One thing I’ve noticed in my first two years of racing is that everyone wants to make the bike faster, me included, but not a lot of people seem to look at themselves and how they can be a quicker rider.
That’s something I’ve always tried to do, improve my riding as much as possible. I don’t have a road bike and can’t afford to do trackdays much, so the only time I ride the bike is on race weekends. I have to get the most out of it when I’m on it.
One thing I felt was lacking a lot was my racecraft. I think that comes down to experience, watching others and how they race and defend their position. I lost out in the third race at Castle Combe last year because I couldn’t pass Phil Murden on the last lap. He positioned his bike making it impossible for me to overtake.
One of the things I do to try and speed up my racecraft is to watch as much BSB races as possible. I don’t just watch them for entertainment, I’m watching them to see the lines they are taking, the places that they overtake, what happens on the last lap when there is the big lunge for position, that kind of thing. It helped me a lot when I went to Donington Park. I could see how carrying the speed through Craner Curves can lead to an overtake going into The Old Hairpin. I used that move a lot when I raced there last year. The problems come when we race at a circuit where BSB don’t race. Then it’s off to YouTube to try and find good on-board footage to learn the circuits, but it doesn’t come close to watching how the BSB guys race.
So that was more about circuit knowledge, but what about riding the bike? This year I so so so wanted to go to the Texas Tornado Bootcamp in February. It would have cost me about £2000 for a week in Houston riding bikes. I couldn’t justify that cost though, not when I need to buy new leathers. There must be cheaper alternatives to getting more bike control.
In Scotland there are a few options to work on bike control. Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, etc, all use motocross as part of their training for MotoGP. So, that’s the first stop. Should be easy to find since Scotland is a bit hilly and a bit muddy. There are a couple of options: Hyper-Trax.com for indoor electric KTM motocross bikes, which I’ve booked myself to go to on Sunday; and funinthemud.co.uk, which I’ve been to before and it was a great laugh. One of my mates that came with me crashed and was sitting upside down in a tight hairpin corner. He claimed he “toppled” but he was clearly arse over tit! I’ll have more idea about Hyper-Trax after Sunday but it might be a bit weird without the sound of the engines below you. Their costs are £20 for 2x10min sessions. Fun in the mud is £70 for 2.5 hours. Will be a good comparison between the two.
The other option in Scotland is to do Niall McKenzie Superbike School. I’ve done this in the past with guest rider John McGuinness. It was more like a trackday than any kind of rider coaching, although I did ask McPint to follow me round and give me advice. It was a pretty cold day in March and after lunch it started to snow. The advice I received was to go faster. I asked where, he said everywhere. Which might be true but it didn’t really make me any faster, and at about £220 it’s the most expensive option.
flattrackschool.co.uk is another option if I wanted to head south. It’s just a few miles north of Lincoln so it would be a bit of a drive to get there. At £159 for a full day it sounds like it would be decent value for money. It’s a shame I live the best part of 300 miles away or I could be cornering like Marquez on the left handers that seem to give him such an advantage on anti-clockwise circuits. Wait…. are there any anti-clockwise circuits in the UK???