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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: North Houston
Experience: 3 years
'03 GSXR 600 Sold
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Riding Skills Series: Every Track Day Session Counts
just an article I found
Riding Skills Series: Every Track Day Session CountsWith summer upon us, many riders’ thoughts turn to prepping their bikes and attending a few track days over the course of the season. What many forget is that preparing your body for a track day can pay off just as much as preparing your bike properly. With some minor, regular attention to both yourself and your bike before and during the festivities, you can get the maximum satisfaction from a long, hot day at the track.
It helps if you’ve stayed in shape over the winter by exercising regularly, but an elaborate regimen is not absolutely necessary. Improving your aerobic fitness can help you make it through the day without getting tired, and even a half-hour brisk walk every other day will help here. Improving upper- and lower-body strength can improve your stamina also, especially on a tight track with many chicanes. As always, consult your physician or a trainer before beginning any type of exercise program.
Stretching in the morning will help avoid arm pump and cramps during the day. You want your body warmed up and ready to go the second you’re on the track.At the track, begin the morning with some stretching to warm up—even if it’s a hot day. Stretching will help avoid things like cramps and arm pump. If you’re not fond of stretching, an alternate way to warm up is to ride only a few laps of the first session, and at a reduced pace. This way you’ll also get to make sure your bike is working properly before you start hammering later in the day. Stretching off the track, of course, gives you the maximum track time as you’ll be able to ride the whole first session without any worries of cramps or arm pump.
In warm weather especially, it’s important to stay hydrated with plenty of fluids—including water as well as sports drinks or supplements. A good guideline, according to www.webMD.com, is to drink a couple of cups of fluid two hours before activity, then four to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Mix fruit juice or a sports drink with water to replace lost electrolytes, and end the day with more fluids.
It’s not imperative that you enroll in a fitness club and buff up, but every bit helps. The better shape you’re in, the longer you’ll be able to ride at your maximum capacity, both physically and mentally.One tip from yoga that can reduce fatigue and improve concentration is diaphragmatic, or belly, breathing. Most people breathe by expanding and contracting their chest only, filling and emptying the lungs from the front. Breathing in this manner, however, excites the fight-or-flight mechanism, increasing your heart rate and creating tension in the mind. Force your diaphragm to properly do the work by expanding your belly to lower the diaphragm for an inhale, and contracting your belly to exhale. We always see riders on the track with a death grip on the bars, and this leads to fatigue, arm pump and difficult cornering. It’s important to relax your arms as much as possible, using them mostly for steering rather than holding on—learn to use your abdomen and lower body to hang on, leaving your upper body free to steer. Using the larger muscles of the lower body to hang on requires more effort at first as it’s an unusual request for little-used muscles, but once you’ve become used to the practice, the overall stress on your body is reduced. Keeping your elbows bent and your arms relaxed not only lets you steer easier, it reduces unwanted inputs into the handlebar, and we’ve seen many ill-handling bikes cured in this manner alone.
Just as it’s important to prepare your body and pay attention to it over the course of the day, having a well-prepared motorcycle can mean the difference between a full track day and a frustrating morning spent in the pits fixing a problem. Make sure your bike is ready for a track day by checking the usual wear items: tires, chain and sprockets, brake pads, and so on. You don’t want to end the day early with something worn out beyond use. A good rule of thumb if you do strictly track days is to change the oil and filter every two track days, and brake pads worn less than halfway will transfer less heat to the calipers, keeping your brakes crisp over a long session.
At almost every track day we’ve attended, traffic tapers off as the day progresses as people get tired or have bike trouble. Be prepared for the full day by having your body and bike in top shape, and you can take advantage of an almost-empty track in some cases. Even still, beware of getting tired near the end of the day—we’ve also seen an increase in the number of crashes in the later sessions, as riders and tires get worn out after a full day of lapping.