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kcarbis

Finding Those Initial Reference Points

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I don't think any of us would argue that quickly finding good, usable reference points - at least 3 a corner is essential. I found the most improvement in my times came from quick-turning the bike which just can't be done well without those good reference points.

 

But here is the rub, when I arrive at a new track I stress to myself the need to find them quickly, straight away, hell I do everything short of scratching the message on the inside of my visor. Yet mid-day I'm still searching in at least half the corners.

 

Here is how it goes:

Coach: "What are you using for a mid-corner RP in turn 2"

Me: "duh....er.....I just kind of look on the inside of the curbing"

Coach: "Let's get a specific and solid RP preferably on the track this session"

Me: "perfect sounds good".

 

Each time I approach #2 that session I scan, and scan and get past the exit and think to myself "doh....I didn't see one".

 

Then I get to repeat the above conversation with my coach who by now must think I'm a pinhead.

 

I'd be curious to hear how y'all approach quickly finding good RP's? Especially at a new track.

 

Cheers,

Kevin

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Hi Kevin,

 

First off, what would be the most critcal RP to find, for any turn? Then what would be the next most critical?

 

Here's a follow up question to those: would be it be better to choose a definitey RP (even if it's wrong) than none at all?

 

See what you think of this, get back to us.

 

Best,

CF

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The answer to your first question seemed obvious at first, but then I had to reconsider. My first instinct tells me the turn-in point. But of course, you can't really turn quickly and confidently without that mid-corner RP. To stop rambling and answer I'll state my priority as:

 

1. Turn-in

2. Mid-corner

3. Exit

 

Yes, I think it would be better to have a definitive point over none at all even if wrong because it gives you a place from which to start and adjust.

 

But maybe my question is more abstract than this. Let me try explaining it this way.

 

Session 1, my coach and I have agreed that the first session will be about learning the track and setting some RPs.

I'm approaching a corner, what do I do, is it simply taking a wide view and finding something, anything immovable (preferably on the track) and doing that on each turn or is it better to just work through it turn by turn until I have them all. I'll be at Miller in July and if memory serves the East course has 13 turns. That is a minimum of 39 RPs, is it realistic to assume you can get all or even 2/3 of those in a single session? Because I'm lucky if I can get a handful.

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I remember talking with Keith about Chandler: a world class guy, 2 sessions its done.

 

If the TP is nailed down as top priority, will it help pull the rest together? If the TP is a good one for you (allows the 3 aspects of a good TP--remember those?), then all else is built around that.

 

Are you looking for the perfect turn point RP that is in the perfect place, that you can see from a long way away? I've found those pretty rare! How about a large RP, that you can see from a long way away, that makes it easy to see? Then as you get closer, whittle it down, or judge from how far something else is (that you can see easilty). Also the data from the 2-step about using the turn and how the apex looks to you (apex orientation) as that gives data on where the correct turn point is.

 

I've just covered some pretty fine points (and not completely) from TP and 2-step, and if it's not clear, give me a call, I'll clear it up.

 

Best,

CF

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From Cobie: How about a large RP, that you can see from a long way away, that makes it easy to see? Then as you get closer, whittle it down, or judge from how far something else is (that you can see easilty). Also the data from the 2-step about using the turn and how the apex looks to you (apex orientation) as that gives data on where the correct turn point is.

 

I guess this is maybe a better description of how I typically do it. I think it was Mikey that first suggested it for Turn 7 at Miller (the first of the attitudes). I do like this approach but I find I still have a tendency to turn in too early whereas having very specific points on the track seem to correct that tendency.

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Just adding this into the equation here:

 

Since it's a new track for you, do you think your visual skills are hindered from maybe some SR's? You mentioned going through the corner and not finding or "forgetting" to find a RP. You could also look at that as being possible tunnel vision or spending too much attention money?

 

At what pace around the new track are you riding at? Have you tried slowing the pace down enough to be able to focus more on your RP's vs trying to keep pace and trying to log everything in your memory at the same time?

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I tend to take the first couple sessions more slowly though I get your point, sometimes it can be tough to keep the ego in check. I don't think its tunnel vision, more like scanning too widely perhaps.

 

Though it might take me more sessions, i suspect the best approach for me, at least until I develop the skill, is to combine the advice here, ride "slowly" and apply Cobie's approach where sensible and look for something more specific where necessary and just work it one corner at a time.

 

I tend to keep my track maps from previous sessions which should give me a head start when returning to a track I haven't been to for a while.

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Kevin,

 

I ride Miller a lot and can tell you that since the track is in such great condition and very wide I find myself getting creative with my RP's but I usually try to bank on the 300, 200, 100 signs and striping. They may be feet, they may be yards, they may be meters, I don't care... All I care about is that they don't move. For the East track here's what I remember from last year as far as how I figure it out.

 

Turn 1: GO DEEP, that thing is a strange because it's got two apexes and you really only want to focus on the second which is too far around to even see your mid-turn point until you actually arrive at the turn point. If you look at an aerial photo (google supplied) you'll see the red and white triangle on the outside of the turn between it and the extension of the straight away that goes to the west track... I like to come down the straight about 3'-5' off the outside of the track and then kind of creep a little bit of direction as I'm braking in and point directly at the tip of that red and white triangle. As I find myself going from the black asphalt to the lighter grey and back to the black I turn in. I try to use the seam where the grey goes to black as my "ideal" turn in point. I then (since it's a multi-camber turn) try to look for the striping on the inside around where the camber changes, then the striping on the outside for my exit.

 

Turn 2: Since it's a kink-style turn with ~45* of total direction change I usually only drift back to about the middle of the track and turn in when I feel like am about half way down the striping on the left before the turn. (I don't consider the <20* turn immediately after turn 1 to be a turn as I don't actually turn there, I just drift toward the left side of the track by virtue of the track turning a little right and me not turning at all. I try to exit so that I'm about 5-10' from the right side of the track.

 

Turn 3: Here I do my best to not turn in until I'm perpendicular to the start of the inside striping (left) which happens to be about two stripes before the end of the striping on the right side of the track. I then like to dive right for the apex and usually look right at the seam of the striping and the asphalt at what I feel is the midpoint of the curve. I try to exit on the left 1/3 of the track because I know Turn 4 has a lot of direction change so I want to 'set up' for it ASAP.

 

Turn 4 & 5: This is a long corner so I try to turn in right at the end of the striping on the left and then look right at the striping on the right at what looks to be the apex from that spot. Since I know Turn 5 is also a right hander I usually don't change my body position at all between the two and just try to stand the bike up a bit like in the 5th drill of Level 2 and then tip 'er in there again at the end (or just before) of the striping on the left ends coming into Turn 5. I always exit on the far left of the track out of Turn 5 and meander toward the right side of the track during the straight.

 

Turn 6: By far my most frustrating turn on the East track because of it's double apex and different radii between them. For this lately I've been taking a somewhat uncharted approach. As I'm passing the striping on the right coming into the corner I turn about 5* and point as best I can at the striping on the right side of the track that is after the first curve. It feels like I'm riding toward the desert because my angle of approach to that striping is more perpendicular then my gut is interested in but I do my best to over-ride my gut with my brain and tell myself it'll all be ok. All the while I've put the bike at slight lean and am doing a very very slow turn to the left. WHen I feel like I hit about the midpoint of the track cross section I start my real turn. I turn in and immediately try to find the seam between the left striping and the asphalt on the inside of the track. If I'm lucky all goes to plan and I exit out on the right side of the track near the striping where the Perimeter track comes back to the East track. I know I could go wider as I've been passed by people actually riding on the candy striping but hey, I'm doing trackdays not racing for prize money so I'm find staying off the striping all together and just having a good time with my bike without my stomach in my throat.

 

Turn 7, 8 & 9 (Attitudes): This one is the one you were talking about in your post. It's funny the call it the attitudes because whether I negotiate them correctly is 100% based on my attitude. For me it's all about trust. Turn 7 is a crowning corner so when you approach your turn-in point you actually cant see the middle of the corner or the exit but you just have to believe. I have found with a health dose of faith and trust if I wait to turn in until I am even with the last white sign and then quick turn the SH!t out of the corner and look at the horizon where the striping meets the asphalt I've never gone wrong. In the seasons before I went to the CSS I would always turn too early on this corner and end up squaring off a bit and then struggling in the last two attitude corners cause my line was "late". Once I took Level 1 & 2 last year and realized I was always prone to turning in to early I pushed it back to that sign and I was able to make once smooth turn through the first attitude and be set up for an easy turn in the second attitude and cruised through Bad Attitude.

 

Turn 10 (Tooele turn) is a fun one cause I almost slow down from the straight before it through the corner I just pause with my throttle while I turn in and then go ahead with my roll on.

 

Turn 11: (What I call a kink) I have found myself forgetting this corner all together and then wondering why my angle of attack in 12 is so messed up and then right after that I sometimes find myself on the apron. When I do it right I ride parallel to the curb and just stay 10 or so feet from the right side of the track. It's such a soft kink that diving to the apex would be semi-redic since I don't carry the kind of speed needed to 'need' to apex that corner. I am usualy only going about 85-95 back there so if you're faster you should do what you need to. There's no striping and I find if I just draw out my Turn 10 turn a lot I can negotiate Turn 11 like it's not even there.

 

Turn 12: (Clubhouse, I think) Here I try to come in on the right and wait until almost the end of the right striping before I turn in. I typically have braked down to about what I feel is 60 or so and I don't throw my bike all the way in because this corner seems to be over quickly. I just try to come out within about 10 feet of the left of the track and set up for Wind up and Release.

 

Turn 13, 14: Since these are the honey-bucket turns of the track and everyone has a different stragegy here it seems I will have little input. In 13 I like to turn in at the end of the striping on the left and then practice looking as far ahead as possible because it's a nice sweeper. In 14 I have found myself over by the white line that delineates pit road and I start a slow turn there and then put my 'turn-in' as late as I can. This corner is banked so it's better for me to turn in later since the track is helping me turn. The entire turn I spend thinking about my throttle control as I've low-sided there before being over zellous with my desire to RIIIIP down the front straight.

 

 

That's my one lap breakdown. Now I'll say this... I don't race and when I go to trackdays I like to ride with the mentality that I'm there to carve the cr@p out of the corners so I only really push for speed down the front straight cause it's fun and back after Tooele Turn. Maybe my outlook would change if I was pushing the whole time but my wallet, wife, and new baby son don't encourage that attitude. Maybe if I was in a race I'd try it but I'm just there for fun... and there's nothing more fun that not crashing and ripping up 8 sessions then riding back to Salt Lake a happy man.

 

The real win is an intact bike and great memories. I've got a bunch of videos of my trackdays from 2011 and 2012 and the videos from '12 (after i went to CSS) show me much faster lap times (calculated using the GPS from my camera and some Excel analysis of the data once I got home safe and sound.)

 

Maybe that helps, maybe not. I just felt since CSS only comes to Miller once a year they may not have the in-depth understanding of what the corners are like as much as someone who does a few trackdays a year (And some UtahSBA ART classes this year on the big track). If you poke your head into the garages at your next trackday there's usually a guy that has some GPS data from Shane Turpin riding the track that can also help you see what he does.

 

td

 

EDIT: you're right that there are 13 turns. I count 14 because I consider any time the track changes direction a turn, not just where they chose to put striping.

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Wow Thomas, that is awesome. You and I share the same attitude and approach, have fun, stay upright, keep the lumps out of the throat etc. (Though I did go down gently at Code Race).

 

Interestingly, turn 6 is my favorite at that place. I stuffed it up early my first day there only to realize that my stuff up was actually the right way and I've been very comfortable ever since.

 

So to bring it back full circle, how many sessions do you reckon it took you to get those RPs down (recognizing that you've probably adapted them some as you've gained experience and speed). In essence you've captured exactly my issue, getting to a set of points as you describe, as quickly as possible.

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Well I've only rode Miller once since taking the CSS Level 1 and 2. That day I rode 2 sessions before I low-sided in the last turn before the straight on the last lap of the second session. I've ridden a total of about 16 laps on the East track since understanding RP's. Before that I've done one other day on the east track in 2011 where I made it the whole day, which is 8 sessions of about 7-8 laps a session.

 

I did sit in the attitudes in 2012 when the WSBK came through and I can verify they turn in at almost exactly the same point as I described. That was good verification that my RP was right. And my previous Alpine Ski Racing experience gave me the knowledge that sometimes you have to do a fine/very fine inspection of the course and then just trust your brain over your gut. Checa ate it in the second attitude last year trying a different line in those turns. Sometimes there are only one or two ways to skin a cat, ya know.

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Also, since I work in Engineering and Mapping I'm in the process of reverse-engineering a set of enginerring-grade technical drawings of the track as many people around here have expressed interest. You'd be surprised what you learn when you put everything in an engineering perspective. i.e. camber, cross sectional slope, radii changes, etc. Since it's in my free time and it's VERY hard to get accurate data it's still a work in progress. I really want to bring some equipment to Willow Springs when I come in June and do a work up there too because that track only has about 3 truely level corners which would be fun to understand from and engineering perspective.

 

We'll see if I can mobilize on getting equipment as well as if the track would even allow me to do that. Sometimes it's a big secret as to the design of million dollar objects. Without using equipment it would be hard/impossible to understand the cross-sectional slope but I could get good data from aerial photos as to the radii and such.

 

Just me nerding out here, don't mind me.

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KC, what are the key pieces that lets a rider know the turn point he has is good?

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If you find out from CSS if they're on the west track or not I'd be glad to break that one down for ya too, but I don't like that side as much so I tend to skip those trackdays. I will be out there for a Advanced Rider Training and the first round of our local road racing series on April 20, 21 on the west track so let me know and I'll pay attention. :P

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Hi Cobie, I was going to cheat and wait until I had access to Twist II (though I usually have it in my backpack) but I'll try from memory.

 

The biggest thing is that I can apply throttle control rule #1 and that is that I can crack the throttle open and roll it on steadily throughout the remainder of the turn.

It minimizes the lean angle I need through the turn

No additional turning adjustments are required through the turn

 

I may have mixed up some Turn-in, two-step and quick-turn stuff there.

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Try this out...

 

1. The rider is able to actually perform a smooth, consistant roll on. Bad RP may make you have a inconsistent roll on.

2. BAD RP = Your exit runs wide. Since you turned to early you couldn't execute a corner that fit in the track (i.e. to not cut inside the apex you are forced into a larger radius turn.) given you didn't modulate your throttle. If you turned late you'll have to wait to roll on and execute more turn before you can stabilize the bike through the throttle.

3. BAD RP = You have to adjust your lean after you started your roll on which can become a sticky situation at full lean or near the traction limit when rolling on the gas.

4. BAD RP = You are in the dirt because you thought too much and didn't turn... just kidding on that one.

 

How'd I do Cobie? All from memory from my trip to CSS last April. :D

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I like #4!

 

The eyes for sure lead the parade. Smooth flow of information is as good as it gets. Not all RPs have the same importance, so establishing a priority can help.

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I'm replying from my "smart" phone, but can't see the rest of the thread, nor edit my comments, hence it may appear a little disjointed. I think I'll wait till I get to real computer!

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