On the Mission June 23rd track day thread, Kerule asked for some comments from first timers as to what to bring etc. Seeing as I went to my first track day on that day, and it is still fresh in my memory, I thought I would jot down some perspectives in the hope of helping other first timers:
1. While it is not like running a half marathon, a track day is still tiring. OK, I admit that I am a lot older than the average person at a track day, so my perspective may be different, but still. Prepare and plan accordingly.
2. Number of mistakes I made: to get out to Mission on time from Richmond you need to get going early. I am not an enthusiastic breakfast eater at 06:00 in the morning, so I skipped breakfast. Bad mistake: you need to keep your blood sugar up.
3. Important: there is no food to be bought at the track at a track day. So, to compound the problem mentioned in point 2, I did not have lunch either. Bad, bad mistake!!
There is a mall right across the highway, but seeing as I rode to the track on the bike that I used at the track and did not feel like stripping all the tape, replacing my licence plate, going and buying food, coming back and redoing everything, I just did not bother. Some younger, more energetic guys did but I skipped.
All of this meant that, by the time I got home at around 5pm, I was almost falling over from hunger and I had the mother of all headaches.
So to summarise these two points: eat breakfast before you arrive and pack lunch or buy something outside.
4. Headache and tired was another pointer for me: stay hydrated! When it is warm, you sweat. When you are dressed up in your gear, you sweat even more. When it is warm, you are dressed up in your gear and the adrenaline is going when you are riding hard, you sweat buckets. I had a lot of water (four bottles), which is OK, but I think a nice, cold sport drink is much better as it replaces some energy and electrolytes.
5. It is a long day with a lot of standing. Again: this may be age related, but be sure you take a chair.
6. Shade is your friend on a hot day. Take your own shelter/umbrella or schmooze with someone who has shade.
7. Make sure you have at least basic tools. Even if it is just for removing your license plate: you need it.
8. Apparently, the heat from your headlight can bake on the adhesive of the tape that you put on your headlight cover. I did not experience this as a friendly soul (thanks 105mmgunner!) forewarned me and unplugged my headlight. Another option is probably to pull the right fuse: replacing the plug on the back of your headlight can be a real, blind contortionist trick. Note that I cannot comment on how bad the pain will be from baked on adhesive from personal experience, but this info seems pretty logical. Critically important: remember to restore lighting before you venture back on the road!!
9. Listen to the briefing that Troy gives. I mean really listen. Look at what the instructors do and learn.
10. Stay within your limitations. For me this meant:
* Speed-wise. I was going to say “Do not ride faster than you can.” but that is a pretty nonsensical, stupid statement. Practically, how do you know what your limits are and how fast you can go? Empirically: if you go too fast you fall! Ergo:
- You did not fall = you did not go too fast!
- You fell = you went too fast!
Personally I prefer a more non-destructive, deterministic approach. But that is a lot more difficult. So perhaps it is just best to say: Make sure you keep your speed at or below a point where you are comfortable. If you have a bit of a tense moment: heed the warning and back off: you are pushing too hard!
Beware the collective demons of adrenaline, your own competitive nature and growing confidence through the day! These three form a deadly triad that can take you over the edge before you can blink.
* Limits apply to your body and mind as well. Once again: I will reiterate that I am a more mature rider so I may be over-emphasising this. After our 2:15 session I decided that:
- I was gradually pushing harder and harder & quite frankly, in spite of my conscious good intentions I could not trust myself to not keep edging up until I ended up over the edge: I know myself too well.
- I was getting tired. Again: next week I am turning 55: you young whippersnappers are indestructible and keep going forever but I am more frail. Tired people make mistakes.
So with two more sessions (at least) to go for my group, I called it a day. I had had a complete and utter blast up to that point but I had enough. Remember the old adage: “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.”
As for the track itself:
1. I really like the turns 4 – 5 – 6 combination and I love the 7 – 8 – 9 combo. Flicking through 7 & 8 is just a mindblower for me. I had to keep lifting my knees because the kerbs are quite high: I think it could give you quite the painful smack! Turn 9 is wide enough that you can pass people on the outside without running onto the marbles.
Seeing as I never rode on the course before it changed I cannot comment on before vs after the change: all I can say is I love the current configuration.
2. I tended towards excessively heavy braking at a few places: into turns 1, 4 & 7 specifically. Turns 4 & 7 snuck up on me as one’s view is somewhat obscured coming up to the corners: perhaps you could identify some braking markers to assist.
3. Having a 750 is nice if, like me, you are not up to Rossi-standard. This was particularly true out of turn 3. If I wanted to pass someone between turns 3 & 4 I dropped to first gear through turn 3: in that way I could get the absolute most out of the short straight. Otherwise I could leave it in second through turn 3 and still have enough grunt to keep up with/ahead of most 600’s.
4. Turn 1 has a dip in the asphalt where I was tending to go for the apex. I had to consciously avoid this as it is enough to unsettle the bike if you hit it. For good riders I suppose it does not really matter, but with my limitations it was easier to avoid it than deal with it.
In summary: I cannot begin to describe how much I enjoyed riding on the track. If you are a fastish street rider and have been unsure of whether you should do a track day or not: learn from Nike and Just Do It! I have learned that I am OK fastish (by my standards!) but obviously not blindingly fast: I can live with that. As in all things in life: there will always be bigger/stronger/richer/smarter…. and faster people on a bike than what you are. Similarly: there will always be smaller/weaker/poorer/less smart…. and slower people on a bike than what you are.
I just like for once having tires worn as per the attached picture: my brand new 2CT’s installed by Bayside on Friday (thanks Kevin!) had a decent workout by Monday.
I love it!