RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
Once you’ve done one, you don’t want to stop. Track days are the most exciting, fun and effective way to improve your riding skills. So riding on track is really, really great. But how do you get started? Let’s start with booking your first track day.
Starting with riding on track can be intimidating. But we promise you; you will have a freaking blast. You will learn how to corner and brake with a lot more confidence and control. To get started with riding on track you first have to book your first track day. That might sound easy. But this can already be a huge step for some.
The real first step to start with riding on track is to ‘want it’. That might sound logical. You see awesome photo’s of stranger on the internet, racing on track, flicking their motorcycle from one way to another. And mostly having a really, really good time. You want that too. So the curiosity kicks in. How does one get started? Well, first; let’s find an organisation to ride with.
Because you can’t just ride towards a circuit, ride though the gate and go on your way. Track days are held on a closed course. This allows you to learn in a safe environment, at real-world speeds. And without all the hazards you face on the streets. Think of potholes, tar snakes, mud and ‘Priuses’.
Because track days are held on closed courses, you have to reserve a spot for your track days at a certain organisation. There are quite a few different organisations who organise track days. You can find many in our overview of European track days in 2023.
There are different ways of picking ‘the right track days’. You could choose an organisation that offers a track day on a certain desired date. Or at a specific track. Or you could choose a specific organisation due to its expertise. For example Racecracks for a Dutch or European track day, because of their strongly present racing roots.
Every organisation has a certain unique selling point. Whether or not they provide the option to rent a track bike can also be a determining factor.
Whichever track day organisation you choose, you book your track day through their website. You might encounter a few difficulties here. Like which group to choose. Let us guide you through the proces.
So you start to Google and find an organisation you want to ride with. You check out their calendar to book your first track day. And you find out that there are lots of options. Track days at many different tracks are offered. Which one to choose?!
You could just go with ‘I want to ride on track on the 21st of August’ and choose a certain event because its timing is convenient. But you could also have a preference for a certain circuit. There is no real right or wrong here, when it comes to choosing a circuit for your first track day.
One track can be a bit more demanding or have a more difficult technical flow. Others are friendlier, for example when there are hardly any blind corners or little elevation in the circuit. But there is no ‘wrong’ choice.
Do you ride a heavy 1000cc sport bike? Then choosing for certain smaller circuits – like Ecuyers in France – will mean you have to work harder on the bike than when you ride a nimble 600cc sport bike. Which can be a really good thing. But just keep in mind that a certain track could be better suited for a 600cc or 1000cc bike. Don’t mind it too much, though.
So just choose an event or track that appeals to you. And start the booking proces.
When you book your track day, you have to choose which group you want to ride in. You can often choose between ‘novice’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘experienced’. Definitely choose ‘novice’ if it is your first track day, no matter how fast you are on the roads.
“But what if it doesn’t go fast enough?!”. No worries, speed demon. You will fulfill your need for speed. At most Dutch organisations, you can add your riding style when you choose the ‘novice’ group. This allows you to choose between ‘easy’, ’touring’, ‘rapid’, ‘sporty’, and ‘fast’. Choose ‘fast’ and you will be on the front row.
Why you really have to choose the novice group? Because you might be quick on the throttle, but you probably know hardly anything about rules on track. Or flags. Or lines. And how to pass someone properly. To keep track days safe and fun, you should only enter a free riding group when you know what you are doing. Not just with that throttle, but also in terms of your place on track, where to ride, where to shy away from, what to do when you want to enter or leave the circuit and what to do when something goes wrong.
Are you a bit uncertain, which riding style to choose? Just choose the riding style that might be a bit slower than you really ride. At the event itself, groups will change based on level of riding technique and speed. So if you are too fast for your group, your instructor will make sure you get a spot in a faster one within the novice group. Same thing goes for when it all goes a bit too quick. You will move to a group that’s better suited to your preferred speed.
Have you done a track day on a smaller circuit, like Midland in the Netherlands? Then also opt for the novice group when it is your first track day on a big circuit. The average speed is way higher on tracks like Assen or Zandvoort, and braking zones are quite a bit more intense. So don’t be foolish. Choose the novice group.
Once you’ve chosen the right group and riding style for your first track day, you often get down to the extra options. These options include:
– A pit box, shared or exclusively
– One on one private training
– The rental of a leather suit
– The rental of a track bike
A pit box, shared or exclusively
Whether of not you want to rent a pit box (or a spot on one), is up to you. Most novice track riders don’t, since you don’t have lots of equipment yet. Think of tire warmers etcetera. Did you choose a track day in the middle of summer? Then a pit box can provide you with shade, to be a place to cool off between your sessions. Bringing a tent with you to your first track day works well too. Which could save you some money.
One on one private training
If you really want to ride on track, but find it all a bit intimidating, then one on one private training can be a great choice. Don’t let your insecurity get in the way. An experienced instructor will help you get around safely and enjoy your day to the fullest.
One on one training is not just a great choice for novice track riders by the way. It is also very helpful for intermediate and experienced riders.
The rental of a leather suit
If you’ve got your own leather outfit (whether it is a one piece suit or a two piece suit), you don’t need to rent one. Some organisations allow you to ride on track with a textile suit. But most prefer (or even demand) leather motorcycle clothing, since it is just the safest option you can choose.
In case you don’t own a leather suit, you can rent one at certain organisation. Not every track day organisation offers this possibility, so please check if they do in advance. Like we said, most organisations will allow you to ride in a textile suit as well in the novice group, as long as it is tear and heat resistant.
Motorcycle clothing which is not allowed on track:
– A two piece which cannot be zipped together
– Motorcycle shoes and/or sneakers, since they do not protect the ankles
– Motorcycle jeans
– Jet helmets
– Motorcycle hoodies and/or vests
Make sure your whole body is covered. Pay extra attention to the ankles and wrists. We don’t want bare skin showing!
The rental of a track bike
If might be one of the biggest concerns of novice track riders. “What if I crash my bike?!”. Yeah.. that would suck. That is a risk which is always present. Not just on track, but also on the roads. We do can tell you, that crashes in the novice group aren’t very common. Most crashes or incidents happen at level 2 and 3, which are the groups in which riders gain experience with free riding and pick up their speed.
Some track days go by without a single accident. Other days, it happens more frequently. But don’t worry about it too much.
Some organisations offer the option of a rental track bike. This might provide some peace of mind, since you won’t crash your own bike when you do find yourself in the worst case scenario. But it will cost you a lot of money. Think of 350,- euros excluding the costs of the track day itself. And often a deposit of 850,- euros.
After you have chosen a certain event, the right group, the preferred riding style and your desired extras, you fill in the form to provide some information about yourself. Common things like your name, adres, contact details etcetera. Sometimes also which bike you ride. And you often have to provide the organisation with an emergency contact. Remember; it hardly ever goes wrong in the novice group. But just in case it does, they will know who to get in touch with.
Did you fill in all the details? Then hit the send button and off you go! You successfully booked your first track day(s). Now the waiting begins. Exciting!
Booking your first track day can be a bit intimidating. How to choose the right one? Is there even a wrong one? Not really, to be honest. Just make sure you choose the right group and a riding style that suits you. If it is your first track day, you always start in the novice group. Not sure which riding style to choose? Just choose one that might be a bit slower than you usually ride on the roads. The organisation will regroup to let you ride with an instructor and instruction group that suits your riding style and speed.
One more piece of advice; don’t feel pressured to ride above your limits. And don’t worry about the speed in advance. It will match your riding style and skill, whether you are a speed demon or like to take it easy.