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Old 05-14-2007, 09:51 AM   #1
Buck Beasley
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Street vs. Track Part I

Street vs. Track

This is so long I had to break it in two parts, it's worth the read though I think.........

After reading so many different views and opinions, I thought I’d put something together that hopefully will make you think, and perhaps save at least one life. If this you off, ask yourself why. Really……..why?

With so many deaths lately I still can’t see how the “it won’t happen to me” mentality is still getting riders hurt. It WILL happen to you if you keep acting like a fool on the public streets. Let me spell out some of the dangers you seem to ignore every time you exceed the speed limit, pop it up on one wheel, or any number of other stupid things. We’ll start with some basics and progress form there.

Traction

Track- Traction at a track is predictable. Even if you have never ridden there before, there will be lots of information about the traction for any given day. Rider’s meetings will usually inform you if there is any areas of concern from a number of factors. Pavement deterioration, recent rains that have washed off the rubber creating a “green” track that will take several sessions to “come in”. MSR Cresson is a prime example of tricky traction. Anyone who has been there will tell you it’s slick until the temps get into the upper 80’s. Someone with lots of laps there will tell you it gets slick again in the low 90’s then will get REALLY sticky in the high 90’s. You will hear of corners made slick from “polishing” due to age. Seams that will seep water for days after a heavy rain. Any recent oil downs will also be noted and CLEANED UP, by track officials who know how to do it properly, then warn you of the situation. A track is designed to be ridden fast and has been paved with special mixes for this purpose. You will be able to notice changes each lap or session, and be warned of hazards to traction.

Street- It’s truly blind luck. Even if you have been down Racer road hundreds of times, you have no idea what has taken place since your last visit to a particular section of road. Even return trips down the same section of road are questionable. Did someone drop a wheel off the shoulder trying to avoid one of you dumbass buddies, putting gravel in that sweet left hand sweeper you came by an hour ago? You won’t know until you are about to run over it on the return. Did you notice that squished armadillo that’s been rotting for three weeks just off the center stripe? What kind of traction does armadillo shell offer?
Is that dark spot ahead moisture seeping up, or did an old pick up blow it’s motor there last week oiling down the pavement? Who cleaned that up, and how well? Again, you won’t know until it’s too late. Street tires are made to deal with a wide variety of traction conditions, but the broadness of their scope means tread patterns made to move water thus decreasing the actual size of your contact patch.

REMEMBER: YOU ARE TRUSTING YOUR LIFE TO TWO PATCHES OF RUBBER NO BIGGER THAN A CREDIT CARD. YOU NEED ALL THE CONTACT YOU CAN GET.

Hazards

Track- While the track is designed for high speeds, not all are designed with motorcyclist in mind. In fact most facilities consider bikers as an “also”, so we need to be aware of this and take our own precautions. Turn 17 at MSRH is a prime example. The retaining wall meant to keep out of control cars off pit lane is indeed something to contend with, and as a result T17 should be given great respect. Again this is something you will be told in a riders meeting and can thus plan for. After thousands of laps by bikes on this track only one bike has actually come into contact with THE WALL. The rider slid to a stop a few feet from the wall. He was going for a lap record and even still, the rider walked his bike to the pits and was able to continue after minor repairs. Turn 8a at TWS (Texas World Speedway) claimed a few lives and forever changed the lives of many individuals, until it’s recent change. Beyond that, the most hazardous thing on the track is your fellow rider, or you yourself. Tracks are designed to leave you “runoff” areas when you find yourself going into, or coming out of a corner a bit too hot. Also you never have to even consider opposing traffic, dogs, curbs, light posts, cell phone drivers and the rest.

Street- Apparently a lot of you choose to ignore the obvious hazards and the not so obvious hazards as is evident by the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. Besides the traction issues covered above, let’s list a few recently tragic hazards…….
ON COMING TRAFFIC---claimed Koskesh
DROPPED LOADS---------claimed Roman
LOUSY DRIVERS------claimed the firefighter
DRUNK SHERIFF------claimed a life in New York
TOW TRUCKS----------claimed the guy off 1960
These are only the ones that immediately pop to mind. Point is…… there is no predictability on public streets. You are exposed to every idiot with a license to drive, plus a whole lot more. Telephone poles, street signs, curbs, trees, animals both domestic and wild, squished turtle guts, cell phone drivers, oil seepage from poorly maintained cars, puddles at intersections from A/C condensation drainage, shredded truck tires, miscellaneous hardware that’s fallen off vehicles, ladies who are more concerned with their make up than you, ……..I could go on for days. Next time you are at a busy intersection, look around you. All that stuff you see on the ground CAN make you crash.


Safety

Track- Safety is the number one priority at the track. There is the unwritten understanding that fast riding is dangerous and every possible step is taken to insure your safety. You are not allowed on the track without PROPER riding attire. Full leather, gauntlet gloves, boots over the ankle, and a full faced helmet are the MINIMUM to ride the track. Your bike is also inspected before you roll out for simple things like a self closing throttle, working front and rear brakes, chain tension, loose fasteners, tires, bodywork etc. All before you are allowed out. Corner workers provide insight to hazards ahead and stop you if there is imminent danger ahead. There is even a ambulance standing by for worst case situations, no more that two minutes form you at any point on the track, with authorization to get Life Flight there in minutes. With literally 1500+ riders who have come to MSRH, one has been taken away in an ambulance, but returned later. And another was Life Flight as a precaution, but he walked to the chopper on his own. We have had one broken collar bone from a high side (CMRA racer), and a couple of broken fingers. We have yet to see a bike that could not be ridden with minor repairs. Why is that? MSRH is designed to let you walk away form even the nastiest spills. Ask Radar (Doug) he’s the worst crash I’ve seen there and he walked away from a 110+ mph crash in the fastest turn on the track.

Street- Safety??? Sure you know riding is dangerous, but what are you doing to protect yourself? Do you ALWAYS wear leather? Boots? Gloves over your wrists? Full face helmet? If you are like 99%, you wear what is COMFORTABLE for the conditions INSTEAD of dressing for the HAZARDS or inevitable fall. If it is too hot to dress appropriately in leather, do you have a textile/mesh suit? How many riders do you see everyday with the t-shirt blowing up in the back flying down the freeway, sporting the cool shades, probably in shorts in the summer, and a pair of Nikes? Imagine your teeth grinding down to the nerve on asphalt…………gave you that nails on a chalk board feeling huh? It happens everyday unfortunately. We don’t send troops to Iraq wearing a sheet because it‘s hot, so don’t get caught in the “everyone else is doing it“ mentality. Because it seems everyone else is dying if you haven’t noticed. If it’s too hot to dress appropriately, it’s too hot to ride. PERIOD. If you do go down, how long before help arrives, and who’s it going to be? Are your ridding buddies EMT trained? Do you have the number for Life Flight in your cell phone? If I was a gambler I’d bet not.

Last edited by Moody; 05-22-2007 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 05-14-2007, 09:53 AM   #2
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Street vs. Track Part II

Continued form part I....................



Cost

Track- Most track days will run between 110-185.00 for the day. What is included varies, but in the end you are paying for time in the seat, on the track, wringing it out. Most offer instruction from experienced riders to help coach you along. One benefit of attending a “school” is that your insurance will cover the bike in the event of an accident in most cases. Besides the price of admission, and what I consider basic gear you should have already, what else is there? Snacks, drinks, fuel, tire wear. Most tire makers now offer tires with the track day enthusiast in mind. Offering softer compounds on the sides for better grip at full lean, leaving you the harder center of the tire for street riding. Lots of folks will remove bodywork for track day, or have dedicated bodywork for the more hardcore. A naked bike with frame sliders will incur nothing more than superficial damage in most cases of a crash. Levers, pegs, and the occasional clip on handle bar, are the most common damage we see at the track. Some extreme cases, like GixxerBill’s T7 TWS (Texas World Speedway) get off see more extensive damage such as his frame snapping in two. But these are the exception and not the norm. We have yet to see a bike with more that superficial damage at MSRH. I laugh to myself every time I hear someone say, “ I don’t want to drop my bike at the track”, yet they don’t think twice about tearing off on a public road.
Street- At first look it doesn’t cost you anything to ride on the street besides gas, insurance, and gear. This is true so long as you have the self control to keep it smart and inside the law, but Johnny Law is LOOKING for you to do something stupid. Time and time again we read posts about “ I got a ticket today”, or “I crashed today”. So I ask you……… what is really cheaper? Reckless behavior on the street with the resulting tickets, and damage to your bike, (If it isn’t totaled), increased insurance premiums, and hospital bills, Or the cost of a track day? Most full sets of OEM plastic run upwards of 1K. A full set of track plastic runs 325-700.00, and most of it can be repaired multiple times, for very little money. Ask around and I think you’ll see that after a track day, most street riders go away with a whole new respect for the bike and riding in general. I know my first track day really opened my eyes, and slowed me down on the street. I was lucky to find the track when I did, it saved me from myself.. Now I ride a Vespa for street fun and errands. I came to the realization that I DO NOT HAVE THE SELF CONTROL to ride a sport bike on the street, (I’m freakin’ forty years old!!) nor do the millions of 20 to 30 something’s that make up the majority of the sport bike market. Almost every sport bike on the market is capable of breaking all speed limits in second gear. I came to realize that to have fun on my sport bike and ride it to it’s potential, I was WAY outside the law and a danger to myself and others.

Camaraderie

Track- If you have never been to a track day, you have not witnessed the friendship and union of die hard bike fans. NOTHING compares to ripping’ through a 100+ mph turn with your helmet resting on your buddies fairings, trading paint as you stuff it up the inside, or beating your friends best lap by .005 of a second. I have made more TRUE friends on the track than I ever made at the local poser point. These are guys you know you can trust when it comes down to it, you are entrusting your lives to each other. You learn their strengths and weaknesses, and learn about your own from them. The track offers a chance to study your riding and learn where YOUR limit is, with the safety net to back you up if you go past that limit. In six years of track riding, I can count deaths on one hand. I think I’ve read about five times that many in the last month alone on the streets.

Street- Sure you meet lots of folks out at the poser points, find guys to ride with, and make new friends. But what do you know about their riding beyond what they tell you or what you witness yourself? NADA amigo……… So you want to go rip up the streets with all the unpredictability mentioned above, and do it with someone who may or may not really know what they are doing? Luck will only get you so far in life. The sad fact is that most of the accidents we read about start out…” we were headed….”
The WE is what gets almost every single one in over their heads. Testosterone is a funny drug. Who has the biggest is the main factor in street crashes as one pushes the other just a bit more, until tragedy snaps everyone back to reality…..this isn’t a race track.

Final Thoughts

I’ve always said that sport bike riders are the guys who would be in Ferarri’s or Lanborgini’s if we could afford it. We love the performance and speed of these awesome machines, and pound for pound there is nothing that offers sport bike thrills and speed. I guess in the end of it all I am asking you to save yourself and your friends. I am not saying get off the streets by any means. I AM saying if you are riding on the street, GET SMART!! Be different, be responsible. Be the guy in the group that thinks ahead to the possible consequences, and check up, slow your roll, ride like an adult. The risk is always there no matter who you are or how long you have been riding. A monkey can twist the throttle in a straight line and hit 180, it doesn’t take a lot of smarts or skill. The only requirement is the willingness to ignore your own mortality and endanger those around you. Your bike was built for the race track, take it there if you want to see what it can do. We’ve lost some good friends this year……..talented, wonderful friends, all for no reason. Get a clue folks, the life you save might be you own………………..
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Old 05-14-2007, 10:02 AM   #3
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I for one like the street. I work 52 weekends a year, and cant afford to take off work for a track day. I'd love it if I could, but I cant.

I love riding street. Not light to light, and not downtown freeways.... I love riding back roads, long sweepers, awesome scenery, and fun times. I like riding 2 hours out of town, just to grab lunch and ride back. It's what makes me happy.

I used to ride stand ups down 290 on the way to work at 9am....that was fun THEN. After growing up, and getting a grip on reality, I still love the street, its just in a different aspect.
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Old 05-14-2007, 10:16 AM   #4
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awesome write up buck....I copy and pasted this to an e-mail and sent it to some friends (especially my significant other). Best read on the board in months
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Old 05-14-2007, 10:29 AM   #5
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Very nice...

Seemed to be very honest and sincere in intent. Hopefully most will accept alot of the concepts enveloped within the text as valid, if not completely change behaviours due to your entry...
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Old 05-14-2007, 11:06 AM   #6
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good read...thanks!
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Old 05-14-2007, 11:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Beasley
Continued form part I....................



Testosterone is a funny drug. Who has the biggest is the main factor in street crashes as one pushes the other just a bit more, until tragedy snaps everyone back to reality…..this isn’t a race track.

..

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Old 05-14-2007, 11:20 AM   #8
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TTT to keep the two parts together. Dang 10,000 charcater limit.......
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Old 05-14-2007, 11:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMFT
I for one like the street. I work 52 weekends a year, and cant afford to take off work for a track day. I'd love it if I could, but I cant.

I love riding street. Not light to light, and not downtown freeways.... I love riding back roads, long sweepers, awesome scenery, and fun times. I like riding 2 hours out of town, just to grab lunch and ride back. It's what makes me happy.

I used to ride stand ups down 290 on the way to work at 9am....that was fun THEN. After growing up, and getting a grip on reality, I still love the street, its just in a different aspect.

there's a few places that offer track days on mondays.
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Old 05-14-2007, 11:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretAgent
there's a few places that offer track days on mondays.
and Fridays
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Old 05-14-2007, 11:37 AM   #11
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I FOR ONE WILL BE TAKING MY RIDING SKILLS TO DA TRACK, BUT I STILL WILL CRUISE THE STREETS!
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Old 05-14-2007, 11:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
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there's a few places that offer track days on mondays.

. Any on Tuesday-Thursday? My weekends are on Wednesday.
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Old 05-14-2007, 01:26 PM   #13
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Make sure you read BOTH parts. Look at the number of views and you'll see only a third have read part one. Part one has the good stuff on traction and safety.........
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Old 05-14-2007, 01:26 PM   #14
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Can a brother get a sticky??
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Old 05-14-2007, 01:34 PM   #15
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Very good read there Buck, definitely should be a sticky.
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Old 05-14-2007, 01:38 PM   #16
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good write up. If you cant go to a road course track when they are open, go to the dragstrip on wednesdays. It takes some skills to do that also and you become more familiar with you clutch and throttle.
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Old 05-14-2007, 01:39 PM   #17
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Man Buck - this letter to the wise is excellent...Unfortuatlely I had to learn this with a rod in my right like, plastic surgery, and 4 month to a year of recovery later....I told my self while I was in ICU for 18 DAYS, next time if it's too hot to wear gear, then it's too hot to ride ------- PERIOD. Your a class act in my book bro....
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Old 05-14-2007, 01:40 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Beasley
Make sure you read BOTH parts. Look at the number of views and you'll see only a third have read part one. Part one has the good stuff on traction and safety.........
I read both; just responded to this one because it was the conclusion...:eh: both good informational write-ups
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Old 05-14-2007, 02:01 PM   #19
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Good job, Buck
Some people need to read this multiple times.
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Old 05-14-2007, 02:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaJuNsOuLjA
I read both; just responded to this one because it was the conclusion...:eh: both good informational write-ups
+2
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