My First Track Day by Bunch
My first track day holds so many feelings; adrenaline, fear, excitement, confusion, panic, wrapped in an unbeleiveable sense of, "Wow, I'm really here."
I remember hearing about doing track days by some guys at a local gear shop. Handed me a flyer and I mulled it over and over. What if I crash? Ive already been hit by a pair of Volkswagons from riding street the year before. I dont have a car yet, or gear. So I put it on the back burner for another 8 months. Untill I finally pulled the trigger on buying my first track day, ever, with Ridesmart. Right after I confirmed my purchase my brain told me "How in the heck are you going to get there?"
I had no other vehicle, and I had to drive to Houston from Dallas. I start making calls to every one I know that would let me borrow a truck or something that could tow a trailer to rent from Uhaul. So I called a best friend of mine. He offered to help me pack up the bike and drive with me down there and spend the weekend, splitting a hotel room. The first wave of panic was laid aside.
The next was actually getting the bike into the truck without a ramp, forklift, or evil knieval jump to land this two wheeled machine in the bed of a pickup. We sorted this out with some clever landscaping at the apartment complex I lived in at the time, and a 2x4 plank.
With the minimum straps he cinched her down tightly
At nearly 11:30pm after a long day of work, I was in need of sleep for an early 6am rise and shine plus the drive to even get to this mysterious event of speed. So we headed out at nearly 1200am the night before / Day of towards Houston, on Interstate 35 south. I'm glad at about 230am I awoke from a gentle and uncomfortable nap to find that we were supposed to be on I45, not I35!
Thanks friend for reading the signs, and kinda my fault for not thinking more clearly despite the lack of sleep. So we drove all night and into the morning. I got about 2 hours of sleep unfortunately but the excitement I felt was that of a 5 year old before christmas knowing the largest box was for himself.
I drove the last hour into Houston, and neared the hotel at nearly 5am. Only 1 hour to go before registration opens.
Somehow I get to prepping my bike, taping over lights, removing mirrors, taking off the license plate holder and turn signals, all in a panic and with borrowed tape.
I made my way to the rider's meeting and saw the leader of Ridesmart for the first time, and tried to ask as many questions of those around me without being too disruptive.
Anxiety and excitement is all that kept me awake that day. I made my way to class for level 1 and listend to the sounds of the engines screaming down the front straight more than my teachers. The fear of diving into my first track day, albeit a tad hastily, possibly wrecking and maybe, just maybe being in over my head.
My first time out was exhilarating, it felt like I was piloting a jet down my own personal stripe of pavement, just for me and others like me. And this was just round robin.
I tried to pick up on the lines, and understand how all the theories and watching was going to come together. I was mentally overwhelmed, and trying to drink it all in, like a man dying of thrist in the desert. Much of what I had learned about the mechanics of motorcycles was still just theory. But now I got to feel all of it in play. The rush of the wind, the rebounding of the suspension under hard braking (or what I thought was hard braking at the time). The engine pulling the bike out from under me and sliding me to the rear of the seat. So many things were just so ever whelming I was lost in the moment, the enjoyment of no speed limits, no volkswagons or stop signs. Every session seemed to be shorter than the last, time really does fly when you are having that much enjoyment at the track, cutting loose and really twisting the throttle. Even among the fear of "Holy crap Im going so fast!".
I had a great deal of confidence on a motorcycle on the street, until I got to the track, and found just how fast my bike really was.
The sense of the bike leaning over as you fly through turns is just incredible. I loved the challenge. I had found a new addiction. I spent the day trying my limits, and asking every question I could, learning something from each person I encountered. I even found someone to setup my suspension, which made a difference like night to day to the handling. I found out how much tire tempurature really does affect you. By the end of the day I felt like superman! Racing through the corners putting the bike as far down in the corners as I could, I was scared and excited out of my mind! Enjoying every moment my tires spun over the pavement, into corner after corner.
Some how, after terrible planning, rushed bike prep, bad tire pressures, incorrect suspension settings, hack job taping of my headlights, a nap for sleep, nearly running off and pushing my self as hard as I could to improve at the risk of crashing my only form of trasportation, I came out unscathed. And much more knowledgeable about HOW my bike works, the FEEL of my suspension keeping me connected to the ground, the SOUND of the engine racing, the new friends, a new family, a set of new teachers.
Exhausted, sore legged, mentally drained from the emotional explosion of excitement and thrill from the days event, we packed up and left. I dreamed of riding the track as I slept that night in the hotel. I knew I was hooked, looking for the next opportunity to get back out there to become better, smoother, to really LEARN how to ride fast, and safely.