During the classroom portion of track schools, one of the lessons is about lines around the track. We talk to countless people about them, track day riders who most of the time have never taken a class and I see a look that usually means they either have no idea or they have a very loose understanding of what lines really are and why we use them. Firstly, lines around the track are a guide and they are usually set up with cones on various places around the track. If you come to a track day you have several visual cones to help you work your way around. There are cones for braking, entry, apex, exit and at times specific cones set for passing for different levels. It is very much like a puzzle and getting everything timed just so to work for the perfect turn or turns which is what we try to aim for and when it works, it feels fantastic! Secondly, the reason we use lines is it is the fastest and safest way around the track, that’s why racers use them and visualize how to set up each corner linking one to the other all the way around.
The typical setup to a corner is braking cones (where you would start braking and it is to your comfort level, you can brake at the furthest cone if you are unsure all the way to the last cone if you want to really test the size of your balls). Then comes the entry cone where you want to start or initiate your turn, somewhere in the middle of this turn you should see the apex cone which will give you a perfect line to the exit cone. The trick is to link these all together in not a sweeping motion, but more like a straight deliberate line setting you up for the next set of cones. Now not every corner will have braking cones, mostly you will see these down straight aways where you can gain a tremendous amount of speed so these are let’s just call them your mom/bf/gf/significant other screaming at you to brake before you hit something (when you get to the last one you are in deep shit). In the areas where there are no braking cones these are followed by entry, apex and exit cones to guide you through. This is where setting yourself up for the next set of cones is important, if you miss an exit your entry, apex and exit will be sloppy or even missed in the next turn. I always say if you set yourself up well in one turn you will be pretty good for the next two…however missing one will cause you to keep correcting for the next two turns.
Some people may have no fear and brake late, but suck at corners, others may suck at braking, but are phenomenal in corners. Being great in corners and knowing your lines will make you a faster rider as your speed will eventually increase as well as your taste and mastering of braking later. Liter bikes are monsters on the straight for sure, but it requires skill to harness and control their power through corners. Smaller bikes lose to that power on the straights, but their cornering is phenomenal and easier to harness and can whip around them with a huge amount of agility. Now imagine having near perfect lines, just using that alone you are already faster without ever having to increase speed. Add speed and you’ll be pretty darn wicked! Lines are also the safest way around the track for that reason, it literally aims you to where you need to go, like connect the dots. If you follow them and learn them you’ll not only be the one of the fastest around the track, but you will do so with very little “OH SHIT” moments in your head. If you aren’t prepared things tend to go wrong right? SO the track and the lines are your plan that you try to perfect so you can have a great day. It’s not a contest, you aren’t getting a prize and push too much and you’ll end up with an ugly bike and some physical souvenirs. Challenge yourself a little every time, improve and soon you’ll be zipping around the track like a pro! Please please please take classes, these are an investment in your skills and in turn your life. We should never stop learning and what you get in one day in the classroom is so overwhelming that you will honestly only apply one or two principles so come back and build on what actually sunk in.
Track season is almost over in the PNW, so if you want to hone some skills before we lose to the weather, sign up! And as always gals and guys alike…Vixens Ride!