When it comes to improving your riding there are a million different viewpoints. Ask the guys at the local coffee shop and they'll tell you one thing. Your usual riding buddies, another. But as your pace picks up there are a few constants that seem to remain. No matter who you ask. Even still, though the theme behind gaining speed follow a general path, the specifics still tend to vary depending on who you ask. Some swear by hanging off the bike like a monkey. Others, not so much. Who do you believe? Which information is correct?
For the answer we turned to Nick Ienatsch and the Yamaha Champions Riding School. Some may recognize the Ienatsch name as he was a frequent front runner in local and national level races a few years back. Others may remember him as one of the lead instructors for the now defunct Freddie Spencer Performance Riding School. Astute readers of the magazine will recognize that name as the first editor of the very magazine you hold in your hands. With such a knack for words and a natural riding ability, it was only logical that he'd be the man to spearhead his own riding school, as his method for teaching proper motorcycle technique is well known.
With the demise of the Spencer school, which ran dates both at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada, that left both instructors and facilities with a void. Dan McKeever, director of the various performance training programs for car enthusiasts at Miller, took the two-wheel school (under the Spencer days) for himself and enjoyed it so much he brought the cast and crew (minus Spencer, obviously) back to Miller to resume teaching riders everywhere. Yamaha also stepped up to the plate and provides the school with machinery.
When Ienatsch was put in charge of the school he chose a core group of instructors to help assist him. They include long-time sidekick Ken Hill, an accomplished AFM racer, Shane Turpin; lap record holder for Miller Motorsports Park; Dale Keiffer, a local Michelin distributor through his Racer's Edge Performance shop who's also quick to boot; and Mark Schellinger, another regional champion in Colorado. For our particular school we had a special guest instructor roaming the course and offering insight-none other than three-time AMA champion, Josh Hayes.
Class sizes are capped at approximately 20 students, making for plenty of personal attention as each instructor is only paired with four students. Before ever stepping foot on track, Nick leads the classroom session with his four reasons for crashing: a lack of concentration, making abrupt decisions on the motorcycle, rushing an entrance to a corner, and repeating these mistakes. The purpose of the school is to overcome these four obstacles.