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Hotfoot

What Would It Take To Get You On A Track?

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There is a lot of focus these days with local track day organizations and club racing organizations to bring in new riders. So, this has got me wondering - for those of you that have never ridden on a track, or have been to a school but never an open track day, what would it take to get you out to a track day? Or, conversely, what KEEPS you from trying out riding on the track?

 

C'mon, lurkers, let's hear from you! :)

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Great question Hotfoot. I know that I waited a long time before actually doing the school and even then it took a couple of years (and all 4 levels) before I began doing open trackdays. To begin with, it was just a very intimidating concept as a whole. With no friends that did track days it just seemed like there was too much I didn’t know:

 

  • Where do I start? Which organizations? Which tracks?
  • What are the ground rules (formal and informal)?
  • How good a rider did I need to be?
  • Is my gear good enough?
  • Do I need a sportbike?
  • Will I be accepted as a noob or just ridiculed and shunned?
  • How safe will it bee on track with other amateurs of varying skill levels?

 

CSS addressed all of these concerns as they related to attending the school but I have to admit I was still reticent to do an open track day. I’ll even go so far as to say I still prefer CSS to an open trackday because I am more focused on becoming a better rider than putting in hot laps. And I think that the combination of Trevor’s course control and the experience of the coaches makes it the safest environment for doing what we do.

 

Ultimately it came down to building confidence in myself and educating myself about it that make it an achievable activity (some would say addiction).

 

Best,

Carey

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Hey Carey,

 

Just read what was in your signature, and I did laugh out loud.

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Well you know me Cobie. It's not too far from the truth! Hope you are having a good winter. Looking forward to see yall at VIR in May.

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Personally, the concept of track riding doesn't appeal to me. Cannot explain why, but I have ridden a bike a few laps around a fairly fast go kart track, have done 4 or 5 15 minute session with a go-kart on more cramped tracks, and have done ten minute sessions with a Ferrari, a Porsche, a Subaru and a Lotus on a fast track. And quite frankly, I find it utterly boring. The first lap is the most fun, then it gets less interesting lap by lap. The most fun I can imagine, be it car or bike, is a gnarly road littered with blind hairpins that I have never seen before and go full attack. Going the same road again never bring the same sensation as the first run. My brother is bitten by the track bug, and my son did 3 or 4 hours on the same go kart track I turned wheel on and loved every second of it, so I guess it's something wrong with me. I just dislike repetitions for whatever reason. It's like listening to a song; almost invariably the first time is the best, and it starts to get less interesting until quite soon most songs are just awful.

 

So to answer the question; a track that constantly changed and never repeated itself would see me have a go :)

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what KEEPS you from trying out riding on the track?

 

1) too far from where i live

 

2) Monetary issues

 

3) Racing culture here (lack of sponsors , hooligans on the tracks , horrid safety precautions and no run off areas )

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I think bike rentals is the major factor. I know Kawasaki is offering test drives this year with Team Promotion, but they are the only one AFAIK and it's the first time I hear them doing it. Why major sport bike brands don't promote their machines more often by offering test drive or training on track?

 

So a beginner is supposed to take his bike in a van, drive 5/6 hours to the track, prep the machine for track (pass technical inspection), ride a few 20 minute sessions and then take the pick-up track home for another 5 hours drive?

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For a while the big thing that kept me away from trackdays was the following list. Not anymore. :)

 

1. Bike Prep. It's actually quite simple in most cases. I have two bikes I could easily race now if I wanted with bellypans and full safety wire. For minimal prep most of the time you are looking at just changing your coolant to an approved one, taping the lights and adjusting tire pressures. You can take a bike out of the showroom and in 20 minutes be ready to head to the track with an investment of less than $20 for most Novice groups.

 

2. Transportation to the track. My first trackday I rented a Uhaul trailer for around $120 for the weekend. I have an enclosed trailer now. For minimal trackday transportation for around $99 you can pick up a hitch mounted single bike carrier and with a friend load a bike onto the back of your SUV and head to the track.

 

3. Perception of the culture at the track and being afraid to be the "slow one". Just do it and put that out of your mind. Most organizations are quite welcoming to new riders and provide a lot of coaching and help to new people. Just find one of the control riders and tell them your situation and they will bend over backwards to help you. They LIVE to help people and I have found that anybody with an orange jersey is passionate about helping. It's important to keep in mind that no one was born riding a motorcycle and had to start somewhere. Most of the trackday orgs structure their Novice group with new riders in mind and create a safe feeling environment without being restrictive. You can go as fast or as slow as you want.

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I think bike rentals is the major factor. I know Kawasaki is offering test drives this year with Team Promotion, but they are the only one AFAIK and it's the first time I hear them doing it. Why major sport bike brands don't promote their machines more often by offering test drive or training on track?

 

I have read a bit about NESBA partnering with Yamaha to do exactly that. I'm not sure exactly how it works as I have yet to attend a NESBA event but they have some details on their website.

 

http://www.nesba.com/yamaha-alliance/

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After attending level 1 last summer with my son, I decided to do some trackdays to continue to work on the things I had been taught. In the B group, I was suprised at the lack of basic technical knowledge of some of the riders. On one particular day (kinda chilly) at VIR, it seemed that we had 2-3 off track excursions every session. Often the poor riders would have no idea what they did wrong. The CRs would do their best to show the "line", but not explain why. At that point I decided I would extol the virtues of the CSS. I went to NCBIKE ( a good beginner track) with some other ZX6R enthusiasts and decided to start a thread about CSS on the zx6r.com forum :

http://zx6r.com/east-coast/50873-who-wants-do-california-superbike-school.html

 

I feel unqualified to explain everything to the other members, but I felt it was important let others know that good educational experiences are out there. My son and I are signed up for Level 2 in May (NJMP), and I'm looking forward to another exciting and enjoyable time.

 

As I have recently been through what Hotfoot describes, These are my observations:

1. If you have attended any level of CSS, you are better prepared than almost all of the newcomers to the track.

2. If you are concerned about going it alone, look up forums related to your particular bike (or brand), or local sportbike groups. Most will be happy to accommodate you.

3. The level of camaraderie at the track is generally very good, and you will find you neighbors in the paddock to be kindred spirits when it comes to riding, although from diverse backgrounds. When I was at the track by myself, several of my neighbors went out of their way to reassure me they would look out for my gear when I was out on the track.

 

 

 

 

Hope this helps, Can't wait to talk with Cobie, Dylan and the crew again. More Questions.....

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I recognize a lot of rchase's points in my own experience. I would add to that the simple lack of awareness that track days even existed in my area.

 

Cost is certainly a factor for many. If you don't own full leathers for instance, that is pricey. If there is a "no sidestand rule" then you need to buy a sport chock or something. Some will want to install frame and axle sliders, etc, and of course there is the whole trailer thing....it all adds up so there is a certain cost threshold that keeps people away. It's a lot to invest at the outset in an activity you aren't even sure you are going to like.

 

We have an outfit around here called Racer 5 that offers complete bike and equipment rentals and several stages of training (similar to CSS I guess but on CBR125s instead of superbikes). It is very reasonable and has turned out to be a great entry into track riding for many.

 

Offer a day with equipment, training and a bike for under $400 and they show up in droves.

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I recognize a lot of rchase's points in my own experience. I would add to that the simple lack of awareness that track days even existed in my area.

 

Cost is certainly a factor for many. If you don't own full leathers for instance, that is pricey. If there is a "no sidestand rule" then you need to buy a sport chock or something. Some will want to install frame and axle sliders, etc, and of course there is the whole trailer thing....it all adds up so there is a certain cost threshold that keeps people away. It's a lot to invest at the outset in an activity you aren't even sure you are going to like.

 

We have an outfit around here called Racer 5 that offers complete bike and equipment rentals and several stages of training (similar to CSS I guess but on CBR125s instead of superbikes). It is very reasonable and has turned out to be a great entry into track riding for many.

 

Offer a day with equipment, training and a bike for under $400 and they show up in droves.

 

I don't know of many trackday groups that require side stand removal. That's mostly a racing thing. They have triangle stands that are pretty cheap and simple to use to hold the bike up. I also notice pit walls are great to lean a bike against if you have to dismount near start finish. My R6 trackbike I recently purchased did not have a side stand and that was one of the first parts I bought. :)

 

I'll throw these links out there for people who are interested. These are two very good trackday groups with dates all over the USA.

 

http://www.sportbiketracktime.com/

http://www.nesba.com/

 

I have ridden with STT personally and they are great people. I'm going to be riding with NESBA soon next season as well to see if I like them slightly better. STT's Novice setup is slightly limiting to me but I don't really feel ready to jump groups until I work on a few things. :)

 

STT does gear rental. Nothing pretty but it's been looked over and is safe. Lots of sizes and options...

Edited by rchase

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3. The level of camaraderie at the track is generally very good, and you will find you neighbors in the paddock to be kindred spirits when it comes to riding, although from a diverse backgrounds. When I was at the track by myself, several of my neighbors went out of their way to reassure me they would look out for my gear when I was out on the track.

 

 

Absolutely. Most trackday's are like a small village like feel with people loaning parts to neighbors and being helpful in general. People are SUPER friendly. I blew the clutch in my FZR400 to the parts graveyard in the sky powering out of the museum corner and had to return to the pit on the crash truck because I was dead in the water on the side of the track. When my neighbors saw my bike returning on the crash truck I got a LOT of people who walked long distances through the pit to make sure I was OK and to see if I needed any help. If it had been earlier in the day I'm sure they would have found a way to get me fixed. :)

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Many of the people I bring with me to the track for events I set up won't do any trackdays with the one local organization simply because it is mostly racers and then there is of course the cost. $110 to get to ride for maybe 80-90 minutes out of an 8 hour day on a 1 mile track, or $240 for the same amount of time on a track that is 200 miles away. Most would rather spend $50 on gas and ride 400 miles in those same 8 hours on the best roads they could find, or better yet, spend $350-$400 and head to Arkansas and ride for 3 days, all day everyday.

Me I prefer the street and all the changes and challenges it presents, but still go to the track often enough to be a little bored with it.

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I've been to a couple track days in addition to one day with CSS, and don't need any convincing about the fun, knowledge, and camaraderie to be found there. But the logistics are tough. You need a tow vehicle, a hitch on that vehicle, and a trailer. You can rent a trailer from U Haul, but a hitch and trailer wiring will set you back a couple hundred $$.

 

I've actually ridden to track days, which was OK because I knew I was meeting people there who I could pit with and would have all the tools, chairs, cooler of drinks and food, etc. But if a crash had ended my day, I would have had no way to get the bike back home.

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Something to consider as well that's often overlooked. I know of several individuals that ride with STT who have HUGE trailers and are always willing to help people out. Jump on the Forum for the particular trackday org that you want to ride with and see if you can make some friends. Gas money and help setting up always tends to sweeten the deal of course. :)

 

If you don't have a tow capable vehicle you could always rent a pickup. A buddy and myself carried two 600cc bikes in the back of a Toyota Tundra. Just need a $100 ramp. :)

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I've actually ridden to track days, which was OK because I knew I was meeting people there who I could pit with and would have all the tools, chairs, cooler of drinks and food, etc. But if a crash had ended my day, I would have had no way to get the bike back home.

 

That's been my backup plan a few times. My big concern was not the track day itself. Being slightly jaded for speed and tired and then riding a long distance back home is ripe for tickets or an accident.

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I've done CSS many times and ClassRides with Pridmore a couple times but no open track days. I plan on doing so this year but I am a bit apprehensive for a couple reasons.

 

1. I've got a family and plans for the future so I'm leary of some hooligan without sufficient skills trying to Rossi me on the inside. Heck that kinda sorta happened to me at a CSS day.

 

2. More than that, despite having done level IV a few times I'm still honing my skills and I don't want to instill any more bad habits than I already have. I LOVE the coaching I get at CSS and I most enjoy (in any pursuit) learning and honing my skills.

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