Why doing your homework can be fun. No, really…
Don’t just turn up
Study the circuit before the big day. Seek out onboard videos, track guides and even computer games to give you a feeling for what to expect, but these should only be used as a rough guide. The circuit will look completely different when you actually ride it.
Do a dummy lap
If you can get onto the track the night before, walking, running or cycling around it will help you learn it more comprehensively. This is your chance to suss out the shape of the corners and to look out for things you can use as braking, turn-in and exit markers. Look out for bumps, cambers, kerbs and anything you think will help or hinder you at speed.
Take a good look around
It can be unnerving to think everyone else except you knows where they’re going when you turn up to a new track. But don’t worry, there’s no rush. Physically turn your head from side-to-side and look around to get an idea of the track layout on those opening laps. Don’t attack the circuit straight away; it’s too easy to run off the track and form bad habits.
Play the dot-to-dot game
The racing line, braking markers, apexes, turn-in and exit points are the most important thing to ‘lock-in’ before you worry about going fast. Track riding is formulaic, as it never changes (unless it starts raining). Treat it like a giant, high-speed dot-to-dot puzzle. Begin by hitting your marks at low speed and the rest is easy as you bleed in more speed.
Make plenty of notes
Print out a track map and make notes after every session. Start with the simple stuff by writing down the gear you’re in at each corner, even if it’s the wrong one to begin with, then progress to writing notes about what the bike is doing at points on the track, and draw the racing lines you’re taking. Your notes will change as you learn the track, but the act of putting them to paper will make you think more about what you’re doing.
Instructors are your friends
You’ll be bombarded with advice at a trackday, whether you ask for it or not. The best wisdom will come from the instructors, but listen to the faster riders, too. There’s a lot of bravado at a trackday and the most common thing is riders telling you they’re flat-out in certain corners – they’re usually not.
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