Experience: My First Track Day

Experience: My First Track Day

Exhilaration, passion, speed | Remarkable is a very specific word. On a surface level, it can simply mean extraordinary.

Savannah, GA – Humans are born dreamers. As children, we dream of fighting fire, rocketing off into space, or maybe even something as simple as driving a car (fast). Except such dreams are never truly static; they evolve as we do, grow as we do, as they should. My dream was to be the first man on Pluto. In hindsight, it may have been a tad farfetched, but it didn’t seem to be at the time. As I aged, motorcycles cascaded over my dreams and enveloped them. I dreamt of flying past hasty strokes of green and brown on silky mountain roads. Just a couple of months ago, my dreams developed a sharp specificity; mountain roads shaped into an open track, stripes of red and white whizzing by inches from my elbow. I wanted to hit the track.

My First Track Day

Less than a month later, I got a phone call. Honda would be flying me down to Georgia to test the new 2015 CBR lineup on the track. I cast myself on the floor in disbelief. My mind raced. I would soon – literally – hit the track. The lovely PR team from Honda quickly set me up with a flight and a place to rest my head, and everything was confirmed. I spent the next couple of weeks drooling over the itinerary and meticulously preparing a list of gear I needed for the excursion. Over the winter holidays, I had purchased a fresh Dainese Redline suit that I was itching to try out, and this was the perfect opportunity.

After weeks of anticipation, the day had finally come. My alarm squawked at 5 am; all too early, but I was all too anxious to feel the fatigue. I had a long day of travelling ahead of me, but a flight cancellation and a short road-trip later, I arrived in Savannah, Georgia at The Brice hotel ready to shut my eyes. Morning came quickly, and after a wholesome Georgian breakfast, we were ushered to Roebling Road; the track where I would grow my first pair of cojones.

My First Track Day

The day itself was nothing special. The sky was overcast and grey, there was a slight chill on the breeze, and even the birds seemed like they chose to deem it a lazy Tuesday. Eighteen beautiful CBRs were lined up by the track, looking almost as wired as I was. As I sauntered around the hot pit and stood at the edge of the track, everything about the moment felt surreal. It was dreamlike, yet it looked nothing like my dreams. Simply standing there invoked in me a visceral feeling I could have never anticipated.

Jeff Haney awaited us in the small racetrack cafeteria. The former Honda Factory rider was ready in his full leathers, smiling and greeting us all excitedly. This is where my nerves set in – I was in a room with amazing riders, some of whom had been racing competitively with prowess for over fifty years. I had no idea what to do – I definitely did not belong there. Concerned, I expressed this to Jeff, who seemed nothing but thrilled to hear that it was my first time on the track. He assured me with the promise of one-on-one instruction and a heart-warming smile. Thus he began his pre-track debrief, going over the basics of track riding: slow hands, body position, and self-regulation. I soaked it all in and ran it on repeat in my head as we made our way back to the hot pit.

My First Track Day

The sun was shrouded by cloud, but the bikes still seemed to glimmer under Honda’s tent-like canopies. I strode up to one of the CBR300Rs, strained by a tumultuous mix of anxiety, over-zealousness, and a strange sense of serenity. The damp air suddenly exploded with the roar of thirteen mechanical creatures, purring and screaming. This was it. I was on the racetrack.

Throughout the day, I relied heavily on Jeff’s instruction, requesting many lead-follows and body position checks. I remember talking to myself as I was riding; ‘Eyes forward, knees out… come on… hang off and lean…. a little bit more,’ and then I felt it. A light touch at first, and then a steady drag. By the tenth lap, I was dragging my knee. That feeling is one I will never forget, nor will I forget the sound of my knee puck scraping against the asphalt. I continued to diligently apply Jeff’s techniques, seeking help from Jodi Christie – the Canadian national superbike champion – as well. As the day wore on and fatigue set in, I rolled into the pit for the final time and relished in the comfort of a plushy bus seat.

My First Track Day

The next day held no less excitement; though the track was initially wet with a morning drizzle, the 600RR, the Fireblades (1000RR), and the 1000RR SP were out to play. Extra timidity is required on these machines. They are as unforgiving as they are quick, which, combined with the wet track, was a scream for caution. Halfway through the day, the sun pierced through the cloud, and won back the blue of the sky. The day was to end with me on my favourite bike of the event (for my skill level), the CBR650F. With that, I was off to the airport, back to daydreaming.

Remarkable is a very specific word. On a surface level, it can simply mean extraordinary. In its true form, it means ‘worthy of notice or attention.’ My trip to Roebling Road with Honda was – to this date – the most remarkable experience of my life. This is not only because it involved the fulfillment of various dreams of mine. I spent those two days chatting with some of the most likeminded and – frankly – remarkable people I’ve ever met. This event has brought to light the realization that motorcycling, to me, is a passion that could never take the backseat. Thank you, Honda, for helping me realize this.

 

Experience: My First Track Day Gallery

 

 

See Also:

2014 Honda CBR650F

First Ride: 2014 Honda CBR650F and VFR800

2013 Honda CBR500R

 

*Travel, accommodations, and instruction were provided to the author by the manufacturer

 

 

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