Good luck today matey, don't screw it up!
Good luck today matey, don't screw it up!
So it's been an interesting day so far. 3/3 sessions red flagged due to crashes, one guy went off just in front of me at end of back straight. Overcooked it and went straight onto grass at 80mph+. Conditions have been shit but I've been going well, pretty challenging given the lack of grip and all the surface water. As I write the sun is out and the racing line is drying up. Fingers crossed for a decent afternoon session.
Owain, any reason I'd hear a hiss from my discs/pads that you can think of? Brakes work very well with the new lines and fluid but I'm getting this noticeable hiss when braking hard. I reckon it could be the additional pressure from pad to disc but thought I'd ask in case you've had the same before. Discs are ok but not new, pads have 1500 miles in them.
I'd be surprised if you should be able to hear the brakes at all, do you have ear plugs in? Can't say it's anything I know about tbh.
How was the afternoon? Normally calms down a bit once the warriors have crashed out in the morning.
Afternoon was thankfully a lot better, this morning just pissed me off completely. Managed to get three good sessions in, drier track and less riders around although still some shocking lines and riding to contend with (I know we are all a noob at some point).
Just uploading a couple of vids to YouTube, will pop them up shortly.
Unsure what the issue is with my brakes, they work fine so maybe it's nothing sinister. I don't wear ear plugs. I really tried to concentrate on my BP this arvo, managed to nail it on a number of occasions and although it felt strange, i reckon I'm getting there.
Get yourself some ear plugs before you screw your ears permanently like I've done, trust me.
That's the problem with bike days, I know you obviously have to have ability groups but I hate how much time you're spent waiting for your next session; one guy has an off and you're basically wasting the next hour while you wait.
If I do Brands again I'll go up to Intermediate, not one red flag today for either group. I'd rather be slower in that group and get full track time than risk the novice group again.
Here's a couple of vids from this afternoon.
Always good to watch vids back because you can see where you can make time up/improve your ride. First bit of advice I can throw at you is blip your throttle on the down changes to match the engine revs for the next gear. I'm sure you know this already but will make for much smoother changes and won't disrupt the balance Of the bike so much.
Cheers Andy, yeah I have tried that before but couldn't get the hang of it, need a lot more practice! You're spot on about watching it back, learn a lot from it and see where I am losing speed through braking too early and not getting on gas soon enough exiting corners. Definitely helps focus on the points which aren't so good.
When you coming on track then?!
This was going to be my next question, actually. I've spoken to a few mates and their advice had been "grow a pair and sign up" although these are no doubt true words of wisdom, what should I do to prepair for a track day? Don't need to do anything to the bike, like get some track tires etc?
Let me have a coffee and I'll do you a big ol' brain dump of everything trackday I can think of.
Pretty sure Owain wrote pages on this in another thread on this forum.
My only advice before a first track day is to ensure bike is serviced, oil change, decent condition of pads, discs and brake fluid, make sure your tyres are in good order with decent tread and not too squared off.
Aside from that you need do very little to your bike to prep it for track. The idea of a first track day is to accustom yourself to riding and cornering at speeds higher than you could on the road and all in relative safety while mastering your body position and bike control. You really can take it at your own speed and by the late morning or afternoon, I imagine you'll be comfortably lapping a lot quicker.
Plenty of novice days so you can dip your toe in the water with others that have little track knowledge. I've met some really sound guys every time despite going on my own and I am loving every minute of it.
Okay, bear in mind I'm a really bad, slow rider and I don't know what I'm actually doing on the bike, but I have done about 30 trackdays.
First up, bike days are totally different to cars. Car days run on what's called "open pitlane", i.e. you can drive on and off track whenever you fancy it. They only make you wait if there are too many cars on track at once, which is very rare at most UK tracks. Because cars are fat and heavy, road cars are terrible on track; the brakes aren't good enough, the tyres aren't good enough, they overheat, it's all a nightmare.
Bikes, on the other hand, are made for it straight out of the factory. They don't have cooling issues as they're open to the world, brakes generally don't overheat unless you're riding like a real weapon, and as long as you have decent road tyres they'll be absolutely perfect.
The difference on the actual day is that bikes are always done in groups, normally four. Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced - one of them will have two groups depending on how many people have put themselves into each group. And it's up to you which you enter, but most people recommend that regardless of your skill level you should do a few in novice first to get used to track etiquette. The annoyance with groups is that if it's four groups of 20 minutes then you're on track, then you're sitting around for an hour with nothing to do. Pretty annoying, but putting everyone on track at the same time would be just so dangerous it's not even worth contemplating.
As for the bikes, I've seen some guy in his Harley who just wanted to cruise around with no speed cameras for a couple of hours then went home, and I've also seen BSB teams testing in the fast group and everything in between. There will be guys in the fast group on 250cc 2-strokes blasting past absolutely everyone, and there will be guys in the novices on R1s who wouldn't even be safe on the road, let alone a track.
What's an even *better* solution for starting (which I think I mentioned to you last year) are these road bike only days from Bike magazine - they do one at each track each year. They're so relaxed, there are no wankers on race bikes, no-one wants to crash and it's a really good fun day, I did two last year I think.
All you have to do is turn up on your bike, ride around, go home. You're not trying to set any records, no-one expects you to be a racing rider, lots of people are just there as friends have bought them as gifts for them; they're going home on their bike so have no interest in crashing it, all they want is the opportunity to gun their bike on the straights for a bit of a laugh then ride around the corners as they would on the road. It's absolutely zero pressure, absolute hoot.
As Jon (Jon? Did I just make that up or is that your name?) said, a good service and checkover on the bike is all you need. Make sure your tyres are okay and up to pressure, check your fluids and you're good to go. You start off on sighting laps just riding as you would on the road, then you'll naturally just get quicker and quicker as the day goes on.
What I *really* like about them though, is the consistency. You can decide on a corner to master and just get better and better at it each lap. You can hit it at 50mph, realise how easy it is to decide next time to do it at 55mph. Carry on through the day looking further and further ahead and it's just so satisfying feeling yourself getting improving. You just can't do that on the road, there'll be gravel or a van or whatever. It's that consistency and safety which makes it fun, knowing that if you did lowside then you'll slide comfortably across the track and onto the grass and probably be fine, you're not getting thrown in front of a track. I'd rather crash a hundred times on track than once on the road, I know it sounds counter-intuitive but I feel far safer on track at speed than on roads at low speed.
And genuinely the one thing you can't emphasise enough is how low pressure it is. I've done about 5 bike trackdays, and I'd still put myself in the novice group if I did one this year. The first two were on my SV road bike, and I was shitting myself. After that I stayed in the novices as I'd gotten my new track bike, so knew I'd be slow and figuring it out. The brakes were terrible, so I replaced them. Not wanting to piss anyone off getting used to my new brakes, I put myself into the novices again. At some point after that I crashed, so the time after that I went into the novices in case my shoulder hurt too much and I had to back off mid-lap or anything.
And no-one cares. And I don't care. It's not about speed, it's about how much you trust the riders around you and how much you trust yourself. When you're in the higher groups, the pressure is on you more. In the fast groups if you leave a single bike's width on the inside of a hairpin, someone will undertake you. As you're in the fast group, you're expected to maintain your line and not react, as there might be someone on your outside you can't see. If, however, you're in the novices, people should expect you to fuck up, go off-line, stand up mid-corner, stuff like that. If someone tried a dodgy overtake on me in the novices and crashed I wouldn't care. If I caused a crash in the higher groups, I'd feel responsible.
All up to you though, not sure how many I'll get to do this year but once I've got the bike sorted (needs a new exhaust, mine's too loud) I'd probably go inters, but I'm not doing it until I'm comfortable. Too many people just want to tell everyone they're in the fast group and trust me, they're a different league. It's not that it's the "fast" group, it's that it's the "fastest" group - you're now mixing with racers and semi-pros and if you brake ten yards too early for the corner, you're going to cause a massive accident.
If you want peace of mind, you can insure your bike as well. I've used Moris before as it's non-road cover, which means you don't have to declare any accidents on your road insurance. Some people like MCE include trackday cover, but you'll lose your NCB and will have to declare it for the next five years or whatever.
That's all my ramblings for now. But seriously, do it once and you'll be absolutely hooked. I'm yet to find anyone who hasn't enjoyed it.
Great post Owain, yes I'm Jon 👍
Echo your thoughts, particularly that you go at your own pace and aside from being aware of what's happening in front of you, there's no need to even consider what's going on behind (hence why you remove mirrors). Everyone in novices will make mistakes, that's how you learn, so you give people space and don't cut anyone up entering a corner etc.
Truly though, the best thing to do is throw yourself in. I know I put far too much pressure on myself before my first one, now I don't worry about a thing, it's all about making sure my bike is 100% and I'm fully focussed on my sessions.
On on a side note I cleaned the bike today to make sure everything was ok after yesterday. I took the calipers and pads apart and the only thing I was able to identify was that each piston wasn't moving as freely as one another and they were quite dirty. I cleaned everything up and refitted, went out for a quick ride and no more hiss, sweet! I am actually looking at an upgrade to some Galfer discs and pads and may well bite the bullet soon, since my discs are pretty worn.
Maybe it was just a bit of shit stuck in there or something, but generally a good strip down and clean sorts a lot of issues.
And you're right - you're the only one putting pressure on yourself. People seem to think it's a race and they'll be the disgrace of the paddock if they're not all over it, when in fact the opposite is true. No-one wants to be near the guy who's clearly trying too hard, with the terrible body position and lines who just guns it in a straight line then holds everyone up in the corners.
Because I like working on my corners and I'm not really that bothered about straight line speed, I tend to actually back off on the straights to let people pass if they want to. Just means that I can keep working on my corners while knowing I'm not pissing anyone off for more than a lap. Problem with no mirrors is that you have no idea who you're holding up, but the answer is generally "no-one whatsoever".
A lot to take in there, owain. Much appreciated. I'll read through it properly when I've got five.
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