Ten things that will prepare you for your first TrackDay
1) What kind of bike should you bring?
Bring whatever bike you feel comfortable riding. As long as the bike is set up to be slightly aggressive, you can put it on the track. Ideally, I recommend buying a smaller bike or something with not much power. Riding a smaller bike forces, you as a rider to use your skill to make it go fast. With a smaller bike, you have to brake harder, get on the gas earlier and maintain a high corner speed to roll with the big bikes. This is the fastest way to learn how to go fast. Plus, there no better feeling than being able to punk a liter bike coming off the straight on the brakes on a little Ninja 250. Personally even as a ten-year track Junkie and instructor. The SV650 is still my bike of choice.
2) Prep your bike
Your bike is going to be abused like it never has before. You may think you ride hard on the street, but nothing can compare to a full 20min of redlining, hard stopping, and tire sliding. This is why it is important to make sure your bike is in top working order. Here are some things you can do to make sure your bike is ready for the track.
A) Check your tires– Tires wear quickly on the track. So you'll need at least half of your tire tread left to pass tech inspection. Also, if the tire is worn unevenly (mostly worn on the top). Replace it. If you doubt your tire won't make it through inspection, then get a new one. Check around to find out what tire pressures you should be running. If you can't find an exact tire pressure, then put 30psi in the front and rear.
B) Check your brakes- This is the biggest reason why I seepeople get turned away from inspection. Make sure your reservoirs are filled, the fluid is clean and is no older than a year old. Make sure your pads have at least 1/3 of their life left. You'll burn through them much quicker at the track than on the street.
C) Bodywork- Make sure everything is secure and all of your bolts are in place. Front fairing and belly pans are not required.
D) Number plates- Buy numbers online, Home Depot or just make some crappy ones out of tape. Anything works as long as its legible. Numbers are required so that the corner workers can identify you easily. Tip: don't choose the numbers 69 or 420. At every track day, there are at least three of four of these guys. (Don’t be that guy, it’s not funny)
3) Bring the right stuff- Remember at the track you are going to be sitting on a hot slab of asphalt, seated on a hot motorcycle; the sun will be beating down on you, and you will be wearing a full leather suit. Bring at least a case of water and a canopy to shield you from the sun. Bring the necessary tools to work on your bike, food, and gas (5-10 extra gallons). Oh, and come wit an open mind and willingness to learn.
4) Go to the riders meeting
This is where you'll learn the rules of the track and your riding group. They explain passing rules, the flags, how to pit out and pit in, what the signals from the coaches mean and more. There is s reason why this is required. Not only is this a safety briefing but you'll get tips on how to ride your motorcycle.
5) Leave the inner squid at home
Please for the love of god NO WHEELIES, no unnecessary revving the snot out of your motor, burnouts, and any other squidly actions. Doing this stuff creates a hazard for everyone at the track. Also…… nobody thinks you’re cool.
6) Don't try to be the fastest guy out there
Some people like to go out there and go as fast as they possibly can the second they get on the track. This is a great way to wad you and your bike up in one of the first three corners. (yes, this happens more often than you think). When you get out on the track, don't worry about speed. Focus on learning the lines, brake markers, where the apexes are and your riding technique. Now once you master these, it’s time to start rolling.
7) Remember that this is not a drag strip
Again, nobody cares how fast your flame toting and obnoxiously loud liter bike can blister down the straights. There is most likely a pack of riders on little bikes trying to get around you and riding you tail right after turn one. Most novice groups do not allow passing in the corners, so this can be very frustrating for these guys on low powered machines.
8) Obey the Rules of the track
The enforcement of these rules helps everyone achieve their number one goal. That is they want to go home at the end of the day. Rules to pay attention to, are passing rules, how to correctly pas control riders, pitting in and pitting out. Every organization’s and track’s rule’s vary, so be sure to be sure you understand them properly.
9) stop when you get tired
When you get tired you start braking earlier, being lazy with body position, blowing apexes and you lose focus. Not only will you become a hazard but you aren't learning anything. There's no shame in pitting early to catch a breather.
10) Ask questions!
Approach a control rider and make conversation. These guys volunteer their time and money to help you guys have fun. They enjoy helping people and love answering questions. They’ve been in this game for many years. So they most likely they have a solution to your problems on the track. Ask for one on one attention. If they are not tied up, you'll have a personal coach for a session or two. If you get to do this, your riding skill level will increase faster than it ever has.
Have any Questions?
N2 trackDay control rider and Blog writer for Shore Cycles