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Discussion Starter #1
So I just did my first day. It was really, frustrating for me. Talked with a couple of the guys I went with (both I group) they persuaded me to contacted the org and tell them what I thought. So here is my email, its a quick summary of they day.

I think I was expecting to feel more confident than I did. I did not expect to be out dragging my elbow on the curbing, and cutting lap times in the 28's, but just to feel better, and enjoy my time.

My email:
Good-morning,
I wanted to reach out to you guys after having done my first track day. It was a disappointment, to say the least. This isn’t an email to bash your organization, or the CR, etc, but some constructive criticism that maybe you can somehow implement into your future days. I can’t iterate this enough, I am simply trying to be constructive.

About me. I have ridden on the street for 15 years. I started when I was 18. My dad rides as well, he required me to take a safety class to get my license. I started on a 250, then went through a few 600’s, to a 750, then built my first bike. I am on my first litre-bike now, an 1198. 5 years ago I was hit on the road, and nearly killed. Broke 3 vertebrae, broke my pelvis in 3 places, etc…I swore I would never get on 2 wheels again. But that only lasted so long! I have wanted to track days for a long time, since before my accident, and finally decided I have waited long enough. So for the last few months I have thrown every available resource at getting all GOOD gear, getting my bike properly setup, buying a bike, etc. It has been a long, expensive few months (all of you know the money this takes). I am friends with the guys at WCW, they know my history. So I asked them who I should ride with, they told me N2 hands down. I was with one of their guys for the track-day yesterday.

So the morning started well, and I was really happy when you broke the novice group up into those who have done days before, and those who have never seen the track before. I was ok with our group size as well. There was 4 of us with our CR. I am not going to go into who my CR was, because I don’t want this to be a bitch session. Our first session came up at 9.40, our CR literally explained nothing to us. I was completely alone by wheelie hill. I don’t know if I can completely explain to you what that feels like. I have never been on a track before, I don’t know the line through the track, I don’t even know what corner is next, and I am completely alone- except for the flock of riders I am holding up behind me. I think I made it halfway through that session. Literally terrified, I came off the track shaking. I never saw my group, or more importantly my CR again that session. I have this image in my head that I must have been going 15mph out there…. My tires tell me a different story though.

Second session was nearly identical. I am pretty sure the CR knew I was part of his group, as I was lining up with him, he knew my bike number, etc. Again, by the chicane I was by myself. This time I had a little more reference, so I at least had an idea of what corner was coming next. Still the same slew of novice people trying to get bumped stuck behind me. A few laps of this and a different CR saw this, and tapped his tail for me to follow. He paid attention, watched what I was doing- most of it wrong. I had no idea who it was until we were in the garage. It was your CR named Louis. He was actually in the garage with me. He focused on body position with me, with my bike up on stands. I told him I didn’t know what I was doing with the braking zones, or the lines I should be taking through corners, etc. He understood where I was. For the 3rd session, he had me leave my bike in 3rd, and that whole session he stayed with me, working on body positioning, and what the correct lines were, corner braking, etc… it was fantastic. Really fantastic. I cant thank that guy enough.

At lunch there was a mandatory novice meeting. It certainly sounded like that meeting started at 1 through the PA system. I got to the class at 1.10, and it was over. And I think I pissed off Louis by missing the class. Which wasn’t my intention. So I really have no idea what time that class started. And I take full responsibility for missing it.

The first session after lunch my CR never even showed up. Which was terrible. Our group of 4 got put with the other guys, so that CR now had 6 or 7 of us. It isn’t really feasible to expect that CR to be able to see what all of us are doing… with in the first lap it was the same thing. We were all split up, the guy in front of me pitted out the first lap, I went out the second. I am not going to be on the racetrack, figuring this out for myself, holding up other riders.

I was so mad, and frustrated at this point, that this was the end of my day. I was disgusted. I came to you guys to learn. To learn to be a better rider. To learn how to ride faster, and to be as safe as possible while doing it. Maybe you guys forget what it feels like to have never been on ANY racetrack before. My CR should have been able to pick up on the fact that he lost me in the first session, lost me in the second, and never had me in the third. I am not looking for a baby-sitter, nor a personal coach. But it should have prompted him to find out what was going on with me. That never happened. I really think you should run the newbie novice with the intro guys for the first session or 2, that way they don’t feel like they are a moving target, and get a better opportunity to familiarize themselves with the track. Sean from WCW had a CR named Emerson ready to work solely with me for my 5th session, but I was so frustrated by that point I didn’t want to do another session. So it would be great if you could send my apologies to him/her, as I wasn’t trying to blow them off. I will do another day with N2, as I think it is unfair to write your organization off after 1 session. I also don’t want to sell myself short.

If you guys would like to talk, please let me know, and I will give you my cell #


So I guess my questions to you guys are:
was my experience normal? Am I just being a crybaby?
 

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I have done my first trackday with USDESMO at CMP in Sout Carolina. I was quite prepared for the whole thing. I had walk the whole track in the evening before the trackday so I was already familiar with how the corners look like, what would be a good line and where the breaking points are. I was never been on a track before, but I knew already the basic things and what to look for.
In the first session The control rider show us the track for one lap at a slow pace, then the second lap he showed us the basic lines thru corners at a medium pace, and from then on everybody was free to do his thing. They will not lead the group forever, but they will help if you want them to. I didn't even pay attention to the control riders anymore after the first session; I had a clear idea of what I needed to do and where I needed to improve.
I think that a superbike school will be better for learning. At track days everybody's just trying to having fun, even the control riders.
I'm sure next time you will have more fun just because you will be more prepared for what will happen. It will be more and more fun.
 

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We have notice/beginner classes which are a prerequisite for getting on the track at all. Its an added cost that a lot of beginners don't quite understand, so they just sign up for the track day without even knowing the class exists and the moment someone see's them on the track completely lost, they're forced into the beginner class. Control riders unfortunately are usually not paid employee's, they're simply good riders who are paid with free track time. So some of them can be selfish and disappear in order to put in some decent laps for themselves whilst they have the free track time. Some control riders will show you lines and give you tips, but you need more as a beginner. Its imperative to have the class because without it, you'll be lost just like you are right now.

Its unfortunate your first experience was like this and perhaps the next thing you need to do is research another track day organization who caters to novices and has a beginner program.
 

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Sign up for Art basic with TPM, you won't be disappointed. Class room/track rotation all day at a very comfortable pace led by instructors. Bill is great at explaining the track and all the coaches are more than willing to work with anyone, sometimes even without asking.

Sorry to hear about your experience.
 

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We have 3 track day providers here, and each has a different approach. One is a dedicated school, whose costs are more inline with instruction, the other is staffed by the race club and set into corresponding skill groups, and the third is similar, but uses their own staff. I've seen all types of riders attend.
In your case I'd suggest a school with one on one instruction that would would benefit from.
 

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To answer your last question, I was going to say "yep, crybaby"...but upon re-reading some of it again, it sounds like there was no classroom instruction in the morning?? Our local track day organizer has a class that all beginners have to do. It's 30 minute classroom session followed by 30 minute riding session following an instructor, and so on for 3 hours. Then in the afternoon you're free to go on your own. The classroom part is critical at first because that's where you learn about how to behave on the track, track entry/exit, pit lane, flags, etc.

The CR should go at a pretty slow pace at first and then moderately increase that pace. If you can't keep up with them when they go a bit faster, that shouldn't be a problem because by then you should be familiar with the track. You don't want to push beyond your ability and end up on your head during your first few sessions. When I did my first track day ever, I couldn't keep up with the rest of the group by the 2nd session...I was by myself like you, but I didn't really care. I was going at my own pace, and I didn't want to push it too hard and do something stupid.

There are some differences between riding on the street and riding on the track fast, and the longer you have ridden on the street, the longer you have to make some "bad" habits, and it'll be harder to change when you start doing track days (things like body position, feet position, braking, etc.). I started doing track days 1 year after I started riding motorcycles, so I was still pretty "green".

With all of that said, don't expect your first time to be comfortable. If you're comfortable on your first few sessions ever on the track, you're not doing much...it's supposed to be a bit scary, and you'll naturally tense up because you're doing some crazy shit that you've never done before. That's normal. However, it's also supposed to be very fun! And your example is the first that I've ever heard so far of someone doing their first track day and being frustrated and calling it quits early. I hope I'm not offending you by saying that.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Rubbish. So we had an AM class session, basically going over the rules- IE, dont pass the CR, if you heap the bike up, but can move get up and behind the fence, if you cant move stay down, etc... what the different flags mean...

but that was it- meaning we didnt get iinto ebtry/exit speeds, brake zones, entr/apex/exit marker cones etc...

I know you have been doing this shit for a long time, I appreciate your words. I totally wasnt trying to sound like a crybaby, I didnt want to contact them about this in the first place, lol
 

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Every organization has a different vibe when it comes to newbies. Sometimes it just isn't a good fit with riders and coaches. That said, I've found that almost all riding coaches will respond to someone who simplys asks for help on a specific thing.

CR that are turning laps in beginner groups are usually bored out of their minds if they aren't helping someone, so it's a mutually beneficial thing. Also, I would ignore your concerns about holding up other riders in the beginner groups. Just outright throw that concern out of your head. You are there to learn for you, not them. That's why that group exists. If someone is a better rider than you, they will figure out a safe way around. Just don't do anything erratic and all will be well.

I hope you get back out there, I still remember my first trackday fondly. Much like the first time I had sex, I did everything wrong and it ended way too quickly. But I couldn't wait to do it again.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Absolutely going back out there! I will also do another day with this group, as I think I havent given them a fair shot. Maybe they were having an off day, etc
 

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Oh so there was a class in the morning....then I don't really see much of a problem, as long as they went over the stuff you mentioned. They don't cover everything during the class, such as telling you how to take a turn or when to brake...you're expected to already know how to ride by that point. The point of the class is to tell you what you need to know to be safe out on track and know the rules, flags, etc. not to make you into a motorcycle racer. You do that on your own after that with lots of practice. After that you can always ask instructors for help and most are nice enough to help you out with whatever you're having issues with. All you have to do is ask.

Sure your CR could've done a better job at holding the group together once you got separated, but that shouldn't be something to frustrate you.

One of the main things I like more about motorcycle track days vs car track days is just the freedom (less rules) that you have at bike track days. With cars, you typically have an instructor in the passenger seat "holding your hand" the whole time, telling you what to do. With bikes they say "follow me" and it's up to you to do it. And after a few hours you're done and you're completely on your own, whereas with some car track days orgs, they require you to do a series of weekend-long schools before you can drive on your own.....boooooring!

Don't worry about holding other people up...faster guys will always find a way to get around you. If they're not fast enough, then that's their problem. That's one of the reasons why most orgs don't allow mirrors on the track. Ride at your own pace, and get an instructor to help you out, and remember to have fun doing it! That's the whole point of a track day!
 
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Absolutely going back out there! I will also do another day with this group, as I think I havent given them a fair shot. Maybe they were having an off day, etc
Do yourself a favor and do your next track day with STT (Sportbike Track Time). You will thank me later...
 

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Thanks Rubbish. So we had an AM class session, basically going over the rules- IE, dont pass the CR, if you heap the bike up, but can move get up and behind the fence, if you cant move stay down, etc... what the different flags mean…
Thats not a class, thats a riders meeting. They have that for everyone else as well.

A class does go over everything and the instructors on the class will guide you individually through the track going super slow.
 

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Sounds like you may have had the impression that this track day would be more of a class. Unfortunately, track days (in my inexperienced opinion) are usually not classes. They are practice days to get more familiar with riding at the limits of yourself and the bike in a controlled environment.

If you are lucky, you'll find someone to help you around the track, but nothing can take the place of a day of actual - paid- instruction.

Sign up for a school and I think your expectations will be met and your future track days will be more fun.
 

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i have experience with most other organizations in the area except the one you rode with. IMO do another track day, but pick another organization. most of the others offer intro schools, going over track layout, how to pit in and pit out, body positioning, lines, etc. some of them will do follow the leader for the morning before turning you loose. sounds like the group you rode with isn't geared at all to track newbies. sorry to hear you had such a rough experience, but i believe it to be the exception rather than the norm. and, speak up during the day. you were frustrated, but let them know that day and they might be able to do something about it. going back to them afterwards won't change how your day went. best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks guys. I am looking at another org now... they run their intro groups much like a school... 15 minutes on track, then in the classroom, rinse was repeat for the morning.

Gotta find a weekend that works for me
 

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Interesting to hear this. I've never been on the track myself, and concerned that it would play out like what you described I signed up for California superbike's levels 1 and 2 at VIR in August. It seems like a long time to wait and it isn't cheap, but I'm hoping it avoids the not-so-great experience you had.
 
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