Case Study: How to Get Unstuck and Past Barriers

Greg was struggling with being 'stuck in a range' for a long time

In the last couple of articles I’ve talked about how we go about finding the areas where we should focus our improvement efforts, as well as how we should approach our riding in order to start seeing progress in that area.

Really it came down to two key points:

  • Ask to right questions to drill down and find the problem.
  • Give yourself a simple and specific plan to follow to solve it.

The key takeaway from both pieces was the importance of specifics. Knowing what needs improving, and how you’re going to go about improving it.

What I want to do here is show you a real world example of this in action and how you can achieve “incredible” results with the right plan.

Greg McKenna and His Entry Speed Improvements

Back in mid 2016 I sent out a limited offer for virtual Skype coaching to a select number of people in my audience.

Greg, an intermediate rider from Scottsdale, Arizona, was one of the people who took me up on the offer as at the time he was feeling frustrated, couldn’t improve his lap times and had been “stuck in a range” for almost a year.

In his words…

“I'm 53 - played sports my entire life. Things usually come easy, but not this. I’ve been to 18+ track days over the last 3 years. Progression has been slower than I'd like.

I've been to Yamaha Champions Riding School, Peris Riding School, read and study everything related.”

After contacting Greg to learn more about exactly where he was struggling it became apparent that he was struggling in the braking zone and at corner entry.

Specifically Turn 3 at Inde Motorsport Ranch, which is a very fast right hand turn preceded by a long straight.

Greg found the he was fair too tentative down the straight, rolling off way too early and not able to find confidence to accelerate for longer, brake harder and carry more speed into this particular corner.

Being that this was down a long straight going into a long and fast right hand corner, a lot of time was being lost here.

What Was Holding Him Back

After looking at a bit of footage and having a chat with Greg on Skype we discovered that there were two main things holding him back:

  • He wasn’t properly located visually on the straight or approaching the corner.
  • He wasn’t using the correct braking structure.

With that we worked on finding Greg a braking maker to focus on down the straight, and also a turn marker to focus on once he had reached his braking point.

This is what would get him correctly feeling located on his approach and comfortable with where he was going to perform each action. Braking, and steering.

After we found those markers I asked Greg to work on getting to full brakes much quicker as he started braking. This would show him that he’s actually got such a long way to the corner and that he can begin to push the marker closer to the corner too.

Outside of that we spoke about practicing steering a bit quicker and not turning in too early, along with how he could begin to work on leaning the bike more by gradually releasing the brake earlier to carry more speed into the corner.

Thankfully, this plan worked as we’d hoped:

“I rode in the B group and thought I would be slow, but ended up being in the top 1/2 easily. I concentrated on using the markers - especially at turn 3 and it did help. I felt more confident, relaxed and was able to carry more speed.

I immediately moved my brake marker back and was still comfortable. I seemed to naturally apply the things we spoke of: better vision, later entries, carrying more speed at lean angle, using markers on the other corners - probably because they are not as fast as turn 3.

I think overall, I was able to carry speed better at lean angle around the track. That was probably my biggest single improvement.

My braking technique and confidence is way better, as I never had the panic feel. I was able to pass a lot of other riders (that was a new and for the first time, fun experience), of course I still got passed, just less frequently.“

Just with the stuff we spoke about which Greg subsequently worked on, his lap time went from a “consistent 2:26 - 2:28 down to 2:13 - 2:16”.

He had been stuck at the 26 - 28 range for almost a year.

What Exactly Did We Do?​

So to recap, here's how Greg managed to make this sizeable leap after a considerable period of stagnation.

We looked at where Greg was weak and where he was losing time:

  • Too tentative down the straight and on the approach to a fast right sweeper with a lot of coasting.

We then deduced what was causing this to happen, and as is usually the case it was:

  • A lack of good visual markers to make him feel properly located on the approach to, and in the entry phase of the corner.
  • Poor braking structure.

From there the steps Greg needed to take were fairly simple in order to improve the biggest problem he was having of rolling off way too early and coasting up to the corner:

  • Find and correctly use solid brake and turn markers down the straight and on the approach to the corner.
  • Work at getting to full brakes much quicker to show you just how much space you have to play with.

Armed with that plan and then breaking it down across a few sessions on his next track day, Greg was able to build a much more solid process leading up to that corner, and as a natural results of that he felt more calm and confident in that particular section of track.

An added bonus being that it naturally carried over into other areas of the track too.​

The Lesson Here

Quite simply, that it is entirely possible to see very good results through your own efforts on track if you get specific on the things you want to work on, and then actually set yourself goals for each session to go out there and practise it.

Armed with the plan we put together for him, Greg worked on the various parts of it throughout the day and came away with an exceptional leap forward.

Greg chopped off 10 seconds from his lap time and moved into the upper half of his group. As he quite rightly said in a testimonial I asked him to provide, “it was incredible”.

These types of results aren't uncommon for riders still making their way up the track day ranks. It's just about getting specific and focused with what you work on, and how you work on it.

I Want to Help You Get These Results Too

In a previous article I hinted that there was something I wanted to share with you if this type of methodical learning and approach is something that you’re interest in.

If you’d like to hear more about getting the right plan to get yourself the results, along with learning the fundamentals of track riding as you go, be sure to sign up to be notified of upcoming messages so you don't miss them.

I think you’ll find it quite interesting.

Talk to you soon!