First Day Story
A little wordy, but here's my first day story from my blog:
So, I had a great first full track day. I prepped the night before, loading a full set of tools, rear stand, lunch, drinks, snacks and other supplies up for the morning. Stacy and I woke early, and we dropped my car off at the track at about 6:30 AM, after which Stacy brought me back to the apartment to gear up and take my bike. I put on my new (used) set of race leathers, and off I went.
I got there just after 7:00 AM, and there were already a handful of people there prepping their bikes. Everyone seemed to be concentrating on getting ready, so I wasted no time in doing so myself. I pulled headlight and signal fuses, removed my mirrors, and began to diligently tape over all glass and plastic with a fresh roll of fashionably blue painter’s tape. Before I knew it, the bike was ready, and registration began at about 8:00 am. I registered, got my paperwork, and a couple of minutes later, rolled my bike up for tech inspection.
I was a little worried about my tires, as they had a little over 5000 miles on them, and were a little scrubbed up from the Taste of Racing the previous weekend - no problems though, I sailed right through inspection, had my bike stickered, and got back to my pit (car trunk). There was a short rider’s meeting at 8:30, where they covered all rules and procedures. Just before 9:00, all riders were invited for a slow couple of laps just to look over the track conditions, which I did.
The day started with the A (advanced) group going out at 9:00 am, followed by the B (intermediate) group at 9:20, and the C (beginner) group at 9:40. This pattern was intended to repeat until 5:00 pm, with an hour break for lunch. The C group was invited (almost required) to attend 20-minute classroom sessions each our, starting with a recap of rules, procedures and safety info for the first hour.
My first session out was relatively slow, as it was cold, the track was damp in places, and the track surface was cold as well. There was minimal passing, and the entire group did a pretty slow pace overall.
After a break and another classroom session, our group gridded up for our next session, only to watch as two instructors were sent down the track to investigate the possibility of oil on the track. Sure enough, there was, so our group was told to return to the pits as cleanup was done.
Almost an hour later, we were again called out for a single 25 minute session, to be our last before lunch. There was a standing yellow flag in turn 1 due to the oil, meaning no passing, and to take it easy in general. This second sesion went much like the first, a little slow, as we really didn’t get the chance to warm up after our extended break.
At lunchtime, there was a drawing for a bunch of prizes, with the grand prize being a season pass to CTT’s events ($2000+), and a consolation prize of a $99 off coupon being given to everyone who didn’t win anything. Well, I have a coupon.
After lunch, we got another session through. A little faster now, as the track was warm and dry, and I found myself not getting passed at all for the first time in the day - that felt good. I began to make my first few passes here.
Another break, during which we were told during our classroom session that we’d be doing a ‘4th gear no brakes’ drill. Basically, get into 4th gear for the entire track, don’t downshift, and only brake if you’re heading into somebody or really get scared. This sounded like it would be no fun at all, but it turned out to be a great exercise. Evidently, eliminating the attention needed to shift and brake allows you to simply focus on getting the bike setup for each turn in regards to speed and position, and also has the side effect of eliminating the ‘upsetting’ inputs of a novice. Basically, you’re along for the ride, and the bike’s going to go where you tell it - and it does, much faster than you were before.
So, onto the next session. I’d made many passes during the previous drill, and was really beginning to have fun - and not getting passed at all. So, I gridded up at the front line, proceeded to take the lead, and did so for what I believe was 3 laps, getting faster each lap. I was having a great time, and was faster and smoother than I’d ever been….
And then came turn 9. Turn 9 is the final turn before you head back out on the straightaway, and I’d been trying to get a faster exit speed here to set myself up for good speed down the straightaway. I had dragged boot toe/peg on the previous lap, so I knew I was really leaning, and on the last lap, I… had the front tire skid out.
Halfway through the ensuing slide, I came to realize that yes, I was in the middle of a crash, and that yes, my beloved bike was skidding away from me (what a sound!). As soon as I realized what was going on, two odd things happened - first, I looked at my gloves (I was on my back) and remarked to myself that yes, they were still on, which was good. Second, I began to wonder why I was only sliding, and hadn’t tumbled or roll. As soon as I thought this, my right side caught, and I was flopped onto my belly for the remainder of the slide. That answered that.
As soon as I stopped, I jumped right up and made angry gestures towards my bike. A second later, I realized I was in the middle of the track, and that it seemed like a good idea to run over towards the side of the track where my bike was resting, almost against the wall. A couple of guys came running out to help get my bike off and check on me, where they were strangely greeted by me smiling. They remarked that if I was smiling, I must be OK. I was.
So, people came over and consoled me, saying the bike wasn’t bad at all. In regards to why the tire went out, several people remarked that it was odd that the front went first - upon hearing that I was running my stock tires, they all said that was it, and that it was time for track tires for me. Sigh.