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A company that rides together, sticks together

By Liz Keener

National Cycle treats employees to American Supercamp

Over Memorial Day weekend, 31 employees of National Cycle gathered to celebrate. But they weren’t barbequing at the pool; instead they were tackling a grueling riding camp.

National Cycle hosted its sixth employee event with American Supercamp at the Illinois State Fairground Coliseum in Springfield. National Cycle invited 31 of its employees, from non-riders to veteran motorcyclists, to participate in the camp, all expenses paid.

The camp consists of two days, running 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The participants are divided into three groups — beginner, intermediate and advanced. The first day of the course, riders spend time learning skills on a dirt oval track, while they move to a TT course, minus the jump, on Day 2.

The camp is offered as one of a few perks that encourage employees of the Maywood, Illinois-based windshield company to ride.

Thirty-one National Cycle employees were treated to a weekend of American Supercamp at the Illinois State Fairground Coliseum in Springfield.

Thirty-one National Cycle employees were treated to a weekend of American Supercamp at the Illinois State Fairground Coliseum in Springfield.

“We’re a motorcycle company and have been for almost 80 years. We have always been a passionate promoter of motorcycling and continuous improvement of motorcycling skills,” said Ann Willey, sales and marketing manager for National Cycle. “We particularly like the American Supercamp technique. It can be a bit like boot camp, and it is certainly is not PC, but American Supercamp has a proven way to break bad habits, learn correct ones and have a lot of fun doing it. It’s not easy to unlearn bad habits. Mentally you need to let go and learn new ways of doing things. By the end of camp your muscles are aching, but your auto responses in a panic situation are going to be more on target in keeping the motorcycle under control.”

The company offers the camp to any employee in any department, and each year there’s a race to get to the signup sheet. This year there were participants from the sales, engineering, punch press, screw machine, silk screening, forming and shipping departments, as well as Ann Willey and company president Barry Willey.

“The camp is open to any employee, whether they are a seasoned motorcyclists or non-riders. A vast range of age and skill levels sign on for this all-expenses paid camp. Participating in the camp, we have trained motorcycle racers such as Peter Bernacchi, 2014 CCS GTU Rookies Cup champion, and Derek Willey, motocross racer, to non-riders with little or no motorcycling experience. In final qualification before the camp, all we ask of the non-riders is to prove they can control, shift and brake a small dirt bike,” Ann Willey said.

Drills during the American Supercamp weekend included: body positioning; hard braking; looking ahead; tight cornering/slow maneuvering; and the three-step approach to straightening out corners.

Drills during the American Supercamp weekend included: body positioning; hard braking; looking ahead; tight cornering/slow maneuvering; and the three-step approach to straightening out corners.

American Supercamp principals Danny Walker and Chris Carr, along with Derek O’Donnell, Michael Carter and Austin Luzack, taught the most recent class. Drills covered included: body positioning; hard braking; looking ahead; tight cornering/slow maneuvering; and the three-step approach to straightening out corners.

While the course was taught on the dirt, Willey said the skills learned translate to road riding as well.

David Young, a National Cycle employee in the expert rider group, said, “I like SuperCamp because I always learn something new about pushing a motorcycle to the limit. It’s a relatively controlled environment, so the risk for serious injury is greatly diminished. At Supercamp I experiment and see what happens if I get out of my comfort zone and test the limits of traction, lean angle, or sliding. It always improves and reinforces my riding skills, and I feel it will also help me to perform evasive maneuvers in a road emergency.”

Though the course and the travel expenses cost National Cycle some money, the company finds it is well worth the investment, as the mental and physical endurance needed to complete American Supercamp can translate to work and daily life. For example, Ann Willey finds that the employees’ camaraderie with each other improves after returning from camp.

“We are the No. 1 company in motorcycle windshields,” she said. “We credit our employees for their hard work in getting us to the top spot, and more importantly, keeping us there. There’s no better investment than your employees.”

 

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