So today I want to talk a little about track.
My personal love for riding sparked at the track; of course at the time I never even imagined riding a motorcycle much less on the track. I was just there to shoot and observe, however very soon it became apparent to me that the track had an allure unlike anything else. My very first 2up on track was with a good friend at Barber Motorsports Park almost 3 years ago. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever felt as he dragged a knee around every corner with me on back. I was so overwhelmed with joy and emotion that I tear-ed up when the session was over. I simply can’t describe in words what I had felt there and how awesome it was. I definitely knew at that moment I wanted to ride track.
Because I had just started riding it took me a year to gather enough courage and trust in myself to hit the track. My first trackday on a cbr250r was at Jennings GP—the perfect track for first time track goers. The track is completely flat with visible corners and has marker points at the apex of every turn. It’s got a variety of technical turns and overall is extremely good fun. Because I’m a slow learner I decided to do an entire weekend there. I encourage everyone to do this their first time. Going to track can be very overwhelming as there’s a lot to take in from learning the track; learning corner entry/tip in points, braking, being in the proper gear and body position just to name a few. For someone who hasn’t had much experience on two wheels it can be extremely overwhelming. Having a night to sleep on it all makes the next day much more fun and relaxed. Everything starts to jell and sink in.
The most important thing about track though is how much you will learn. I’ve been told that the track is the best place to learn to ride (once you can maneuver your motorcycle well enough of course). However, I never really knew just how accurate this is until I did it myself. I learned more in my first chaotic overwhelming day at track than I had learned the entire previous year on the street. Trust me when I tell you you will gain confidence and bond with your machine unlike before. There is no debris, speed limit, police, cars or animals (usually) to worry about. You are able to put all risk factors outside of your head and just focus on the next curve ahead. You are able to immerse yourself 100% in a zen-like state and focus. This is absolutely impossible to do on the street—and if you are doing this on the street then for the love of gawd please stop!! That’s a sure way to get yourself killed eventually.
So, with that said I highly encourage new and seasoned riders (if you’ve never been) to attend a trackday near you. It will make you a better rider. Sure there’s a ton of people and perhaps even your friends that attend track that can teach you. Everyone is very quick to give pointers and advice. However none of that is worth anything unless you are able to carry it out in a controlled environment with a trained instructor that knows what they are doing. Nothing can take the place of an experienced eye observing you and then teaching you. The instructors look and analyze everything you do and then help you better your riding skills—they are a fantastic source of knowledge and training that is focused on you and they’re there to help.
With that said I’ve heard all the excuses—It’s expensive, I don’t have the proper equipment, I don’t have transportation; whatever. In the end it is up to every individual to try and better themselves as best as they can. I understand not everyone can afford to do a track weekend. However if your goal is to become a better, a SAFER rider, then start saving. There are options out there, especially for the ladies that may not have a helping hand. Some organizations offer Ladies only track events—a no pressure event that’s focused to help female riders get on the right track and help develop proper riding skill sets. There’s always plenty of eager helping hands. If you don’t have proper gear, then there are organizations that rent gear such as tracksuits and boots; that way you can try it and see if it’s for you without investing a ton of money outright.
The best part is that you don’t have to go blazing fast—but of course you can! I know many people are intimidated because they think since it’s a track then you have to go at race pace—not true at all. You go as fast as you are comfortable. There is a group for everyone to fit into. Trust me when I say this—for the longest time I was extremely worried and self conscious that I was constantly holding people up because I’m a slow rider and because I’m on a 250. Then you realize that that’s not even a concern. You should never worry about what is going on behind you; it’s the person’s job behind you to get around in a safe manner and believe me, they will one way or another. That’s the beautiful thing about track, it’s safe and controlled so that you can go at the appropriate pace for you and push yourself out of your comfort zone safely and steadily. It’s a wonderful feeling because you start to learn super quick.
So this is my second season riding track. Up until now I’ve been tracking my 250r which I converted to 100% track mid last season. It’s a ton of fun to track a little bike as I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs. However I felt I was ready to step it up and see what my 600 and I were capable of doing together on track. This was a bit of a new experience and took a day of adjusting and almost filling my pats 😉 Coming from a 250 I wasn’t used to the concept of hard braking into a turn from triple digits hehe. However I must admit that by end of day 2 I was feeling quite in love with the 600 on track and look forward to tracking it some more this season. Initially I was afraid of crashing it, but now I feel I just want to push it even more and keep addressing new goals that I set.
So all in all I guess I can say that riding track has helped me feel very much at one with my machine. I feel like I trust it more now and am comfortable with it’s capabilities. There’s an incredible excitement and joy that comes from working with your machine rather than fearing it. I can honestly say that I’ve finally gotten a taste of that and now look forward to setting new goals and learning what the larger cc bikes can do. For these reasons alone I encourage you all to step onto the track and see what you and your machine can really do.