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Old 05-30-2007, 01:48 PM   #1
Derek Steptoe
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Track riding advice. Good read.

Found this on another forum I read. It's written by a trackday Control Rider. It's long, but a good read, especially for new track riders, but beneficial to all riders.

"And honestly, gear selection has everything to do with pace. What I run in A group pace does not have a whole lot to do with anything, as it will depend on sprocket selection, internal trans stuff, and how good I happen to run that day (and I am definately shifting less than the fast guys like Derek, Geoff and the others).My best advice is to figure out what works for you as we pick up the pace over the course of both days. I would much rather have you learn your own up and downshift points that make sense on your bike, with your riding style, rather than thinking "gee, I should have shifted twice here".
So as we go out the first couple sessions, we will be pretty slow. The CR's will do their best to either point out reference points, or run a line that obviously uses those same reference points. I try to physically point it the turn in, apex and exit markers on the first few laps (while somewhat comically attempt to not fall off my R6). Focus on those first to get the absolute requirements locked into your brain. (You must have solid braking and turn markers or you can never go fast on a track like Barber with blind entrances and elevation changes).
Then as the pace picks up, just let the bike tell you what it needs. For instance, we should get a nice smooth drive out of T14 onto the front straight. Assume this will likely be in 2nd gear in the morning. As you drive out, you are already heading for your brake marker at the end of the straight. Smooth power application as you get up on the center of the tire, and just let it go. Upshift at the top of the bikes power band. You should essentially be accelerating until you hit your brake marker. If this is 1 gear or 2 gears or 3, it should not matter. You accelerate till you need to slow down. Then it is a matter of braking to the entrance speed you need for the turn and getting down whatever gears you need to have the motor back in the power range at that speed.

It is that last bit that gets most people. Once of the biggest issues I have seen out there the past few days I have actually been a CR is what folks commononly complain about is "blowing down the straights and parking in the corners".
I don't however, believe this is a fault on the rider's part, but rather a fault in the proper sequence of learning to ride fast.
For the most part, I see folks early in their track life try to go as fast as possible on the straights, as this is a race track after all. And I am not just talking about the guys on the liter bikes everyone wants to bash on, but rather most folks. Bike stands up, throttle whacks open, run like crazy to near end of straight, brake like a madman (or better, mad person), then putt-putt through the corners to repeat again next straight.

I think this is a combination of a couple things I wish I could have learned about 3 years and 60 odd track days earlier. The first and foremost is turn markers. Brake markers only make sense if you are braking at a certain place in order to be at a specific speed at another specific place. Think about this as you drive on the street. You see a stop sign coming up. You want to be at a stop (well, near one at least) at the line. You don't start slowing down at the same point every time, you modulate you brake point based on speed coming in. Unconscious, but you do it. Same as if you have any twisties on a road. I have three 90 degree bends on the road to my house. I automatically arrive at a speed that is comfortable with the dually or the Blackbird, regradless of what speed I was going prior, without thought for where to brake. Why? Because I know the speed I am comfortable in those corners, and I know where I will turn each time (as well as knowing where the turn will come out).
So take this to the track.
The very first thing you must have is easy to spot, unmoving turn markers. This is the point that you will turn in, regardless of speed. When your front wheel hits that spot, you will turn. Then you use the apex marker and exit marker to work out your line through the corner, which in the end will really dictate how fast you can go. For any given corner, with a specific radius and increase/decrease and camber and all that, there is a specific speed you can run through there within limits of traction and lean angle and comfort with both of the above.
So, what the am I rambling about? Chris Moon used to say up at the JC that speed through the corners earns you the right to go fast down the straights. This was really a caution to the folks who were making life tough by parking in the corners and hard to pass on the straights. But it makes sense.
The fastest guys out there know what speed they can take any given corner within a small amount of variation. They have very solid reference points for where to turn. They use maximum accelaration on the straights until they get to a point where they must brake in order to be dead on speed at their entrance marker for the next corner.
What I see as a single most common issue is guys using up way to much concentration and learning capability trying to go fast down the straight. You fly down the straight, heading for a corner that you do not have a solid entrance marker for, nor a good idea how fast you can be comfortable in. You brain is overloaded with a normal panic reaction of "I have no idea if I will be safe doing this". So you tend to over brake, then drive iin till the turn "looks right" then turn. And once the bike is over on its side, you are thinking "I could have gone faster".
So.... What can we do about it in the campaign to not take as long as Jim did to go from Beginner to A or CR?
Reference points first. Knowing exactly where you will turn in is 1/2 the key to arriving at that place at a specific speed. Then working on speed from that turn in point through a predictable line to the exit is next. Getting to know the corners and what speeds you are comfortable, on your bike, in that corner is the majority of getting quick.
So I would challenege folks at Barber this weekend riding in B to use what is one of the coolest tracks on the planet as one of the coolest learning tools. Barber is all about blind entrances and elevation changes and linked corners. This means you need reference points to ride effectively. Use the time to work on learning to ride with reference points, then work on corner speed. Get comfortable with more lean angle and smooth power application through the corner, and taking a consistant line through corners at increasing paces, lap after lap.
Once this is a solid skill, straights are just a matter of exiting a corner at best speed, then accelerating at maximum level until you hit the point where you must brake to get back on speed for next corner.

So my best advice is to just take it easy on the straights. You do not have to dog it, but realize the straight is just a connector to the next corner where you need to be spending the majority of your attention. if you do that, straight speed will come naturally as you have earned it with corner skill........."
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Old 05-30-2007, 02:01 PM   #2
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Old 05-30-2007, 02:57 PM   #3
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Anybody reading this and is finding themselves unfamiliar with the information but has been to the track should probably sign up for the class.
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Old 05-30-2007, 06:43 PM   #4
Derek Steptoe
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bump for those who missed it
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