Tuesday, 8 July 2014

My first trackday

I'm staring at a back tyre. My mouth is dry. I smell exhaust fumes and burnt rubber. All I can hear is my heart, beating. My breathing became heavy. I felt choked. My hands tightened around the grips, my knuckles turning white. I raised my arm up to the sky, showing my wristbands and then I was given the nod. Lots of terrifying scenarios were racing through my head, causing it to ache. I was given the thumbs up and then the light turned green.

I was shitting myself.

I've never been one for nerves, I just can't hack it. I turn into a wreck, I begin to shake and twitch. My palms become sweaty and my speech becomes slurred and vague. No matter how much I convince myself that it's all going to be okay, I can never persuade myself enough. This trackday had been playing on my mind for days, making me more and more anxious as each day passed.

I would worry about the obvious... Seeing my bike sliding along some gravel, coated in scratches and dented pride. Then my ego would get the better of me, could I deal with people flying past me? Would I end up bitter and aggravated? Thankfully, neither of these things happened. Well, some people flew past me but I didn't get bitter about it.

Shortly after arriving, the confusion of where to go and where to check in made me all the more nervous. With no obvious means of direction myself and my friend, a fellow YouTuber, squeezed our way into one of the pit garages and parked up. After receiving strange looks from what were quite obviously professionals, their bikes complete with tyre warmers, track fairings etc... I felt a bit awkward. There was even a fourteen year old kid with a fully race prepped Rs125 in the fast group, kitted out in tailored leathers and sending a 2 stroke smell floating through the pit.

We did stick out a bit... but it's cool
A naked Fz6 and a Drz400 amongst a sea of race bikes. We must've stood out like a sore thumb, and that's exactly what I didn't want to do. Unsure of what to do next, I followed a few guys to the sound check where I received a nice little sticker on the windscreen. Then after half an hour of wandering around, we found the place to sign up and had our briefing. Forty minutes later and I was ready.

After my first session, I was in awe of the circuit and the experience but I wasn't really pushing myself or bike to any sort of limit which never gave me any kind of 'buzz'. However, three sessions later and my grin was wider than a Cheshire cat's. All kind of nerves that were with me before had vanished and I was in my element.
Overtaking a Zx6r on the hairpin - who needs fairings?
As I began to learn the track and the capabilities of my bike, my confidence grew and the speed definitely grew. The young lad on the Fazer, who was too scared to overtake people with a fear of doing something wrong, had changed. I began to overtake on the hairpin - the corner which I originally hated the most. A particularly favourite moment of mine was overtaking an R1 on that hairpin, I actually remember shouting the words 'Woohoo!' to myself in my helmet.

It was a fantastic experience. The mental buzz I received from each lap, ever growing faster, was just incredible. It was fun to see just how late you could brake before cranking the bike over into a bend. The triumphant feeling I earned from totally nailing a corner was the best feeling ever. I loved every second of it.

However, the biggest problem that has arose is the overwhelming urge to buy a sportsbike and take it to every track in the country. It truly has opened a new set of doors to my motorcycling - It's not just the Sunday blasts and road trips anymore. Trackdays are up in the mix now. I cannot recommend it enough. Just get out and do one, you won't regret it.

I'll be counting down the days to my next one.

One day maybe...