If you are anything at all like I am you will want to be completely prepared with all of the boxes checked when you arrive at the track – be it Willow, Laguna or where ever your first school is. Let’s think a moment about what’s coming up.
I like to keep things simple so I divide my preparation into three areas – the 3 B’s, bike, body and brain. I consider these three components to be the teammates that make riding safe and fun. And I expect every member of my team to be ready to perform.
As far as the Bike is concerned I use the check list in Smooth Riding the Pridmore Way to be sure the bike is properly prepped and ready to ride. Some of the things Reg mentions in the book are:
Wheels and Tires – the wheels should spin freely and be free of damage and the tires should be new and inflated properly – 32/32 is a good rule of thumb but you might check the manufacturers recommendation for track riding on their website. You don't want them overinflated.
Chain – properly adjusted at ½ inch to ¾ inch at the tightest point and properly lubed with your choice of lubricant. Be sure to wipe off any excess chain lube.
Frame – the handle bar should turn side to side freely and smoothly and there should be no loose fasteners or fairing parts. It’s a good idea to check for cracks or damage as well.
Oil - fresh oil should be visible at the correct level in the sight glass. Over filling not only wastes oil it can damage the engine. It doesn’t hurt to bring a quart to the track for topping off as the high rpm’s run all day can consume more oil than expected.
Gas – top off before coming to the track and again at lunch. Most of the tracks we go to have gas available at the track – bring cash or credit card for the purchase.
Throttle – the properly adjusted throttle will have no free play and respond immediately to rolling on and off. It should not be so tight as to raise the rpm when turning the bars side to side however.
Brakes – the pads should have the wear grooves visible and the brake fluid should be the same color it was when installed – clear, blue, gold, etc. Be sure the reservoir is full and the brakes properly bled if the fluid has been recently changed.
Battery – should be fully charged. Nothing sets the tone for the day like having to push start your bike for the first session.
Coolant – be sure the coolant level is topped up and the hoses and connectors are in good condition.
Suspension – At the very least the sag should be properly adjusted for the rider’s weight with gear, ready to ride. Compression and rebound dampening can be adjusted at the track if need be. If you trailer the bike be sure not to tie it down so tightly that fork seals are blown.
Summary – I like to have the bike prepped and ready at least a week in advance. And I try to bring any tools and supplies I might need to make minor adjustments to the machine while at the track. There should be no fluid leaks of any kind on the machine.
When it comes to the Body, I think about being physically conditioned and comfortable. A good night’s sleep before the event will allow me to rise early and be at the track early. Knowing my protective gear is both serviceable and comfortable will help me to be distraction free while on the track. Staying hydrated begins a day or two before the event and continues throughout the day. And of course I will have brought along what ever I need to be healthy and happy away from home including prescription medications.
As far as the Brain is concerned it is all about attitude. Being prepared will allow me to be relaxed. Being relaxed allows me to be smooth and focused. Being focused keeps me safe. I want to have a plan and a goal when I come to CLASS - something to work on and improve upon. I often write down ideas and questions in advance because the fun and excitement of being at the event with my friends will leave me forgetting what I wanted to ask. Another part of attitude is being open-minded. I have found that often when I believe I am doing something the proper way in actuality I may not be. So if a friend or an instructor (or anyone else for that matter) makes a suggestion I try to accept it humbly in the spirit intended.
Like you, I’m looking forward to another GREAT year of CLASS schools. My team is ready, is yours?