On-Track to awesomeness
The essential first track riding experience, where you learn loads of skillz and pick-up a huge dollop of confidence while you’re at it…
To whet my appetite (and my leathers) the day started with the On-Track experience, which is always the first group for signing on and heading out. As I snuck into the briefing room it was a treat to see the contrast in riders; there were a few guys old enough to be my grandad, a couple of girls scattered in, and even a kid wearing Richard Cooper’s old leathers and crashed-in helmet. The briefing wasn’t too long-winded but incredibly informative; a solid blend of seriousness and jokes prevents the chance of anyone falling asleep, yet there’s a lot of support given and reassurance is at an all-time high. We all knew what we had in store for us, and I for one was gagging to get going.
After missing a few minutes due to a wardrobe malfunction, it was immense to get out on the latest CB500R for what remained of the initial 30 minute track session alongside the little 125s and 300s. Having spoken to a bunch of riders in pit lane, the majority of the ‘On Track’ guys and gals were actually about to lose their racetrack virginity, which obviously meant at first the pace was incredibly steady – even slower than your typical novice group on a trackday. But hey, I was still having a right laugh on my CB which provided a fun-to-speed ratio that few other bikes could offer. As the session went on the instructors started pair up riders of a similar ability. This smoothed out the whole experience and, even though things were then running at a higher pace, it was incredibly safe with the instructors moving the slower chaps out of the way. As the chequered flag came out it was impressive to see the development in etiquette; from Moto3-style utter carnage in the first few minutes to an impeccably formed session. The smiles in pit lane said it all, but things were only just getting started, as we’d only had a taster of the On-Track experience and the real fun came in the shape of some cones, a few instructors and an empty car park…
Jumping on a little CBR125 this second part of the course, I couldn’t help but get a little bit excited; taking a trip down memory lane to back when I learnt to ride many moons ago. First up was the obstacle course where you were to weave in and out of cones. It was incredible how lenient the instructors
were, actively encouraging me to breakout of my boundaries .“Weaved in and out all right? We ll stand up and try it like that. Then you can sit on the tank and try it. Come and tell me once you’ve done all that and we’ll maybe try you at side saddle”, Iwas being told. It wasall about pushing limits, which wasmade easier with the knowledge that it didn’t matter if I drop the bike; that was expected. It was a great laugh, butalso a great opportunity to get a feel for steering, turning, bra king and generally controlling our bikes.And it didn’t stop there as the fun factor hit anew height when the challenge was introduced to see whocould do the longest skid or attempt a stoppie. It was mad to think that not that many hours earlier some of these guys had never even sat on a bike, and now they were perfecting miniature stunt displays. Fo rreasons such as these, the ‘On-Track’ course blew me away. It was where I learnt tor ideas a nipper but I’ d almost forgotten how great it was, and howmuch I could learn from it, despite the fact I’ve raced at National level for ahandful of years. It was an awesome experience and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to build their confidence and have a laugh in a controlled environment… and to get really good at pulling skids.
IT WAS ALL ABOUT PUSHING LIMITS, AND I KNEW THAT IT DIDN’T MATTER IF I DROPPED THE BIKE
‘Both hands on the ’bars, Pretty Boy.’ ‘It’s going to be a long day.’
Nothing to see here, folks.