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Australia and Asia-Pacific AAP Regional forum; rides, get togethers, events

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Old 11-25-12, 20:19   #1
old blue
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Default Waz writes!

As if scoring a new job and being busier than a one-armed trombonist at a Jazz Festival wasn't enough, Waz has also taken it upon himself to ignore the new season of Glee on TV (he's probably recording it...) and put virtual pen to cyber paper.

As it turns out, his talents go beyond just rebuilding PW50's and other people's track bikes. Enjoy this first installment of The Thoughts of Chairman Waz.




Get Your Backside Trackside - by Waz
I’m an advocate of track riding. Obviously there’s the obligatory list of pros and cons that will help you weigh up whether or not it’s right for you. Personally, I found things weighed heavily on the pro side, so much so, that I gave up riding on the road to focus solely on trackdays. If you’ve never been to watch your mates or ridden yourself, here’s a brief summary of the day and what you need to consider before you attend.

We’ll start with the trackday itself.
What can I expect at my first trackday?
Nerves like a first date, bucket loads of fun and probably a few butt-puckering moments where you realise your ‘ambition outweighs your talent’.

Where to start?
Best bet is you trailer your bike there. There are several reasons for this:
Firstly is the most obvious – you could bin the bike, damage it, render it unrideable and not be able to get yourself or the bike home.
Secondly – as cagers prove, it’s easier to drive a car than to ride a bike. Trackdays can be physically and mentally demanding. A comfortable chair, some tunes and hopefully some mates to share the trip home can help you concentrate. The slower speeds on your journey home can be very deceptive - on a bike you can be sitting at 150kph on the freeway, feeling like you’re crawling along, well under the posted limit.
And thirdly – you can prepare the bike the day before. Taping up your head and tail lights, removal of any racks or luggage systems, taping or removing your mirrors and even taking off your indicators makes your bike unroadworthy. You can do all this at home while you go over the bike, checking the basics like tyre condition and pressure, brake pad thickness and fluid levels, clutch adjustment, chain tension and condition, oil and coolant levels, and a general inspection.

What do I need to take?
It will depend on your level of commitment. Here’s a first-timer’s list:
· Bike
· Riding gear – helmet, gloves boots, leathers, back protector, ‘skins’ compression gear, ear plugs, tinted visor, sun block
· Food and drink – most places have a canteen but I prefer to take snacks like muesli bars, lollies, sports drinks, and plenty of water. Fruit is good too.
· Chair – fold-up camping chairs will do
· Fuel – I usually take a 20 litre jerry can plus half a tank in the bike. Any extra goes back in the car for the trip home.
· Tools – spare nuts and bolts, gaffa tape, tyre gauge, spanners, sockets and wrench, allen keys, and pliers that will sort out things on YOUR bike.

And now, the addict’s list of added extras:
· Race (paddock) stands
· Tyre warmers and electric leads
· Laptop and cable (to run engine tune programme)
· Air pump
· Spares box – breakables in case you stack; levers, clip-ons, pegs, tacho bracket, etc.
· Spare wheels and tyres
· More tools! Chain lube, torque wrenches, WD40, cable ties, spare oil and brake fluid.
· Carpet to line the garage floor (Good grief, Waz! Kym)
· Fan and radio

What do I do when I get there?
Find a garage. Some places charge for the privilege but the extra tenner is well worth it as the garage provides shelter, power for your tyre warmers and laptop (if you’re really enthusiastic) as well as solid ground for your bike.

Once you’ve unloaded all your gear into the garage, take your bike, helmet, rider’s license and booking details with you to registration and scrutineering. You’ll need to sign on with all the indemnity forms, sort out your colour-coded riding group and finalise payment. Some places may need you to buy a day ‘race’ license, depending on the track.

Next, your bike and helmet goes through the scrutineering process where they’ll find all is well since you prepared everything the day before… right? They’ll also check that you’ve got a wristband to show you’ve signed in and usually put a sticker on the bike to say that it’s right to go.

With scrutineering and sign on done, it’s back to the garage where hopefully, you’ll have time to prepare. Firstly, set up your workspace. Open your seat; put the jerry can and esky out of the sun; get out your stands, tyre warmers and electrical leads (if you’re using them). Next, get your gear on and get comfortable in it – do the Rossi wedgie pluck, stretch – whatever you need to do to feel like your leathers are comfortable and unrestrictive. Now move onto your bike. As a general rule, drop your cold tyre pressure to 30psi (in the old language) - this will allow them to heat up and grip more on track. If you’re using them, get your bike up on stands and put your warmers on. You might also be able to start and warm up your bike so there is less stress on the engine. But one of the most important things you can do is to prepare yourself MENTALLY. Clear your mind of things like the fight you had with the missus or the work deadlines you’re stretching by being there. Focus on the riding… and relax.

When do I get to actually RIDE?
All the preparation has been completed, now it’s time to ride… right? Not yet, but soon.
Before any rider can take to the track, they must attend the rider briefing - it doesn’t matter if it’s your first day or you’re a regular. During the briefing, the trackday providers will go through some important information including a legal disclaimer, their expectations of you as a rider, rules and regulations and how they communicate with you on track with flags. There are also different passing rules, depending on the colour-coded group’s level of experience, all intended to improve your level of safety. At the end of the general briefing, they also offer a first timer’s briefing where you can ask all those dumb questions everyone else is too scared to ask.

Now it’s time to ride.

When called, you’ll form up at the dummy grid and then be let loose one at a time, separated by a few seconds. Start gradually, even if you want to be last out so you don’t feel pressured. Once you get to know the track and feel comfortable, you can start to increase your speed, move your braking markers closer to the apex and start to ‘race’ the riders around you. But above all, the most important thing is to just enjoy yourself – there are no prizes to be won.

Now you know what to expect, let’s weight up the pros and cons.
First, the pro’s…
Trackdays (or ridedays as they’re otherwise called) offer a controlled environment which minimises risk. The first things you’ll notice are the obvious:
No other traffic - Granny May is nowhere to be seen, nor is the B Double trying to turn across several lanes of traffic. No tram lines or level crossings. No pushbikes, no pedestrians, kids or family pets.
All the bikes are going in the same direction - This eliminates situations where, like in the real world, maybe a 4X4 drifts across your lane while negotiating a tight turn or another vehicle pulls out in front of you because they just “didn’t see you”.
The surface is predictable – VicRoads hasn’t been out the day before doing‘patch-up’ jobs spreading gravel everywhere. No diesel spills, no man-hole covers and no cattle grids. Oil spills are covered with cement dust which helps improve the level of adhesion.
There are no obstacles or ‘Roadside Furniture’ – No gutters (other than the purpose designed ripple strips), no street signs, no light posts, traffic lights or vegetation, and definitely no wire rope barriers.
There is a system in place to warn you of danger – Red and yellow flags stationed at multiple fixed points around the track help alert you to the danger of obstacles, oil spills or even wildlife.
You need to pass through scrutineering – Your bike, helmet and (sometimes) leathers are inspected for track-worthiness. They’ll check your brakes, tyres, drive train plus a general inspection of the bike.
You must wear the appropriate gear – Unless you work in an office, these days you need to wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment - PPE. It’s the same deal for the racetrack. Helmet, full one piece or zip-together two-piece leathers, gloves that cover the end of your sleeve and boots that cover the leg ends of you leathers. A back protector is also a good idea although not compulsory. Correct rider wear is great as it not only provides you with protection, it automatically eliminates the Squids in T-shirts and thongs intent on self-harm.

As well as a controlled environment, trackdays have some other factors that, though not as obvious, are equally as important:
Immediate medical assistance – As part of your entry fee, you cover the wages of trained Paramedics, and their vehicle. No riders are allowed on track unless the Paramedics are in a position where they’re ready to attend an incident. Have you ever responded to or been involved in an accident where medical intervention is hours away? Very few people carry first aid kits (about 3% of cars have them) and very few people are trained. At a trackday however, the Ambos are there in a matter of minutes, or even seconds - as soon as the track is cleared. This can be the difference between your injuries worsening while you wait for medical aid or even death.
No police – Mr Plod isn’t hiding in the bushes, wearing cammo gear and radioing his mate up the road with your rego number and speed, and there are no ‘random’ rego, license or roadworthy checks to spoil your day for trivial reasons. Sure, the trackday providers are there to enforce the rules by helping ‘facilitate’ people being grouped appropriately according to their abilities and the speed of their machine. They also help remove the 1% intent on ruining the day for the rest. In the end, someone still has to ‘control’ the environment.
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Old 11-25-12, 20:20   #2
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...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.

Anything else?
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
Waz.
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Old 11-25-12, 20:49   #3
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Wut?


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Old 11-25-12, 21:20   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearded Matt View Post
Wut?


Sent from my iPhone using Motorcycle.com Free App

My apologies.

I started writing for an online newsletter some time ago, and forum member Waz took it upon himself to cut-and-paste a lot of what I wrote onto this forum.

Recently Waz started writing for the same newsletter, so this is just a case of me giving him a dose of his own medicine.

I should probably save the 'in' jokes for another place, however I thought what Waz wrote was well and truly worth reading, so here it is anyhow.




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Old 11-26-12, 12:13   #5
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Great read, Waz! Two questions:
1. Do you seriously lay down carpet in the garage?
2. Is PPE mandatory on the road?

Kym, now you need to write one about moving from track days to racing, because we both know that's where the real fun starts.
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Old 11-26-12, 16:45   #6
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Have recently gone through copious amounts of retraining, I've had PPE drummed into me... although it is of course the last control measure to be uses.

I used to almost always wear full gear on the road... I'd certainly recommend it. I felt safer and often more comfortable in it too.

Yes Kym... track days to racing article...
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Old 11-26-12, 16:47   #7
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I agree entirely, I always wear my 2 piece leathers on the road. But is it the law in Australia? Or just helmets? I'd be amazed if anyone actually made it illegal to ride in flip flops & shorts.
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Old 11-26-12, 17:07   #8
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Helmets are it. They are starting to sway down the line of compulsory rider apparel but it is a way off, thankfully.

Can you still ride without one in the US??
Now that's putting Darwin's theory into practice right there!!!!
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Old 11-26-12, 17:33   #9
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Yeah, lots of states here don't require helmet use. What I find most astounding is how many people actually exercise the right to be an idiot. I've heard of people stopping at the borders of non-helmet law states to remove their helmets just because they can. Do what you want, but I shouldn't have to pay for your life support Mr. Vegetable.
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Old 12-04-12, 15:11   #10
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Fantastic write up, I'm looking at getting into track days, as soon as I get the time that is. Sadly, it's at least 7hrs to the closest track from where I am.
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