At the start of this year I went to Cartagena and spent a day being coached by someone. It didn’t have a particularly positive outcome and I ended up feeling pretty low about my abilities. In order to redress the balance, I wanted to work with someone who would help me find my mojo.
My best previous experience of coaching was Simon Crafar through his Moto Vudu brand, it was a relatively new venture when I worked with Simon some years ago and cost about half what it does now. We spent a day at Aragon and I still think back to his advice when I find myself struggling. His methods are simple and effective, his teaching technique is excellent, his enthusiasm is infectious and clearly his credentials are unquestionable. So when I discovered that the brand had extended to the UK, it sounded ideal for the job.
There are currently two UK coaches, John Reynolds who was instantly recognisable as a successful superbike rider and Dean Skipper who I had to admit I had not heard of. John wasn’t available and Simon advised that Dean would be excellent, so we booked for early in the season. Unfortunately I opted to break my collarbone and we had to postpone the date until Tuesday past. Worth noting that whilst I advised him late about my shoulder, Dean chose to allow me to reschedule with nothing more than a small administrative charge – this was a huge relief as the coaching was a gift from my better half.
The weather forecast was foreboding, the circuit was the same one I broke my collarbone on and also the one I struggled round two weeks ago at the eight-hour endurance. I stayed at a local hotel the night before to try to be fresh for the training day and arrived early at the track. Dean was all set up and instantly welcoming, explaining the setup and what he would be doing. We had a brief chat about what I wanted from the day and my level of riding before heading out on the first session.
Dean rides a stock Suzuki 1000 which is probably 20bhp down on my bike as well as lacking a few of the race-focused gadgets that help get round a track a bit quicker. He later admitted he had a slight concern that big yeller might be hard to keep up with, but he used his riding talent to make up for my horsepower advantage and was able to sit with me comfortably for the rest of the day. Where he gained on me was an instant indicator of where I am weak and simply confirmed my thoughts – this meant we were agreed on what we needed to work on.
The feedback sessions happen after every track session and comprise high quality video footage of the student on track. To me, this is the only truly useful way of analysing riding. Dean pointed out the areas where I was strong, gave good feedback on my overall riding ability and then picked out the key areas for improvement. As the day goes on, Dean makes a real effort to highlight the improvements, spending time reviewing exactly why each composite part is now better than before. By the end of the day there were two outcomes – one was that I was feeling really good about my riding ability and secondly I know what to work on for improved, safe laps. That’s all I could have hoped for out of the day other than banging in a few PB lap times.
Unfortunately my shoulder was still causing me considerable pain (found out today that the bones have shown no sign of healing, which would explain it) and my ability to do either fast laps or indeed lots of laps is still very much compromised. I am hoping that Snetterton is just a particularly cruel track for left shoulders, will know more this weekend when I ride Silverstone. But we managed plenty of sunny track time and miraculously the weather stayed beautiful until 5.10pm when the torrential rain dropped from the heavens. Couldn’t have worked out better.
There is no doubt that a full day of Moto Vudu training is a lot of money. But when you consider the costs and the level of expertise, you start to appreciate that it would be hard to do it this well for less. Dean’s coaching is ideal for anything up to mid to top level club racers, his personality and coaching style are fantastic and he shows genuine enthusiasm through the day. The fact that he was a club racer rather than a MotoGP star actually worked well for me because his experience is directly aligned with what I am trying to achieve and he could personally relate to a lot of scenarios I discussed.
My day with Moto Vudu was excellent. Simon and Kirsten Crafar, Dean Skipper and Deb (Dean’s assistant on the day) have all been great to deal with. All in all highly recommended.