Five tips to help you avoid crashing on a track day

Because tracks are more fun when you're on them

Five tips to help you avoid crashing on a track day

By Alan Dowds

TRACK DAYS are great. There's nothing to match riding flat-out, on smooth, grippy asphalt, with no worries about cops or cameras, and in (relative) safety.

But it's not totally without risk of course – and crashes can and will happen. Here's five things to think about when you next hit the circuit, that'll hopefully help you avoid the gravel traps…

1: Perfect prep prevents p**s-poor performance

The last thing you want on track is a bike malfunction. But we see it all too often at tracks. From bits actually falling off to chains coming off sprockets and worn brake pads giving up, your bike will be getting a proper hard time. So make sure it’s up to it – check the basics. Tyres should be at proper track pressures and in good nick, chain properly adjusted, brakes serviced, and everything solidly bolted on! Bonus points for lockwired sump plugs and oil filters…

You've made sure the bike is fit for the day – but make sure you are too. It’s pretty obvious – but getting enough sleep, enough fluids and enough (but not too much) food into you will stave off fatigue and keep you sharper on track for longer. Also, cutting down on your pork life will help you with your Oulton Park life mate. Get some exercise!

Even if you do a lot of trackdays, it's still probably been a while since you last rode on track. So for the first few laps, go steady. If you're using tyre warmers, then you won’t have cold rubber to worry about – but you might have a cold brain. Build the speed up over the first session, as you get into your riding groove.

It's fair to say that a lot of spills come later on in the afternoon at a circuit. There are a few contributing factors of course: confidence is increased as riders learn the track and get into the day, so there's the temptation to push that little bit harder. Fatigue also increases though, and on hot days, dehydration can be a factor. Be smart, and don't force yourself out for that last session if you're feeling a bit weary. Losing £20 worth of track time is better than flinging your bike into a tyre wall…

Most trackday crashes are avoidable – be aware of the obvious pitfalls. Running wide is a common problem, so pay attention to advice about lines given in the briefing. Ask an instructor if you're not sure where to be on track. Highsides out of slower bends is another one – consider using a higher gear to reduce the chance of losing traction on the way out. Finally, other riders passing close and fast can panic and distract if you're not used to it. Taping up your mirrors is one tactic – but some folk prefer to know what's coming up a little in advance rather than have the shock of some 215bhp club racing ZX-10R buzzing past them 50mph faster. Whatever you do though, your focus should always be on what's up ahead.