Life can be as exciting as you want it to be. Today, I took a big gulp of excitement. My experience of riding my motorcycle at the racetrack was exhilarating.
I rode faster than I ever did before. I rode harder than I ever did before. Most importantly, I rode better than I ever did before. The track allows you to push your skills to their limit and, while you're out there, you improve quickly and dramatically. I learned so much and came away from the long day a much better rider.
On the track, you can go as fast as you have the power and courage. But there is more to riding than that. For example, on the straightaway, you nail the throttle and hit triple-digits. My bike reached 140 mph on that stretch. But at the end of that straight line, there are two sharp right-hand turns which cannot be made at high speed. See this diagram of the track:
What you need to learn is how to carry maximum speed around numerous turns of varying radius and direction. This is where racing-skills come in. You set up for a curve by moving to the outside of the track, selecting the right pace, picking a "line" (path) through the turn, hitting the apex of the turn on the inner edge of the track, and then accelerating out of the turn as the bike straightens up. What assists the effort is moving your butt off the seat onto the side of the bike, throwing your knee out and leaning your body into the turn as far as you have the nerve to go. With practice, you actually drag your knee on the track at the apex, which is why racing-leathers have detachable "pucks" to protect your kneecap as it scrapes the pavement.
You'll notice, on my bike, that all lights and glass have been taped. You do this so that, if you crash, your bike doesn't litter the track with debris. During the day today, there were five crashes. Fortunately, only two of them required ambulances.
The most common cause of a crash is going into a turn too "hot" (fast) and being unable to stay on the track. This is a completely preventable situation. Sportbikes have amazing ability to lean and it is the rider's loss of confidence, not the motorcycle, that causes the crash. It's very scary to be in this situation and the second someone loses faith in their ability to complete the turn, they fly off the track.
I faced this predicament squarely today when, entering a sharp turn very hot, the only way to avoid crashing was to lean my bike deeper than I ever have before. It would have been easy to crash but -- DAMN IT! -- I decided I was not going to end my day that way. I kept my head, mustered every ounce of courage in me and pulled the bike down until it was scraping its side. The bike performed as it's designed to and I narrowly completed the turn. Willpower is potent and can overcome even extreme danger.
The day was certainly thrilling. Wildly exciting, occasionally terrifying and constantly challenging. Racers say that riding on a track is demanding mentally as well as physically. I agree. You attack the track like a chess-game, trying to figure out how to handle the 13 curves with maximum speed and smooth, fluid technique. Every second out there requires total focus and intense concentration. At 100+ mph, things happen very fast.
My friend Jim took video of my riding and a professional photographer took phenomenal pictures of me traveling around the track. Both will take a few days to get; as soon as they arrive, I'll share them with you. You'll see, in both, my intense concentration and total commitment to the endeavor.
Friends tell me that racing at the track is addictive. Now I see why!