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Old 09-17-2013, 11:37 PM   #1
Rowdy76
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First Track Day

I did my first track day with Ride Smart on Sept 14. I have waited a few days to really let it sink in how the day went before I posted about it. But I really want opinions about how others felt after their first track day "if it did not go as you thought it would".

I want to thank Ride Smart and my instructor Randy for putting together a well organized event. Check in, getting leathers, and laying the day out so you would know what to expect was top notch. Randy was great and the information from the other instructors was very helpful. The calls and getting us out on the track to max out our session was great. There was only 1 time I saw a slow yellow on track for a rider down but it was on a straight in deep grass and fellow rider waved it down to alert us and get the corner workers attention.

Now comes the bad. I left with a feeling that I did not expect at all since all I hear from everyone is that track is safer than the street. Well I guess that all depends on the riders in your group that day. I was in LV1 of course and my impression was this is a group where if you move a little slow on a lap to work on something it is not a big deal .. this is where you learn to go fast and move up. I ride a Ninja 300 .. so you will not see 100+ from me on a straight but I expected others to be able to do so of course since they have faster bikes. What I did not expect was to be forced to watch for others riding over the head more than I worked on riding the track. Once passing was opened up some riders with faster bikes were more about passing any one they could whether the pass was safe or not. A lot of stuffing into the corner and people forcing passes that were not feasible because 2 bikes in front of them already made the pass but still insisted on driving it hard into the corner forcing me to alter my speed and one time make a move that if I had relied on just holding my line into the corner and expecting the other rider to yield would have put us both down. **Watching videos of other riders from the track I could have taken an inside line but not knowing what he was going to do (plus we had instructions to not pass on the inside) led me to break off line & slow to almost nothing till he passed -- this was on Diamonds Edge**. The rider who cut me hard eventually went down in a later session which shows me the talking did nothing to curve the over the top riding exhibited by the this person. I just felt like I was stuck on a bad group ride with people I did not trust. So I packed it up and skipped out on 2-3 sessions.

**the instructors did make it clear they would take care of anyone causing problems .. just needed a description. Well you got so much going on in your head the last thing I noticed was the color of the bike or leathers who just almost caused me to wreck. I was trying to collect and keep myself up right and by the time I got through the corner they were gone. the only reason I could identify the one guy was his helmet was very unique so you could not miss it**

My biggest dilemma since Saturday has been maybe I was just making to big a deal about it hence why I waited until today to even post. I really enjoyed the track and riding without cages so I could concentrate on the track. Repetitive motions to work on body position. I mean I blew a couple corners entering to fast so I guess there could have been people saying it was not safe to be around me but I would expect people to blow a corner or two especially if it was their first track day/first time on track. I corrected my line made sure I was safe to get back in line (only time I looked backwards but I was moving so slow and I made sure to just turn my head very cautious to make sure I did not cut anyone off or drift back into line unexpected). I just felt like the ones only interested in going as fast as they could made it not so enjoyable for me.

So my first impression ended with I can get into wreck just as easy at the track as on the street because you have some of the same attitudes present. I want to go back and do it again because the overall feeling was great. I just have an issue with going again and spending money (first one was a free-99 thanks to HPC) to have the same thing happen again. I do not think the org was the reason my day went bad ... it was the attitudes of some of the riders and I am not sure that it could not happen again since the org can not predict who is going to ride with them.
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Old 09-17-2013, 11:48 PM   #2
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Give it another try. Ride Smart is a very safety oriented organization - and I am not affiliated with them in any way. There will idiots sometimes. I got stuffed with an inside pass by an "instructor". Not a local one with any of the organizations here, but one from out of town here for the track day. Egos do get the better of some riders, especially if it's their first time. Good corner workers will catch repeat offenders and they'll get corrected.

In general the track is safer, as there's few obstacles to run into and immediate medical attention if needed. There is always the potential for collisions if someone is riding erratic.
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Old 09-18-2013, 12:37 AM   #3
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Yeah, I would not give up on the track. It takes time to learn the line, but once you learn it it gets to be fun. There will always be hot heads just like any street ride. If someone is causing problems report it. I would hot pit if a db was getting too close for my liking. It took me at least two track days to get use to not being able to see what is behind me. It still bothers me, but it's something I have to get use to.
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Old 09-18-2013, 01:08 AM   #4
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Try going on a Sunday since it has less people than Saturday, I didn't have any issues on Sunday with ride smart and it was my first track day as well. I had a blast and I'm hooked on trackdays , as for the db riders thinking they are rossi and , just tell them in the paddocks that you don't appreciate the way they are riding. Try and be civil at first seeing as to how everyone is pumped up out on the track. But if that doesn't work then let the track marshal know and they will handle it and they will also let the corner workers over the walkie talkies to keep an eye on them. The corner workers can't see every exact move that everybody is making at all times, but if they get a call on the radio and get a description then they know who to keep a close watch for. Believe me I did corner work for fast line and when someone reported an unsafe or db rider then all of us were ready and watching for him to f*uck up so we could black flag his off the track
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Old 09-18-2013, 01:18 AM   #5
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Some of the schools are known for having more crowded grids as well but that can also vary just depending on weather and other activities around town. Not saying that's good or bad because I've ridden with almost all of them around Houston. Sometimes a crowded grid can slow everybody down or have the opposite effect with some people forcing risky maneuvers to get around other bikes for open track. Some orgs run different passing rules as well with some allowing outside passes in the corners and others only allowing passing in the straights in novice/level-1 sessions.

But yeah, give it another try. You may have had somebody who thought they were above the rules or just didn't pay attention. Or it could have even just been perception where one person's 6-foot clearance is another person's 4 feet. Sometimes in class we talk about "perception of speed" and something that feels like a crazy overtake speed with minimal room can be perceived as marginal to the new rider when there may haven been plenty of room to the rider with more track days or used to higher speeds. I wasn't at this event so I of course cannot say for sure, but just throwing those thoughts out there.

I still think the track is safer overall especially if your riding speeds are the same. There's still less to hit on a track. And I have seen crashes caused by bike to bike contact, but the vast majority are single-bike crashes just like on the street, but again, without any oncoming traffic or other obstacles to worry about.
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Old 09-18-2013, 06:07 AM   #6
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^What they said, also keep in mind that Ride Smart usually has larger grid sizes to offset their awesome prices so the possibility of running into a few idiots is slightly higher(i've still done 75% of my days with them). While there can be a lot going on, if you can remember bikes/leathers of.anyone riding unsafe, reporting them or simply flagging them down in the pits.can go a long ways. Some people may be a little too excited or be riding down a level to work on something and are generally very receptive to any concerns you may voice. Hope to see you back out there soon.
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Old 09-18-2013, 06:16 AM   #7
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I was there Saturday and Sunday as well. After Saturday, I was set to never return to the track again for the same reason you describe. I had already paid for Sunday, so I went ahead and rode Sunday. Randy was my instructor on Sunday. Not only was the sessions great but Randy is a bad instructor, and I'm definitely going back.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:27 AM   #8
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I might as well weigh in here. So just for starters,

I was a nervous wreck my first track day. I did it with RideSmart as well and had my second one the following day with Fastline at a different track. I was determined to do it up big. I struggled all day the first day to find the line, pick up my throttle, be consistent and smooth (I only had like 1000 miles of riding under my belt). I mistook which corner I was in and even cut the grass between the right and left of the bus stop. Needless to say I felt pretty defeated by the end of the day and down on myself and even blamed a couple other riders.

The second day I was at GSS with FastLine which is a much tighter more technical track and I had much the same issues. I even ran off two consecutive laps, in the same corner being towed by an instructor... (I actually ran off 3 times that day). By this time I had pretty much given up on riding track because I didn't feel like I could get it, I felt like I was a danger to others, (I admittedly am harder on myself than anyone else could be... just ask my teammates...)

So my experience was much different than yours but still there are alot of similarities. I didn't feel safe, I struggled to learn because of other riders on the track, I was caught up in so many other things that have nothing to do with riding the track and it dulled the experience for me. This seems similar to what you are experiencing in that sense.

It seems like your concerns detracted from your experience in a very profound and meaningful way to you. In that sense I can understand completely. Nothing about riding a motorcycle is safe, we do it for the fun, the freedom, the experience right? So in my honest opinion once you get past the concerns, worries, and things that have nothing to do with where you tip in, braking points, and you just ride your ride, your way, consistently. The track provides a unique experience where you are free from traffic laws where you can have fun your way.

That being said on to the less general points... maybe take a look at what you learned and be positive about the experience. That is what helped me through my first two track days. I have friends like the HalfFast Guys, Rykoson, BaoPee, BluePine and JoeyBaila that always reminded me to stop worrying and half fun. Rykoson tells me to this day all the time ( I still worry too much about how I ride...)

" Trey, are you having fun? Well then start because you ride the best when you are having fun and not over thinking it."

Rowdy78, That is the only real question is... Did you have fun? If you didn't, then you gotta ask why. You gave multiple reasons but they all sort of had something to do with how those factors made YOU feel. You get to choose how you feel and how you experience things. If you always see things negatively then it will always seem not so fun.

I was on a 250 in Level 2 this past weekend and definitely had a couple moments like what you are mentioning. There are always going to be individuals that have risk taking personalities that will get in over their head. Everyone is guilty of it at some point. I usually try to ride at a comfortable level and let everyone make their bonehead mistakes.

Focus on what you learned. Every cloud has a silver lining.

1) You learned what not to do at the track watching those individuals make their mistakes. You internalized that and are able to adjust your thought process to make YOUR ride safer. It all starts with you.

2) You mentioned that there were risky passes. You learned you can calmly react appropriately without crashing. You reacted appropriately, did not crash, made good decisions and went home in one piece. So you got to practice skills that are going to help you on the street which is what your first trackday should be about. The streets are full of dangerous drivers, practicing good calm decision making could save your life.

2) You learned more about picking lines, smoothness, and how to react to jackassery in a more controlled environment where a mistake doesn't involve a car running you over by accident.

3) You mentioned seeing possible scenarios where a crash could happen. So you were practicing your ability to read other vehicles, assess situations ahead of time before something happens and take precautions to avoid. Sometimes the best offense is a good defense especially on the street. Proactive instead of Reactive.

All in all it sounds like your trackday was a success to me unless I am missing something. It is obviously your decision to quit riding track if you feel it is not for you but I hate to see people make decisions like that. The track has given me my best friends in Houston in the form of BRAWP Racing and HalfFast, my riding skills have grown by leaps and bounds. I really have only ridden probably... less than 10,000 miles on a motorcycle because I started track early on in my bike career and it didn't take long for me to swap completely over. Things can happen anywhere at the track, on the street its about where you would prefer. If I had to experience a crash I would choose to crash on the track over the street any time... Ambulance on site, friends to help with my bike, help for everything is close by. The old saying "It isn't if you crash, its when you crash" says it all.

Hope to see you out there. Maybe find me at the next one... usually have a 250 that I am riding... and ugly yellow leathers. I would be more than happy to help in any way I can. I can also vouch for the whole track community and say they are helpful, friendly, and are interested in making you a better rider.
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Old 09-18-2013, 08:45 AM   #9
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Good Post!....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thayleal View Post
I might as well weigh in here. So just for starters,

I was a nervous wreck my first track day. I did it with RideSmart as well and had my second one the following day with Fastline at a different track. I was determined to do it up big. I struggled all day the first day to find the line, pick up my throttle, be consistent and smooth (I only had like 1000 miles of riding under my belt). I mistook which corner I was in and even cut the grass between the right and left of the bus stop. Needless to say I felt pretty defeated by the end of the day and down on myself and even blamed a couple other riders.

The second day I was at GSS with FastLine which is a much tighter more technical track and I had much the same issues. I even ran off two consecutive laps, in the same corner being towed by an instructor... (I actually ran off 3 times that day). By this time I had pretty much given up on riding track because I didn't feel like I could get it, I felt like I was a danger to others, (I admittedly am harder on myself than anyone else could be... just ask my teammates...)

So my experience was much different than yours but still there are alot of similarities. I didn't feel safe, I struggled to learn because of other riders on the track, I was caught up in so many other things that have nothing to do with riding the track and it dulled the experience for me. This seems similar to what you are experiencing in that sense.

It seems like your concerns detracted from your experience in a very profound and meaningful way to you. In that sense I can understand completely. Nothing about riding a motorcycle is safe, we do it for the fun, the freedom, the experience right? So in my honest opinion once you get past the concerns, worries, and things that have nothing to do with where you tip in, braking points, and you just ride your ride, your way, consistently. The track provides a unique experience where you are free from traffic laws where you can have fun your way.

That being said on to the less general points... maybe take a look at what you learned and be positive about the experience. That is what helped me through my first two track days. I have friends like the HalfFast Guys, Rykoson, BaoPee, BluePine and JoeyBaila that always reminded me to stop worrying and half fun. Rykoson tells me to this day all the time ( I still worry too much about how I ride...)

" Trey, are you having fun? Well then start because you ride the best when you are having fun and not over thinking it."

Rowdy78, That is the only real question is... Did you have fun? If you didn't, then you gotta ask why. You gave multiple reasons but they all sort of had something to do with how those factors made YOU feel. You get to choose how you feel and how you experience things. If you always see things negatively then it will always seem not so fun.

I was on a 250 in Level 2 this past weekend and definitely had a couple moments like what you are mentioning. There are always going to be individuals that have risk taking personalities that will get in over their head. Everyone is guilty of it at some point. I usually try to ride at a comfortable level and let everyone make their bonehead mistakes.

Focus on what you learned. Every cloud has a silver lining.

1) You learned what not to do at the track watching those individuals make their mistakes. You internalized that and are able to adjust your thought process to make YOUR ride safer. It all starts with you.

2) You mentioned that there were risky passes. You learned you can calmly react appropriately without crashing. You reacted appropriately, did not crash, made good decisions and went home in one piece. So you got to practice skills that are going to help you on the street which is what your first trackday should be about. The streets are full of dangerous drivers, practicing good calm decision making could save your life.

2) You learned more about picking lines, smoothness, and how to react to jackassery in a more controlled environment where a mistake doesn't involve a car running you over by accident.

3) You mentioned seeing possible scenarios where a crash could happen. So you were practicing your ability to read other vehicles, assess situations ahead of time before something happens and take precautions to avoid. Sometimes the best offense is a good defense especially on the street. Proactive instead of Reactive.

All in all it sounds like your trackday was a success to me unless I am missing something. It is obviously your decision to quit riding track if you feel it is not for you but I hate to see people make decisions like that. The track has given me my best friends in Houston in the form of BRAWP Racing and HalfFast, my riding skills have grown by leaps and bounds. I really have only ridden probably... less than 10,000 miles on a motorcycle because I started track early on in my bike career and it didn't take long for me to swap completely over. Things can happen anywhere at the track, on the street its about where you would prefer. If I had to experience a crash I would choose to crash on the track over the street any time... Ambulance on site, friends to help with my bike, help for everything is close by. The old saying "It isn't if you crash, its when you crash" says it all.

Hope to see you out there. Maybe find me at the next one... usually have a 250 that I am riding... and ugly yellow leathers. I would be more than happy to help in any way I can. I can also vouch for the whole track community and say they are helpful, friendly, and are interested in making you a better rider.
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Old 09-18-2013, 08:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
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What I did not expect was to be forced to watch for others riding over the head more than I worked on riding the track. Once passing was opened up some riders with faster bikes were more about passing any one they could whether the pass was safe or not. A lot of stuffing into the corner and people forcing passes that were not feasible because 2 bikes in front of them already made the pass but still insisted on driving it hard into the corner forcing me to alter my speed and one time make a move that if I had relied on just holding my line into the corner and expecting the other rider to yield would have put us both down. **Watching videos of other riders from the track I could have taken an inside line but not knowing what he was going to do (plus we had instructions to not pass on the inside) led me to break off line & slow to almost nothing till he passed -- this was on Diamonds Edge**. The rider who cut me hard eventually went down in a later session which shows me the talking did nothing to curve the over the top riding exhibited by the this person. I just felt like I was stuck on a bad group ride with people I did not trust. So I packed it up and skipped out on 2-3 sessions.

1. To my knowledge, inside passing is not allowed, ever, in Ride Smart lbl 1. So you were clouding your head with useles stuff if you were considering inside passes.

2. It's up to the passING rider to make a clean pass, not the passEE. If you were worried about their passing you were clouding your head with useless stuff.


In summary, it's hard to make the transition from the street to the track where you're taught to be aware of EVERYTHING. There's a reason we tape off mirros on the track and tell people not to ever look behind them. That reason is 2-fold:

1. you should be focusing on what's in front of you, what's behind you breaks concentration

2. when you look behind you, most people unwittingly steer the bike, and this action is unpredictable to someone trying to pass (I've seen it result in a collision)




I hope you try again, and learn to narrow your focus. It's not an easy thing at first for someone used to street riding where everything is trying to kill you.


EDIT: as a personal anecdote, it took me five YEARS of doing 10 trackdays a year in order to be able to block out all the useless stuff and actually go fast (for some definition of fast that isn't really fast at all).
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:05 AM   #11
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Wish you came out on Sunday instead. Level 1 on Saturday was full of chest thumpers and a few didn't make it through the day. Sunday was a much more chilled day. Try TWS (Texas World Speedway) next time. It's a wider and longer (teehee) and gives everyone a bit more room.
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:31 AM   #12
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I'd give it another shot. Ride Smart does have a larger grid (especially in level 1) but it sounds like you just had a bad group. Report the d-bags next time.

After riding with T3 I would say that I agree with not letting level 1 pass on the outside of corners ( i understand Ride Smart probably allows this because of the amount of riders in level 1) It can get iffy when you have brand new track riders passing in corners even if it's outside passes. It's tough if the grid is packed, but next time pit in and let them get well ahead of you, then just roll back out. I kept getting caught behind a "drag racer" at TWS (Texas World Speedway) (with T3 no passing in level 1 in corners) so I went down the pit and let him get ahead....no worries, no dangerous passes.
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Wish you came out on Sunday instead. Level 1 on Saturday was full of chest thumpers and a few didn't make it through the day. Sunday was a much more chilled day. Try TWS (Texas World Speedway) next time. It's a wider and longer (teehee) and gives everyone a bit more room.
I told him Sunday was a thinner crowd and also more cool people. Everytime that you flew past me I would keep a close eye on your line and body position for as long as I could lol and in all honesty I never once got scared or nervous on the track. If anything I felt right at home and like I belonged on the track

We even had a first time female on Sunday and she said she felt comfortable out in lvl 1 with us . Her exact words were "you guys look like yal are racing " and yes there were 3 of us all doing our first track day and we were hauling (or at least we thought we were" and yet she didn't feel nervous with us out there. So it definitly has a lot to do with who's out running the track with you
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:49 AM   #14
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OH Man Rowdy, That was one of my fears as well. I feared guys riding crazy and going Off the line and just focusing on speed. It messes up your lines!!! I feel ya. I thought I passed on the inside but after talking about it, I was told I didnt technically pass in the corner bc the nose of the bike was already out and the rider didnt keep the Line.

Sucks you had to miss out on 2-3 sessions!!!!
I found letting those wanna-be rossis to pass and having a bunch of space to yourself is better. The last few sessions, I noticed, was emptier too. But that sun was relentless. Lol.
Work on your memory, mon. Try to remember the perps leathers and bike color.

Dang, ReasonsToHate...I cant believe you felt the same way, too. It was That bad? Geez. Im glad my first td wasnt like that.

Great input Thayleal. Nice spin, made me feel better.
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:51 AM   #15
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Lots of good info and amazing post Trey! I'm sorry you had such a negative experience with your first TD but I assure you with more practice and more visits, you will learn to love the track and appreciate what it offers for every rider out there. You will be able to hone your core skills in quickly on your badass bike too.

Also, if you're the one who pitted with Kalip and crew, we have your fold-out table. Lol.

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Old 09-18-2013, 09:54 AM   #16
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There's all kinds of thoughts, what-ifs, confusion, and excitement on your first TD.

In my experience, I also thought I was getting passed WAY too close. When you actually stop and remember, the rule is 6ft and that's not a lot at 80mph in a turn.......until you get used to it.

You're not a total noob now. You've experienced it. Relax and remember to start implementing the skills youre learning to keep you safe and improve at the same time.
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Old 09-18-2013, 10:02 AM   #17
iDazzle
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I liked how Rowdy used the words, "I just felt like I was stuck on a bad group ride with people I did not trust" to express how he felt.
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Old 09-18-2013, 12:24 PM   #18
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Saturday was definately different than the norm. Sunday was calmer and a great day. I encourage you to come back and see what it is normally like. Email me when you are ready.

I think back to my first track day....first practice and then race. We didn't have track days way back then and, man, was that an eye opener.
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Old 09-18-2013, 12:28 PM   #19
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Just my input on the matter. I've done three motorcycle track days so far and I'm heading back out this Sunday to hit up ECR with Ride Smart. During my last event, at TWS (Texas World Speedway), I did have a few times come up where people were making passes that intersected with my natural path of motion (tracking out after 4 and crossing back to the right before 5 as an example—first bike that passed me right at the end of the turn? Good. Second one that looked like he was about to go into the grass? Not so much.). They were poorly thought out and it was frustrating. I decided to cut that session short and go back out after I felt like people had cooled off some.

Trusting that the riders around you will act with some level of intelligence is important. There is value to smart passes as it teaches both the passer AND the passee. Part of moving up to L2 is comfort with being passed. That comfort will not come if the passee is being put in dangerous situations. Before anyone tells me "You're a noob; you'll get used to it", I want you to realize that I tracked/raced cars for 8 years before moving to motorcycles. I've been in turns with a car on my left and a car on my right, each much closer than 6 feet away, while we zipped through turns 1 and 2 at TWS (Texas World Speedway). At no point did this concern me, because I knew I could trust the ability of the people on the track with me.

So, what do I think can be done to make this work out a bit better? Not too much, to be honest. We're going to have people riding over their head in level 1. The responsibility, as far as I'm concerned falls on the corner workers. They are not out there just to signal that it's time to come in or that there is a hazard. I haven't seen a black flag once in over 20 sessions. Maybe it was there and I missed it. As I said, this is just my input.

A second issue comes up with identification. It's difficult to report dangerous behavior when you have so little to identify those who are responsible. Now you can call me a noob, because I'm not going to be able to identify exactly what type of bike you're on when we're on track and I'm more interested in riding my ride. I don't know how effective this would be, but I feel like having numbers on our bikes would make both this job easier for everyone involved (corner workers, riders, instructors, even spectators).

To the OP, I would recommend going out on Sundays instead of Saturdays. There are generally fewer people on Sundays which means there will probably be fewer hot heads.
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Old 09-18-2013, 12:33 PM   #20
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from a Sticky on RideSmart's thread




" - Can I fundamentally operate a motorcycle while at a high rate of speed in a straight line or in turns (can I ride at speeds of more than 70mph in straights or more than 30mph while in turns)?
- How is my braking ability with the motorcycle I will use at the track? Do I feel confident with abrupt braking maneuvers, or do I always need lots of time and space to execute a stop?
- When I go on street rides, do I feel comfortable riding in close proximity to other riders/cars, or do I always prefer to ride far away from the riders in front of me?"
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