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When (Old) Racers Take To The Road


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Personally, I have never fancied track riding (or driving, for that matter) because I'm bored with repetitive tasks. For me, the best place to ride is a deserted, constantly winding, gnarly road that I have never seen before.

 

But there are others who have different agendas, people who love to get incrementally closer to perfection and enjoy trying something over in a quest for getting it just right.

 

Or perhaps they love the competition. I can see that. Having a fight on the road, especially on fairly slow bikes with limited handling capabilities to keep the speed down, between similarly fast riders can be fun and exciting. On the track, you obviously can - and probably will - have more and better performing vehicles.

 

So it was interesting for me to read Roger Reiman's (then aged 50), Grand National US Champion back in 1964, comments after a long day in the saddle of a FZR1000, GSX-R1100 and ZX-10 together with Nixon and Lawill back in 1989:

 

It was Reiman, the most reflective of these three, who was best able to sum up the modern sportbike experience. Even though he has a yearly outlet for his need for speed with his racing at Daytona, he obviously relished the day's ride.

 

"I could ride for 3000 miles back in Illinois, and not go around half as many turns as we did in 300 miles today," he said. Then, after a pause, he continued, "And if I could ride bikes like these on roads like this, I probably wouldn't race at all. I'd just go out a couple of times a week for a long ride instead."

 

Two things can be drawn from this: Road riding is fun - and Heaven forbid I have to live in Illinois :lol:

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Yeah, southern Illinois and a handful of states below it are miles and miles of flat, straight roads. But, there's some good dirt/motocross tracks scattered throughout.

 

I'm interested in track for the apparent thrill, challenge and freedom. But I haven't actually done it yet so we'll see how that pans.

 

On the roads here can be fun but often where fun begins is also where the speed cameras, idiot drivers and wildlife begin as well. I've never had the chance to 'pin' my throttle and I'm looking forward to that opportunity, otherwise, it's simply not going to happen on a road. Twisting roads can be fun, but I've had to stand the bike up more than once because of unexpected traffic and I'm really not going that low. Just don't trust they'll stay on their side of the road. :rolleyes:

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  • 1 month later...

This is a really interesting thread for me Eirik, mainly since your idea of the repetitive nature of a track is keeping you from trying it out.

Say you hop onto a racetrack, after a set number of turns then that is it right? You have essentially now tackled that track at least to some degree! Fact: next lap the corners aren't new or unknown anymore to you! Agreed?

 

Can I put a new spin on your idea? I completely 'get' the desire for encountering new and unknown bends - the exciting feeling that nothing is stagnant, always finding something new. What if you could transform that boring track, into one that you crave each turn since it holds something different for you, every lap, every turn! Something very personal.... read on..

 

What if you were suddenly armed with mind blowing new fundametals of riding, techniques that could make you an even better rider, now you just need some location to try these techniques out, practise and develop them, gaining a new level of enjoyment in your riding. Could you use a track to allow you to make these exciting discoveries about your riding? Is the surface the exciting bit? Not now... it's the never ending challenge of developing your new skills! Doesn't really matter if the surface happens to be a road or track in this case does it? In fact, let's say they got your favourite stretch of twisty roads, roadblocked it up to stop any other traffic so you could focus on developing these skills... sounds good? That's a racetrack!

 

What is even more amazing about this idea, is that unlike so much else in life where understanding brings boredom, motorcycles turn that on it's head, once you start to get the real technology of riding working for you, you're in a never ending challenge of putting these skills to use with never ending rewards for doing so. As Keith says in Twist 2, "The technology of riding opens the doors of discovery instead of closing them".

 

It is then, when you not only crave each lap, you crave each turn, each detail of the turn that challenges you to put into practise a skill you've learnt.

 

Can this be done at any pace? Absolutely!!!!! CSS is designed that riders of ANY speed level can master the drills, and since racetracks allow us to ride at our own pace I think you may find it's the ideal environment to breed this desire of exciting internal discoveries.

 

So, would the constant challenge of developing your own riding at your own pace, potentially change your thoughts on a racetrack's usefullness?

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I have been to the track. Once on my motorycle and twice driving go-karts. On the bike, a 250 on a go-kart track actually, the touring type tyres were sliding badly after 6 laps and after 7 or 8 I couldn't be bothered any more. Driving go-karts, my first flying lap was 1.5 seconds slower than my best lap after 30 minutes of driving. And by that point I was so bored I was ready to go home, only retained by the winner's trophy that waited in the end.

 

All the others improved greatly throughout the day, some by 20 seconds. If we had gone on for longer, a lot of them would have been faster than me, since I didn't progress much worth mentioning.

 

My "talent" is that I just know when to brake and when to turn in around slow speed corners in particular. So even on an unfamiliar road, I can hit maximum lean (that I can/will use on that particular bike) corner after corner. I know where I will come to stop even if I haven't been there before as well. On the road, especially an unfamiliar one, this gives me a huge advantage over most riders who are less certain and have to slowly get closer to their limits. I hardly ever think when I ride, it's just something I know. But the higher the speeds, the less certain and the less comfortable I am. I prefer roads that rarely allows speeds above 60-70 mph.

 

On a track, however, you can only ride on instinct for so long. Just like on the road, I'm limited by my own sensation of safety (I do not want to fall off) and I don't go (much) faster on the track than I do on the road - provided it's a road with little or no traffic, good visibility and a clean surface (hopefully). I (think) I know how fast I can go without falling off, but I also feel it is so close to the absolute limit (which it most likely isn't in the least) that I wouldn't be comfortable going faster even if I repeated the corner over and over.

 

There are places where practice helps. Particularly off-camber corners and blind corners as well as fast corners. And some corners are just weird, making me hold back on the road more than I know is safe simply because going faster makes me uneasy. So repeating them on a track would help my speed.

 

However, and this is the important part, I do not WANT to think much when I ride. I ride for fun and not against the watch. It doesn't matter to me if I can go from A to B in 10 minutes or 9 min 30 sec. I just want to enjoy myself.

 

So the main reason for me to attend a school would be to enhance my safety. For instance, learn to lean beyond my comfort zone (will help if I go in too fast and need more lean than I dare) and erase some of my bad habits that I'm guaranteed to have but perhaps don't know about. But the attraction of nailing a corner just a little better than last lap? Sorry, not for me. I'm happy if I can touch a peg or a boot or an engine cover (depending upon the bike) repeatedly on a serpentine, gnarly road. For me, that's Nirvana cool.gif

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Excellent youy're found your nirvana Eirik! An extra safety buffer is what the school gave me when I was a student at the schools, I hope you find the same.

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