GET­TING TO GRIPS WITH COR­NERS...

To help you get the most out of your cor­ner­ing and feel more con­fi­dent in the process, there’s no bet­ter or safer class­room than a track.

Fast Bikes - - RIDING -

If you are like me, every bend in the road is rea­son enough for a joy­ful cel­e­bra­tion. Cor­ner­ing on a mo­tor­cy­cle has yet to be ac­knowl­edged as an art form, but those of us who are en­am­oured with it unashamedly know where our hearts lie: in­creas­ing, de­creas­ing, and con­stant-ra­dius turns. Throw in a cam­ber change or two then add some el­e­va­tion, a few esses, just enough straight bits be­tween them, and you have the mak­ings of pure, unadul­ter­ated ec­stasy of mo­tion.

Those who know re­al­ize I’ve just de­scribed any one of dozens of road-course rac­ing fa­cil­i­ties that are com­monly avail­able to rid­ers across Amer­ica through a wide va­ri­ety of track­day providers and rid­ing schools. Back in the 70s there was no such thing as a track­day, and that be­came a prob­lem for me when I be­gan putting to­gether the orig­i­nal cur­ricu­lum for the Su­per­bike School.

As I shopped around the idea of track time for non-rac­ers it be­came ap­par­ent that not one per­son in the in­dus­try knew what I was talk­ing about. My pro­pos­als were met with blank looks and, ‘Why would you put a bike un­der­neath any old street rider and send them out to ride on a race­track? Son, don’t you know that race­tracks are for rac­ing?’

Steeped in the cher­ished mantra of man­u­fac­tur­ers – ‘win on Sun­day, sell on Mon­day’ – it was the pre­vail­ing mind-set of the time. That is what tracks were all about. Even then, the eco­nomic re­al­ity of that wis­dom was los­ing ground and has be­come less and less of an in­dus­try strat­egy over the years.

Rid­ers to­day know the value of what track rid­ing of­fers. Back then how­ever, I lost count of the num­ber of times I had to drive home the ad­van­tages or point out the mer­its of no cars, no cops, no speed limit, no in­ter­sec­tions, and no dis­trac­tions. Fi­nally, it be­gan to sink in and we were on our way – open­ing up tracks across Amer­ica to road rid­ers.

Con­sid­er­ing that was 37 years ago, it was still a big sur­prise to note that we had put on track school events at 56 dif­fer­ent fa­cil­i­ties in the US.

For those who have yet to be bap­tised in track-based rid­ing, the only ad­vice I’d have is: Do it. There are many track­day providers na­tion­wide in the UK. Find out your lo­cal providers. Look into their safety records

THINK OF ANY TRACK AS IF IT WERE A FUN SEC­TION OF YOUR FAVOURITE ROAD.

and pro­ce­dures by go­ing to on­line fo­rums and ask­ing ques­tions. Most of­ten there is a three-group for­mat, di­vid­ing rid­ers into cat­e­gories of ex­pe­ri­ence based on lap times.

A key point to find out is how many rid­ers will be out on track with you. Ob­vi­ously, the fewer other peo­ple around when you’re rid­ing the bet­ter. My own stan­dard is a max­i­mum of 21 stu­dents on track, fewer at shorter tracks, but there is no set num­ber that’s best. Track­days typ­i­cally have a higher num­ber than schools.

One more piece of knowl­edge might help you to make that leap: You can do track­days on any style of bike. A sport­bike is not re­quired to reap all the ben­e­fits of track rid­ing or rider train­ing. Cruis­ers (some, not all – check with your lo­cal provider), tour­ing bikes, dual-sports, sport-tour­ing ma­chines, and of course sport­bikes are all ac­cept­able for the track.

Think of any track as if it were a fun and chal­leng­ing two to three mile sec­tion of your favourite road. Imag­ine dou­bling its width and tak­ing away the cen­tre­lines so you can ride it shoul­der to shoul­der. Add one or two straight sec­tions be­tween its eight to 15 cor­ners and loop it so you can ride the same sec­tion over and over again. This is cor­ner­ing bliss.

Even without pro­fes­sional in­struc­tion, the abil­ity to fo­cus ex­clu­sively on your own rid­ing, rather than the men­tal jug­gling we must do with the usual dis­trac­tions and dan­gers present on any pub­lic road, will bring about a re­newed ap­pre­ci­a­tion for all of your rid­ing.

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