on the Track
On the weekends we’re not riding with Spokes-Women, we dial it up a notch or two and ride on the track with Reduc Sportbike Association. I (Judy) got into sportbike riding years ago, when I first joined Spokes-Women (then AWRRA) and attempted to follow Jean and Mia around after the club runs on my 1982 Yamaha XS650. I finally got my first sportbike, a 1992 Yamaha FZR600, but by then Jean had left the club. I met up with her several years later at MAWMR! She was still riding, and was riding with Reduc. She and I signed up for the all-women’s CLASS at Loudon that Reg Pridmore was offering that year (1995), then I joined Reduc and have been riding with them ever since. In 1999, Tam and some other Spokes-Women members came up to watch a Reduc event. A couple of months later, Tam traded her cruiser for a sportbike and now also rides with Reduc. Tam and I currently ride 2001 Honda CBR 929RRs on the track.
If you have a sportbike and want to really improve your riding skills, the track is the place to do it. Reduc requires a sportbike, but there are other venues, such as Reg Pridmore’s CLASS, that allow all makes of bikes on the track. On the track, you can safely test the limits of both you and your machine. I find that my track experience has made me a much better street rider. The same turns are practiced over and over, concentrating on smoothness, throttle control, braking, and steering. Did I mention that it’s a ton of fun, too??
A typical day at Reduc consists of getting up at 4:30 AM to get on the road to Pocono Raceway. (There are some events at tracks that are much further, requiring a few days of vacation time). It takes us 1 ½ hours to get to Pocono which makes the one day event doable. The track opens at 7 AM. We like to arrive early to get a good parking spot. By 7:30 we’ve unload the bikes from the trailer. They’re prepped for the track a day or two in advance so we don’t have to do it when we arrive at Pocono. We set up our chairs and canopy. Shade is welcomed on those hot sunny days. Coffee and donuts are only a short walk away, compliments of Reduc. Next the bikes go through tech inspection. It’s a requirement of Reduc and they have designated inspectors. They check to ensure that all lights are taped, mirrors removed, brake pads are adequate, tires have acceptable traction, and the throttle doesn’t stick. The mandatory rider’s meeting is at 8 AM, where the rules of the track are discussed. Next, the cornerworkers are taken to there respective corners. At about 9AM the day starts with the announcement of “Novice on the Grid”. Reduc splits riders into four groups: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert (must have a racing license). Tam and I ride with Novice. The groups rotate through 15 minute sessions until lunch, when everyone breaks for an hour. Reduc supplies lunch, too! Then it’s back out for more sessions until about 6 PM. By 4 PM, the group sizes for the sessions have diminished. Fifteen minutes per session doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s exhausting.
Out on the track I concentrate on being smooth, both ‘on’ the throttle and the brakes. Looking through the turns is a must. Occasionally, the bike is leaned over far enough to drag the toe of my boot or the foot peg feelers! I like to wear my tires right up to the edge!! It’s not only exhilarating but scary the first time I heard something scraping the track. This is where all the mental training comes into play…remember the instruction to keep on the throttle??? Although one’s first reaction is to let off the throttle, the experiences gained from riding on the track really helps to reinforce the correct reactions because this kind of riding is both very mental and physical. It also helps with street riding as well because you learn to know what you and your bike can do, when pushed to your limits.
The first Reduc event is at the end of April. The last event is in October. There are usually 8 events per year. When going to Pocono Raceway, we can never predict what Mother Nature will have in store for us. It can be sunny for miles around, but you can arrive at the track to find it socked-in by fog and/or rain. The first April event generally is very cold, sometimes only 45 degrees. Special attention must be given to tire pressures on cold days. During warm summer days the pressures are dropped to 30 psi front and rear. On very cold days, they’re lowered to 28-29 psi. The reduced pressure helps the tire get warm. This helps improve the tire’s traction on the track. Of course, the track temperature also plays a role here too, just like on the street. Cold weather is not a time to push the limits of your bike on the track, because it’s much easier to lose what little traction is available. This is something to keep in mind when riding on the road too.
Our first event this year was April 27 & 28. Anyone who’d like to come and watch the action is invited. There’s no fee to get in, and we’ll even see that you are fed lunch. If you have a sportbike and would like to join, there are two ways. One is to sign up to corner work, and the other is to take Reduc’s instructional school. Corner working prepares you understand the club’s rules/procedures and to learn the importance of the flags. The school this year was offered on May 25th. Two years ago Spokes-Women Tam, Roe, and Kim D. took the school. Tam and Roe then joined. The school is a great introduction to track riding. There are lectures and plenty of track time. There is one instructor to 5 students, and the groups are split up into Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced.
We’ve included a few pictures of the fun we had last year. If you look really really hard at the pictures, you just might see our ear-to ear smiles.
We can’t wait for Spring!!!! Vroom.
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