Photo Credit: Patty Mckenna, Tony Ionannu, Brent Martin, Shawn Watson

Photo Credit: Either… Patty Mckenna, Tony Ionannu, Brent Martin, Shawn Watson. help?

Dean Drolet #42
76,000kms in his first two years of riding
Mulitple trophy winner. Full list at the bottom of the page

What are you excited about coming into the 2017 riding season?

I am actually excited to get out and do more touring this year. I want to take a step back from the track and I want to see more of the country side with friends. I am going to get rid of the Ducati Multistrada due to the cost of ownership [maintenance and repairs]. The Kawasaki ZX 14R is a contender to replace it but i’ll have to get over the looks. I am going to go to the bike show and check everything out but I am excited to see new Suzuki GSXR 1000. I do want to throw a leg over the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT. The new Honda CBR Fireblade looks pretty damn cool too.

Area 27 is also in our backyard and this will be a world class track (http://www.area27.ca). It’s been so long since BC has had a new track.  Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit (http://islandmotorsportcircuit.com) is also another new track but like Area 27 it is a private facility. Another interesting fact is Area 27 will have a cart track and it will be a rent-able facility for small bikes! The PCMRC may even have race dates soon. Western Canada will have some great options in the coming years.

How long have you been riding for?

Since 1998. 18 years! I moved here in 1996 from Alberta and since there is a small riding season out there it wasn’t practical. When I was settled in Vancouver I took the motorcycle course with BC Safety Council. In my first year I put 36,000kms on my Kawasaki EX500 [first bike]. Then next year I put on 40,000kms. Brand new bike with 76,000 after two years. I think only one other individual rode as much as I did in the first few years. It was all street riding on the local roads including Squamish. After those two years of riding around I was ready to take the advanced rider training at Westcoast Super Bike school. I was hooked so I took the race training course the very next year. I joined the WMRC immediately (http://www.wmrc.ca), became the novice racer rep, and was racing two weeks later. I did 12 racing seasons before taking a break.

“I rode 76,000kms in my first two seasons of riding. Every chance I could, I rode. Even to the 7-11 down the street.”

The first year of racing is with novices which is racing with your friends. When I graduated out of novice I went from mid pack to being lapped. It was a humbling experience. I realized I was quite slow on a fast bike and that I was not improving my skill level at the rate I wanted to. I was on a 600cc supersport. There was so much going on, so far that my brain was having trouble was having trouble keeping up with it all. My physical fitness level was not up to par and I was making typical racer mistakes. I was not using my body correctly either. I had poor form and I was moving around too much. I needed to use my core muscles and leg muscles much more. So I went to a Suzuki SV650 [less horsepower, Vtwin engine]. This allowed me much more time on the track which I wasn’t much slower! I learned a lot more racing that bike as things happened much slower. It is much better to ride a slow bike fast then a fast bike slow.

When did you see some success in racing?

In my second year on the SV650 for two reasons. I picked up a small YSR80 and I showed up to the occasional PCMRC event. Spero helped me and explained why these small bikes are so good. You can carry a lot of corner speed on small bikes. I had dismal results at the PCMRC but every time I got back on the SV650 my lap times would drop, sometimes significantly. I was seeing a direct benefit from riding the small bike. At that point I started to see podiums on the SV650 and the following year. I was now out-riding the capabilities of the stock SV650. I improved the bike with some engine work, exhaust, suspensions and other small tweaks. Then I was on the podium even more and found myself winning championships. I won the Battle of the Twins and middleweight superbike.

What has been your favorite motorcycle?

My Honda RC51 on the track. It is not the most modern but it is the most fun to listen to and corners beautifully. You feel like you are part of it as you sit ‘in’ the bike. The torque and acceleration while matching a modern day 600cc. It seems to have this personality behind it, it just feels better. Those who have ridden them know. Those who haven’t, really need to ride one, especially on the track. They are terrible on the street. They overheat easily and need to be at speed to keep cool. As far as a modern day RC51, there really hasn’t been anything like it since, but if I had to choose it would be the Ducati VTwins. Even my multistrada is similar. If I was going to choose one to replace it, the Ducati Panigale. However, you don’t sit in that bike you sit more on top of it.

“The Honda RC51 is an incredible motorcycle. Those who have ridden them know. Those who haven’t, really need to ride one, especially on the track.”

What is one technique or skill that really changed your riding?

There are two parts to this. One, I had learned at Jason Pridmore’s Star School (http://starmotorcycle.com) and worked on, body form. I learned to use my core and use my legs. On day three I was able to ride for 90 minutes on Thunderhill Raceway (http://www.thunderhillracewaypark.com) and I was not tired. The second moment which really changed my riding on the street (and track) is how far I was looking up the road. The faster you go the more likely you are to look right in front of you, giving you a much shorter decision time. I learned to lift my chin up and look down the horizon. Everything happened slower and I was able to prepare better for what was coming up. This really changed my riding on the street and track.

What are some of the mistakes you’ve made when riding or one particular mistake?

Death grip on the handle bars. You actually start to fight the bike. I would tighten up in the chest, lock my arms, and end up manhandling the bike. It ended up slowing me down on the track. Made me uncomfortable on the bike. When I stopped doing that I became less tired, I could breathe easier and I expended less mental energy.

What is the best $100 you’ve spent on something motorcycle related?

On the track, a short throw throttle. It allowed me to go all the way on to all the way off very quickly with minimal hand movement. It taught me so much more throttle control, especially in wet conditions. On the street, my throttle rocker. It is not even $100, more like $25. It allowed me to relax my throttle hand.

What do motorcycle manufacturers get right?

The modern day electronics they are putting in all the bikes. ABS has been one of the best things to introduce into the bikes. It is not your friend on the track but for the average rider it’s excellent. ABS and Traction control are excellent additions. It does not make you a better rider but it can save you from certain mistakes.

“ABS and Traction control are excellent additions. It does not make you a better rider but it can save you from certain mistakes.”

What do motorcycle manufactures get wrong?

Not building suspensions that are adequate for North American riders. Stock motorcycles have a narrow range of adjustments and there needs to be a larger range. What ends up happening is you have a rider that fights the bike. Once it gets adjusted and even upgraded you can really apply those advanced riding techniques you are learning. You can spend a lot of money upgrading the suspension but it is worth it.

What mistakes do riders make that you hate?

Target fixation is number one, as I see it all the time. The ability to get fixated on something that draws them away. I’ve seen so many riders cross lines, blow corners, and lose focus. This includes pros and me. It goes away with work but never goes away completely. I end up screaming at myself in my helmet to stop fixating.

“Target fixation is a riders number one enemy. Focus on the road ahead.”

Who is a great rider that shouldn’t be?

Older motorcycle greats that I have watched such as Kenny Roberts, Kevin Schwantz. Some of these guys just have some techniques that are bizarre and counter intuitive to what we learn. Another one is Josh Hayes. He is a fantastic rider. They have to reinforce the front end of his motorcycle since he rides it so hard but he wins championships.

Who are some of the great teachers of riding?

Spero Benias taught me more of what I should be doing on the track. He made me slow down to get my techniques working. He also told me what to think on the track. Scott Borthwick is another. He taught me how racers think and how to make safe passes. These two instructors had the biggest impact on my riding. On a grander scale the Jason Pridmore Star School. This is a great school but more for riders with a few seasons under their tires.

What are your eating habits during races?

I used to have heavy lunches during races. I ended up losing those lunches in my helmet during the races. No fun. This was partially nerves and diet related. What I have learned is you do need a minimal level of fitness. You need some fitness regime, nothing intense. I focused on endurance so in February I worked on cardio. I would also eat somewhat clean, nothing to excess. My go to meal on race days is fruit and yogurt. Something light with just enough carbs and protein to keep me going. On the street, more balanced meals. Skip the fries and go for the salad. Eat protein as it keeps you satiated longer.

“I used to have heavy lunches during races. I ended up losing those lunches in my helmet during the races. No fun. Don’t eat big lunches on raceday…”

Are there any books you would recommend?

The Twist of the Wrist series is very high level racing stuff and doesn’t necessarily translate to street riding. Another book is Advanced Riding Techniques by Nick Lenatsch for the street rider and the new track rider. It translates everything from technical speak into everyday street language. It is an excellent riding book. There is one internet book called The Pace. It is an excellent read for the rider who loves group rides. It explains those zen moments as you and your buddies go through the corners. It teaches you not to hit the brakes mid corner. Maintain the pace. Be relaxed and don’t push things.

Who are successful riders in your mind?

Marquez is a rider that everyone loves to hate. A rider that grew up on bikes, all types of bikes. Nicky Hayden in my mind is a pinnacle rider. He is a champion in his own right with the RC51 and excellent at flat track. He manages to put dirt, flat track, and track together. Two local fast guys are Ken Lalonde and Steve Crevier. Steve is a champion through AMA and Canadian Superbike Series. Crevier has his own style and makes it work for him. Troy Burstyk is another great local rider. Troy has ridden all over the world. He even raced in Australia. Spero is also an up and coming local rider.

Is there a way to avoid riding fast and recklessly when we first learn to ride? 

Common sense in some cases. There are old riders and bold riders. There are no old bold riders. There are always points where you are put out of your comfort zone. It can be a moving target. Those moments that were pucker factors before are not ones you have anymore. There is no substitute for seat time and experience. Unfortunately in riding there always going to be something happening unexpectedly. If you keep yourself very alert and you have the mental acuity you should be able to see it well before it happens if need be. It won’t work 100% of the time but 99% of the time.

“There is no substitute for seat time and experience.”

What would tell yourself just before you learned how to ride, knowing what you know now?

Slow down and leave the ego at home. Realize slow and smooth eventually equals speed and comfort later. Start on smaller displacement bikes. They certainly can go fast but they have a more manageable level of acceleration. Things are not going to happen as quickly and unexpectedly versus a bigger motorcycle. If you hit the throttle accidentally [sneeze] on a liter bike things are going to happen [fast] versus a smaller bike [slow].


 

Race Results

2011 Western Canadian Championship Battle of the Twins 3rd Place
2013 Western Canadian Championship Battle of the Twins 2nd Place
2013 Middleweight Twins Champion 1st Place
2013 Middleweight Superbike Champion 1st Place
2013 Middleweight Twins Champion 1st Place
2014 Middleweight Superbike 2nd Place

Schools Dean has attended

BC Safety Council – Learn to Ride
West Coast Superbike School Advanced Rider Training
West Coast Superbike School Racer Training
Mike Sullivan’s Race School in Seattle
American Supercamp
Jason Pridmore’s Star School (2 times, once at Thunderhill with the 3rd day Pro School, and a weekend at the Ridge)

Photo Credit: Allen Bargen

Photo Credit: Allen Bargen


Photo Credit: Patty Mckenna, Tony Ionannu, Brent Martin, Shawn Watson

Photo Credit: Either… Patty Mckenna, Tony Ionannu, Brent Martin, Shawn Watson. help?


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