Pour equal parts moto-heads and XR100s into an indoor track. Mix thoroughly. Cook at full throttle for two days and serve sweaty.
Danny started with a speech. His boys demonstrated perfect kung fu.
Back in the day, Danny Walker and his road and flat track racer buddies were practicing basic skills — having fun and getting fast — and the idea hit them: Why not use their drills to teach other racers? Danny started teaching camps, at first for serious flat track racers, but the curriculum soon proved useful to every rider. Nine years later, his camps attract everyone from flat trackers to street racers to motocrossers — and every spot sells out.
It’s a tasty recipe: Tight tracks, basic skills and little bikes. A Honda XR100 is about the size of a mountain bike. You can plant both feet on the ground, and the engine does the job and nothing more. The bikes are as un-scary as motorcycles get, and they blend perfectly with American Supercamp’s dual emphases: 1. Dial in your form. 2. Pin it ’til you crash.
American Supercamp holds both “Non-Racer” and “Racer” classes. The only difference is intensity. My bro’s and I signed up for a Racer class.
Like playing basketball with Michael Jordan. Chris Carr does his thing.
The Supercamp big rig, moto fleet and dirt track filled a stock barn at the Greeley, CO fairgrounds. Manure, exhaust and machismo hung thick in the air, and since our group of 25 had no women, it was Game On when it came to smack talk and swagger.
We had an interesting cross-section of dedicated riders and racers — a cattleman, an airline pilot, a junior motocrosser and a freelance mountain bike writer (what a dork). We shared track time in three groups. While one rode, another watched video, and another ate lunch or watched the action. I was worried I wouldn’t get enough riding time, but I must admit I was physically and mentally fried at the end of both days.
Old age and treachery … Group 1 gets it done.
Danny’s the head coach. No. 2 with an asterisk is Chris Carr, a 7-time Grand National dirt track champion. Everyone said riding with him is like playing basketball with Michael Jordan. It was amazing to watch Chris ride, and it was superfun to try to hold his wheel. Try. The other coaches are all younger and obviously selected for both riding and teaching ability. It’s a fine crew: Good at their jobs and fun to hang with.
Chris finds traction where there is none. Mud style.
“You guys are just moving cones.” Chris eases through traffic while Scooter readies his elbow stick.
A little coach-on-coach action. Dred and Vinnie.
“Stop, stop, stop! You guys are riding like idiots.” Vinnie reigns us in.
The coaches kept telling us students to ride slowly and focus on form, but with a trackful of Type-A dudes there’s no way. We kept getting black-flagged for riding like idiots, but there was no controlling the inner racers. The coaches kept us in check by stopping our motos early and enforcing a strict topple-a-cone-do-10-pushups policy. I low-high passed with such abandon that I got a stern talking-to. When I knocked over a cone, they made me do pushups right in front of Danny — with Firman Jeff pushing down on my shoulders. Hey buddy, thanks for making me stronger.
I’ve been riding lots of moto for the past few months — doing some things well and some things not so well — and I wanted to learn proper form before bad habits set in. In every sport, your mastery of fundamentals determines how far you go. Even the most experienced riders learned a lot. There’s nothing like having an expert watch you — and smack your dropped elbow with a stick.
Here’s the goal. Check out his right elbow — an extension of the bar.
The camp focused on body position and line choice. Sit with your hips forward, back slumped, shoulders back and elbows up. Enter the turn wide, square it up and pass the apex already pointed at the next turn. We rode a bunch of different track layouts, sometimes dry and slick, sometimes moist and tacky, sometimes flooded and greasy, sometimes with our left hands on our gas caps (really — talk about finesse). No matter what, it all came back to the basics: Balance in the middle of the bike, finish your turn as soon as possible and accelerate down the straight.
I learned enough to start a book (hmm …) but here are a few gems:
At $600, the two-day camp was not for the light of wallet. I paid full retail, and I learned enough to justify the expense. So many of us will gladly pay big money for the latest doo-dad, but skills are the best investment. They never wear out, and they get more valuable over time.
American Supercamp travels throughout the United States. Get a schedule, tips and more at www.americansupercamp.com
Photos of me by Sacha Halenda. I have video, but it’ll be a while ’til I can post it. Busy with paying work …