Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic Reviews:
June 14, 2008
Thank you for offering your ARC at Deals Gap this year. I learned
about it at the motorcycle show in Atlanta last January and signed up
right away. (Mike Shapiro and I signed up together. Remember us?)
That was a great course. David and Christine were great teachers.
They were always friendly and encouraging (unlike some of the MSF
instructors I've had in the BRC and ERC who have a bit of an arrogant
air to them).
I enjoyed the division of time between the classroom and riding. It
was a sweltering hot day by the end of which my brain was fried. We
were given plenty of water throughout the day which was a really good
thing. At times on the course I had such a hard time getting it that
I thought I was retarded but David assured me that I was not and that
I would get it. Actually, on the 3 hour ride home we put a lot of
what we learned into practice and actually cut about a half an hour
out of our trip! And I've been trying to incorporate everything I
learned ever since.
I was amazed at how far some of the guys traveled to get to the
course. It was great to see that so many of the students were
"older" (like me at 54) taking this course and taking it so
seriously. I told my buddies that I'd be willing to travel a lot
further to get more training like this.
Please keep me on your emailing list with future courses.
Hope to see you again soon,
June 10, 2008
You may remember me and my friend, Greg Garcia, from the photo I included when I sent you my war-torn Tail Pack for inspection and repair a few months ago (thanks for taking care of that, by the way). He and I and one other friend took the ARC in Robbinsville last Thursday. On behalf of the three of us, I just wanted you to know how awesome it was! As Christine might say, it "rocked!" The proof of it's effectiveness became apparent on our 4-hour ride home that night...I know we shaved at least 30 minutes off the ride, just because we knew how to take the twisties so much faster and more efficiently! What we learned in the class really solidified on that ride home. As David and Christine predicted, it all got better with practice!
Your instructors did a great job. They were very knowledgeable, but also extremely encouraging. As a "shrink," I know that helping people feel encouraged is half the battle when you're trying to get them to learn something new!
We'll certainly be looking forward to taking the Level 2 course at some point. We've been "talking up" the class to every rider we know, and I know we'll be bringing several of them with us when we take the next course.
Keep up the good work, dude! Thanks to Christine and David.
June 5, 2008
David and Christine,
I, Brad Johnston, was in your class on June 4, excellent class.
After the class another student and myself rode back to Brevard, NC,
about 2+ hour ride, part of the ride is on a road I've ridden many
times, great twisty road. We both practice the techniques from the
class and I have never ridden that road that fast or felt more in
control. At the end of the road we both had big smiles.
Thanks for the great class and improved skills. There is plenty of room
for more practice and improvement but what a great start.
June 2, 2008
I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you what a good job Mr. Bob Elliot and Mr. Chris Carr did presenting your material in the clinic in Atlanta on May 31. The combination of Mr. Elliot's extensive cycling experience and Mr. Carr'€™s racing experience resulted in a fantastic learning experience for me. I have ridden for over 40 years, but still learned a lot from this clinic. They brought your book to life!
April 28, 2008
I had the pleasure of being in your ARC Level 1, at Dutchess County
Community College on April 27,2008. For someone like me, who only 2 years
ago was shown where the controls are and let loose on the unsuspecting
public, this was a great experience. I received validation for what I've
been doing right (but I wasn't sure of), learned many new things, and
noticed a couple of bad habits which must be changed. Through the exercizes
I leaned the bike over more than I ever have before, and started getting
comfortable getting out of the seat and hanging off. When you get it right
it feels as if the bike is turning itself - pure joy. Its not exactly time
for knee pucks, but in the future....
More importantly, I learned to self-evaluate my riding, and the
techniques required to improve my riding. Its one thing to be an expert
rider, and a different matter to be a good teacher. All of the instructors
yesterday were both.
Christos Mousiadis, NY
April 26, 2008
I took the level 1 ARC class on 4/5/08 and had a great day. You and your
instructors did an excellent job teaching to all the levels of
experience (and egos) in the class. Everyone that attended I am sure
enjoyed each other and the class. Motorcycles attract such nice people
as you know.
I just had a track day yesterday and I had an awesome experience. My lap
times were dramatically reduced and my level of safety and confidence
Thank You, your coaches, and Lee Parks for getting me to slow down to
learn the basics. I am anxious to take level 2, unfortunately it is full
By the way, there is no way my knee pucks will last the season. How cool
Bill Logue, NY
April 21, 2008
I just wanted to thank you and your crew for a great class. I practiced the techniques on the way home and it seemed to all come together. I just let the bike do all the work. I am a firearms instructor for a local police department and I teach exactly the same way you do with almost the same technique. Both our disciplines require mental preparedness in order to stay alive. In addition to the great information you have to share, I want to thank you for reaffirming that my training techniques are indeed valid.
I had a great time and look forward to a more advanced class with tyou and your crew.
Ian McKnight, CA
"Ad astra Per aspera"
June 29, 2007
If you have any interest in going faster, you have got to avail yourselves
of this class. Best money I have ever spent.
We spent the whole day yesterday running around cones in the Aurora mall
parking lot, which may sound like a doddering newbie class but was anything
but. Two guys were grinning ear to ear with their freshly scraped
knee-pucks, a wobbly lady on brand new R1200R was looking like a tower of
confidence by the end, and if you would have told me I could scrape the pegs
on my Gran Canyon with ease, I'd have chuckled politely and turned away. And
I'd have been wrong.
Great, great class. Like most, I have been self-taught and didn't really
have a desire to hit a race-track. I want to know how to fly through the
canyons at 10/10ths but still have a reserve to deal with the
gravel/oil/idiot/rockslides with ease. The class didn't make me a Rossi or
Edwards but gave me a ton of stuff that I can work on with every ride.
Funniest part was the incredibly illuminating session on suspension setup.
We went out to several bikes for real world checking and resetting, starting
with the young lady's drop-deap porn bike (Ducati 900S) which had
every-which way adjustability. Then we worked on a stunning FJR and found no
amount of preload would work with the wimpy springs that came stock up
front. Then we worked with a gorgeous new R1200GT with full electric
adjustability, ownly to find the the sport setting got the front almost
right but left the back a pure hardtail, and the soft setting had the back
about right and the front pogoing like a kiddie park toy.
This was a first time class from the local T3RG guys who are now qualified
to offer the class on a regular basis. Great, great stuff.
April 30, 2007
My ARC day on April 29th was wonderful. I definitely feel a
lot more robust on the bike, and went a long way to getting rid of some
of the knots I'd developed after dropping on the track last year. Feel
like I should do an ARC every month! Every year at least.. And all you
guys were terrific too. Thanks for everything.
November 27, 2006
Thought I'd drop a quick note to you... just got in from the drive back from
SC where I did a track day today. I'll have to send some pics to you
soon... but thought I'd at least drop a note now before I rest a bit. I
must say, I had a blast to say the least! This was a really awesome track
and it was the perfect day (sunny and temps around 70+ by mid-day). I ran
in the Novice group since it was my first time out. The FZ1 did awesome,
and my BT014 tires (despite what some say on the boards) held up well for
me, as usual. They did slide a bit here and there (not often), but I was
pushing it pretty hard (yes, I said I would not, but once I was there it was
futile to resist)... and it was never a serious problem as long as I held a
bit of throttle and stayed relaxed.
I can't say enough how the TCARC class helped prepare me for this track
time. While they did offer some classroom sessions for our Novice group,
and they talked a bit about some of these same things we did in TCARC, for
those starting from scratch this class time was just not enough to really
get there, and the on track coaching was just not the same. I mean, let's
face it... if you don't understand proper body position and cornering
techniques, and you're looking at the track ahead of your front tire, then
how helpful is it going to be for an instructor to tap his tail and then you
follow his line? I'm not being critical of their process... it's really the
best they can do I suppose, in that environment... rather I'm saying how
very helpful TCARC was for me. :)
With each session, my performance improved... learning the track and
figuring out brake points and getting more optimal turn-ins, etc. By the
afternoon sessions, no one passed me at all, and I passed more bikes than I
can count. :) A few I passed twice. :) And the difference was simply the
corners, and applying the things we've talked about.
I can't stop smiling. :)
PS: You know, we talked about rearsets... and while I see your point about
the stock pegs acting as a gauge to let you know you're near the maximum
lean, after a day on the track with my FZ1, I really think I'd prefer the
rearsets. After two sessions, I unscrewed/removed my feelers form my pegs,
just because it was unsettling to keep dragging them. And you know I was
leaning way off, but still it was impossible not to drag. Even after I
removed those feelers, I still dragged the pegs now and then. Keep in mind
mine is a Gen-1, but I am a light rider (170 w/ gear) and I have the preload
maxed out on the rear... so at least for me I think if I could get those
things up an inch or a bit more, it would be helpful, at least on the track.
Of course, I really want a dedicated track bike anyway... but just thought
I'd pass along FYI. Food for thought. :)
November 22, 2006
Had a great time last Sunday at the ARC. A different person rode home than
arrived at 8AM. For the past 2 years, I was at a plateau that I couldn't
break through. I've soared up through those restrictions. I also like the
front suspension now. On Friday I'm off to Solvang, Bakersfield, and back
over Angeles Crest Hwy. Since I usually stay off the freeways and ride the
fun roads, I'll have 3 days to practice, practice, & practice.
See you at Long Beach. Those gloves with "Outlast" are just what I need for
the 30 degree rides in WY.
Thanks again for getting me really excited about my riding again.
November 19, 2006
Lee Parks Total Control ARC ? Course Review
I generally try to take at least one motorcycle training class each year. Unfortunately, unless you want to go to a race school, options are somewhat limited. I usually look around a bit, but always end up taking the current flavor of MSF's Experienced Rider or Advanced course. It's a good course, and I always end up learning or re-learning something, but it's getting a bit repetitious. When I received a notice that Lee Parks would be teaching his Total Control ARC (Advanced Riding Clinic) at the TEAM Arizona facilities in Gilbert, I decided that even though I had already taken an ERC this year, it might be fun.
Depending on which bio you read, Lee has raced motorcycles for 16 to 25 years and is a past editor of and chief test rider for Motorcycle Consumer News. I had read Lee's book, Total Control - High Performance Street Riding Techniques, and had no doubt that he knows how to ride and race motorcycles. According to his web site the class is intended to help bridge the gap between the MSF ERC and a race school.
Course requirements state that protective gear is required, including helmet, motorcycle jacket and pants, full-fingered gloves and over-ankle boots. I purchased an armored mesh jacket and a pair of Kevlar reinforced jeans to complete my protective clothing. Early on the morning of October 29th I donned my full-face helmet, along with the rest of my gear, and headed out to Gilbert to see what kind of trouble I could get myself into.
The formal TEAM AZ classroom was being used by MSF students, so we were set up with a couple of tables in the garage. That worked out great. There were six students on one side of the table, with Lee on the other. I didn't measure lecture vs. riding time, but it seemed relatively balanced weighted slightly in favor of riding. Student bikes consisted of two big Hondas; a Gold Wing and an ST, two sport bikes, a large Aprilia scooter and my Heritage Classic.
The main thrust of this course is cornering techniques and other factors influencing safe and efficient cornering. Course flow pretty much followed Lee's book, and while it would likely be helpful to have read it, it's not necessary. There were segments on traction, fear, concentration, attitude, throttle control, vision, line selection, body position, and more. Did you know that bikes are actually designed pretty well, and that they do what they are designed to do, including going around corners, just fine? It's the rider that typically upsets things. The best thing that a rider can do is to do the minimum required, but when something is required, do it correctly and decisively.
There was an interesting and informative section on suspension setup. Two student bikes were used as guinea pigs. The suspension on these bikes was deliberately adjusted wrong, both tight and loose, and the effect demonstrated. We were then shown how to adjust the suspension to fit a particular rider. We now know how to measure and adjust fork and shock sag, which is settling under load, and what it should be for various types of bikes. We also learned about suspension friction, along with both rebound and compression damping. We were shown how adjustments are made if that feature is provided and told how changes might be accomplished if manufacturer provided adjustments are not available.
Some might find the lecture a bit boring. At times it felt somewhat like being in a physics or biology class. Do you know how the various parts of the brain affect riding a motorcycle? I enjoyed it. Lee threw in some fun stories and examples to break things up. He also threw in helpful little tidbits on a variety of subjects. Do you know the risk you may take when you purchase tires from an Internet discounter vs. a local dealer?
Exercises were done in a building block format with, believe it or not, some actually done in the classroom. Have you ever set a water bottle 10-15 feet in front of you, glanced at it and then closed your eyes, walked out, and picked it up. This demonstrates picking a delayed apex turn point and then shifting your vision into the turn, but not throwing the bike over until you intuitively reach your turn point.
Safety was paramount. Because of the confined area that we were working in, we were instructed to lower our tire pressure a bit to provide additional flex and build heat. Before each set of exercises we spent several minutes riding in a big circle while performing shallow left and right turns to get the tires heated up. The riding area was swept clean and the cones were the types that are designed to be run over without affecting the bike. Prior to students performing any exercise, both the wrong and the correct way to ride the exercise was demonstrated. While performing exercises only one bike was on the course at a time.
Throttle control, and especially throttle/brake transitions was interesting to me. The technique taught was designed to keep the suspension stable during cornering. Take a quick look at the chart at http://www.leeparksdesign.com/miscpage_002.asp. Note the coordinated use of throttle and brake leading up to a delayed apex turn. Also note the lean angle and how when you reach the delayed apex the bike is sharply and decisively thrown over.
Did you know that there are ten distinct steps in cornering? These ten steps were initially practiced at zero MPH! Try sitting on your bike with the side stand up and six strangers holding it while you go through the steps, including the full bike lean. Talk about needing to trust your fellow biker!
Two of Lee's promises at the beginning of the course were that you would see a noticeable improvement in your riding and that you would be able to self-diagnose riding problems in the future. For me, and I believe for the entire class, he fulfilled those promises and much more.
Would I recommend the class? Yes. It's a course for experienced riders and that's who should take it. Because of the design of my bike, and the speed at which the exercises were ridden, I spent a lot of time dragging my floorboards. The object of course, is not to drag anything except perhaps your knee. Shifting the center of gravity by hanging off the inside of the bike during a turn is the best way to improve cornering ground clearance while moving, and I improved as the day went on. Still, with only a 26/29 degree lean angle on my bike, there wasn't much I could do except to drag them a bit every now and then, or slow down. I chose to drag them under the very controlled conditions that we were riding in.
What's the downside of the class? For me, there weren't many. The cost for a one day class might be a little steep at $295. The student handbook is primarily a course outline with places to take notes. You really need Lee's book to fill in the blanks. Teaching the class in one day, we ran from 8 AM to 6 PM with an hour for lunch, is not enough time to cover everything in the book.
Lee told me that he typically has good Harley participation back east, but not so good in Arizona and California. I'm not sure why that is. The $295 fee plus the cost of safety equipment that some Harley riders may not have might be part of the reason. I also purchased new tires a bit early, so that ran the cost up for me. When you think about it though, the cost is miniscule when compared to a broken bike, a trip to the ER, and time off work. On a traditional Harley you may not be able to perform all of the exercises to the degree that you could on a sportier bike, but the techniques are the same. They just might save you from going down the next time you find yourself going a bit fast into a decreasing radius turn.
Lee's web site is www.totalcontroltraining.net
November 19, 2006
Wanted to take as moment and thank you for a wonderful class today. The instructions was solid by both you and Alton and the system of instrruction made sense. While I was not the class star, I did learn what I was doing wrong, not looking into the turn soon enough and picking up the speed and throttle control.
The class will give me a foundation to improve while I ride in the west San Fernando Valley. I am lucky that I have Mulholland and all of the canyons to learn my new entry spots for better conrol.
You were articulate and caring.
Alan Levy, BMW LT
September 24, 2006
Hi. Its exactly a week since my day with you and the Total Control instructors and I'm still buzzed ! Sure, the ride back from class was hot. But 120 twisty miles the next day proved I'd learned to ride 40% faster with much better control and a lot less uncertainty. I was flying comfortably on familiar curves which I'd always liked but found challenging enough to slow early and ride through on the brakes. This time I repeated the lessons in my head, leaned out, gave it gas and laughed all the way never touching a brake lever. I learned (and continue to use) better and more refined technique from you in one day than I learned at a recent track day/class. I've gained new control abilities -more than I thought I could pick up and integrate after many years of riding. Well worth the time, the money, the sweat and sore muscles. Fun and exactly what I needed - though you still owe me a shot at your slip-on! Happy New Year, ride safe and thanks.
September 24, 2006
Lee ? wanted to say thanks for a great class this weekend and while I feel bad you didn?t have a full house, I also realize we got a lot of extra attention and it made a huge difference in my riding abilities and techniques. I can?t wait to get on the bike tomorrow and put the stuff I got out of the class and the range to use. I?m taking a three-day trip with four other guys up to Utah in two weeks and can?t wait to get a lot of seat-time and use my new skills. You have a way of making tough concepts easy to understand and then once you show us how to do it and not to do it, it sinks in. I realize my vision skills need a lot of work and that?s great because now I know where to focus to get better. I feel I learned more in 10-hours in your class than I have in the other two bike schools I?ve done which were two-day affairs and not nearly as useful. I will be recommending your book and class to anyone and everyone I ride with.
Nicely done and thanks for spending the time on bike set up which was really cool and something I can use. I tried out my Tiger when I got home and it was overall in good shape but I wouldn?t have known that unless I took your class. I also just ordered a pair of your gloves in medium and am looking forward to having them for my trip in a couple weeks.
Thanks again and feel free to use any of this email in your recommendation page as you certainly deserve the kudos.
September 24, 2006
Just wanted to drop a note to offer thanks again for the ARC in Frederick on the 23rd. This course was a huge help to me, and the personalized instruction and coaching provided by you, Dennis, and David was just outstanding. I have no doubt that the techniques and skills gathered during this course will be a big help to me both on the track and on the street. I'm always excited about opportunities to learn more about riding a motorcycle, and this has been a milestone day along that journey.
So thank you again to you, to David, and to Dennis.
Don (04 skunk FZ1)
June 24, 2006
Dear Mr. Parks,
I met you briefly at the bike show in Seattle last year, and I read your book. I just took your class with Puget Sound Safety, and it was great. The class was done so professionally and Brett and his staff are "top shelf" instructors. They not only can talk the talk, they can walk the walk, or ride the ride as it were. They really cared about me "getting it", and gave individual coaching. I wish I had taken this course before those track days I went to, as I would have gotten much more out of my time on the raceway.
When so many are spending hundreds, or even thousands to make their bikes faster, my recommendation would be to invest in your self and the skills to be discovered that can unlock a much greater scope of riding that transcends how fast you can go, and opens up many new possibilities. Before this class I would just think, "I can't do that". Now I know it is all possible.
I'm sure in business we always hear about it when it's not right, so I thought I would let you know when it is, and your class was very right for me, and I would recommend it to anyone without hesitation. I look forward to taking it again very soon.
June 12, 2006
I attended the Total Control Clinic on Saturday and I wanted to let you
know how much I enjoyed the class. But more importantly I wanted to
tell you how drastically it improved my riding in such a short time. I went
out the following day and instantly noticed a dramatic effect on my cornering
skills. My vision, body position, lean angle, and confidence were drastically
affected in a positive way. I feel safer, smoother and more in control than ever
before. I was worried at first about practicing on the forty foot circles, I honestly
didn't think it would be effective, boy was I wrong! The fact that the instructors can
see and identify the riders problem areas in a small repetitive area works fabulously.
Please bring this class to New Jersey, there are thousands of riders that could benefit
from this training. A two day level two class would be a great idea too.
September 18, 2005
The ARC was the first school where I dragged my knee. I've taken a total of six levels of training between 2 other schools. For me personally, the problem seemed to be related to throttle control. I learned to apply the throttle while leaned over. This required better body positioning on my part. Previous training didn't focus on this, other instructors just wanted me to follow the "correct" line on the track.
Thanks, Christine and staff