Taking your motorcycle to a track day is a great way to not only test out the true capabilities of your machine in a safe environment, but to also improve your skills on a bike – skills that will translate to the road as well. There’s a lot to take in though. Riding at speeds that would get you locked up if you tried them on the road are the norm and that’s just in the straights. It’s going fast through the corners that provides the real exhilaration, leaning over while the bitumen below races by. And whether you’ve been riding a motorcycle for 1 year or 10, whether you’ve got a cruiser or a sportsbike or whether you intend one day to actually race, we’ve written down what to expect at your first motorcycle track day.
If you’re a normal person, you’ll get nervous. The prospect of hitting speeds double what you experience on the streets is enough to get you thinking about your own mortality. But think about it this way, you’re much safer going 120mph in an environment like a track with large amounts of runoff and open spaces as opposed to going 60mph on the road with trees, street poles and cars all around.
But nerves are good. It’s an instinctual part of being human that keeps you safe. It stops you from doing stupid things, so listen to your body. Your bike may be capable of going 100mph around turn 4, but if only feel comfortable at 60mph, then do that. Don’t push yourself early on.
Even if you’re riding in the colder months, you will sweat inside full leathers. And in the hotter months the amount you perspire will increase dramatically. Compared to any other sport, motorcyclists are at greatest risk for dehydration due to the fact you’ve effectively got a microclimate inside your leathers where it’s difficult for heat to escape.
Dehydration can cause general weakness, muscle cramps, and loss of concentration – all not good things if you’re preparing to brake at the end of a straight in sixth gear. Every time you finish a session, drink a good amount of water, no exceptions. It’s a common occurrence that at your first motorcycle track day you may get dehydrated if you don’t take proper care.
Even if you do keep up your water intake, fatigue is going to be a factor after a day of riding at your limits. If you’re hanging off your bike and moving side to side by putting weight through the pegs, your leg muscles will get a work out. Even your right hand will begin to cramp from twisting the throttle and pulling in the brake lever.
Seeing as you probably won’t be visiting the track regularly, the best way to overcome this is general fitness. Try exercises using your legs, hand and wrists. Riding a bicycle is actually a great way to improve your fitness for motorcycle riding. For your hands, a simple ball you can squeeze will do wonders to prevent hand cramps.