Road America - a Novice's perspective
seeing that omniglh's post is starting to look hairy, i'll interject some of my experience from the 2 day track day event sponsored by STT (btw - i was in the first novice group):
from a street rider / novice perspective:
personal background - 4 previous track days under my belt, read the keith code books, watch racing on tv, R6 streetbike-all stock
first impressions -
roadamerica is a very fast track. the 3 straight portions (3-5, 10-12, and 14-1 main straight) are blazingly fast. i overheard some of the fast guys seeing 167mph-indicated at the end of the main straightaway (i only saw 152 and i was extremely early on the brakes). some of the fast people were also hitting about 120 thru the carousel, i only did 92-95. turn 11 "the kink" can be taken at wot, but my novice group always backed off the throttle before entering it (however, we still saw 112-115 as we rolled on the gas and scraped knee). *i know that they tell you not to look at the speedo or tape it up (i'm not focused on the speedo, but i know it's there); i'm not looking at lap times so that 's how i perceive the ride, plus as a street rider i think that other non-racer types can get a better feel for the speeds i'm referring to (i can feel the flames on this one).
initial expectations -
as a street rider, i just wanted to see if i could drag my left knee. as it turns out, by the second day i was dragging both knees; and doing it in every corner. i soon learned that it takes more than puck scraping to negotiate the course effectively. my buddy (intermediate) ground thru his right slider in the carousel and consequently almost ground a hole in his leathers. i had to flip my right slider to help equalize the wear to not do the same. ok, so knee-dragging isn't such a big deal anymore, what next? read on.
areas i need to work on :
set a comfortable corner entry speed and start with a "stable platform" (braking and downshifting occupied too much of my time and distracted me - caused me to enter the turn too late, miss the apex and run wide on the rumble strips several times). this happened in 5, 6, and 8 (it probably doesn't help that 5 and 6 are hidden apex corners [i.e. blind turns].
the old adage "look through the turn" - it's counter-intuitive to execute, but it works nonetheless. every time i focused my attention on something else, i would invariably run wide and scare myself.
throttle "attitude" when leaned over and on your knee - here's where the "rolling on the throttle" comes into play (roll off and the front end pushes and you go wide, boy that's familiar). it's amazing when you squeeze on a little gas and the bike becomes stable, even though it boggles the mind since the inside bar seems like it's about 12in from the ground. you think to yourself..."ok it feels like i'm going to fall over and you want to give it more gas?" right, but it works.
body position - now i've become a little confused here, since an instructor told me i was doing it wrong. i tend to rotate my hips and get as low as possible on the inside of the bike, as a result my knee is pointing "down" more than it should (perhaps i'm over-rotating). i was advised to "stick it out" away from the bike so it acts like more of a downrigger. i tried this technique and just did not feel that comfortable with it. i think it's mainly due to the fact that i tend to hold onto the bike with the inside of my thigh, and i also tuck the inside knee towards the bike in anticipation of the lean. i guess i need some help here, i'll have to find someone to watch my technique.
i feel that i need to improve these areas, before i move into the intermediate "warfare" riding groups.
i'm glad i rode the track that i've seen on tv so many times. it's really unbelievable when i think how the pro's ride this course. would i go back? hmmm, maybe, but not until i can get a better handle on my cornering techniques (entry/apex/exit). all in all a good time, i guess it's always a good thing to finish a track day with no broken parts (self or bike).