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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
[TL;DR: Did my first track day. Video links in the post, pictures at the end.]

Hi everyone!

I finally did my first tack day on 6/27 at Harris Hill Raceway (http://www.harrishillroad.com). I've been planning for this since late April/early May. If you've seen my build thread you know I've been working with Jesse from Yamaha R3 Racing to get the bike ready. I'm very happy with the modifications I've made to the bike, and extremely grateful to Jesse for all his help (and for putting up with numerous communications from me ;)).

On to my day: Nervous doesn't even begin to describe how I felt. I spent all Sunday afternoon getting the bike ready (disconnecting and taping up lights), loading her on the trailer, loading up the SUV with anything and everything I thought I'd need, and making sure I had plenty of food, water, and electrolyte replenishment for Monday. I would be leaving around 7:30am so I could get to the track before the gates opened at 9am. Even though I had spent plenty of time planning for Monday I still didn't feel prepared, but once I was on the road there was nothing I could do. I mean I could have chickened out and turned around to go home, but I had to set up time with an instructor a week in advance; I'm not the type of person to break commitments last minute.

Once at the track I paid my guest fee, picked up my bright orange shirt so other riders would know I was new, and went to set up my area in the paddock for the day. I got the bike off the trailer, my popup canopy up and tied down, and unloaded my gear. As I was moving my bike to position her under the canopy the track coordinator came over to talk to me; in a split second I lost my concentration and balance and the bike tipped over away from me. I was so f'ing embarrassed! The track coordinator helped me stand the bike back up while saying, "at least you got your fall out of the way." Ugh, I felt terrible! What a start to my first day! Not only that but when the bike fell I had my right leg next to the foot peg and as it fell it took a chunk out of my leg right below my knee. I didn't even notice until I went to the restroom to get changed into my base layer. I felt something wet on my leg, but it was hot and humid so I'd been sweating quite a bit so I thought nothing of it. Anyhow, I cleaned it up threw on my base layer and went back to the paddocks.

As I was mounting my GoPro the instructor came over to introduce himself and to look over my bike. Everything checked out, and we headed over to a garage to go over the basic rules of the track, go over a track map, and discuss goals for the day. Afterwards we suited up and went out for a lead/follow session so I could learn the lines at a slow pace and also to learn the proper procedures for entering & exiting the track. After a few laps we came in to the pits for a short discussion; now it was my turn to lead so the instructor could see how I was doing. My pace steadily increased lap after lap. I started getting tired so I pulled in to the pits, the instructor directed me back to the paddock, and we went in to the classroom.

Video from my first session on track: https://youtu.be/Zux4RBV44Fk

Classroom time was extremely beneficial after riding the track. We went over a number of things, and the instructor did a wonderful job of not overloading me with information. We went back on track where I was able to apply the concepts we had just discussed. This time out the instructor lead for a few laps then let me by so he could evaluate how well I was doing. As I got more and more comfortable my pace quickened. After a while the instructor passed me and directed me to work on body position. At this point the nerves kicked in again and I felt a bit overwhelmed. Trying to move around on the bike while still hitting my turn-in and braking points was a little much. At first I missed a few braking points, but since I was still at a comfortable (slow-medium) pace there was plenty of room for error. Lap after lap I got more comfortable with everything going on. It didn't take long for my legs to start burning like crazy so I pulled into the pits. After parking the instructor went over some points on body position. At this point the instructor felt comfortable enough in my riding to let me out on my own. After eating lunch and relaxing for a bit I went out to do some laps on my own.

Here's the video: https://youtu.be/1lpnHT2FTuA

Overview: As you can see from the second video I kept it in 4th gear throughout my session. I had so much going on in my head that I didn't want to add shifting the equation. On the street it's so easy and shifting is second nature, but when concentrating on body position, turn-in, and braking points I just couldn't take it. I'm sure with more seat time it'll come, but for my first day I was more than happy to keep it in a single gear. At the end of the day I was exhausted and my body ached. I'm glad I've been working out regularly for the past 10 months or I wouldn't have made it; wouldn't have fit in my leathers either :p The track itself is really fun with different kinds of turns. (here's a track map: http://www.harrishillroad.com/images/h2r-track-map.png ) The area between turn 4 and 5 is steep downhill, which leaves turn 5 off-camber. This turn scared the crap out of me just about every time; the off camber bit made me really nervous. Leading into turn 6 there are a number of bumps; leaning the bike over while going over the bumps is rather unnerving, but once I realized I just have to stay loose/relaxed and let the suspension do it's thing I handled it much better.

I have to be completely honest and say I'm totally addicted. I'll be going back at least once a month, hopefully more. This is the most fun I've had doing anything for a long time. I learned a great deal out there, and there is so much more to learn and room for me to grow. I met a number of wonderful people out there, also. I'm really glad I went, and I'm excited to see where I go from here.

Picture time :cool:

Bike ready to go the night before:


Lunch break:


Action shots:


"Chicken strips" are gone:
 

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Looking good!

Once you start riding on the track, the street bores you! I quickly sold my street bike once I started doing track days and now that I race, the zuma has become my street bike!

I constantly try to convince my street riding buddies to try the track out but I do warn them that they will get addicted.
 

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Great post, you looked like you were improving steady in that second video. The first lap or two you weren't very smooth, inconsistent throttle in the turns but that all went away towards the end of the run!

I did 3 track days on my FZ6 and wasn't that phased, I could only hang off so far before the pegs were getting ground off so it wasn't the most fun. My last track day (first on the R3) I could hang off so much more I underestimated how terribly out of shape my legs are. I couldn't walk the second day!

In your action shots your lower body has good positioning but your top half is in street riding mode. Get your chest against the tank and your chin over your inside hand and "kiss your mirror". This will help the turns feel significantly more natural and drastically helped me.

Hope to see more posts like this!
 

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Looks like you had a good time other than the unloading incident (most of us have done something like that at one point or another). As engineeringanon mentioned, getting your upper body over as well will really help you through corners. Being such a light bike, the rider position makes a huge difference in lean angle.

Not much else to say other than keep at it, it all clicks eventually and everything feels super smooth
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In your action shots your lower body has good positioning but your top half is in street riding mode. Get your chest against the tank and your chin over your inside hand and "kiss your mirror". This will help the turns feel significantly more natural and drastically helped me.

Hope to see more posts like this!
As engineeringanon mentioned, getting your upper body over as well will really help you through corners. Being such a light bike, the rider position makes a huge difference in lean angle.

Not much else to say other than keep at it, it all clicks eventually and everything feels super smooth
Thanks for the tips, and the words of encouragement! I will definitely keep it in mind next time. :)
 

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is that an e-flight park flyer in the garage? awesome post! i too signed up for a track day here in NC. much street and canyon experience but never track time. ready to take it to the next level. ride safe.
 

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Thanks for the tips, and the words of encouragement! I will definitely keep it in mind next time. :)

Glad you got out on the track! It will make you a much safer rider on the streets. Look into LoneStar Track Days and RideSmart. I've ridden with both organizations. They host track days at 5 different tracks in Texas. RideSmart includes instruction on and off the track in their price. LSTD requires you to pay an additional fee. Keep in mind that LSTD is more competition oriented, the owner is also the president of CMRA. RideSmart is great for introducing people to the track, check out their website. I'd be happy to answer any question you have.


I went to H2R the day before you did and it was my first time there as well. It would be an ok track if they repaved some portions. But for how close it is and it's open track all day, it's hard to complain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
is that an e-flight park flyer in the garage? awesome post! i too signed up for a track day here in NC. much street and canyon experience but never track time. ready to take it to the next level. ride safe.
Thanks! :)
It sure is, a Sobre 3D to be exact. It's pretty old, and I haven't flown in a while though.
Enjoy your first track day! Hope you have many after! :)


Glad you got out on the track! It will make you a much safer rider on the streets. Look into LoneStar Track Days and RideSmart. I've ridden with both organizations. They host track days at 5 different tracks in Texas. RideSmart includes instruction on and off the track in their price. LSTD requires you to pay an additional fee. Keep in mind that LSTD is more competition oriented, the owner is also the president of CMRA. RideSmart is great for introducing people to the track, check out their website. I'd be happy to answer any question you have.


I went to H2R the day before you did and it was my first time there as well. It would be an ok track if they repaved some portions. But for how close it is and it's open track all day, it's hard to complain.
Thanks for the suggestions. Currently I'm looking to do COTA with RS in August, but I'm still not sure. MSRC in August may work out better. Long drive for me, but I'm sure it's worth it. :) I agree about parts of H2R needing a repave, but like you said it's hard to complain having it so close and being open all day.
 

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I would advise against COTA for now. Get comfortable on the track first, learn your lines, body positioning, corner exit, corner speed, and corner entry so that once you do go to COTA you'll be able to actually enjoy the track for what it is. COTA, MSRC, MSRH, ECR, and TWS are the tracks those organizations use. When my wife and daughter haven't gone with me I just camp out. A friend of mine will leave at 3-4 AM and haul ass to and from. We also live in San Antonio. It's a good thing to hit different tracks. Some of the guys at H2R ONLY ride... H2R. A few fast guys out there, more guys who think they are fast but aren't. You'll meet great riders through LSTD and RS, but once you start getting faster, I'd stick with LSTD. I won't go into the reasons behind that right now!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I would advise against COTA for now. Get comfortable on the track first, learn your lines, body positioning, corner exit, corner speed, and corner entry so that once you do go to COTA you'll be able to actually enjoy the track for what it is...When my wife and daughter haven't gone with me I just camp out. A friend of mine will leave at 3-4 AM and haul ass to and from. We also live in San Antonio...
Thanks for the tip about COTA; that's actually a thought I had in the past, "get more experience before hitting a world-class track."
If you have any tips when it comes to camping at the track I'd really appreciate it. When I get out to other tracks it's likely what I'll be doing, but I have no camping experience at all. I couldn't imagine leaving super early in the morning to drive out to Houston or Dallas!
 

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Thanks for the tip about COTA; that's actually a thought I had in the past, "get more experience before hitting a world-class track."
If you have any tips when it comes to camping at the track I'd really appreciate it. When I get out to other tracks it's likely what I'll be doing, but I have no camping experience at all. I couldn't imagine leaving super early in the morning to drive out to Houston or Dallas!

I camp when I can't afford to spend the extra money for a hotel for a couple of days with the family. I just sleep in the back seat of my truck. Now that I have an enclosed trailer, I'll probably be using that and a small AC unit hooked up with my generator.


Nothing to it really, pretty primitive lol. Just find somewhere comfortable enough to get some rest for the following day!
 

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My fiance will actually be coming with me out to MSRH or MSRC at one of the next few sessions so you may see another R3 out with you! Congrats on the first track day, we are blessed here in Texas to have a multitude of tracks to choose from, one of which being world class by anyone's standards.

A lot of people camp/pull trailers up to COTA and there is tons of room to do so. I am lucky to live less than 2 miles from the track so I just ride my bike up there and leave it in a garage overnight. There are quite a few hotels over here that are kind of cheap because they aren't peak hotels in Austin that are only like 10-15 minutes away from the track.

I would advise against COTA for now. Get comfortable on the track first, learn your lines, body positioning, corner exit, corner speed, and corner entry so that once you do go to COTA you'll be able to actually enjoy the track for what it is. COTA, MSRC, MSRH, ECR, and TWS are the tracks those organizations use. When my wife and daughter haven't gone with me I just camp out. A friend of mine will leave at 3-4 AM and haul ass to and from. We also live in San Antonio. It's a good thing to hit different tracks. Some of the guys at H2R ONLY ride... H2R. A few fast guys out there, more guys who think they are fast but aren't. You'll meet great riders through LSTD and RS, but once you start getting faster, I'd stick with LSTD. I won't go into the reasons behind that right now!
I'm the opposite. COTA is fast, and so much fun, but I recommend it to anyone. Even though it is more expensive, and more rewarding than some other tracks if you are fast, it is still an absolute blast for anyone. Plus, with the surface being as smooth as it is and the tons of runoff it is the safest track in this part of the country. If you make a mistake out there, you just lean up, throttle off, run off the track and get back on. Anywhere else you're in the dirt, or worse.
 

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I see your point about COTA. In reality, especially as a new track rider, you shouldn't be going fast. If you can afford COTA, that's great, go for it. I think it'd be more beneficial to do 2-3 track days vs 1 at COTA. It would be much more rewarding even as a level 2 rider than a level 1!

Can't argue about the run offs. TWS isn't terrible though. I recovered from a high side last month in the rain and took it off at T4, right where it has that slight off camber pitch next to the corner worker.

I'll be sure to post up another thread when I plan on heading out next!
 

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Yeah, TWS would be great if it was better maintained. It really is a fun, technical, challenging track that is still nice and fast for us big boys (my liter bike), it's such a shame it has fallen a victim to the times like so many other tracks have.
 

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Yeah, TWS would be great if it was better maintained. It really is a fun, technical, challenging track that is still nice and fast for us big boys (my liter bike), it's such a shame it has fallen a victim to the times like so many other tracks have.
It really is a shame... That was the first track I ever rode on. Some of the candy stripes are monsters stick out of the ground, the tar snakes and sealer patches get sketchy when it heats up, and there's that one spot on T1 that water will surface in the afternoon when it gets hot enough also. Paul Carter, a friend and instructor hit that spot on T1 about a 5-6 weeks ago and low sided around 130-140 mph on his R1M. After a week in the hospital he is back home.

One of my friends who is retired AF showed me videos of the tracks he rode on in europe... Why can't we have anything nice around us that doesn't cost as much as COTA?!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just wanted to mention I'll be back out there tomorrow. The plan is to be more conscious about body position as was suggested so I won't be trying to pick up speed. Hopefully the photographer is out again; probably better would be to try different camera angles to see if I'm actually doing what I think I'm doing. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Second day was even more fun than the first. Unfortunately I had a couple offs during my first session. The first one wasn't too bad, but the second was a pretty big one. I did keep the bike up, but it shook me up pretty bad. I got some feedback from people watching, and reviewed my video footage; on the second off I turned in way too early for the corner and my speed, and I don't have the skill to tighten it up enough so off-roading I went. When it comes down to it I was too confident, and I had forgotten a few things from my first day. For my second session I did a lead/follow with a regular on a N300. He gave me good reference points for turn-in, lines, and braking for the smaller bikes. That was enough to get my confidence back so I went out again for another two sessions.

One issue I continuously had was my right toe dragging in tighter turns. I definitely had the balls of my feet on the pegs. I know the quick fix is to raise my pegs (easy with my rearset brackets), but I'm not sure if it's an issue with foot positioning or just needing to raise the pegs.

GoPro on the tail facing forward is your best tool for seeing your BP and whats happening.
Thanks for the tip! I read this before heading out yesterday morning so I did just that. I didn't review the footage before going out a second time, and it turned out to not be far enough back. I've still posted the footage I got and would appreciate feedback. One thing I can clearly notice is that on left-handers I don't get much of my butt off the bike at all. Right-handers I seem to do better. I did my best to keep my upper body down and "kiss the mirrors;" boy is that difficult.

Here's my booty footage ;)

I'm also struggling with what to do under braking. From reading and watching videos I have some idea (sit up, shift the body), but in practice it's much more difficult. I know I have a lot of work to do still, but I'll keep at it.

Tips are always appreciated :)
 

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When braking, grip the tank with your knees. Try to keep your upper body, somewhat, relaxed. Prepare for the turn BEFORE you get to it. That means get your butt position set up before entering the turn. If you came out of a right hand turn last, and have another coming up, just keep your butt in the same spot. Don't waste the energy or time moving unnecessarily.

A full cheek, or just a bit more is all you need to hang off.

There is a great article just out by Nick Ienatsch on bikeminds. I will try to post a link later. I am pretty much quoting him.

For the toe thing, make sure you have your sag set correctly. If you have to much sag your bike is riding to low. Things start to drag earlier than they should then.

You also might be sticking your toes out instead of having them tight against the bike. Best way to see that is to buy pics from one of the many track day photographers.

If sag is set correctly and you are keeping your toes tight to the bike, then try to hang off a bit more and keep the bike more upright.

Edit: I should add, when I talk about your toes sticking out, I mean way out. To the point they are sticking out past the end of the foot peg. Nick mentions pointing your toes into the turn. Can't remember if he mentions about having feet close to the bike though. Now I need to go find that article.
 
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