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Thread: First track school - Autoclub Speedway, Fontana CA

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    RiderCoach 10,000 Posts! SoCal LabRat's Avatar
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    Cool First track school - Autoclub Speedway, Fontana CA

    Well, I finally did it. After 11 years of street riding, I finally took the financial plunge and scheduled my first track school this past Friday. Sakkakth has attended a few track school sessions there, most recently on her Ninja 250, and they finally added a small bore class to their offerings at a reduced price. She told me about it, and asked if I wanted to go. Sure!

    Initially my plan was to take their school and ride one of their RC390 bikes (with an additional rental fee). Their class only runs for 5 sessions, concluding around 2 pm. After that I could rent the RC390 for the remainder of the day, or ride mine if I brought it. I decided I didn't want to spend the extra money to rent for an afternoon and so after talking with the folks who run the program and getting their permission, I brought my Tiger 800 to ride instead. About a week or so prior to the class, I contacted them again and told them I changed my mind about riding the RC390 for the class, and chose instead to ride the Tiger the entire day. Figured I would get the most of out of it by riding something I was familiar with. Turns out that was a great choice since their small bore bikes are set up for GP shift pattern. Talk about confusing...

    I had been looking forward to the new experience with small bouts of dread. What if I crash? What if I'm too old? What if I'm too out of shape physically? What if it's too hot? Too windy? What if I embarrass myself? I pushed these things to the back of my mind where they lurked and occasionally poked their nose back into my consciousness. But when I make a decision, I follow through come hell or high water.

    I started feeling the most nervous as we were driving to the track right around daybreak. I always get this feeling when I put myself in situations I have not experienced before. Once we got there and started the rituals of unpacking and getting things registered, I relaxed and really started enjoying each moment of the new experiences.

    The bike made it through tech with no problems, now we just have to wait to gear up as it comes closer to 8 am when we meet on the grid for pictures and first group out for the sighting laps. We rode like baby ducks all in single file following the lead instructor through the course at an easy pace for about 20 minutes. The worries that I had that I wouldn't be able to learn the track slowly dissolved and it wasn't nearly as daunting as I expected.



    I'm fourth from the left, Sakkakth fifth from the left on her Ninja.


    The track photographer got a shot of my pit tootsie. LOL! He was wonderful, such a huge help to me. Muah!


    Me...eating this up!


    to be continued...
    Last edited by SoCal LabRat; 04-25-2016 at 01:04 AM.
    ~Teri
    Quote Originally Posted by Bugguts View Post
    Hey, at my age running hot and loss of spark is a common problem.
    2013 Triumph Tiger 800
    2018 Triumph Street Triple R - Low
    2015 Ninja 300 (sold to a student rider, renamed Lloyd)


  2. #2
    Miles of smiles We've stopped counting... asp125's Avatar
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    RiderCoach 10,000 Posts! SoCal LabRat's Avatar
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    The track school sessions gave us building blocks, smaller chunks of material to learn at a time so we could grasp it.
    We first learned what each color flag meant, what the rules were of our riding group, which areas of the track we were not allow to pass on the curves (I had trouble remembering which ones, so I just didn't pass on any of them), passing rules, track etiquette. He explained what proper cornering lines looked like and why, showed us where braking markers and apex cones were, talked about corner workers and what their jobs were, and warned us not to look behind us when we were on the track.

    Subsequent classroom sessions covered the number of steps to cornering, and classified them into three distinct vision, speed control, and body position. We covered vision by talking about looking ahead in sequence to find braking point, turn in point, apex, and exit. And then we went out and practiced that.

    Speed control session consisted of discussion regarding being smooth and minimizing abrupt changes in speed, slowing sooner and being off the brakes before you tip in, making the entire process more relaxed and less frenetic. Then start working toward learning what your proper entry speed is and learning to minimize the speed differential from your set up (braking/slowing) to the apex. This should allow for a more relaxed and smooth riding experience, eventually leading to higher entry speeds (not the goal for us, but good to know) and smoother inputs out of the corner. Then we went out and practiced that.

    I had some difficulty with determining just how much speed I could carry into corners because I had that little gremlin in the back of my brain telling me I was riding a street bike with street tires and I needed to make sure I kept plenty in reserve. I knew that if I used better body positioning I would have more reserve lean angle. However I don't ever ride like that on the street, at best I use the ARC riding position of down and in, and it was a comfortable way for me to ride. I think it also held me back a bit.

    For the final classroom session they talked about body position. I had previously taken a Total Control class, so I knew a little bit about body position from that. In this session though, they didn't get into the mechanics of all that. They talked about side to side, and front to back body position. And after some discussion, we went outside to practice what that looked/felt like on our bikes. I honestly had not thought or must not have paid much attention to front and back body position from previous reading/courses. It came as a complete surprise to me. So, in the last track session after the classroom, we worked on body position.

    By then I was started to get out of the street riding mode that I had been firmly holding on to most of the morning. I have never been one to ride fast or aggressively on the street, mostly I ride in a very controlled manner leaving myself a lot of extra time/space/traction in reserve if needed. So breaking out of that habit was a very slow and gradual thing for me. I had not realized how much I was holding on to that and not really embracing going faster, tucking in on the straights, getting my body off the bike. With each subsequent session, I was started to get out of my shell a bit, and during what I determined was my final session I had reached the point where I was starting to overthink everything and making mistakes. My left forearm was starting to get tight, my upper back and shoulders were holding some tension there. I had three more sessions I could ride but decided it was time to stop. I don't regret it.

    And because I'm sure you really want to see more pictures, I'll throw these in. Track photographers really know how to make us look good...

    Turn 6 inside 11:45 session


    Turn 6 outside 12:45 session (notice the green apex cone)


    Turn 9 inside 1:45 session


    Turn 9 inside 1:45 session (money shot...I bought one like this to frame)
    ~Teri
    Quote Originally Posted by Bugguts View Post
    Hey, at my age running hot and loss of spark is a common problem.
    2013 Triumph Tiger 800
    2018 Triumph Street Triple R - Low
    2015 Ninja 300 (sold to a student rider, renamed Lloyd)


  4. #4
    RiderCoach 10,000 Posts! SoCal LabRat's Avatar
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    My take aways from the day, in no particular order:

    Don't be scared. Just do it!

    Don't hold on to what you think you know, be open to letting go a bit (for those of us control freaks!) I spent too much time riding like I was on the street instead of embracing the fact I was riding on the track.

    Do ask questions and be honest with your instructor. If there is something that is causing you trouble or concern, speak up. They are there to help you. When I was having trouble visualizing what should be the turn in point to turn 3 and turns 5 & 6 (double apex), I asked Terry to show them to me again so I could get it.

    The weather was perfect! It started getting windy as the day progressed, but never had anything that was scary or caused problems.

    When I do this again, I will do it on a different bike, one that is designed for this type riding. I don't have any regrets that I took the Tiger, but I think it's a bit like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

    Learning gradually is a great way to do it. It's difficult when learning new concepts like finding landmarks for braking and turn in to be consistent. Keep doing it, and it should become easier.

    One piece suits for women suck when you gotta pee.

    It's great being a woman at the track, no bathroom line.

    Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Your brain and body need it.

    A huge thank you to Sakkakth for enabling me to experience this.

    Now...anybody know of a used track bike in decent shape in SoCal?
    Last edited by SoCal LabRat; 04-25-2016 at 01:04 AM.
    ~Teri
    Quote Originally Posted by Bugguts View Post
    Hey, at my age running hot and loss of spark is a common problem.
    2013 Triumph Tiger 800
    2018 Triumph Street Triple R - Low
    2015 Ninja 300 (sold to a student rider, renamed Lloyd)


  5. #5
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
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    Thanks for the write up, great detailed comments, thoughtful observations and pictures. I have been contemplating a track day, but have not gotten around to it. Maybe this summer. Maybe with my boys while they are home.

    This helps encourage me. Looks like great fun.

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    Flirting With The Redline 6000 Posts! atomicalex's Avatar
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    Great write-up, Teri!

    I'm glad you chose to go and had a good experience. You look great in the photos.

    Right now, my goal is to acquire another CBR250R to get "on track" with. I have no desire whatsoever to take the GS onto the track, especially now that it's taller.
    Katherine goes to Fahrschule - the German rider training thread :: Nine Days in the Alps :: BRC 2014 :: Finding GS Land
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    Flirting With The Redline alba's Avatar
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    Great write up. Loved reading this. I've also never heard about front-back weight shifts on a street bike. It's very important off road but this is the first I've heard it mentioned on a street bike, though I've never actually taken a track class before.

  8. #8
    Flirting With The Redline 3000 Posts! Galaxieman's Avatar
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    Welcome to being a track addict. Starting on a street bike is like a gateway drug, which inevitably leads to more and more hardcore usage. It's okay. First you're doing modifications to the street bike, then you acquire track-only machines, then you're doing stuff like converting all of your bikes to GP shift... Both my current bikes are set up GP shift, and in looking at new bikes, whether or not they're convertible to that pattern is on my list of things to check. Having used it on the track, it just feels more natural. The pictures look great, and you look comfortable riding, which is a big deal. Some old codger told me to try and sneak up on fast, and it's worked out pretty well thus far.

    I finally signed up for a trackday this August, which will be my first time on a track in a little over 4 years. Hawaii was nice for riding, but not having any track facilities was a bit depressing. I need to get after getting the carbs rebuilt on the Ninjette so it'll actually run right, AND so I can reclaim that side of the garage. Still, really looking forward to getting back out there.

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    Miles of smiles We've stopped counting... asp125's Avatar
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    *starts scanning CL for Ninjettes* ... What's interesting is looking at your photos and seeing how close the side stand is to the pavement on that green apex cone picture.

    Like Jim says.. gateway drug.
    Last edited by asp125; 04-25-2016 at 01:43 PM.
    When life throws you curves, aim for the apex
    [sigpic][/sigpic]
    08 Spyder RS SM5 "big Bird" \ 12 S'TtripleR "stripper" \ 02 VFR800 "big red" \ 09 KLX250-S
    Sold: 97 Ninja 500R / 03 SV650N / 01 Ducati 750SS / 73 CB350-Four / 03 BMWF650GS / 08 Gixxer600 / 09 KLX250S "Gumby" / 06 Thruxton "crumpet" / 91 VFR750 /03 Gixxer6 the bass boat
    my Facebook, SpeedShotsPhotography
    MITGC #22

    "I have seen fat kids on Segways go through corners faster."

  10. #10
    I. Am. Impressed!!!!!
    Marilyn

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