I am not one for challenging New Year’s resolutions. Changing long formed habits is difficult and the motivation has to be strong to do so. But, the notion of having a goal to achieve something and making that a New Year’s resolution has a certain appeal to it.
Last year, my goal was to keep a weekly-updated blog. I didn’t achieve a one-hundred percent strike-rate with that goal, but came close enough for me to think of it as “fairly successful”. (Note that my definition for “success” has nothing to do with readership!)
This year, I’m using my blog to publically announcing my goal / NYR: At some point in 2009 I shall be doing a track-day. (I told you I went for non-challenging goals!) The last track-day I did was near on five years ago and for me, that was about four and a half years too long ago! I can tell you now that I am out of practice and will be enrolling in the “slow” group.
Track days are simply the best way to get the most out of a performance motorcycle. Unless you are regularly riding them, I cannot believe that you would be getting close to pushing the “performance envelope” of any modern sports-bike. Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile, or know me personally, will realise that I currently ride a Honda VFR 800. This bike is not what anyone would call a “modern sports-bike”. Scour the forums and you can see that people do use this bike for track-days, but it is not ideal.
This leaves me with three options:
I can use my VFR800 and ride it within both the bike’s limitations and my own. For those of you who aren’t aware, there aren’t many insurance policies that will cover you on a racetrack, so there is a serious possibility of the day ending up being very expensive. Having said that, this probably is not a bad option for me. Given that I am fairly sensible (even on a track) I am unlikely to get carried away and throw the bike away. The fact that I have not been on a track for five years also means my “limits” are going to be relatively low. I am the sort of person who “eases into things” rather than “jumps in fully committed” – so it is unlikely to all end in tears.
I could hire a bike. One of the local track-day organisers also have “track-day” bikes to hire. Last time I checked these were “race-prepped” late model CBR 600s. This is an expensive option and they also take a healthy holding deposit on your credit card in case you decide to end-over-end one of their bikes in the gavel trap at the end of the main straight…
I could get my own track-bike. Track bikes take their own special commitment. Generally, you will want to do most (if not all) of your own maintenance for a track bike to help reduce the cost of ownership. Using any motor vehicle on a racetrack is very stressful for the vehicle. The engine tends to run at high speed for extended periods. Cornering forces are more intense than in normal road operation. In general, parts wear out far faster and more maintenance is required.
So far, I have not decided which option I will take to see me meet my 2009 goal. What path I take and happens next is a story for another time.