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I went to my second track day this month and it was long overdue. I want to be a great rider and develop trust in the tires and skills to keep the rubber side down. I was wondering how many track days it would take for me to be comfortable with myself leaning over 45 degrees and hanging off the bike. Right now I dont seem to take the turns hard enough to do both. I've done a lot of canyon time but even more straight highway/city. Nothing compares to track days...even when all the conditions are wrong like, sport touring tires, 20 degree track weather, and exhausted rider.

Just wondering about other peoples evolutions and developments as a rider...how many track days and what was your goal? My current bike is a bit of a turd but should be good enough for track duty. AT least its disposable. The last time I went it was with a zx14, which was still under warranty and shiny of course.
 

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Easiest answer is every rider advances at different rates. Seat time with proper instruction and a level head to not try to work on too many things at once is what it all comes down to when starting out in this part of the motorcycling hobby.

As far as goals for each trackday, mine are mainly to basically come away with a better skill set and to leave with myself and the bike in the same condition we arrived in (save for an exhausted and hungry rider, empty fuel tank, and worn tires).

-Christian
 

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Even on the 14 you can get lean and body position to the point of knee dragging. I personaly never tried to drag knee and worked on holding a proper line.... Being smooth all the way around the track... Work on one or 2 things each track day. Body position is something you want to have no matter how far you are leaning over. It is good practice even if you dont have much lean angle at all because hanging off the bike at the slower speed keeps the bike from having to lean as far. It is actually the point of leaning off the bike anyway .... then as you get faster and you already have good body position you will have to lean the bike more and more. I actually put the bike on stands and work on body position when not at the track from time to time.

Anyway after a while I was following one of my instructors around the track and on one of the left turns I started dragging my knee... It scared the hell out of me but after that it seemed like more and more corners I was dragging and the dragging went from slight touch to hard drag all the way around. I am still not what I would call Good but I am better than I was for sure.
 

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Easiest answer is every rider advances at different rates. Seat time with proper instruction and a level head to not try to work on too many things at once is what it all comes down to when starting out in this part of the motorcycling hobby.
Bingooooo! :) Everyone progresses at different rates.

ANORXIC's comment about not working on too many things at once is a great point as well. A lot of new track day riders come to me with many lofty goals and often skip over the core basics.... the big one being LIMIT FAMILIARIZATION. I don't just mean the limit of traction, I'm talking about really learning the "limits" of the track (what the track's going to let you do), the limits of the RIDER (what they're capable of) and the limits of their EQUIPMENT (tires, suspension, chassis, etc).

It seems as though you've already experienced this, but the rider themselves is almost always the first thing to "max out". :)



As for personal goals, mine have changed quite a bit over the years. Currently they're FAR more customer and staff focused, making sure customers are happy, their expectations are met, helping them with their riding and making sure our staff is progressing in their own rider and instructor development.... but that doesn't really help you all that much :p

Back when I was on the other side of the fence, my objectives when I first started riding on the track were simply to become familiar with the track..... "Turn 1 goes left.... okay, good." Haha. But quickly (almost too quickly) just like everyone else, I got caught up in trying to increase speed & lean angle and drag a knee! And understandably so.... cuz going fast is FUN!!!

Lucky for me I had some awesome mentors to help reel me back a little bit before I got too far in over my head. After having a few "oh shit" moments, I quickly began to realize that SMOOTHNESS and CONTROL are really the two biggest keys to quick, proficient riding.
 

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Go to a school. Listen carefully. Be the dickhead that sits in the front and ask questions all day.

Don't expect to magically become Ben Spies after you take a school. You are hoping to learn two or three techniques that you can use to get faster at your future track days. Take another school after you play with those techniques for awhile. Repeat indefinitely.

Talk to other riders at the track. Ask them what they do to go fast. 90% of what you hear will be garbage, but every now and then you'll hear something that is absolute gold.

Read everything you can get your hands on. Recognize that people explain things diffferently. It sometimes takes several slightly different explanations to get a concept into your head.

Buy a bicycle. Get in shape. Be the guy who is still riding during the last session, when everyone else has packed up and gone home.

It's a long process, and it's hard. But dammit, it's fun.
 

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Only you can answer the question about when your more comfortable being at lean or at speed or in traffic etc..Break it down into little pieces like this time I'm working on BP next brake markers and so on. Be careful not to go too fast because you will just be scaring yourself and there isn't much to learn when your rolling 100%. As far as goals mine the year is to bump up to advanced. To that end I will push a little but still leave room for fun. I finalily realized at the end of last year that it will happen when it will happen and am okay with that. My "trackday gauge" that tells me I'm going too hard is apexes. When your doing it right you should be over the grass or curb or whatever, when I start going wide I know it's time to back it down. Ego is a hard thing for me to shake especially when someone comes around you, but you have to let it go.
As long as you walk away feeling good about your day your doing it right, no matter what lean angle or lap time you did.
 

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when i dragged my first knee, it was TOTALLY unexpected. i had taken the 750 to the track before and never even close but still had a blast. then, the very first session after 1 year of riding the streets (and no never dragged a knee nor wanted to since it is the street and not the track) and being more comfy on the bike, came down into turn 3 at Road America following a guy on an XX, felt i could cut the corner better and maybe get a bit of drive (he was slowing me up on braking zones and corners)... next thing ya know..... my knee is tapping the asphalt as i hit the apex. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTT.. i was laughin like a lil kid all the way down the straight to turn 5. after that, it happened more and more.. laughing and thoroughly enjoying myself. didn't care about much else except pure enjoyment. the best track day ever!!!!!!!!!!
 

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Oh one other thing, you said your bike is kind of a turd don't worry about it. I love the saying "I would rather be fast on a slow bike than slow on a fast one." Nothing worse than a straight line specialist blasting down the track only to park it in the corner, don't be THAT GUY :)
 

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Just relax. Riding is like algebra. When you're struggling, it takes forever to learn. If you step back and have one small success to build on, the next one gets easier and so on. One of the reasons I tell people to do quality track days with good control riders is that you want to be able to work with a control rider who is able to identify a particular issue for you to work on and help focus you on the biggest issues first.

Google "Goldwing Loudon YouTube" and watch a video of a guy getting knee on a Goldwing. If memory serves me correct, it has a hitch on the back even. If you ever rode a Goldwing, you'll realize that your bike isn't that big of a turd compared to the 'wing.

As far as trusting your tires go, they'll let you know when they are pushed beyond their limits. Most tires today give you lots and lots of warning. The plus side is, when the front tire starts to slide, hit the gas. When the back tire starts to slide, hit the gas.
 

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And don't push your pace of learning so quickly, or you wont be truly absorbing and naturally adapting habits like you think you are. Be patient, you cant force feed skill. It takes experience, not crunching lessons. I'm surprised you're already talking about getting a knee down, who cares. While you're busy trying to look and act like what you're perception of what a racer is, an actual one will breeze past you while barely hanging off. Learn fluidity snd smoothness, learn suspension, and most of all, learn patience.
 

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Easiest answer is every rider advances at different rates. Seat time with proper instruction and a level head to not try to work on too many things at once is what it all comes down to when starting out in this part of the motorcycling hobby.
I will add that bike makes a huge difference too, guys starting on 250cc bikes tend to develop confidence much faster. Why do you think the best racers in the world started on 125cc 2 strokes?
 

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Some very good feedback here. Makes me remember why I stick around (admittantly more of a lurker now), as there are still some very knowledgeable people on this board.

Just as a pictorial of how I've come along in the same corner (T13) @ BIR from my very first trackday/TrackSchool1 on my former '08 GSX-R600 in June '11...


..to the most recent pic of me thru that same turn a year later on my '08 848 in June '12...


To be fair, at that point I had one other trackday/TrackSchool2 at Road America under my belt, but the biggest eye opener were the 2 days spent at California Superbike School in April '12. So, although I'd only been on the track with the Duc once before that pic @ BIR was taken, I had already been on the "Lean Angle" Bike @ CSS to tweak my bp, as well as getting positive feedback from the coaches....so I was starting to get more comfortable and less stiff on the bike. In that pic you can still see I need to lower my head and upper body a little more. Worked most of the rest of the season on that, but sadly no other pics in T13 to show the improvements made from June.

Totally agree with binx on the bike playing a major role in rate of rider development. I'd honestly probably be MUCH further along in skillset had I either got another 250R and tracked that, or at least stuck with the GSX-R600 for more than half a season and the 1 trackday.

-Christian
 

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Mmmmmm 1 track day. But half the day was like a riding class too which helped a lot.
 

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Buy a bicycle. Get in shape. Be the guy who is still riding during the last session, when everyone else has packed up and gone home.

It's a long process, and it's hard. But dammit, it's fun.

Just wanted to make a comment on this. Be careful in the last couple sessions when you are tired. It's easy to make mistakes when you have been going faster and faster all day. Your mind may still be in the game, but if your body is too fatigued it can mess with you.

As mentioned you learn at your own pace. My avatar was taken at my first track day Dec 2011. Didn't go there trying to touch the floor, just did my best and surprizingly it came pretty natural. Speaking to the prior comment I also went home with my first crash that day after a peg catching in the last session. Sure taught me to lean off though!
 

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Also one of the most dangerous sessions is after lunch. Everyone wants to hit the track at the same pace or better than the session before lunch. There is something about eating maybe that makes people want to take more risk I dont really have a good answer why but it always seems that more people go down right after lunch. I skip that session often.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Maybe I didn't phrase it right but I was hoping more people would share their experiences, but I do appreciate the great feedback. I was sprung the first one and now I have a job that's making it easier for me to go, so I will.
Also one of the most dangerous sessions is after lunch. Everyone wants to hit the track at the same pace or better than the session before lunch. There is something about eating maybe that makes people want to take more risk I dont really have a good answer why but it always seems that more people go down right after lunch. I skip that session often.
Maybe its the track I went to but I've noticed that its usually the first lap of any session and definitely the same turn for some reason.
 

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One thing I'd add, use the resources you have available to you.

If you can, be best friends (metaphorically) with a Control Rider/Instructor. Asking other track riders is good, but the Instructor is the best person to ask for advice.

Once you can stick to a good raceline and have good body position (no knee-drag required), you are on your way.
 
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