The trackday paddock can be a daunting place. For track newcomers Niall advises a calm approach at your own speed – after all, it’s no race
When it comes to trackdays, the psychology of riding starts way before you even get near a circuit. I’ve always felt there are many riders who would love to take part in a trackday but fear they will be too nervous or intimidated so never get round to it. The fact is if you can ride a motorbike at any level then you will enjoy a trackday at just about any circuit you fancy.
It is completely acceptable to book yourself into the novice group and potter round in 3rd gear all day long, absorbing the magnificence of Donington or Oulton Park along the way. And it doesn’t matter if you have just passed your test or are eighty years old; the novice group on a trackday will have fewer hazards than most main roads. I have been involved in many trackdays where I’ve seen fearful trackday virgins grinning from ear to ear after only completing their first twenty-minute session.
Thinking that you’ll be wiped out by mad men out of control at every corner couldn’t be further from the truth. Any trackday operator worth his salt will nip any dodgy riding in the bud instantly. I work regularly with Focused Events and I must say initially, I questioned the way they treated customers. The boss there is Kevin Healy and should there be any misbehaving he will happily red flag his event, get everyone in the pit lane and use some choice language to express his concerns.
My worry was that customers wouldn’t like this but of course the majority know they are innocent so actually welcome these chats and even applaud him when he is finished. The bollocking is of course aimed at the thoughtless minority and consequently, if anyone is caught twice Healy will happily escort them off the premises. Everyone wants to feel safe so being strict with the culprits gives the others confidence everything possible is being done to keep them safe.
So if you are heading out on track there is no need to worry. You’re free to ride round at your own pace keeping plenty space between you and your fellow riders. Mirrors should be taped up or folded in as there is never any need to look round. The rule of thumb when passing is to stay six feet from everyone else so there is no need to check behind while entering corners and it is always more beneficial to concentrate 100% on where you are going.
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