Track days are increasing in popularity around the world. With the increased number of cars on the road, and with many roads not being correctly maintained, road riding was and will always be dangerous. So it isn’t hard to see why many bikers leave their bike on the trailer and only take it off once at the track. So if you, like many others, enjoy the freedom of riding a bike and the thrill of the speed but are not sure of the best place to ride, the answer is quite simply the track and here is why.
Lets debunk some track myths.
1. Track is only for pro’s
False, track days cater for all riders, from beginners through to professional racers. Track time is broken up into classes, usually with A being the fastest and C or D for beginners. Most track days have marshals and even classes that explain track basics to first-timers.
2. Track is only for superbikes
False, all bikes are welcome (depending on class or track day) so long as they pass an inspection prior to riding. Yes it is beneficial to have a sports bike, but you don’t need one to learn the basics. Whats important is your bike is well maintained and you have some decent track tyres such as Bridgestone R10’s or Pirelli Supercorsa’s.
3. Crashing at track is worse than road
False, track day organizers are required to have medical staff on standby. So firstly you will receive medical attention almost immediately, secondly if you crash, you are more than likely to run wide into a gravel trap. Yes you may end up with a couple broken bones but you wont hit a tree, slide underneath a car, or slide uncontrollably into oncoming traffic. Bad accidents do happen, that is the truth, but chances of a severe accident are less at a controlled track day where everyone adheres to the rules.
4. Track is only for racing
False, on the contrary, racing is discouraged at track days, and anyone practicing Rossi heroics and putting others in danger will be blacked flagged and disqualified. Track days are designed for average bikers to have fun and build on riding skills, not to out-brake and overtake fellow riders.
5. I will learn to wheelie and get my knee down at the track
Not necessarily Jorge, just chill, remember baby steps. Track days are a place to learn, we progress through the classes naturally. Work on your fitness first. Get comfortable on the bike, get used to moving around, get used to setting up your bike. The skills come in time. Practice makes perfect. Remember, MotoGP riders were either karting or racing motards on Sunday while you were sucking your mamma titties.
6. Track is expensive
Ok Mr Goldstein, you may have me on this one but hear me out. Although it may be expensive, you receive guidance form marshals and fellow riders, you will have lots of fun with your mates and if you don’t have mates you’ll probably make some once you’re there. As mentioned there is medical attention should you need it. Finally if you’re not riding on the road, various costs may be negated, such as general wear and tear that builds up faster if you’re riding every weekend.
An excellent facility for riders of all ages and experience levels is Redstar Raceway here in Delmas in Mpumalanga, an hours drive out of Johannesburg. You can even hire a bike if you don’t have one and they’ll teach you how to ride even if you have zero experience (you should at least know how to ride a bicycle).
So if you decide to attend a track day here is what you need to do:
- Bring some proper riding gear
- Make sure you have decent tyres
- Stay hydrated
- Bring some basic tools
- Make sure your bike is serviced and all adjustments have been checked
- If you have tyre warmers, all the better
- Don’t be a hero
- There is always someone faster, who cares
- Ignore the posers
- Follow the rules
- But most importantly, have fun