Track Days

A track day is something that most bikers consider at some stage of their riding career. Many riders would love to have a go but they are unsure that they have the skills or speed to cope with riding on a race track. I felt the same way before my first track day but now I can honestly say that a track day is a great way to improve your riding skills. I have now done 7 track days in total, all with the Ron Haslam race School. I have done 5 at Silverstone and 2 at Donnington. They are two completely different tracks but the enjoyment you get out of the day is the same where ever you decide to go.

The Ron Haslam Race School use Honda CBR600RRs and CBR1000RR ABS Fireblades which have been supplied by Honda UK. The first time you go you are only allowed to ride the CBR600RR but this is a fantastic bike and perfect for the novice track day rider. Riding on a track helps you learn so much in a very safe environment. There is no road furniture or oncoming traffic to deal with so you can practise your new skills without worrying about any of the hazards found out on the road.

When you arrive at the track you will have a 15 minute briefing, outlining track etiquette and explaining how the cone system works and what will happen during the day. When this has finished it is time to go to the pit lane and meet your instructor. This is when the nerves really start to kick in! You are given a bike and the instructor goes through everything you need to know with you. There are usually only two pupils with every one instructor so you both get plenty of attention!

Riding out on the track for the first time is terrifying but soon you are so busy concentrating that you forget about the nerves. Riding on the track is exhilarating but I felt really slow and upright for a lot of the first session. A session lasts about 15 – 20 minutes which doesn’t sound like a long time but you don’t realise how much energy it takes concentrating so hard on getting everything right and I came back in from that first session completely worn out! The instructor then lets you know where you are going wrong and what to do to help you correct any mistakes. He showed me the proper body position on the bike and gave me some advice on braking and corner speed and I was ready to go out and have another go.

The second session is so much more fun. You know what to expect and you can relax and enjoy the thrill of being on a race track. With every lap you will get faster and smoother and your confidence will grow. It’s a fantastic feeling when you see your lap times coming down and you feel that your riding is actually improving! All of the track sessions are about the same length in time so after another 20 minutes you are back to the pit lane to have another chat with your instructor and a few more pointers to help improve your lap times. By now you can’t wait to get back out on the track and finally put everything that you’ve learnt into practise.

The third session is amazing. You feel like everything is coming together and all of the skills that you have learnt throughout the day have made you faster, smoother and much more aware of what you are doing on the bike. For the first time ever I managed to get my knee down without even trying. I never set out with the intention of being able to do this but it feels like such an achievement. My lap times improved as the day went on and I learnt so many new skills that are just as relevant out on the road as they are on the racetrack.

After the final session you go back to the classroom for a debriefing. Everyone gets a certificate and a report to take home. During the day a photographer has been taking pictures of everyone on the track so you have the opportunity to buy some of these photos. It’s worth spending the money to get a really good photo of yourself at maximum lean going round a corner. You don’t realise how well you’ve done until you see the photos and have proof of your new found skills!

I would highly recommend doing a track day. Whatever your riding experience I would not hesitate to give it a go as you learn so much and it’s really good fun. Be warned – they are highly addictive so when you’ve done one you will want to do more! With the Ron Haslam Race School you can go back and do the elite course on a Fireblade which is a completely different experience. I promise you will love it!!!