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How to get the Most out of a Track Day


While riding quickly around the track without a plan can be fun, you may get much more out of your day if you ride with a plan. Here I share some things that have helped me at track days:

1) Slow down - Concentrate on skills as presented in the classroom sessions. Speed is best attained by increased skill and not by increased risk.

2) Be interactive - Interact with the instructors and control riders. Ask for help and ask questions. Tell them about concerns so that they can fix them. Ask for observation and critique.

3) Photos and Videos - Observe photos and videos of you riding the track. Show them to a professional and ask for feedback. Do the photos and videos match your perception? Often they do not.

4) Skills - Work specifically on skills that will help you on the street. All of these skills are covered in the classroom sessions:

a) Riding Line - Learning to ride a good line through curves can be great practice for street riding. A good line can help you see further around a curve before turning in. Following a planned line also gives you immediate feedback if you start to drift wide. Many single bike crashes are from running wide in a turn.

b) Body Position - Expert road riders keep their head and shoulders to the inside of the bike's centerline during a turn. The major benefit for street riders is that a good body position conserves lean angle. The rider will be able to ride the same curve at the same speed with less chance of scraping hard parts if they ride with good body position. Good body position increases a rider's safety margin which is most important in emergency situations during which a rider has to turn hard. Once you master the head and shoulders, learn to rock your hips so that your weight is on the inside sit bone doing a turn. Do not weight the handlebar ends and work on staying loose. Try not to fight the bikes natural inclination to turn in. Do not fight the bike by weighting the opposite handgrip or riding with a tense body.

c) Braking Techniques - Light trailbraking is incredibly effective for setting up turns on the street. Light brake pressure helps the bike turn in and also allows a rider to precisely control the entrance speed of a curve.

d) Steering - Deliberate, firm countersteering is needed to turn a motorcycle quickly and decisively. This skill is needed in emergency situations and when the road tightens up.

e) Vision - Identifying corner entries, apexes, and exits helps ensure smooth turns and that the riders head and eyes are looking through the turn. Focusing on where you need to go helps combat target fixation and running wide.

5) Repetition without distraction - Repeat the same techniques on the same corners over and over again until you see what works. I make a lot more progress at the track because I can repeat the same corners without distractions from sand, gravel, cars, animals, law enforcement, etc.

Some previous thoughts about track days: http://www.ridinginthezone.com/guest-writer-why-street-riders-benefit-by-riding-the-track/