Track Day 101

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Track Day 101: a Poser's Perspective.

This past Saturday I did my first track day with RideSmart at Texas World, and let me tell you it was GREAT! Iím totally hooked, I now know they call it the ďtrack pipeĒ, I would recommend it to anyone. I guess in sharing my experience Iíll even tell you guys what I did preparation wise in hopes maybe itíll help someone else.

Bike Prep

Nothing big or fancy, Wednesday night before I put on fresh brake pads [not necessary but I wanted to] and bled the brakes putting in some high temp brake fluid. On the Thursday night before I did all other bike prep. It was time for an oil change so I did that, removed turn signals, mirrors, disconnected tail/brake lights and head lights, head lights and tail lights, and just kind of double checked everything [chain tension, etcÖ]. I also started organizing everything I wanted to take with me setting it aside in the garage, and made my run to Wal-Mart for sustenance. I read a write up by Tom at LSTD suggesting to do all bike prep at least 2 days before, and it turned out to be sound advice. I was able to not rush and do everything I wanted to do, and then load everything Friday night, there was no way I was getting up early enough to load, I just wanted to get up and go. Had I tried to prep and load on Friday I would have been stressed and in a hurry and most likely wouldnít have gotten to bed until REALLY late.

Items I took with me

Bike, key, extra gas, ramps, bike stand, misc tools, tape, windex, paper towels, zip ties, garage towels, fan, camping chair, gear [suit, helmet, gloves, boots], change of clothes, small and large towel, head rag, ice chest with water and Gatorade and food [more on the food later], camera, extra ear plugs, some pain killers, and sun screen. I think thatís it.

Food/Nutrition

Being a novice cyclist and having train for and done the MS150, Iíve gotten picky about food/nutrition for sporting events or strenuous activity, so this is the stuff I took.
Water and Gatorade, to stay hydrated and replace electrolytes. I went with the low calorie stuff because Gatorade has a lot of calories. Itís a good idea to stay away from sodas [I donít drink them normally so its no big deal], you really want to be putting water back into your system when youíre sweating a lot, sodas are bad for you as it is, and even more so when youíre dehydrated. Also stay away from lots of caffeine, as it can inhibit the bodies ability to absorb water.

For food I took some bananas, trail mix, cliff bars, and some hammer gel packets. My sack lunch consisted of turkey sam-ich, chips and carrots. Nuts are a great source of energy because they have good fats and protein, and if youíre working out you need to be giving your body some protein. I didnít bring any with me but, surprisingly pickles and pickle juice are a great source of potassium and electrolytes, if you start cramping down a little pickle juice and it should take care of it.

Ok now that thatís all out of the way, Iíll get to the track day itself.
I left Katy pretty early and got to TWS about 6:30, and found a spot to squeeze into the paddock. One thing that I found really cool was how friendly and helpful everyone I met was, I was by myself and had not problem finding someone to help my get the SV out of the truck. Met some folks from Austin [Austin Sport Bike Riders] and Dallas [DFW Sport Bike Riders], super nice folks. They let me tag along in their truck for the track drive with Ty Howard, and even let me eat lunch with them in the paddock. Really cool folks who I hope to see again at a track day. The guys on either side of me in the paddock were cool too, I know the one group were some TSBA guys.

Registration was a breeze and so was tech, the RideSmart folks are really nice and helpful. The class room sessions were great and I was also surprised how down to earth and approachable all the instructors were. Picked up a lot of good info from those guys, so props to you guys: Jason, Guy, Jon, and the guy with the accent [sorry if I donít remember your name or got it wrong, Iím bad with names]. Small questions like tire pressure and stuff they were a wealth of knowledge, and they all wanted us to have fun and be safe. They hammered home a few points, but if I had to pick one thing that stuck the most was ďcontrolĒ. Being in control not matter what, not letter fear take over, and just stay in control. Be smooth, and eventually youíll be fast. I highly recommend doing a day with RS and if you donít cheat yourself, GO TO THE CLASS SESSIONS, I promise youíll pick up some good stuff.

Now for the track

I have to admit, my first session out I was pretty timid and more than once thought, ďwhat have I gotten myself into?Ē, but towards the end of the first session I was starting to loosen up, and enjoy myself. As the day went on there were some corners I took to immediately and others that took some time. By the end of the day I was having FUN and getting a little more aggressive each lap, I would have ridden another few sessions if I could.

Turn 1 I had a hard time building confidence in just because its soooo fast, and the slippery spots later in the day didnít help anything. The instructors told us to stay wide, outside of the sealer, and it turned out to be a really good line for me. Though by the last 2 sessions I was coming in tight inside of the sealer and was able to carry a decent amount of speed through.

Turn 2 I struggled with for some reason, never using all the track. I kept taking it tight for fear of running out of track by pushing wide, even though I never came close.
Turn 3 I took to pretty fast, and charged wheelie hill every time just about.
Turn 4 is one that I attacked harder than others for some reason, I felt really comfortably there.

Turns 5 and 6, it took me all day to find what I felt was a good line, but the last session I felt I had done well on it.
Turn 7 and 8 I also had a hard time building confidence because you really canít see all of 8 till youíre at the top of the hill.

Turn 9 I liked, and I really like 10 by the end of the day. Early in the day I would go pretty slow thru 10 and stand the bike up and then take turn 11. After listening to the instructors and them showing us video, I would consciously think, ďhold it, hold it, hold it, NOWĒ, making the transition from 10 to 11 one smooth motion. There were a few time I blew turn 10 by carring to much speed, I still made 11 I was just poorly set up for it.
Turn 11 and 12 were fine.

Turns 13, 14 and 15 have to be one of my favorite spots. I loved it from the first session all the way till the last, I just thought it was fun.
The big front straight was the only place I cared to look at the speedo, I only got to about 120ish, the little sv just doesnít have it, and I was getting blown past by bigger bikes.

There were several times out there I got stuck behind slower but bigger bikes and couldnít get past, because at every straight they hammered it and I donít have the hp to keep up. It was all good though, it forced me to really concentrate on my lines, though I didnít build up the nerve to pass on the outside till the last few sessions. I still need a lot of work on my body position, but towards the end of the day I was getting comfortable coming off the bike a little. One cool note, I donít want to sound like Iím bragging, but I got smoothest rider for level 1 for the day. It totally caught me off guard, but made me feel good, and actually boosted my confidence a little out on the track.

All in all, it was a great day, AWESOME experience, and I canít wait to go back. If youíre one the fence about it at all, what are you waiting for, youíll not regret it.

Again I have to give props to RideSmart and the instructors, you guys made my first track day great!  ...and my new tires got really scrubbed in...

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