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Get thee to a race track!

4494 Views 14 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  sportbike_pilot
I couldn't agree more track days are a great way to learn and push it a little harder than you normally would. If your in the Denver area there is a Track day put on in Pueblo on June 8th by a group called Track Daze. Go to your nearest dealer and pick up an entery form.

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Get thee to a funnery

I couldn't agree more. Track days are absolutely essential for the dedicated motorcyclist. But not all track day programs are equal. Fastrackriders is one of the best. They are highly focused on safety, learning, fun and run a pretty tight ship. I've noticed that the big track at Willow is often in better shape for Fastrack days than it is for WSMC events. And they are just plain nice people. Fastrackriders is one of the greatest bargains imaginable. Check out their website and go. I travel 800+ miles one way to attend Fastrack and WSMC weekends once every few months and consider it some of the best money I ever spent on motorcycling.

I live in a small college town that contains more than its share of sportbikes. Most of these units are festooned with steering dampers, aftermarket pipes, frame sliders and every pretend racer toy imaginable and are ridden, for the most part, by 20 year old knotheads who ain't going anywhere near any racetrack because they are already BURLEY streetriders and would much rather score points in the local traffic light GP.

That is why I am sitting here in snowy Idaho this morning instead of in sunny SoCal. My squidly young bretheren all backed out on this month's event at the last minute. So I'm raging - and I hope you bastards are having fun down there :)

I'll be down in May with or without the local dead weight.

Sorry for venting, but I feel better already :)

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Here in St. Louis, we have several track days per year at the Gateway International raceway, right across the river in Illinois. They're in conjunction with CCS races, and they're sponsored by a print publication, Midwest Rider.

They break down the sessions into three groups, Street, Intermediate, and Expert. The idea is that the Street class goes out with a pair of instructors. The instructors set the pace, and passing is limited to the main straight, but no one is to pass an instructor. The pace starts out very tame and works up to more spirited riding by the end of the day. In the last session, there is no real chance of catching the instructor, so everyone is riding at their best pace.

The Intermediate class is a free-for-all of rirders who do not want their friends to think they need an instuctor. This is where all the crashing happens. Usually, by the second lap of the first Intermediate session, someone has thrown a bike due to unfamiliarity with the track, or pushing too hard on cold tires. The Intermediates stay at the same pace all day long, which ends up being noticably slower than the end-of-day pace for the Street Class. The Expert class is racing bikes only, and generally interesting to watch. It's all CCS competitors trying setups for the next day's racing.

Track days rule. Each time I've done a track day, at the end of the day, all I can think of is how I can't wait for the next track day.
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After my first track day (California Superbike School) I was amazed at how my street confinence went down. Yes, down!!!

I was so aware of everything that could go wrong on the street: oncoming vehicle, gravel patches, wet spots, unknown turns etc...

I find it harder to go as fast I used to on the street even though my skill clearly improves as my track days prove.

I just don't trust the street environment anymore. I still ride street but take it easy. The real stuff is at the track...

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AMEN. Public roads are hazardous... Two hospital stays, surgery, physical therapy, and crutches taught me the same thing. You are better off riding a little slower so you can ride again another day.
I am a new rider. About as new as they come. I've got about 250 miles under my belt but I loved every one of those 250 miles. (I live in NYC. As a compromise with my wife, my riding is limited to weekend escapes to my brother's in central NY.)

I have a question about track days. When is it prudent to give it a shot? What sort of equipment do I need? I have invested in some very good street apparel but my learner bike is a 20 year old Honda CBR750 - something to that effect.

Am I better off learning from the track early in my development or waiting?
Although it is never to early to ride on a track, I think you will be better served if you got some more miles under your belt.

I say this not because you will endanger yourself (or others at the track), in fact, I think the track is a safer environment to ride, but because track days are EXPENSIVE.

A track day usualy runs anywhere between $150 to $400 depending on the track and organizing entity (club, school etc...).

If money is no object to you, go for it and you will ahve a blat regardless of what bike you bring.

If however, you are a mere "mortal", financialy speaking, you will be better off geting to know your bike better at cheaper venues. The best thing would be to find a twistie road not too far away from home and spend a few weekends getting to know it better.

Once your skill starts building, you will get better bang for you track bucks.

Just my $.02

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I used to live in NYC before moving to San Francisco, mainly because racing is so much better here. I started off going to track days as a cornerworker (the people helping crashers and waving flags in turns). It's a lot of fun and you learn about the sport and riding itself just from doing this. Plus you get to meet people that you will probably run into later on at track days or even races if you decide to go that route. After a few of these events, go and participate yourself. Pick an organization that has at least some level of training for novices. I used to go to Team ProMotion events at Pocono, but there are more clubs. After a few of those I moved up to running in faster groups in such track days and then decided to give racing a shot. The only track I was able to make it out to was Loudon (New Hampshire International Speedway). I raced and cornerworked there, I even cornerworked for an AMA event in 2000. No matter where this might take you, attend some track day events and in the meantime pick up some Keith Code books (Twist of the Wrist (good to start with), Twist of the Wrist II, Soft Science of Motorcycle Road Racing). Good luck and enjoy.
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What about track days on non track machinery...?

I'm thinking in particular about a BMW R1150GS..
Yes you can take your GS out there. I have seen one gentleman backing his R1100GS into Turn 2 on the Streets of Willow Springs. He was leaving chevron shaped marks on the track from his rear tire. He did wind up doing a little offroad during one session, but that is the one bike that can handle an off-track excursion better than most bike there that day. He kicked up a little dirt, rode back on the track, and continued to complete the session.

One track school I attended at Streets was Reg Pridmore Seniors Class. There was a rider, getting back into riding after a long break, riding an older K100, and having a blast. He didn't feel pressured to ride as fast as the others in the group. He was secure in his testicular fortitude, and had nothing to prove to anyone else beside himself.

If you go into to the track to learn how to ride better first, the speed will naturally pick up.


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racer advice

I would not advise a rider (regardless of years riding) to do a trackday, unless i know the rider personally. Some have pretty good skill others would be endagering themselves. Which is why i generally sugget taking a racing course, like California superbike school, penguin etc, etc. You will hopefully get good instruction on technique, the track layout etc. light years better info than the MSF nerds (but it is better than nothing). You will have a chance to learn the track at a sloooowpoke pace and practice worry free, improving your technique and gaining confidence. It will be the best money you will ever spend. When you take a couple of courses, you may then be ready for a track day, rather than being lost and scared out of your wits. Keep in mind, it is a race track non the less.

You will need full (racing type) leathers. Best if one piece. Most, if not all, schools and tracks will allow a two piece to be attached with heavy duty 360º zipper. If you do not have full leathers, this is the time to buy QUALITY stuff. Same goes for boots, helmet and gloves. Get a suit with body armor and best if it has a built in back protector. If you go down, you want to be able to brush off the dust and pick up your bike.

The bike will not need anything other than being in good running condition. You may need to remove the mirrors and tape the glass. Sometimes no anti-freeze is allowed. The school will inform you as to what you need. Also some schools rent bikes and leathers.

However, i think it is best perhaps to get a few more miles of experience. Just to get a feel of the bike. As mentioned, read keith code's books, they are very well structered (although pathetic printing) and informative. A must really.

Good luck and have the most fun you can have with your clothes on :)
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Re: Snowing Idaho

Nice. I spent a couple of years in SE Idaho. I really like the state. Thinking of moving there after Nurse Practitioner school is over. How many riding months do you have/year? Do you spend your snowy months on snow machines? That's what I'd do.

Re: Snowing Idaho

Reliable riding starts in March and runs until sometime in November. During springtime elevations below about 6000 feet are for the most part OK but the passes are usually either closed or a mess until sometime in June.

I'm not much of a snowmachine guy. During winter we ride our dirtbikes in the desert when we can and backcountry ski the rest of the time.
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