Life on bikes

Relieving Anxiety About Your First Track Day

I’ve had some interesting conversations with road riders over the years about getting out on track. When it was my turn personally to get involved in my first track day, I still remember a couple of people being unsure of my decision. Particularly with the idea of me using my own bike.

I find it likely that most of the fears people have of riding on the track stem from the unknown of what could potentially happen (crashing, basically) and the consequences it would mean for their livelihood, and in extreme cases, their lives themselves.

The truth is that track days are much much safer than some would have you believe, and here I want to raise a few points which I hope will alleviate the anxiety of getting yourself out there.

You Don’t Need to Be Skilled

If you are competent enough to ride a motorcycle on a Sunday ride out, you are most definitely competent enough to ride on the track.

It’s not all about going uber fast and slashing lap times. That’s for those that start getting more serious about the hobby and are looking to improve themselves.

Turning up on the day with the view to treating it as a brisk summer ride out, you’ll do more than enough to “qualify” yourself for any track day.

All you need to do is ride within your limits and be smooth and predictable and you’ll almost certainly keep yourself out of any sort of trouble.

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You Don’t Need a Fast Bike

I think I’ve seen every bike you can imagine out on track at some point. From adventurers, to 125 learner bikes, to supermotos and even the odd Harley Davidson.

Like I said above you’re not there to set lap records, just ride your bike as you would on the road without doing anything stupid.

If your bike has two wheels and runs ok, it is welcome on the track.

You Don’t Need Fancy Gear

While a wander down any track day paddock may have you thinking otherwise, you don’t need to look like a professional race outfit to do track days.

You do not need a van full of race gear in order to get anything out of your day. A bike, leathers and some fuel (for you and your machine) are all you really need.

Ed: For the full low-down on your first time out: Preparing for your first bike track day

The Track is Probably Safer

The two main reasons given for riders not wanting to take their bikes on the track are:

– They couldn’t bear crashing it
– They might get taken out by someone else’s mistake

Point number one should already have been covered above, but number two has always been an interesting one.

While it isn’t unheard of for people to get unlucky and get taken out by someone else, could you honestly say the risks of losing out through bad luck are higher than on the road?

Riders head out most summer Sundays without even thinking about it, but listing out all the potential dangers that can meet you on the road you’d have to wonder why anyone would be crazy enough to roll off the end of the driveway, let alone the street.

On the track you have buckets of room, marshals watching every single inch of the track, instructors keeping an eye on it and, for the most part, riders all looking out for each other too.

Yes, there is risk involved, but losing out to someone else’s mistake is rare in my experience.

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You Can Get Insurance

If crashing your bike would leave you well out of pocket it’s a good idea to buy insurance regardless, but it’s something else you can employ to help alleviate the anxiety of the unlikely happening.

Outside of that, you can also look to hire a bike for the track as a kind of insurance.

It will mean costs will be a bit higher for the day and you’ll pay an excess if you do crash, but it then means the responsibility doesn’t fall to you as much.

I’ve met people that are vehemently against any sort of track riding because they believe it only encourages performance riding on the road.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

A track day is a superb place to enjoy riding your bike in the manner that YOU enjoy.

There’s no pressure to go fast and you have far fewer hazards present before, through and after every bend.

To anyone who has had the faintest of urges to check out the track, do it now and you’ll wonder why you didn’t before.

Get yourself sorted:

Let it sink in that track days offer fewer hazards than high-speed country road rides.

Dan Netting is a guest contributor to Biker & Bike.

For more of his track day and performance riding advice and help with technique, positioning and bike set up, check out lifeatlean.com

Essential Riding Skills by Dan Netting
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The Author

Dan Netting

Dan Netting

Dan is the guy behind lifeatlean.com, in our opinion one of the very best online track-riding resource out there.

After getting his motorcycle licence in early 2009 he found himself on the track shortly after. A couple of embarrassing tumbles later he decided to become a student of the game and find out what it takes to ride fast around the track, without the need to pick bike pieces out of the gravel.

Now he’s working to help others do the same.

It doesn't matter if it's your first track day or you've graduated to racing - you WILL learn something as Life at Lean covers everything from track positioning, bike positioning to how to prepare mentally and how to set up your bike.

In his own words, "Biker. Track Nut. Latte Aficionado... If you don't find a milky coffee in my right hand it's probably because it has a throttle in it."

For more track day and performance riding articles and teachings, check out http://lifeatlean.com