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Back on the bike after 2+ years. How do you get back up to speed?


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Hi all, 

Well life has done what it does and kept me off motorcycles for the last 2 years... before that I'd only done track riding for 3-4 years and had done up to Level 3, made some really good progress and found myself in the fastest group at track days. 

I did a double track day in early September at basically a new track (I'd ridden it once 5-6 years ago), honestly didn't think it would take me that long to get back up to speed but I wasn't doing as well as I'd hoped and probably had unrealistic expectations of being able to just get back into it. Add into the mix that I've put race glass on the bike, that was a fair bit to get used to especially as the higher seat completely changing my body position. I was up higher over the front end, less space to "tuck in", it was more like folding myself on top of the bike, I was pushing down on the bars rather than forwards/horizontal. At the end of the first day I lay in bed to have a rest and my front delts were just stinging, so I knew I was doing something wrong!

Anyway I was just wondering what others have done to adjust to bike changes like that? And how have you managed to get back up to speed after some time off the bike? 

It feels like I almost need to start from the beginning and do the school drills one lap at a time as a bit of a refresher. 

Also with the higher seat - that means I will need to use more lean angle for a given corner & speed, correct? I guess that will come when I'm completely comfortable and confident on the bike again. 

Last month was my first time on actual race slicks as well - wow they have some grip, I didn't even get close to their limits. I will be doing another track day on Monday at my local track that I spend probably 70% of my time at so I know it much better, hopefully a familiar track will help me get back up to speed easier. I just realised that I had so much going on last month that not once did I take a moment to "flap my elbows" to help stay loose. I was not in the best shape either, put on a few kilos during Covid lockdown. Plus brand new leathers that were fairly stiff and felt like they were limiting my movement. I should probably just write off the next couple of track days as "training days", take it easy and stay in a lower group? 

Cheers,

Conrad

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I had a similar thing happen to me to a lesser extent in 2017/2018. Here are my suggestions, they mostly link together:

Take your time. As much as you 'know' you can go faster, don't let ego come into play.

It can be a breakthrough process. I was making small improvements through 2018 and then, towards the end of the year, suddenly started dropping seconds per session as the old habits reasserted themselves.

Have a plan and work on one thing at a time, just like CSS lessons. In fact, if you still have your little notebooks from CSS you could even try explicitly repeating the drills at a track day.

One last question: why do you think a higher seat would require more lean angle all other things being equal? :)

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Cheers Yakaru, makes sense. I do actually have my own notebook as well as the CSS workbooks but didn’t take them to the last track days... thought that would be a bit much to manage with all the changes and being so long between rides. But looking back I think that may have been the one thing that would have really helped. Will definitely take them tomorrow. 
 

I usually make notes after each session, things I know I need to fix or improve, and little breakthroughs or discoveries I’ve made. I think it’s more the act of putting pen to paper that helps... and if something is working the worst thing you can do is change it!  
 

As for the higher seat requiring more lean angle... honestly that’s just something that I remember reading (higher CoG?). 😅 It was kind of a shock to me at the time because I wondered why racers would want to have to lean more... made sense when it was explained tho (can’t remember details unfortunately - would appreciate a refresher or summary). I’ve been out of it for so long now, I should probably go back and read all my old posts - feels like I could teach myself a thing or two. 😝

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Sounds like you have a lot of things taking up a lot of your attention - new track, new body position, new leathers, new tires - so I agree with Yakaru, definitely take your time and give yourself a chance to get comfortable, let eh speed come when you are ready rather than trying to push for it. With less free attention available things will seem to happen much faster and that triggers SRs, such as tension, target fixation, choppy visuals, etc.

Focusing on one drill at a time is a good plan - maybe devote a session (or more than one) to finding more reference points in the places you feel a little lost or rushed, and once you are better located on the track, spend a session focused on relaxing on the bars, etc.

You mentioned switching to race slicks - are you using warmers? If you are not, race slicks can feel pretty unpredictable until they get fully warmed up and that could add to your distractions - if you aren't using warmers you may want to consider using them or going back to something more like a Q4 that has a wider operating temp range.

Might be worth your while to review "A Twist of the Wrist II" video, also - is is finally available for instant viewing on Amazon Video (yay!!!), here is the link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B089ZNVBW9/ref=atv_dp_share_cu_r

It could help you work out which drills and skills you want to focus on most, on your next ride.

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Thanks Hotfoot. I will definitely take it easy and work on the drills, last thing I want is to have SRs kicking in. 
 

I’ve been using warmers for a while now, so no dramas there I’m used to pretty much getting stuck into it straight out of the pits - altho usually I can feel the limit of the tyres better - probably a combination of all the different things causing me not to have that same feel straight away made me a bit apprehensive. But I’ll focus on the drills and let it come to me. 
 

Great to hear the Twist II video is available online! I loaned my DVD to a friend and he must have liked it because I still don’t have it back after years and years. I will definitely have a watch. 

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54 minutes ago, mugget said:

Great to hear the Twist II video is available online! I loaned my DVD to a friend and he must have liked it because I still don’t have it back after years and years. I will definitely have a watch. 

Good on the warmers, one less thing to worry about. 

Yes, I was really happy for the Twist II movie to be available somewhere for instant streaming, I have the DVD... but no DVD player anymore! Now I can stream it on my phone from Amazon, so cool. 

If you do watch it, post a review! It doesn't have many reviews yet since it just recently got put on Amazon.

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10 hours ago, mugget said:

As for the higher seat requiring more lean angle... honestly that’s just something that I remember reading (higher CoG?). 😅 It was kind of a shock to me at the time because I wondered why racers would want to have to lean more... made sense when it was explained tho (can’t remember details unfortunately - would appreciate a refresher or summary). I’ve been out of it for so long now, I should probably go back and read all my old posts - feels like I could teach myself a thing or two. 😝

I'll have to dig out my physics books and work this out to be sure, but, usually the center of gravity is most important in terms of being inside/outside the direction of the turn -- I don't recall the height of the center of gravity impacting required lean as an important variable (now it IS important in terms of the forces required to get the bike to get onto a line/lean, but that's a different matter)

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I will have to search the forum when I have a chance, pretty sure it was discussed but that would be years ago...

At the track right now, felt so much better even in the first session. At this track it feels like I’ve come home. 🙂 Working through some drills, feeling more comfortable with the tyres moving around over all the bumps and creases I know in the track. 
 

Looking through my notes on the pickup drill - think they could be wrong somehow... I wrote “How: straighten inside arm”.  But that would be the same as pushing the bar to counter steer? It should be straighten the outside arm? It was the last session of the Level 2 day so I could have easily got it backwards. 

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5 hours ago, mugget said:

I will have to search the forum when I have a chance, pretty sure it was discussed but that would be years ago...

At the track right now, felt so much better even in the first session. At this track it feels like I’ve come home. 🙂 Working through some drills, feeling more comfortable with the tyres moving around over all the bumps and creases I know in the track. 
 

Looking through my notes on the pickup drill - think they could be wrong somehow... I wrote “How: straighten inside arm”.  But that would be the same as pushing the bar to counter steer? It should be straighten the outside arm? It was the last session of the Level 2 day so I could have easily got it backwards. 

Obviously HotFoot or another coach can correct me, this is an 'off the top of my head' description but: The trick with the pick up drill is the relationship between the steering and your body position. By keeping your body over and extending the outside arm then you counter steer the bike back up while keeping the balance of your weight inside; this lets the bike come up sooner/faster/etc. which lets you get back to the throttle sooner/harder.

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That seems like an odd note. Straightening the outside arm makes more sense. The idea with pickup is to keep the body down and inside, but steer the bike up to get it more upright for better traction for the drive out. Keeping the body low and inside while bringing the bike up could mean having to extend the outside arm. 

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