Photo by Driver Photographer
On any given track day they’ll always be a section of riders that are looking to do more than simply ride around for a day with a smile on their face.
A substantial amount of riders are looking to make progress in their riding.
This could be getting over the fear of higher entry speed and lean angle, learning to trust the bike and tyres more, seeing a better number on their lap timer, or even simply looking better in photos and reaching that knee down grail.
Even with these goals at the top of their minds, many from that same section of riders will achieve the typical level of results from their day.
Not very much.
This ISN’T because they’re incapable, because others are simply better, or their current level is the best they’re ever going to reach.
Even with this being the case these are the feelings that will come to the surface as they wonder why they aren’t able to get past their current plateaus and ride as fast as the guys coming past them with ease.
In my experience the problem usually comes from how riders approach a track day and their attempts to improve.
Quite simply, they don’t have a plan.
You can read all the books and watch all the videos you like, but even with a solid level of riding knowledge substantial results are unlikely to come if you’re just riding around expecting stuff to happen or spending the day messing around with friends.
Now don’t get me wrong, having fun is most definitely a goal for track days, but if it’s also your goal to really begin to see improvements in your riding, more than just a better lap time, then you have to spend the time to actually try to improve.
The beauty of all this is that your plan doesn’t need to be incredibly elaborate.
It’s more about giving yourself focus and attention on a particular part of your riding you’d like to improve. To do that you merely need to get specific and focused.
To get focused it’s a good idea to ask the following two questions for each session where you’d like to practise:
Once you can narrow down the thing you want to improve and where you want to try and improve it, you give yourself focus for the next session rather than just riding around hoping for development to miraculously appear.
Improvement is definitely possible in terms of outright speed without this focus, but you’ll likely learn very little about riding or where the advancement came from.
Let’s say that you’re looking to raise your level in the braking zone. You find yourself rolling off and braking too early and you know you’re losing time.
You know from your study that we want a solid visual braking marker, that we want to be well aware of it on our approach, and that we want to get to our maximum braking effort quickly.
With that area in mind you pick the biggest braking zone to work on.
For the next few sessions you work on getting your actions for that braking zone into better shape.
Maybe in the first session you give yourself the goal of finding a good starting braking point and finding a reference marker for it. Something that doesn’t feel too scary and will allow you to more comfortably work at pushing it toward the corner.
In the next session you’ll work at getting to maximum braking effort quicker, which you then find gives you the feeling that you need to get OFF the brakes to actually reach the corner with any sort of speed.
With this realisation you can see that you have room to continue accelerating for longer by being less tentative with the throttle down the straight with the solid and comfortable braking point you’ve given yourself. As well as this, you can likely begin pushing the braking point closer to the corner too.
That’s something you can now look to improve in session three.
It’s all about working with specifics. You may think that breaking everything down like this is going to mean wasted time where you could be improving in multiple areas, but when flying around a circuit at 100+ mph your available attention to focus and practice the different facets of your riding is extremely limited.
You need the brain space to actually put the required stuff into action and note the results you’re getting.
For me, being a better rider isn’t just about going faster, it’s about being smooth, tidy and consistent, which in turns translates into larger safety margins and a better foundation to work at further improvement.
Getting specific and focused for your riding sessions is the absolute best way to see improvement in these areas too.
So to recap the advice is pretty simple.
You’ll start seeing some noticeable improvements in your riding if you approach it like this. Not just in what the lap timer says, but in how you feel on track mentally and the confidence you have in your actions too.
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