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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


Feb. 5, 2007. It's 4:45 a.m. Temperature's 37F. The alarm goes off. It's Track Time.

To make Jennings on time, we had to meet up and leave town about 6 a.m. The bikes had been loaded the previous day. We had five riders - three SV650s, a race-prepped Honda CBR600F4, and Spongebob.

You never think about how much time is required to set up - laying out tools, chairs, tire pumps, battery chargers, pit stands. We were still unpacking when they announced the rider meeting.

This is where I started to get a bit unsettled. Since it was a Monday in the middle of February, there were not a whole lot of riders. Maybe 35 or so. And only four newbies. "The greatest good for the greatest number of people" apparently being the rule, Race Control initially suggested making all sessions open track, but it was finally decided to let the experts run in their own session, and combine novices and intermediates in another session. This would give everyone more time on the track, which is a good thing. It would also the source of some problems.

"Intermediate" is a pretty broad term, and it was obvious from the race stickers on the bikes (not to mention the rigs in the pits), that in many cases "Intermediate" meant "I'd rather run laps around novices and look like a champ than get my butt smoked by somebody who really knows what they're doing."

There was some further discussion of what the various flags meant, track rules, etc., but it was rather poorly presented, and this wasn't just my opinion. Maybe it's just because it was the last day of the weekend (actually, Monday) in the middle of winter, but halfhearted would be a polite way to describe it.

Shortly thereafter, the track was open for the mixed group of novices and intermediates (after we were told in the riders meeting that the first group out woudl be the experts - go figure).

Now, the first session or two for novices is usually led by control riders. You follow them and they show you the lines. Gotta have good lines before you can go fast, right?

Not this time. Since we had a mixed group, that was not what happened. Instead, we followed the control rider the first lap, then it was sorta a free-for-all. The problem was - and it was a big problem for me all day long - as you're trying to learn the proper race line, guys who have been there all weekend are stuffing you. Technically, you are supposed to ride the right line, and it's their responsibility to pass safely. Practically speaking, that all goes out the window.

Now, the track. It's a very cool layout with some interesting problems. Turns 3-6 can pretty much be taken as a little right into a big left-hander if you set it up right. I finally got the hang of that by the afternoon. Turn 8 is a decreasing-radius left-hander. Proper setup is to late-apex on 7. Do that, you come out ready for the beast that is 8 (riding the track, you'll see plenty of divots where people have gone down there). Do it wrong, and you'll end up slow or crash. I got it right a few times but wish I'd had more practice with it.

The track itself is a lot of fun and well-marked with braking markers, dots at each apex, and arrows marking turn-in points. Riding it is fairly straightforward - connect the dots, turn at the arrows, brake where you feel comfortable.

Which is easier said than done when Mr. Huyabusa is riding up your butt, but I digress again.



Our Gang had only one mishap when our youngest member lost the front end of his SV and low-sided, with minimal damage to bike or rider. And some phantom technical difficulty kept the CBR in the pits after it died midway through the second session. Plenty of cranking, no firing. So Steve, a former racer, grabbed the SV, with no rear brake, and rode the rest of the day on that, surprising a lot of guys on what should have been faster bikes.

By the end of the day, I was both happy and frustrated. I accomplished a few goals, getting the line, not falling down. But it was also sorta like being in a really good city-league softball team playing a game against the Sox (Red or White). Sure it was a rush, but not the best learning environment.

But I want to go back and learn more. Things I did right? Looking through corners (things really do slow down, and you'll speed up, if you look far enough ahead), weighting the pegs (although not moving my butt off the seat), hitting the lines, turning the edges of the tires into little balls of melted rubber, not falling down.

Things I need to work on? Lighter on the bars, butt off the seat, speed things up, butt OFF the seat... that sorta thing.

If anybody's curious, there are a few more pics HERE.

Me? I'm trying to figure out when I'll be able to get back.
 

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Think we got a track day junkie :-D Great pics and story.
 

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How much did they charge for a track day? I like the under side Triumph logo too. Triumph should keep up with that. :hammer:
 

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R100 Great pics and story. I am glad and sad track days are the same every where :hammer: Hard to get that butt off the seat thing working just fells wrong even when it is working.

[ This message was edited by: speedcubed on 2007-02-06 12:09 ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
They only charge $99 for the day on Mondays. Saturdays and Sundays are $125 or something like that.

I'd like to be able to do it once a month, but that's gonna have to wait until I find a cheap trailer and pick up some more gear to make the whole operation self-sufficient (rather than relying on the generosity of others). There's a school that runs there too. I may do that and see if I can't get ahead of the curve, so to speak.

Some of the guys out there are so fast it's freaky. And probably the most impressive were the 636 Ninjas. Seemed to be the perfect balance for the track.

The Ducatis sounded amazing, of course.

Also impressive were the control riders - through the corners, butt off the bike, one hand on the knee and looking backward. Of course, they pretty much live there.
 

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Good one R100,good to see you had a good time.Noticed when i do them there is always a lot of riders that should be in the higher class but aren't,as you said to make themselves look good.Just progress as you feel comfortable and watch out for the wankers.It's hard but don't ever look over your shoulders to see who's coming,concentrate on what you are doing.It's only gonna get better from here. :hammer:
 

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I am glad the experience seemed worthy of repeating. I think my biggest hurdle would be gearing up for the logistics, which you illustrated well. It would be fun to do though.
 

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Good post, Pilot! Limey said you were doing the Monday thing. I'd like to try to get up there before the end of the year. Maybe I can use the excuse of seeing Junior at UF :-D :-D

BTW, If anybody is interested in Jennings, the link is hereClicky
 

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Wow R100

That is really cheap! We pay over $250 for the day with lunch, snacks, gatorade and water.

Glad to hear that you liked it! I am addicted and improving every time. I run both the Intermediate and Expert class, but next year will stick to the intermediate until I feel more comfortable then move up to Expert.

Thanks for the pics and the report, very well done my friend!



Ton Up! :cool:
 

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Your experience is very much like the ones I used to have only my track days were on motocross tracks. Sand baggers showing up the slower guys and stuffing everyone in their way. You will get used to things quickly and learn to handle all those uncomfortable situations. I have always been curious about how I would do on a track. I used to go pretty good in my glory days. :) Nothing better than experience.
 

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glad you made it out alive! i could see my first get off from a track day for sure.
(it's like giving a fat kid a shopping bag full of candy)
 

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R100, nice pics! Sorry to hear that you weren't totally happy with your trip to Jennings. Jennings was my second track day and I had a blast, but I can see where it would have been a bit intemidating for my first track experience as there isn't a lot of hands-on with instructors. Also, getting used to having your doors blown off by someone 12" from you (when you think you are going really fast) takes some time also!

My first track day was at Little Tally, in Al, and was with Sportbike Track Time. For newbs, SBTT has a formal class, in fact, you aren't really allowed to ride seriously on the track until after lunch. The morning track sessions are for practicing techniques that they teach in the classes (lines, foot positioning, getting off the seat, braking, etc). For an intro to track days, it is perfect. My issue was that I still didn't feel confident enough to ride intermediate after that day, but didn't really want to sit through a slow morning again. The Jennings format was a perfect bridge for me, though we had a dedicated beginner group. Next time out I plan on riding intermediate and think I'll feel pretty good about it.

Check out SBTT on the net. The instruction is included in the price and Lil Tally is about the same price as Jennings (and should be within driving range if you made it to Jennings).

Also, check out my members album, there are a couple of pics from me at Jennings on my S3!
 

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Hey Pilot,
Sorry to hear they threw you to the lions by grouping everyone together, That ain't right.

Its more fun to ride in your own class in the beginning.
In the spring things will start picking up and more riders means more separation of groups.

One or the reasons I wear earplugs when riding at the track, When somebody stuffs you it doesn't rattle your nerves as much.

A great experience, You'll know what to expect next time and it won't be as bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks all. The tips from the board here helped (Wal Mart generic under armor - brilliant!). And lemme tell ya, Goffe - logistics were a huge issue. Took two months to round up our little group and agree on a day, then the better part of an afternoon to assemble the gear (tools, togs, spares) and load the bikes. A lot of prep for an hour and change of riding time.

But it's very intense riding time. I really was disappointed with the large mixed group as opposed to two tiny divisions, but I understand why they did it. Everyone got more time. But my learning curve was slowed considerably, and I felt I was just getting the hang of the lines by the time the day ended.

Dobie - you're in J'ville. That's a hop and a skip. You oughta try it. And BillT, even if Jr.'s a gator, we'd welcome the company.

A couple other random thoughts:

• Ditch the hip armor. I love the Cortech Apex pants, but the first time I went to throw a leg out, I couldn't. It's flexible, but not very. I rode a few more sessions like that, but ditched it for the afternoon. Like night and day, mobility-wise and was kicking myself for not pulling it earlier.

• It's weird to be going through a corner with your head over the grass and your bike on the pavement.

• The TT never let me down. It may not be the baddest bike on the track, but it'll be great to learn on.

• No matter how good you are on the street, or how fast you are on the street, the track is a whole 'nother world entirely. I'd like to get to know it better. Definitely a humbling experience.

• Did I mention I need to get my butt off the seat?

Hairball had mentioned the Ed Bargy course offered at the track. That'll probably be my next stop. It's about three times more expensive than a track day, but I think I'd progress more in that environment than I would in three or four track days.

Now all I gotta do is scare up a CHEAP trailer.
 

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Here's the thang.

After you've done a few of these track days (and if you are the type that really dig it like I do), you'll never enjoy the road the way you did before. Never. Doesn't mean you'll stop riding, but the thrill just isn't as good on the road.

The track just allows you to let go and enjoy what a modern motorcycle will do. Maybe you'll start watching lap times, for me I couldn't really care less about specific lap times yet. It's about riding the motorcycle to my fullest ability that day and maybe I'm not as smooth and fast as I was on the last track day. But no cars, no cops, no krap on the surface really let's you enjoy the bike in a way you cant on the road.

To those that will disagree with me and defend street riding: If you are getting the same thrill on the road by hanging it all out, then odds are you're taking some pretty big chances.

[ This message was edited by: kwajazz on 2007-02-07 11:28 ]
 

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Looks like fun man! Spongebob's looking good too. I'd look into that class, might be more money, but it'll be a controlled enviornment and you'll learn a lot more. Then take your knowledge to the track and show Mr. Hyabusa a thing or too.
I plan to take a similar class at Miller this year, possibly two. Then keep on with some track days on speedy till I can get a track bike. I mostly want to learn the bike's limits on the track so I feel more confident on the street.
 
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