Is a racetrack only for professional racers? To start off, let’s have this prevalent myth dispelled that one rides on the racetrack only to race. A track day for a motorcycle enthusiast may have nothing to do with racing. A rider may want to spend a few hours on the circuit just to enjoy himself and improve his riding skills in a safe environment.
Those who have experience with riding on a racetrack always tell you that it’s one of the most enjoyable and thrilling activities for an avid biker. For an everyday motorcyclist, however, it might sometimes get difficult to imagine as to what advantages riding on a racetrack may offer over the secluded, snaking twisties he regularly attacks every weekend. The advantages are many, and we’d try and list the most pertinent ones here, so you know, with reason, as to why every biker should ride on a racetrack at least once in his lifetime.
It’s the right place to have fun
Because public roads are not! If you think that the relatively deserted windy piece of tar that traverses its way through the nearby hill is the right place for your wheeled shenanigans, think again. Public roads are unsafe, and by all means you need to ride responsibly with a heavy buffer for surprises while riding. You should never try to test the upper limit of your skill, or the machine you are riding on public roads. The ignorant helmetless motorcyclist with a cellphone in one hand, the stray dog, the odd pothole, the state transport bus on the wrong side of a blind corner – the reasons are many for you to be extra careful on the street. The racetrack is not just an option, it is THE place to have fun with your machine minus any inhibitions or worries.
It improves your vision technique
Placing the motorcycling correctly on the road is easier said than done. Your head should be in a certain position, with your eyes looking in the right direction, at the right distance to ensure that the motorcycle follows a certain trajectory. Riding on the racetrack with no distraction makes you understand this concept much better, as you don’t have to constantly look out for that cat which may spring out of the bush at any time. Riding on the track trains you about using your straight as well as peripheral vision in the best way possible.
It enhances your braking
You wouldn’t even know how wrongly you use your brake until you’re going all-out on a technical course. All things being constant, it is the braking point that helps a rider go faster around a bend. Novice riders often brake mid-corner, brake too early, or brake too late. Going around a track in circles gives you a firsthand experience of how braking affects your speed and resultantly your lap timings. A day at the track would see you braking deeper and deeper into a corner, giving you a good insight into the intricacies involved with the technique.
It teaches you the concept of racing line
Watching MotoGP on your TV screen is different from being on the saddle in the middle of a racetrack. Using the width of the track is the most essential part of being able to go around it faster. A day at the track would tell you how going wide before a turn, coming in to kiss the apex and going wide again enhances the speed you carry around a bend significantly. You won’t be able to get a proper sense of the technique on the street, as you’d either be crossing over to the wrong side of the road, or carrying too much speed to account for any surprises. Both of which are not advisable.
You’ll learn how your body position enhances your speed
You really don’t have to consciously stick that knee out to make it slide against the tar. If your basics are right, there are chances that you’d feel your knee-slider scrubbing against track automatically after a while. Surprising, as it might sound, going around the racetrack gives you great insights about how leaning off a motorcycle helps you carry more speed. Your movement across the saddle improves, you keep shifting your weight from side to side, transfer your weight onto inside pegs while leaning in and get to see firsthand how all of that actually makes you a better rider. A day at the track for a non-track rider would leave his body parts aching that he didn’t know existed. This happens as you position your body on the bike in a manner you never have done before. As it goes without saying, it teaches you a lot about the right body position on the bike for going faster.
It humbles you
So you think you’re the fastest rider among your friends? Prepare for a shock. If it’s your first time at the racetrack, and if you are in the company of some seasoned guys, you’d often find yourself being lapped. At some corners, you would be overtaken as though you were on a standstill. You’d realize that all those of your boastful manoeuvres on the street that gave you your bragging rights aren’t worth zilch on the racetrack. You’d realize that fast, technical riding is much different from winning that traffic light GP, and definitely much different to overtaking your friend around a corner in a ghat. Once you leave the racetrack, you’d have a complete understanding of your skill level, minus the irrelevant ego. This would make you a more humble rider who realizes the inconsequentiality of trying to be seen as ‘fast’ on the road.
Makes you a faster, yet safer rider
Let’s be real. On the street, you’d never be able to test the extremities of your skill level, or the dynamic ability of your motorcycle. On the racetrack, you would experience both, which would leave you laughing at those who think they’re even close to those extremes on the street. You’d be a better-trained rider, who would know that it’s not only dangerous, but in effect, futile to think of public roads as a proving ground. You’ll return an evolved, seasoned, safer and a decidedly faster rider after that day at the track.
It would leave you with fond memories for a lifetime
If you’re a biker, and you love the thrill of riding, you’d never have had such a blast. This would be one of your fondest memories ever, one you’d cherish for a lifetime. We can promise you that!
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Got your own reasons to add to the list or maybe some others to NOT go to a racetrack? Do share them all with us through the comments section below.
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