This entire Superbike-Coach thang is so deep in my soul that it keeps me not just physically real busy- but also mentally. I always reflect on the performance of the entire team after every single class- especially on my part. Things like… what I said, what I did, what I demonstrated. Those things make me overthink on how can I describe things better to make them more plausible, on how my people learn best. Also things like how to make them trying more, trusting more, and to reach the individual. To gain more human understanding pretty much. Sometimes those reflections turning to visions… literally.
Most of the time this happens when I have a 1on1 the following day after a class. I see and hear ‘ghosts’. I remember every word has been said. I remember what everyone of the SBC team did. I remember most of my students names and faces, and what they look like when riding. I remember and analyze their body language- on and off the bike. Their responses, questions and gestures. Somehow, I’m able to make sense out of all this.
My 1on1 student is warming up on the track we mostly using, the Little 99 Raceway in Stockton. I walk around to check on him/her and some little things seem to trigger those visions. Black front tire marks on turn 7, where I had the class practicing emergency braking out of full lean angles. Voices- faces- disbelieves- fears I felt in the classroom when I started describing the procedure and when I walked with a smile to my bike to dress for a demonstration. I hear Dean saying “wait for their surprised faces” while he prepares his camera with an amused smile. He is with me almost ever since, and I can’t even imagine to have someone else in his place. He knows that I ‘tick’ like this and helps me when I’m too critical with myself.
We all love surprising our students with subjects they never heard of- with things they think is physically impossible to do. That requires a lot from me. To lead them- discipline- motivate them and to keep them calm all at the same time. This is when Marion helps me pointing out students who need extra attention because they might be confused about it or being overly scared. She noticed I’m loosing up my arm after the demo and reaches a water and checks on me “are you ok?!”. Her eager to keep the tight class schedule on track is a fight against windmills, cuz’ I go till everyone has it down.
Students are on now group by group to make their first attempts. They struggle- they fail and this is when Wayne stops them to tell them exactly what I need them to do. There is a virtual Superbike-Coach tattoo burned deep in his soul! He gives it all he’s got- no questions asked. Walking back to the classroom, and Wayne reports what he noticed and felt about it, because also he knows that I need this to see if we can make things better.
My 1on1 student comes off the track to get his first mission for his next track session. I walk behind and hear laughter’s, excitement and joy of yesterday’s class. Some ask questions- someone just says “wow… didn’t know this is even possible”, and Chris responds with an exited smile “oh, there is a lot more of this coming!”. Then he moves on to fix someones bike- no questions asked. Chris says “I got this”, and I deeply believe him there.
There is just that one guy we seem not to reach, Mark reports. He says I gave him extra time and attention but he seem not to be happy. We can’t make everyone happy. That’s the nature of things- he knows. Mark is sweating through and through. He successfully fixed the wheelie machine and walks over to our mini bike to fix that one right after. I know he will.
I gave my 1on1 student some missions on the track and walk into the shed where we run the classroom sessions, and I see and hear all those ghosts and voices of the previous class, where the power and the passion is still present. Ones, I found myself stop walking and to just listen and it runs like a video in front of my eyes all again. I was smiling and took a deep breath, realizing how much I love this team and what we do. Knowing that I’ve reached most of these riders, fulfills me.
I know I’ve arrived. This is where my professional racing career meant to and up, and I feel blessed to have found this group of people on this side of the planet.
Headcoach Can Akkaya, Superbike-Coach Corp