Track Day Riding – Is It For You? Part One in a Four Part Series

In the 80’s I was a teenager listening to new wave music and surfing twice a day. When I wasn’t in the water one of things I liked to do was watch Grand Prix motorcycle racing on TV. America dominated GP racing in those days with guys like Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Kevin Schwantz, and Freddie Spencer. As they went from circuit to circuit to the most amazing road courses the world has to offer I dreamed of a day when I might throw a leg over a GP bike and give it a go. Watching these supernatural beings as they made it look easy wrangling the wild 500cc two stroke beasts of the era was always my favorite, especially in slow motion playback, bikes that weigh a scant 286 lbs and produce a tire shredding 200hp, bikes that were affectionately known as “the unrideables” because the power came on like a light switch. I firmly believe the elegant grace and beauty that is motorcycle racing, off-road or on, can only be truly appreciated in slow motion. Each second contains countless elements of intense drama, from subtle body positioning to keep the bike in line, to rear tires lifting off the ground under hard braking, to lofting front wheels as bikes accelerate hard while still banked over turning, as they exit a corner. Add to this the endless sliding, front and rear wheel drifts that seem to go on forever leaving massive amounts of rubber in their wake. Check this video for a classic example.

In addition to a history of riding dirt bikes on MX tracks and trails, I have owned a street bike of some form for the majority of my 49 years and I have always wanted to see if I have what it takes to manage a sport bike on a road course. In fact, it’s on my bucket list. Even if I only do it once, the prospect of not having to worry about gravel in the middle of a blind turn or grass in the road from some dude who has just mowed his lawn. Or worse, some distracted driver veering into my lane is incredibly appealing. The trouble is, track riding is dangerous, right? I have two young children and a wife to support. What am I thinking? I can’t be going around some track with a bunch of other nitwits at 150 mph!

It is possible that I have overly romanticized the idea of track riding? That climbing into a set of leathers, sliding into a fresh full face helmet, and then tossing a leg over a bike that has been safety wired and prepped for the track. That pulling the clutch lever for the first time, shifting into gear and easing out onto the hot tarmac, clicking up through the gears as I pick up the pace with each lap would be something I would enjoy. That having my tires come up to temperature, leaning deeply into a corner with my knee just skimming the ground, letting me know that I am leaning the bike just enough, applying as much throttle as I dare while leaned over, increasing it as I move toward the exit of the turn, then whacking it open, to gobble up hundreds of feet in mere seconds, hurtling myself to the next series of turns might just be the thrill of my lifetime?

I say yes, count me in!