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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I did my first ever bike track day on Monday and it was a total blast. The weather was great, it was pretty warm at 90F but a slight breeze and ez-up canopy along plenty of water helped manage that.

Spoiler Alert: I am not sure there was ever any doubt, but I loved it and will be doing more :D I highly recommend everyone give it a shot at least once. You can at least even out the wear on your tires :devil:

I was the only <600cc bike there and on a track with a long straight like that (see attached map) it lead to some crazy speed differentials between me and the other bikes 150mph vs 90mph into turn 1 lol. The trade-off being I was braking much later and quite a few of the folks did not know the track so by having an decent line through 4-9 I was able to be much more aggressive and pull alongside in the exit and convince a couple guys to throttle off down the straights to let me by (in the beginner group you are only permitted to pass on straights which is tough when I am making time in the turns but losing it on the straights).

It took a few sessions before I start to get my body moving off the seat and it was a real game changer to the stability of the bike which gave me the confidence to go faster and open the throttle earlier. In the last session through a couple of turns I felt like my weight was finally focused on the inside peg and outside of tank (a bit of an aha-moment). I know I should be doing that every turn so doing that consistently is my primary goal to work on next time I am out. I have nowhere near the consistency on the bike as I do with the car yet but I have a few years of car racing experience compared to a few months of street riding experience lol

I can definitely carry more speed through all the turns and brake less/later, but I feel like I did pretty well as I wasn’t assigned a coach which I am taking as a good sign (some of the folks that were struggling had an experienced rider do some lead/follow exercises with them).I am going to stick to tracks I know for the next few events so I can focus on technique without trying to learn a new circuit at the same time.

I did take some video of my later sessions that I will put up on youtube so that you guys can give me constructive criticism. I will edit and upload it this weekend.
 

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Hey great write up, loved it. Glad you had a blast. I kinda have the same problem in that there's not enough bikes of my capacity to race with apart form the guys on Suzuki RGV150's which seem popular.

Interesting to see the layout of your track. I see you go clockwise, both tracks I've ridden on here have been anti-clockwise. You take that turn one at 90MPH? Impressive!

I hear your frustration about the 'only passing on the straights' rule, we have the same one. Nothing worse than having someone in your group on their first track day on a big bore who takes out their frustration at not being quick thru the corners by blasting pass you down the straight. Then you end up their arse two corners later....repeat scenario each lap!

Yes the weight distribution is pretty key on these lightweights eh, and also remembering to look thru the corner where your heading rather than immediately in front of the bike etc etc. Did your pegs grind ot touch at all? Ive ground the side of my boots a couple of times but that's it. Maybe when I get a set of radials on...

Look forward to seeing your footage, hopefully it will encourage others so its not just us two waffling away :laugh:

You've got me excited about getting back into it in the spring now. Cheers!
 

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Fantastic! Thank you for the exciting / informative write up.

Curious to know: Is that how it works with having an instructor (following and watching ahead)? I know that when I used to track my car(s), the instructor would be sitting right next to me in the front passenger's seat giving feedback / instructions...

How else is taking the motorcycle on the track different compared to taking a car?

TIA. :)
 

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Thanks for the prompt UKcoopeR I have intended to attend a race school here in the UK. Ron Haslam runs one not far from me. I'm sure that it would improve my road ridding a whole lot and be a great confidence booster also.
May be I will look to do something latter in the year.
Over 35 years on the road and still learning.

Ride confidently
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Interesting to see the layout of your track. I see you go clockwise, both tracks I've ridden on here have been anti-clockwise. You take that turn one at 90MPH? Impressive!
Lol not quite, I meant 90mph is what I was topping out at before tossing out the anchor for turn 1. I am a bigger guy at 5’11” 180lbs with gear and on an F so don’t get quite the top speed of you all on Rs. I definitely brake for that turn although I will less and less as I get better as I didn’t need to track out all the way which means I was taking it too slowly but I was using a safety margin on purpose in case I messed up.

Just like with my mini I stopped braking for turn 4 (over 115mph in the car not sure about the bike) which the higher displacement guys were still doing and it is a huge advantage to stay at WOT through there provided you can still stop in time for 5 (the slowest section of track, I was down at ~35mph). I think I can also not brake for 10 which should help a bit down the main straight, but didn’t try that yet. Getting from 80 up to 90 took most of the straight lol.

One thing I adjusted in the afternoon was using 1 gear higher than I was before. It definitely felt faster (I don’t have telemetry, don’t think the system for my car can be used :-/) so I don’t know for sure but it felt punchier lower in the rpm range then at the limiter which makes sense given the dyno plots I have seen floating around the internet.

I hear your frustration about the 'only passing on the straights' rule, we have the same one. Nothing worse than having someone in your group on their first track day on a big bore who takes out their frustration at not being quick thru the corners by blasting pass you down the straight. Then you end up their arse two corners later....repeat scenario each lap!
Folks who do that in cars usually end up crashing as they are staring too long in their mirrors trying to lose the hatchbacks! It has happened to me more than a handful of times so I usually leave them space to spin off :p Next track (map attached) I am going to should be a bit better in that it has more turns :)

Yes the weight distribution is pretty key on these lightweights eh, and also remembering to look thru the corner where your heading rather than immediately in front of the bike etc etc. Did your pegs grind ot touch at all? Ive ground the side of my boots a couple of times but that's it. Maybe when I get a set of radials on...
I did scrape my boot a couple times and my peg once but it was due to the rookie mistake of not having my body far enough off the bike. I could have taken lean out of the bike. I found myself able to take more lean out during the turn and get on the gas harder so probably should have taken more lean out from the start of the turn. Rookie mistakes that should go away after a while imho. I also thought about different tires but want to use up the stock ones first. While I did get wear to the edge there is still a lot of tread depth to go.

Curious to know: Is that how it works with having an instructor (following and watching ahead)? I know that when I used to track my car(s), the instructor would be sitting right next to me in the front passenger's seat giving feedback / instructions...

How else is taking the motorcycle on the track different compared to taking a car?
Yeah they release instructors with a groups of 3 riders to watch and use hand signals to communicate things like slow down or watch me etc. After the first session they assigned specific people to a coach that worked with them more directly and let the rest of us loose. We had a couple classroom sessions that were focused on staying safe especially when passing other riders. I don’t know if the car events you have done are the same but most of the time in the beginner and intermediate groups you are required to give a point-by to signal to the faster car they that can pass you. On a bike you mirrors are removed or taped over and you are told to not turn around and look behind you which means pointing by doesn’t work. I was used to it from racing cars and driving in the advance groups, but it could be unnerving until you get used to it (especially when a liter bike passes you doing 60mph more than you lol). The other major difference was shorter sessions, 15 mins rather than 30 which makes sense as it is more demanding.

Thanks for the prompt UKcoopeR I have intended to attend a race school here in the UK. Ron Haslam runs one not far from me. I'm sure that it would improve my road ridding a whole lot and be a great confidence booster also.
I totally agree it will improve my safety when street riding, it re-enforces looking ahead to the extreme and lets you practice threshold braking and mid corner adjustments in a safe environment so that in an emergency you have a better set of tools to avoid an accident. I know, once old enough, both of my kids will be going to the track in a car (hopefully they are interested in bikes too) if for nothing else but to help them be safer drivers.
 

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Great stuff! Love the sound of the GPR. Nice fast flowing track, you live in a real green part of the States huh.
Some sort of rattle going on at the back there, probably just your fuel cap! :laugh:

I wouldn't want to critique you much as I'm no Marc Marquez myself and your lookin pretty smooth out there which is the main thing. Your lean angles look good too.

I get the impression you're just workin on your lines at this stage and not trying to go as fast as possible which is a trap I find myself falling into occasionally and get a bit ragged. Esp when my buddy on his Aprilia is hugging my rear waiting to pounce!

When you do want to up the ante a bit and are lookin at improving your lap times I would look at making your gear changes more snappy. I don't tend to use the clutch on up shifts at the track and you can bang it thru pretty quickly with a bit of pre load on the shifter before you back off the throttle momentarily.

The only other feedback I'd offer is that there shouldn't be too much coasting into corners going on.
I can hear my racer mate Norm saying "either hard on the gas or hard on the brakes - no in between!" :D

Main thing is to enjoy yourself and you obviously are. Nice one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah living out in the sticks is the only way I can afford a place with a garage lol!

I don't know what the rattle is (to be honest I thought it was normal haha), I checked the bolts etc and nothing has fallen off so I will try being more forceful with the cap next time I fill up.

Yup, in any other country I would still be on L plates (got my license Nov '14) so my focus was on not crashing and smoothness/technique. Once I have a more experience I will try to crank out faster times and maybe go into competition. I will try clutchless upshifting eventually. I had heard you can do that on a bike but I was a bit nervous about trying a new technique my first time out. I did lock the rear letting the clutch too fast on a downshift early on so I was a bit hesitant after that and tried to be more careful which is part of the reason I was granny shift :p The difference between the first and last session of the day was massive and I plan to continue learning lots every ride!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was that I am in a steeper part of the learning curve compared to with the car!
 
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