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Track Weekend


spthomas
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Had my first double-header track day last Saturday and Sunday, and the first chance to be on the track after taking level 2 at VIR last month. This was my thinking:

 

I remembered an earlier comment, maybe from Dylan Code?, that if you're not working on something you're wasting your time. I figure no sense going in circles, so I needed a bit of a plan. I've not had much of a plan on my previous track days.

 

I thought one thing I would do is pick a specific reference turn-in point for each of the 10 corners of the track. I've never really done that before in all the times I've been there, and that was a concrete goal (well, asphalt!).

 

I wanted to incorporate all the things I learned in level 1 also, and I felt my quick-turn was a little slow and I wanted to improve that too. But I remember in level 1 when we did quick-turn someone had placed duct-tape X's on the track at just the right points, so I thought I'd try to do the same. Of course they wouldn't let me go out with my duct tape (how inconsiderate!) so I ended up picking specific features on the track surface, mostly splotches and scratches. Two places were just "one foot off the end of the kerbing", the other 8 surface marks. So after a few sessions I had specific turn-in points.

 

I made a conscious effort to ride over the points without staring at them, but looking ahead into the curve (2-step). That was sensible to do, especially as you go faster- if I had kept my eyes on the turn-in point and then looked up and ahead, I would have gone off track. So I felt I was doing the 2-step OK.

 

Then I need to work on my lean, as I was still being crossed-up, even though I thought I had my head over. (A control rider (this was Nesba) confirmed this.) So my buddy (who had also gone to the school with me) and I worked on this with our bikes in the paddock. I realized my problem was I was still rotating my hip around the tank rather than pointing it towards the turn and dropping my upper body into the "V" of the legs. My buddy also said I was keeping my inside arm too straight and hardly bent. So, I worked on making sure the inside arm was bent, the outer one straight and loose lying on the tank. This helped me actually get my whole torso over instead of just moving my head over. And I was paying attention to where I was looking ahead.

 

After a few rounds, he said I looked better with the leaning off, and had a GoPro movie of it, but I haven't had a chance to see it yet.

 

Later I realized on problem was I had a definite turn-in point, but not so much on apex and exit, so I worked on that too, to get really consistent lines.

 

One thing that threw me off (about lines) was traffic- I was in the beginner group, and early in the day there were a lot of guys who you could tell were having their first track day and their plan was "don't go in the grass". That's OK, I had a first day too, but it was a little frustrating because I was always running up on a freight train of beginners. So I did what was recommended, which was to hot pit, and then go out with some clear track. I always avoided that, because I had felt I was wasting time. But I realized I was wasting time getting stuck behind people I couldn't pass. We could only pass on straights, and being on a 600, it was hard getting past the guys on 1000's who would pin it on the long straight. But I did start finding some success later with the pick-up drill idea and could get going quicker on the straight and that helped in some cases when there was just one or two guys in front of me. So if I had a big group, I would just back in through the pit, and flag guy realized what I was wanting and would give me nice open spots. So with clear track I could focus more on the specific things I was working on.

 

One thing that did not happen was any "oh ######" situations. This was a first, going a whole weekend without feeling like I was going to run wide etc. My quads are also very sore!

 

In future track days, I want to focus more on carrying more speed through the corner. It wasn't that bad "oh I slowed down way too early" effect, but just raising the pace carefully.

 

I need to take the peg feelers off, as they were scraping on a lot of corners. My fork springs are soft too, so I need to address that- I think I'm not braking hard because I know my front end dives quickly. (My bike is a complete stock '02 CBR600F4i.) But I was very happy with the tires, so sense of any kind of slipping. Although I did notice the front end feeling light for the first time pinning the throttle earlier as I got the pick-up drill going.

 

So... that's where I'm at with my riding. It may seem a bit over-analytical, but I felt great having a plan and that it helped me make a lot of progress. And yes, I really had a lot of fun.

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Looks like you had a good time. We ride the same bike and I know what it feels like to "nail it". Indiana to ViR must've been a hump. Maybe I'll catch you back out there sometime. 2nd half of the day, I've found to work better (less traffic).

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Looks like you had a good time. We ride the same bike and I know what it feels like to "nail it". Indiana to ViR must've been a hump. Maybe I'll catch you back out there sometime. 2nd half of the day, I've found to work better (less traffic).

Yes, the last two sessions were much better, as the group had thinned out via crashing or people just calling it a day. (The 15 minute 3:00 corner worker break does wonders...)

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So... that's where I'm at with my riding. It may seem a bit over-analytical, but I felt great having a plan and that it helped me make a lot of progress. And yes, I really had a lot of fun.

Steve;

This is not over-analytical, it's a great write up IMHO and an excellent primer for all of us to consider when we attend track days.

 

Thanks for taking the time to write it up with so much detail.

 

Rainman

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Steve,

 

It sounds like you had a great time. Reading a report about going out there, having fun and working on things without too much stress, SRs or near crashes was very encouraging. Thanks.

 

Best wishes,

Crash106

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Steve,

 

It sounds like you had a great time. Reading a report about going out there, having fun and working on things without too much stress, SRs or near crashes was very encouraging. Thanks.

 

Best wishes,

Crash106

Thanks. There was a link a few weeks ago about Keith helping Camier at Miller, and he said something about professional rider not making mistakes out of fear like street riders. I'm not a professional but I figure I can either be that guy who is "just pushing it", goes fast and crashes often, or be an attentive student and take what I paid to learn and learn to ride properly and counter the SRs with knowledge rather than suppression.

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