Your bike is all ready and it’s time to head to the track. Not so fast. Preparing the bike is just one step of many, and inadvertently skipping even one item has the potential to ruin your time at the track before it even begins. With this in mind, here are a few items to consider.
Firstly, the bike needs to get to the track. While there are a few individuals who will ride to the track, run a full track day and then ride home, this hardcore approach may not work for anyone who has to travel any distance to the track. Not only does it limit your ability to bring items such as extra fuel, but at the end of a long day at the track you will likely appreciate the comfort of travelling on four wheels. If you don’t own a truck or trailer, one of the easiest and most affordable solutions is to visit your local U-Haul store, where they rent trailers specifically designed to transport motorcycles for as little as $14 a day. One final piece of transportation advice: if you are planning on transporting your bike in the back of your pickup truck, plan on bringing two ramps: one for the bike and one for you to walk on while moving the bike. This is another thing you will appreciate when you are exhausted at the end of the day.
Next up, some basic tools. While your initial foray to the track shouldn’t need generators, tire warmers, bike lifts or air compressors, a basic kit including wrenches, sockets, pliers, screwdrivers and lots of duct tape has the potential to salvage a day at the track. In addition, a tire pressure gauge and a simple bicycle pump will allow you to maintain pressures that are correct for the track and keep you safe. Another item to consider for your initial track kit is a rear stand, which will allow you to undertake some basic maintenance such as lubricating and adjusting your chain.
Of course, you will need the correct riding gear. The requirements will typically reflect the anticipated level of speed and associated potential for accidents. This will range from a certified/track-approved helmet, gloves which cover your wrist, motorcycle boots that cover your ankles and a one- or two-piece leather or textile riding suit that includes protective armour for a novice track day group up to the very specific and high standards enforced during technical inspection at a racing event. The good news is that the website of the organization hosting your track day or race will usually have all the information you need to prepare. This is an important step, as failure to comply will likely mean you are not riding that day.
Equally important as preparing for your time on the track is making sure you are comfortable in between sessions. Figure out how much water you think you will drink and bring twice as much. During a hot day you will drink at least one bottle after each session on the track. Having your favourite snacks will also keep you happy. Bring a folding chair and if you don’t have a shade canopy, the $90 it costs to purchase one at a department store will be money well spent preparing for the track. It keeps you cool in heat and provides shelter from the rain.
Last, but definitely not least, bring the right attitude. Whether you are enjoying a track day with a group of friends or trying to beat the same people at a club race, things won’t always go your way. Frustrations may arise or you may just find yourself getting tired. Acknowledging to yourself that you need to cut a session short or sit the next one out so you can regain your focus will allow you to enjoy the balance of the day and help keep you safe. Remember this isn’t MotoGP and there aren’t millions of dollars at stake. The goal is to have fun, improve your skills and stay safe so you can keep coming back.
– Patrick Lambie