Such a fantastic track day yesterday, I couldn’t wait until the end of season to begin writing a 2019 update to this thread. I’m still recovering from yesterday, but also still enjoying the trackday endorphin high too… Yesterday was another awesome day at my favorite track, The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, WA. With the recent announcement of a MotoAmerica round to be hosted there next June I'm curious and excited to see how the track's expansion plans pan out over the next 9 month.
Where to begin, I’ll start with lap times…
I closed out last season with a personal best lap at The Ridge Motorsports Park of just under 2:19; my best lap at the first track day of this season was 2:20. Yesterday with a lot of help I recorded a 2:13!
No illusions and no problem admitting and accepting there's still tons to learn and get smoother at, and that many chunks of time are still to be gained. For reference the the track record was a 1'40" flat on a 600cc bike. Current record is a 1'38" on a s1000rr. Where do I attribute the time gains from? A combination of things, in my perceived order of importance:
On-track coaching. Between the three of us friends pitting together we shared two coaches. On friend had a coach to himself, each session ($$), I shared a coach with my other pit-mate($). I got the coach’s attention most of the morning sessions, my friend got the coach’s attention the remaining morning and most of the afternoon’s sessions.
Feedback in a nutshell, I was missing out on “free speed” by not using all of the track available to me. I adjusted my lines through 4 turns and my eyes were opened wider! The adjusted lines had me carrying enough new speed to stay in the next higher gear than I used to be in, resulting in me getting in and out of those corners even quicker. Next track day, in addition to building on my new lines, I intend to work on my braking. My coach felt I had at least another 2 ‘easy’ seconds I can gain with braking later at that track, noted.
I’m kicking myself for not bucking-up and waiting this long before seeking more track instruction. A cool thing about the coaching is that during the sessions I wasn’t being coached I was still benefiting from the coaching by tucking in behind one my friends or their coaches and trying to keep up with them while I continued to work on either my lines or getting smoother on down-hill right-handers.
Open track/lack of traffic. Yesterday was my first time riding with a relatively new track day provider MotoVixens. Their days cost a little more but the trade-off/benefit is their grids are much less crowded. It also helps that there were zero red flags that day. During the riders meeting a rider asked about passing rules. The reply was “There are no passing rules in all three groups, but when passing, pass for the comfort of the rider being passed (something to that effect)”. In a conversation with the organizer at the end of the day, she said they found that some riders thought too much about what the passing rules are while passing instead of focusing on reasonable pass so they switched their approach. The smaller grids help a bunch too.
Body position while braking. At some point in one of the first two sessions I adjusted my body position while braking harder in preparation for downhill right-handers. Instead of gripping the sides of the tank with both of my inner thighs to keep from sliding forward in to the back of the tank in discomfort, my butt was shifted slightly to the right on the seat, so that my left inner thigh was now keeping my body from sliding forward by resting behind the back of the tank. The switch from gripping the sides of the tank to an angled inner thigh against the back of the tank felt a lot better. Downhill right turns felt like they became smoother and with less effort on the bars. I started doing the same with my inner right thigh for harder braking for left turns and things continued to improve with subsequent sessions.
In retrospective speculation of a non-professional, I think part of my problem with downhill turns before was being more tense having to squeeze the sides of the tank and that tension influenced hand control inputs. With my inner thigh on the back of the tank while braking I was relatively resting while braking compared to before and think that contributes to the hand controls feeling lighter and more fluid before and during turns.
Switching gloves. A few seasons back I wanted to up my hand protection with new gloves. I happened up a lightly used pair of A-Stars Supertech gloves in my size for a price I couldn’t refuse and bought them. These are my first gloves with the connected pinky and ring fingers. For some reason, during the first session yesterday I did not like how the Supertechs were interfacing with the grips, things felt sticky. Out I curiousity I decided to use my tried and true ol’faithful Revit SLR gloves, my street gloves the next session… It felt like getting a keyboard upgrade at work. Hand controls felt lighter, more natural, better. Time to sell the Supertech XXL gloves and go glove shopping again. I love the Revit SLR gloves, but know there are more protective gloves out there. To honor my commitment to family and friends who are less fond of motorcycle riding, I want my protective gear to be above average if not the best available.
The Q4 tires now have three track days on them and all indications are I should get another track day or two+? It may be a function of who techs my bike that track day morning. I’m now feeling more confident my set has a shot at completing at least most of typical season of mine. The benefits of being relatively slow on a relatively lower-hp bike and usually skipping the last sessions of the afternoon due to fatigue/lack of fitness.
The digital gear indicator and HealTech quickshifter are growing on me more. In a first, I don’t believe I blew any (down)shifts yesterday and the interruption to my forward looking awareness is minimal to remind myself of what gear I’m currently in.
As for the quickshifter, between 6500 and 7000 rpm seems to be the sweet spot. Between 6500-7000 the shifts are smoother and the rpm drop between the current and next gear is minimized.