time.