...and here's Part 2....
Now the cons…
What happens when things go wrong?
The marshals try and make sure other riders avoid you and your bike. Once you’re off the track, they’ll assess if you need medical aid and if required, call the trackside Paramedics. Once you’re assessed or while you’re being treated by the Paramedics, your bike will be taken back to the sign-on area by the recovery vehicle. Next, it will depend on your condition and the state of your bike as to whether you can continue with the day.
This is why I suggest the car and trailer earlier… remember?
Most likely you won’t
be covered by your insurance. This is the reason many people bitten by the trackday bug eventually buy an ex-race bike or modify their own bike by fitting cheaper, aftermarket (often fibreglass) fairings and removing all the non-essential road gear like lights and mirrors.
So, what’s it cost, mister?
Entry fees differ widely between tracks and provider groups. The actual track entry fee can be as little as $150 which includes marshals and ambulance. Other places like Phillip Island charge a premium because everyone wants to ride the GP circuit.
On top of your entry fee, there’s other costs you’ll need to consider – day license (where applicable) food, fuel, tyre wear, more frequent servicing, and maybe even trailer hire.
But what if it rains?
Tough luck. Either you venture out and practise your wet weather riding (which is well worth the exercise), or you sit in the garages, talk crap with your mates and wait for things to improve. Trackdays and rider training days are paid for in advance by the provider. In turn, the punter often pays several days or even weeks in advance to ensure their spot.
Don’t want to take your Desmosedici to the track? Don’t have the right gear? Or don’t even have a bike?
Trackday providers are, in effect, service providers and are now trying to cater to a wider audience. If you don’t want to risk your pride n’ joy, or you don’t have the right gear, you can hire everything. They normally have tyre-changing facilities and some even have mechanics on duty. There are suspension specialists who can set your bike up to your weight and riding style and some providers even offer coaching. All of this, however, comes at a cost. Something else to consider is the insurance excess you pay if you crash their
bikes or while wearing their
gear. Sometimes this excess is way above what a simple crash actually costs to repair. You might find that your 50kph low-side on a hire bike costs the same as buying a cheap track bike or worse, more.
But I’m no ‘A’ grade racer…
It doesn’t matter whether you’re the next Casey Stoner or you’re more at home on a latte run to the local café, everyone can get something out of a trackday. I remember attending a trackday with a group of mates, one of whom was Captain Slow. He was the last bloke to gear up, the last bloke to arrive and the guy with the least amount of natural ability. But at the end of the day, he was the one who got the most enjoyment from the day. He punted around in the slow group, gradually testing his own limits and abilities. He was able to greatly improve his confidence and skills. But above all, he just had fun.
It doesn’t matter what you ride either. I’ve seen tourers and Harleys out there; Motards and even Postie bikes racing each other around the ‘Island.
When you’re planning your track day attendance, also consider the travel distances involved. For me personally, it’s about 90 minutes to Broadford, 3 hours to Winton and 2 and half hours to Phillip Island (without traffic). The trip home from Broadford is fine – I usually arrive in time for a late dinner – but anything further is an effort. Add to that, the extra fatigue of getting up early to travel to the track and the possibility of traffic delaying you even further. So I cheat a little. When I travel to Winton or Phillip Island, I stay the night before at a motel or with friends. And a night away with your mates is a great way to extend your biking weekend.
So there you have it - my (slightly) biased introduction to trackdays. Personally, I think the reduced risk and Paramedics on standby make things far safer than a ‘spirited’ ride along your favourite country road. Sure, you’re likely to push yourself further on track to find your limits, but if you did that in the ‘real’ world, chances are, it will eventually end in tears.
I also found the lack of police presence another big incentive as I need my license for work. I’ve driven trucks and forklifts for years and now I find my car is just another work tool. If I lost my license, I could easily lose my job.
The logical side of my personality easily weighs things in favour of track riding, but there’s also something else. I love the adrenalin rush of chasing the rider in front to the next corner and the preparation and planning before overtaking. I love the challenge of trying to bridge the gap to the rider in front. I even love the slow building of nervous tension as you check your bike over, make adjustments and then load your bike and gear the night before. And staying the night before in a hotel close to the track is a great way to turn a day into a weekend away with the boys.
Yep, I really love the physical and mental rush and the huge adrenalin rush… but the consequences when it all goes tits up… not so much.
If you’re considering hitting the track, we’d love to hear your opinions. If you already ride the track, do you think it’s safer or more dangerous than the road…and why?
Join in the buzz on our Facebook page
and lets talk track. Or maybe just flame the hell out of us and tell us we’d be better off riding cruisers and drinking coffee. We don’t care – it all adds to the fun!
Yours in apex hunting and knee dragging