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Steve Rutter

Going Slow To Go Fast

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I had level 2 of the school yesterday. Slightly different and arguably worse circuit on offer than the one used over Easter at the Stowe circuit, the chicane at the end of the Start/Finish straight and following hairpin had been coned off in favour of a larger hairpin turn (with a pothole halfway round very close to the ideal line) and then another 90 degree right-left followed by a long left-hander leading into a quick right before the finish straight.

 

First session out was a bit odd as I didn't really gel with the different layout, plus the bike was not filling me with confidence and the rear stepped out on me going over one of the kerbs, so very different to the first day where it all seemed to click into place the first time out.

 

A change of tyre pressures started to bring back the former confidence and the drills, whilst not the same revelation as the level 1 drills, still brought about improvements when I put my effort into really applying them, I've read the books a lot and tend to work on my vision more than anything as it's something a bit easier to practice on my way into work than sorting out my body position whilst I'm cranked over with a knee on the deck.

 

By the end of the afternoon I was starting to push a bit harder and run ragged, whilst I was still making the corners relatively easily, I was running really wide and having to make my way quickly across the width of the track too much in order to get anywhere near making my next turn point. I'd reigned myself in a couple of times, but kept finding myself falling back into it.

 

So the biggest lesson of the day for me came when my coach (Spidey) pulled me in with 2 minutes to go of the last session and said "I don't know what you're doing out there, but you're all over the place now, you've got 2 minutes to show me you can hit all of your points". Sure enough, just dropping my entry speed by a few MPH, my lines were 10 times better and it all felt much easier and more relaxed. Whilst it felt a lot slower, it was no doubt just as fast and certainly would be if I had a long straight to run out onto.

 

It feels odd, and when I've heard it mentioned before, I was a bit dubious, but I really am a believer now, slower really is faster.

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Which circuit were you on?

 

It was the smaller Stowe circuit inside Silverstone, they've got a few layouts they can run on it, but the one from last week wasn't particularly great. It's only about a mile round, so great for getting lots of practice laps in and for the school, but not much good for a proper TD.

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Which circuit were you on?

 

It was the smaller Stowe circuit inside Silverstone, they've got a few layouts they can run on it, but the one from last week wasn't particularly great. It's only about a mile round, so great for getting lots of practice laps in and for the school, but not much good for a proper TD.

out of interest steve i agree with what you say about stowe but i too have been there and my theory was and still is unless you,ve got prior knowledge of a track - if you can,t hit these points at stowe - well there not gonna come any easier at say somewhere like cadwell park !

in other words i think its ideal for a school track .

sounds like i,ve had and still sometimes do some of the same problems .. all best .

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It feels odd, and when I've heard it mentioned before, I was a bit dubious, but I really am a believer now, slower really is faster.

 

Steve,

 

Another way to look at it is, WHERE do you go slow? Some just go fast in the wrong places, loose too much on the accuracy and a good turn point, then whatever they gained, they loose (and then some) later on.

 

Racetrack engineers are tryging to fool you!

 

Best,

Cobie

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I think my main problem Cobie is ignoring my sense of speed on entry, I know I can get through a few mph faster, but this doesn't mean my line will still be any good. So I hit my turn point, watch the apex pass by too far to count as hitting it and then my exit point is nowhere near where I want it.

 

It often means I have to slow my roll-on too, so a few mph slower on entry could mean being a lot quicker on exit.

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To be honest I didn't like Stowe at Silverstone, but it worked well for Level 1 because it's simple, and much of what you do needs simple corners. Also the overbanding and paint across part of teh track was horribly slippery in the wet so, other than nearly ripping the cover off the seat by my over-clenched bum cheeks, it was pretty easy to feel the changes in grip with throttle control.

 

For Level 2 the Southern circuit had a lot more variation but nothing complex - Cadwell is pretty techincal so great fun to ride but you'd use a lot of your $10 figuring out what comes next. The disadvatage of a bigger track is fewer laps so fewer tries at each corener to experiment. It suited me anyway.

 

Anyway back on topic, Steve are you just going too fast, or do you need to adjust your RPs to suit the higher entry speed?

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To be honest I didn't like Stowe at Silverstone, but it worked well for Level 1 because it's simple, and much of what you do needs simple corners. Also the overbanding and paint across part of teh track was horribly slippery in the wet so, other than nearly ripping the cover off the seat by my over-clenched bum cheeks, it was pretty easy to feel the changes in grip with throttle control.

 

For Level 2 the Southern circuit had a lot more variation but nothing complex - Cadwell is pretty techincal so great fun to ride but you'd use a lot of your $10 figuring out what comes next. The disadvatage of a bigger track is fewer laps so fewer tries at each corener to experiment. It suited me anyway.

 

Anyway back on topic, Steve are you just going too fast, or do you need to adjust your RPs to suit the higher entry speed?

 

I've done a couple of layouts at Stowe now and this one wasn't as good as the layout used over Easter. Primarily because the top part of the track had to be closed off in order to create an area to use the lean bike.

 

I think the reference points were OK, although if I wanted to carry more speed on the entry into the one particular corner I've got in mind I'd dedicate a session to focusing on my quick turns, I don't think I was being particularly sloppy with them, but looking back at my level 1 day, they were much better whilst the drill was fresh in my mind and I was dropping the bike from upright to my knee slider much quicker.

 

There was another left-hander though where I'd carry too much speed from the entry and all the way through the corner, ending up on the far right side of the track, rapidly approaching my next turn point which was on the left side of the track to make a 90 degree right-hander. The extra speed meant I had to roll off a little and make my way back over the whole width of the track again. When I approached that corner slower, I could hold a much tighter line and continue on the power up 'til my braking point. In effect compromising a little speed on the entry to the first corner, but making the subsequent turns easier to hit and wasting less time off the gas on corner-setup.

 

Next thing for me I think is to do a TD and spend a few sessions working on different weak points, once I've got my quick-turns dialled-in, I can start to up the pace a little again until I start to find myself getting sloppy, from there I can look at different RPs and the process will continue ad-infinitum.

 

 

 

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You mention RPs quite a bit there; when you are riding around a track, is this something you think about, like "when that line is at the corner of my vision and I can see that spot in the asphalt, I will brake" every lap, or do you simply know after a few laps when to brake and it's fully automatic?

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You mention RPs quite a bit there; when you are riding around a track, is this something you think about, like "when that line is at the corner of my vision and I can see that spot in the asphalt, I will brake" every lap, or do you simply know after a few laps when to brake and it's fully automatic?

 

It's a big part of level 2, as it was a school day and I was trying to apply as much of the theory as possible, I tended to try and stick to the early suggestions they give you which is one set gear and no brakes in order to keep things as simple as possible. As a result, braking markers don't really play into it so much in this case, it was more a matter of when I'd roll off the throttle in order to shed enough speed.

 

On the school days they lay down taped markers to tell the level 1 students where their turn points are, it's really quite tricky to ignore these and pick your own, but you look for all sorts of markers, tyre marks, overbanding, paint spots and it could be the case that you'll say; 'my turn-in point is two feet left of that black mark'. Once you've got a few of these setup for your entry, apex and exit points you find that the lap starts to flow, once you're done with your exit marker you start hunting out your next turn-point etc.

 

On some of the longer corners you may find that you can't see your apex RP when you go to turn in, so you might have another marker on your path to the apex that you can aim for, joining the dots until you've got a full picture of the layout.

 

They're also quite useful I've found on the street, if I'm coming up to a tight turn I'll pick myself a turn point and stick to it, that way it removes the chance of my brain telling me to turn in too early.

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I probably do this instinctively, but I never actively look for markers or anything, I just sort of know when to hit the brakes and where to turn in. Probably because I'm not going fast enough :D

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I probably do this instinctively, but I never actively look for markers or anything, I just sort of know when to hit the brakes and where to turn in. Probably because I'm not going fast enough :D

 

interesting reply eirik

out of interest a junior national racer also said this same thing to me at a wet track day when i had first started and he was circulating very quickly .

this i think is a classic case of a great rider (him of course not me) not always being the best for advice because what i believe and know to be true is that he certainly would be picking and using r.p,s and markers .

the point is that it would be using up a lot less of his 10$ of attention on it than me and that he,s probably been doing it that long that he doesnt even realise that he,s doing it (maybe because he hasn,t had to relay it to anyone else) especially because he,s good at it .

when we walk we don,t think consciously about each step because its easy to us now ..

and you would not be riding at all if you weren,t making all these small decisions all the time , you probably pay them no mind , you must be picking something sub consciously when you turn or you wouldn,t turn / brake etc.

the r.p,s just refine it so you can add speed i guess .

this is being a bit pedantic i know but what i,m trying to stress is that bikes don,t ride themselves .

of course an advantage on track is that you can re visit the same turns but on the road we still choose something even if its not the ideal its better than nothing . all best .

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Hi, teg!

 

After I wrote that, I thought more about the topic and understood that I do scan for references. I look up and down the road, looking for bumps or changes in colour of the asphalt, dirt, trying to determine how sharp the upcoming corner is etc. Based upon this information, that I no doubt process without even wasting any energy on at all that I can determine, I automatically decide when to hit the brakes, when to initiate the turn etc. I intuitively know when I must brake in order to stop or slow in time for whatever is coming up. However, I rarely push to these extremes on the road; it is comfier to ride smoothly than standing the bike on its nose every turn.

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Scott Russell said he never had any turn point, that he just waited until he saw the apex and turned the bike. I don't know if any modern day riders still get around without any points, but I can't imagine it would be very successful in todays racing. I've never seen his times to tell how consistent he was though.

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Scott Russell said he never had any turn point, that he just waited until he saw the apex and turned the bike. I don't know if any modern day riders still get around without any points, but I can't imagine it would be very successful in todays racing. I've never seen his times to tell how consistent he was though.

 

I guess you could argue he's just using that one point to create a line through the corner, provided he sees the apex at the same time every lap and isn't deviating too far from the edge of the track, he's likely going to be pretty close to having a regular turn point, just not one he's specifically identified.

 

On my ride home each day from work, I don't have many set turn points as most of the corners are roundabouts and I've got traffic to negotiate, compromising an ideal line to account for their actions and that sort of thing. My brain always seems to be able to convert what I've seen into an appropriate amount of movement on the bars, nothing conscious like quick-turning on track, but just enough to get round a set bend and always with just enough steering input, I never even notice putting any pressure on the bars unless I actually dedicate part of my concentration on the action. This sort of auto-steering I think is fine up to a point, but is nowhere near as effective as when you've got a plan for a corner and can really muscle the bike in with a conscious effort.

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I recently went the TT and got chance to ask one of the riders if he used reference points on the circuit . The answer was a yes, considering its a 37 mile circuit, thats a hell of a lot of reference points to remember. Don't know how they do it.

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I guess those are the guys that win, like Dunlop, they've been there enough times to learn such a long circuit. I think teg's right, without RPs you can ride fast but your $10 is spread a bit further. As for Russell, if he turned in when he saw the apex (or it hove into view in the right place to tell him where he was), that's a turn-in RP too, it just isn't one that's very near you. An RP could be anything e.g. a hoarding/advert you see on your exit on a track with stadium seats, as well as stuff on or beside the track, if it's telling you about your timing.

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I guess those are the guys that win, like Dunlop, they've been there enough times to learn such a long circuit. I think teg's right, without RPs you can ride fast but your $10 is spread a bit further. As for Russell, if he turned in when he saw the apex (or it hove into view in the right place to tell him where he was), that's a turn-in RP too, it just isn't one that's very near you. An RP could be anything e.g. a hoarding/advert you see on your exit on a track with stadium seats, as well as stuff on or beside the track, if it's telling you about your timing.

i agree also with eirik - i don,t ride on the road much now but when i do i still use r.p,s its just that theyre a lot more basic as i don,t push too hard on the road and they get me through pretty much . but when you get too the track and start pushing even at my level it makes a huge difference - as for the tt guys i think the questions been answered here ! these guys are amazing in what they do just learning the circuit at those speeds regardless of ability takes huge amounts of $10 i reckon ..

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