Mission 4: Pop Track Cherry
Potential The potentially ruinous realisation I'm not as good at riding as I think I amReality Christ on a bike, I just got me knee down at 85mph! I love track ridingWhat I learned Loads of new skills like lifting my vision, body position and using all of the available Tarmac70mph may seem mundane stuck on the M1, but while getting your knee down for the first time it suddenly means a lot more and feels way faster.
I popped my track cherry at Cartagena on a novice training school with www.smoothtracks.net.
Their novice course is based around six elements worked on in the classroom and on track. And with three days to learn what many schools in the UK pack into a day, track time isn't an issue.
My hero this month is Dave (Billy) Butler. Over three days his instruction was perfectly matched to my aptitude to learn so we got on brilliantly.
My first session involved nothing but learning where the circuit went and letting Dave check my riding style which, predictably, was very road orientated with lots of straight arms and bolt uprightness through the corners. We set to work addressing these and the other skills needed to ride on track properly. Handily, using a bike on paddock stands, Dave also showed me how to hang off properly, and how to transfer my weight (lift your arse, move across the seat then place it back down rather than sliding across). Track sessions run in 20-minute blocks which may not sound like much, but when you consider that over the time I was there I racked up around 320 miles on track you realise there's more than enough time.
Smoothtracks have thought of everything to make your trip as enjoyable as possible, from bike transportation and hotel booking to hire bikes and even a pro snapper - these are his shots you see here, and if he can make me look good just imagine what he could do for you.
As my confidence grew I eventually managed to not be the slowest person on track and got both knees down, although fortunately not at the same time as that would be a crash.
To top things off, every night you get to relax with a beer and talk turkey with the other riders, so it really does feel like a holiday. Fly out on a Thursday night and you'll be back in work on Monday morning with a better answer than anyone else to the obligatory, "Good weekend, then?" queries that plague the start of the working week.
Novice school £410Bike Transport £215 Hotel £38 ppnFlights £65www.smoothtracks.netTel: 07812 042 472
Ex-ACU 250 proddie champion Dave has easily been my best hero so far. He spent nine years racing, and has beaten Steve Hislop and Niall Mackenzie back in the day. Now spends his time working as an engineer at MIRA, and instructing at circuits all over the UK.
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