For those that have: When did you do your first track event? - Wrist Twisters
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post #1 of 15 Old 03-28-2017, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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For those that have: When did you do your first track event?

As the title asks. I'm also curious to know what thing (or things) made you feel like you were ready to take your bike on a track, if even for absolute novice/beginner days. I'm still a long ways off, because I don't feel like the basic controls are second nature to me yet, but I feel like that will be the trigger for me. Also, I'm not referring to being ready equipment-wise (trailer, track leathers, bike prep etc).

My goal is to track this bike, and not just use it for getting around A to B.

Al
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post #2 of 15 Old 03-28-2017, 12:50 PM
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I had 10,000 miles seat time when I did my first track day. I'd say at least a few thousand of those were "pleasure" miles - - riding curvy roads. I honestly believe skill level has nothing to do with whether or not you are ready for the track, but rather, your state of mind. Your primary focus as a new tracker is not speed, but safety. Regardless of how quick you are, if you don't make dangerous decisions and follow all the rules, you'll have a good time. Don't worry so much about gear, tracks typically rent it out. In my opinion, it sounds like you need at least a few more thousand miles seat time though.

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post #3 of 15 Old 03-28-2017, 03:23 PM
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I had over 300,000 street miles by the time I did my first trackday. I was at a point in my life where I was just learning about the importance of suspension, but realizing that it couldn't be effectively tested on public roads. Not just in terms of consistency and grip, but risk management as well. I was just getting to where I could kinda hang with the fast guys in our local riding club. You know the guys that always lead the pack and looked dead smooth and effortless doing it. What I learned after a few trackdays had me whooping on them to where they could no longer keep up with me and out of prudence I decided to stop riding on the street altogether. Picked up an instructor gig with a major trackday company and soon was swimming in track time sometimes literally

No this is not actually me in Turn 12 at Barber, but I was there and it was a wild wet weekend. After that incident we had hundreds of thousands of earthworms on the track getting squished under the tires and stuck to the fairings etc

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post #4 of 15 Old 03-28-2017, 03:52 PM
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To go off what he said, once you learn the basic controls of a motorcycle, your skills wont advance unless you take it to the next level, which is a track. He had 300,000 miles on a bike, which is like guru status yet he was having trouble keeping up with some guys. Probably a few hundred miles on a track and he's blowing them away. It was the same way for me. From what I've seen, there's two levels of riders; ones that go to the track and ones that don't. It's very obvious when someone has trackday experience. Being that I live on long island and it's completely flat, there are basically no curvy roads. Nobody knows how to lean a motorcycle around here. In order to get any sort of lean angle on my bike, I'd have to be going absurdly fast and that wasn't a risk I was willing to take anymore. It was at that point I decided to start going to the track. I'd say that once you get to the point where advancing your skills involves riding over speed limits and doing dangerous things, start going to the track.
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-28-2017, 04:34 PM
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1967. There was no such thing as a track event it was racing. I saw nathanktm's video of Lime Rock yesterday and had to laugh. They used to have open practice on Tuesdays if there wasn't enough bikes you had to go out with the cars. That was around 1975. The old track didn't have the chicanes going up the hill. It was much faster.

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post #6 of 15 Old 03-28-2017, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old fart View Post
1967. There was no such thing as a track event it was racing. I saw nathanktm's video of Lime Rock yesterday and had to laugh. They used to have open practice on Tuesdays if there wasn't enough bikes you had to go out with the cars. That was around 1975. The old track didn't have the chicanes going up the hill. It was much faster.
There was like, 20 riders there that day. Like 6 on the track per session. The cars don't use the chicane, but the bikes do. I pretty much had the track to myself whenever I went out. Never saw another rider, except for that last session.

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post #7 of 15 Old 03-28-2017, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback folks. I know its very different from cars, but I remember leaving my first automotive track day and really appreciating the ability to push the limits of my car relatively safely and appreciating some of the mods that I had made to it. I don't want to ever have the feeling that I've only experienced a portion of my bike.

With Chicago's riding "season" though, it'll probably be a few years until I can rack up enough seat time to hit the track

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post #8 of 15 Old 03-29-2017, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanktm View Post
There was like, 20 riders there that day. Like 6 on the track per session. The cars don't use the chicane, but the bikes do. I pretty much had the track to myself whenever I went out. Never saw another rider, except for that last session.
Was that on Sat. or a week day?

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post #9 of 15 Old 03-29-2017, 07:44 AM
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-29-2017, 07:44 AM
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I started riding when I was 10 on dirtbikes, and bought a motorcycle before I had a car. I would say I had 35,000+ street miles on before I did my first track day, and was one of the faster guys in my group when we went riding fun roads. I actually won my first track day in a giveaway, and would honestly say I learned more that first day on the track than I did in almost 10 years of street riding before that.

That being said, until the controls are second nature, I wouldn't suggest going to the track. You're dealing with a lot of information much more quickly than on the street, and you can't be thinking about which one is the brake or the clutch when you need to make a decision.

I still didn't feel ready when I went to my first day, but I'm damn sure glad I did it.

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post #11 of 15 Old 03-29-2017, 02:24 PM
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I was 45 ish. Had around 125,000 street miles by then. I did my first track day at Putnam Indiana. The bike l rode was my 01 929. I really didn't have much fun, that first time.

About 6 months later, and l did another on the 919. The 919 and l just clicked. It was so much fun running down guys on their 600s. I had Satos on the bike at the time. I had guys saying: " l heard you coming( from behind), l knew you were there.

I always rode the "Slow Group", which we may have been "slow", on the track. I will bet my paycheck that everyone in the Slow group can out run almost every so called fast street rider. The control riders asked me if i wanted to try the intermediate group. But l declined. I would rather be the fastest guy in the slow group, than the slowest guy in the intermediate group. I dont have anything to prove. I was satisfied.

I ride a lot of dirtbike now. I still ride on the street, just depends on the weather. I agree, Track is a state of mind.

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post #12 of 15 Old 03-29-2017, 07:31 PM
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My first track event was in 1975, during my third season of road riding.
I bought an RD350 and got a road racing license.
I entered my first race with zero instruction, very little knowledge, and two seasons of riding on my Norton Commando and then the CB750.
I was not a talented rider but I was decent on the gearbox and at integrating braking with downshifting, but that only goes so far .........
I had a huge stupidity get-off in my very first heat race and mangled my right arm, was stuck out of town in a hospital and missed my Grandma's funeral back home.

My first track day was in 2007.
I did a school at the track, then did a track day.
Did that for some years, then road raced again in 2011.
Haven't been on a track since, due to the loss of our local track at the end of 2011.
I'm going to do some track days this year 3 hours away up in Edmonton, I just can't do without any longer!

I had our son on the track in his second season of riding.
He did a school ahead of getting his license, then a track day school before doing track days.
Where else better to work on technique in a safe controlled way with lots of help and coaching free for the asking?

Looking back, I think a track day newbie should ideally do a track day school first. More important though, in my mind at least, is some level of proficiency on the gearbox and brakes, the combination of those, some throttle finesse, and comfort with hard acceleration and braking. Plus some serious study beforehand and most importantly, buy in of the concept of I'm not here to win, I'm not here to pass, I'm not here to crash, I'm here to learn, I'm here to listen, plus get better at it all while having some serious fun. Crucial is having a plan, even as basic as to not bin it, and having a head that is screwed on straight and kept straight.

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post #13 of 15 Old 03-30-2017, 08:47 AM
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My first (and only so far) track day was also at Putnam, and I also won it. I had been riding for probably 15 years, and was REALLY unhappy with my skill progression. I had hit a plateau, and no amount of urban commuting was going to make me any better. I rode a Buell XB9R that was having ignition problems, so I was far from fast. But I gained a LOT of confidence, and had a total blast.

I learned two lessons that day. The first is to have a bike that is 100% when riding the track. My ignition issues dictated my shift points, which affected my corner entry and exit on several corners.

The second is that learning on the track is something you have to be intentional about. I basically rode around all day. I didn't learn the track, find brake/corner entry/apex/corner exit marks, or work on body position. I just rode around, going a little faster and a little deeper every session. I wish I had been more intentional about experimenting, learning, and growing, but I was just having too much fun to think about that stuff.

But I wouldn't do it any other way. I had SO much anxiety going into that first free session (the first two sessions were very slow, led by a control rider), but just relaxing and having fun made the whole day definitely worthwhile. And, since I wasn't working hard, I didn't get tired at all. I hear of so many people that do track days and are exhausted at the end of the day. I could have ridden that pace for 2-3 days straight without getting tired. Relax, have a good time, and you'll enjoy yourself. Who knows, you might even get better.
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post #14 of 15 Old 03-31-2017, 05:04 PM
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For those contemplating their first track day this season, is the following suggestion.
Get, or get access to, the April/May 2017 issue of Sport Rider and read the "Riding Skills Series" article "Back to the Basics" as found on page 60.

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post #15 of 15 Old 03-31-2017, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcromo44 View Post
For those contemplating their first track day this season, is the following suggestion.
Get, or get access to, the April/May 2017 issue of Sport Rider and read the "Riding Skills Series" article "Back to the Basics" as found on page 60.
This is a neat series, thanks for pointing it out.

Al
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