How to feel a newbie again after close to 30 years of riding bikes? For me it was doing a Track Day at Mission Raceway.
I had arranged with with a BCSB member to use his ramp for off-loading my bike off my truck. At home I just back up the truck to the bank at the side of the road and ride the bike in the back. Jeff (jfviffer) offered me to use his ramp (that was jokingly described by an other member (Juha) as a "boat launch" because of its size) but we still managed to bottom out the bike because the truck was slightly to high.
After the bike got off-loaded I took it over to have it inspected. I turned out that I had to do some adjustments to the taping of the lights, after I wash the bike I always spray a detailer on which, of course, doesn't help with the tape sticking to the bike. I also was advised to take my mirrors off instead of just taping them.
After the bike inspection, the gear inspection. My spine protector, that I ordered through the group buy, had still not come in, but seen as it was only "recommended" for a track day, I figured I would be fine. Gio, from Westcoast Superbike School, that did my inspection, thought it would be better if I had one so he lend me one from their own stash. Thanks man.
After the inspections, the riders/racers meeting, where Troy instructed the newbies and reminded the racers of the rules in the pit and on the track and what all the different flags, white, green, yellow, checkered, "meatball" etc., meant. After the meeting the more experienced riders were dismissed and the newbies had to stay for some more instructions from Troy on how to sit on your bike and move around from one side to the other for a better lean angle. Now we were ready for the race sessions to begin.
There were three groups today: the slow and fast racers combined, the fast street riders (had probably been on a track before) and the slow street riders, that I, and thirteen others signed up for.
Slow Street Riders ready for their first session.
During the riders/racers meeting Troy had explained that for the first two sessions an experienced racer/instructor would lead the group at a slow-slow pace to show the ideal line and to get used to the track. After that, we would be on our own and could go as fast as we were comfortable. It turned out that there is a difference between a slow-slow street pace and a slow-slow track pace. I forgot to flick the switch from "street" to "track", so I lost my group out of sight in no-time. There I was, all by myself exploring the new track environment, not knowing where the "ideal line" was at a street pace. Now I had to catch up with my out of sight group again by majorly picking up the pace, I could feel my cold tires slipping and sliding on the cold pavement of a track (read: road) that I'm unfamiliar with. Not a good idea! Getting more and more frustrated being thrown in at the deep end like this, thinking that racing might not be my thing. In the meantime I got lapped by my own "Slow Street" group.............
After the session, I was really disappointed in myself, I walked over to the WCSS quarters to explain what happened, vent my self disappointment and ask for advice. Troy "listened and understood" and decided to ride with me in the next session.
I had to wait a little longer after everybody was gone, I think an other rider got a "private" instructor too, for Troy to jump in his leathers and fire up his bike. But finally there we went. Troy was great, looking backwards on the strait stretches to see of I was still following and in the corners if I was able to keep up. Gradually he turned up the pace and I felt great and comfortable this time. I was "racing"!!!
After this everything went up-hill, I was having a blast, riding at my own pace and level and increasing my skills. And that's what the whole idea is behind these "Track Daze".
I was able to keep up with most riders, got lapped by a couple (every time the same ones) and even managed to pass others.
All in all, I had a great day and an even greater experience.
Kudo's to Westcoast Superbike School for a well organized and fast paced ([u]lots[u] of sessions) Track Day.
Thank you Troy for giving me the extra, much appreciated, attention.
Thanks Gio for lending me the back protector.
Thanks a million to Jeff (jfviffer) and his side kick Juha (who prefers to stay anonymous ) to let me use the ramp and help me load and off-load my bike.
It was nice talking to you, Bruce(?) (the Ducati guy).
Nice meeting you, David (105mmgunner).
All the other people I briefly talked to and of course the racer that provided me with zip-ties to hold my bike together after I removed the mirrors.
1) My little set-up.
2) I'm still the proud owner of chicken strips.
3) Quarters of jfviffer and Juha.