I’m a huge proponent of track days. There’s no better way to safely learn what your sportbike was built to do while having a blast. Of course nothing’s ever foolproof when it comes to motorcycles; things happen even when you’ve taken all the precautions. But if you’re a beginner or aspiring sportbike rider, don’t let that scare you.
Every motorcycle racer or sport rider who does track days wants to go faster. Enter Keith Code and his California Superbike School, one of the best ways to learn the skills required for that extra speed we all want. I returned to Superbike School for level 2 last weekend to build on what I learned in level 1 back in late 2008. It was also a great opportunity to finally ride the BMW S1000RR, the incredible new sportbike that’s now the standard issue student ride at California Superbike School.
For those of you thinking you’ll eventually try a track day, a set of leathers is required and is nice to have for canyon rides anyway. It was time for me to find a new set after 4 1/2 years of beating up my old Alpinestars GPU 2 piece suit. It had been through 3 minor offs and performed admirably, but I wasn’t sure the right knee area could take another spill without tearing apart. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the fit – Alpinestars doesn’t seem to be built for relatively skinny guys like me. The jacket fit well enough but Beyonce couldn’t fill the butt on those pants. I swear it looked like I was carrying around a sack of potatoes back there. Enter Dainese.
One of the best things you can do with your sportbike is take it to the local racetrack for a track day and open that sucker up. Once you’re out there flying down the straights and carving corners without cops, cliffs or SUVs to worry about, you’ll be hooked.
It sounds like a hassle to actually make it out to the track; I certainly thought so even by the time I bought my second bike. The good news is that it’s really not that difficult. It certainly takes some effort, but I had so much fun my first time out that the effort hasn’t mattered that much. Let’s take a look at what it takes.
I went to The Streets of Willow Springs for a track day yesterday, a twisty 1.8 mile road course at the Willow Springs Raceway complex. For those of you new to the concept, a track day is chance to spend a day at the race track with your motorcycle. It’s not a race though, just open track time so you can test your skills and do some speeding without getting a ticket or having to worry about SUVs crossing over into your lane.
I’m going to post a track day starter guide later for those of you thinking about testing your road racing skills; in the meantime here are some pictures from yesterday. The first one is me; the rest are pictures I took of some of the “A group” (fast) riders. Note how some of them position their upper bodies differently; I’ll make a note on that in my track day starter guide.
For those of us addicted to doing motorcycle trackdays*, having a dedicated track bike is the ideal situation. Most track bikes look like something only a mother (er… owner) could love, but not this one.
Wow, has it really been that long since I posted? Yikes. In any case I wanted to write about my experience with Keith Code’s California Superbike School, which I attended last weekend as a level 1 student. I’ve been riding now for 4 1/2 years and prior to the class had done nine track days (I think). Keith has an impressive list of motorcycle racers that he and his staff have coached, so when some members of my riding club signed up I figured it was a good time to go.