Track day funnies...

...and tips for the year ahead

If you take a look in my archive you’ll notice I dedicated an earlier blog to the weird and wonderful antics I’ve seen while instructing on track days. Well I’m pleased to say this hasn’t stopped in 2012 as I’ve already had plenty amusing moments and the track day season has only just begun.

Last month at Cartagena in Spain I was doing some one-to-one instructing with four cracking lads from Greece. All was going well until only one reappeared after the lunch break. When I asked him where the others were he said they had nipped out for a sandwich, met some local senioritas and the three of them had decided the women were more interesting than the track day.

Another chap riding an R6 on the same event was doing a whole lap in without changing gear. When I suggested shifting up and down the box might be a good idea he told me 4th was his favourite gear and pulling on the clutch only wasted energy and tired out his wrist! Also in Cartagena was something I had never seen before, a UK Gixer 600 owner decking out his crash bungs everywhere. I stopped him and had a quick inspection in case they had been mounted incorrectly but they were fine – maybe he should be in MotoGP.

Probably the most amusing so far this year was a Spaniard that had obviously studied a racers riding manual but got tucking in the straights mixed up with sitting up for the corners. He had the most animated riding style where he disappeared inside the bike on approaching a corner but then popped back out when he got on the straights. Myself and fellow instructor Neil Hodgson were talking about all this stuff and agreed nothing surprises us on these days so roll on the next one!

On a more serious note I’ve seen hundreds enjoying track days over the past month but not all have gone home in one piece. Sadly, I’ve already witnessed broken legs, arms, fractured skulls and even heart attacks which should remind us all that we should always keep safety in mind while we are having fun.  I’m sure the few that were hospitalised were just plain unlucky but the following is worth a thought if you’re emerging from a winter of hibernation.

In many ways your life is in the hands of your bike so it needs a thorough going over if it’s been parked up for a few months. Everything connected with brakes, tyres, chain, bearings and suspension can suffer from standing around so give everything a meticulous going over or give the job to someone you trust. Ideally you should finish the job off with an engine service.

And when you get to your first track day with your immaculate bike there is no need to be nervous. I see so many riders getting unnecessarily stressed for no reason. You’ll be using muscles and parts of your body that have been idle for a while so take your time and let everything (body and bike) warm up. It is a long year so pushing things too soon can end in disaster.

Your first morning on track should be spent circulating in 3rd or 4th gear gently blowing away the cobwebs while getting back into the swing of things. Track temperatures are not good until at least May so give yourself three laps even if you have tyre warmers. And remember late in the afternoon when you want to push on that last session, you’ll be tired so your concentration won’t be at its best and neither will your tyres. It’s sometimes best to quit while you're ahead.

Hopefully see you out there soon!


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