Track Day: An Accidental Perspective
We’re slabbing it home now. I’m bringing up the rear with two more experienced riders leading the way. Cars are passing like crazy but we’re not in a rush. My right shoulder feels like it’s on fire and I know the rest of my aches will be a hundred times worse tomorrow, yet somehow I can’t stop smiling. We’ve just completed a track day at Autobahn Country Club … my very first.
I’m listening for any out-of-place noises from the bike. I hear a small exhaust click coming from the header which must have come loose when I crashed. The right handlebar controls are slightly bent but everything else seems to be in working order.
There’s not one scratch on my new paint! That’s pretty gratifying, considering I just got this thirty-year-old bike sorted last week. Maybe I should’ve spent more money on an upgraded suspension.
I’m soaked to the bone and shivering pretty bad. The garden-hose bath that my mentor gave us after we slid off-track into the mud continues to linger. I alternate hands, grabbing at the engine block just long enough to avoid molten gloves. The warmth creeps up my arms. By the time we get home we should be dry.
This morning when I first woke, I was both excited and terrified about attending a track day. I was excited to get out and explore my limits and terrified that my ancient motorcycle might fail me. Even more troubling were thoughts that my lack of experience might hurt someone else.
Never on the street have I pushed my riding to it’s limit. Sure, there have been occasions when I’ve flexed things a bit but not like today. Today was different.
Every word from the instructors was gospel. Each session grew my confidence as I did my best to apply their wisdom and learned to trust my bike more. I got faster, braked later, leaned lower in the turns … it seemed as if the only limitations my Japanese iron had were the ones I placed on it!
I was thinking for myself, picking my own lines and felt as if I was riding, I mean really riding, for the first time.
Knowledge is power. Unfortunately, I applied too much of it simultaneously during the final session. I leaned deep, downshifted hard and absolutely hammered ‘er coming out of a big sweeper.
The rear tire broke loose and I clipped my helmet on the pavement as we slid through the mud, sky and earth trading places repeatedly. Before I could react, I rolled to my feet and gave a double thumbs-up, indicating that I was alright. I had zero proof of this but didn’t want to ruin the last session for everyone else. A moment passed and I began to laugh, thinking “we’re still alive!”.
The rain had softened the dirt and my protective gear did it’s job. The old beast fired right up and we casually strolled into the pits through a sea of wide eyes. She grumbled, snorted and smoldered through the ocean of mud we were wearing.
I found my limit. It’s mystery was behind me. Now, we could just go riding.
Have You Ever Downed Your Motorcycle?
If you have to lay your motorbike on the ground, better it be during a track day than otherwise. What unexpected scenarois have you encountered? Did it fluster you or did you hop right back in the saddle? Your input is invited. Post an article!