Ducati Owners Club Victoria

Fun Track Days

Want to know how a Fun Day works?

All the details are here: DOCV Fun Day Details – All you need to know

 

and some background on why these days are so much fun . . .

About DOCV Fun Days or Why would I want to do a track day?

By Steve Frew (DOCV Life Member)


DOCV membership is growing which is great. If my maths are correct then there must be some newbies out there who are track day virgins.  So I write this to these people as well as those that have done one or two but still lack overall confidence.

Firstly, if you think you don’t want to be a racer so the track is not for you, think again!  If you bought a Ducati, it’s my guess that it was for a reason.  That reason will generally include things like race heritage, handling and performance.  Your Ducati may have pride of place in your lounge room, but it will undoubtedly look better at Phillip Island on one of the world’s great GP circuits.

When I did my first track day in about 1997; it was a DOCV Fun Day.  I remember my heart was racing.  I was worried about embarrassing myself or what others would say if I was too slow. 
All my fears were without foundation.  There were fast people, slow people... I guess I fitted somewhere in the middle to slow category.  One thing stuck with me that day though; everyone there had a great time.  We all rode our Ducatis as fast as we wanted to and there was absolutely no ridiculing or criticism.  The day just ticked along as I pussy-footed around the track worrying if I had sufficient traction & ground-clearance.

I have done many Fun Days since and will continue to do them.  The DOCV days are like anything else that the club does (and the reputation outside the club for this is pretty good); it is about having FUN!  That’s why the ‘Fun Day’ tag was born; to break down any intimidation.

These club ‘Fun Days’ are great.  Firstly you are surrounded by people with the same passion.  If you need to know anything there are dozens of people around to offer advice.  If you are too shy to ask, go and see the committee volunteers who are running the day.  They will point you in the right direction.

When you register you will find we have three groups; slow, medium & fast.  It is the nature of most people to think they belong in the medium group.  It’s not embarrassing and no one wants to think of themselves as slow.  This is not the thought pattern you need.

If you have not done a track day before you owe it to yourself to start in the slow group.  Over the years the terms ‘novice’ or ‘less-fast’ have been used; the fact is riding on a track is very different to road riding.

I know from experience that there are many riders that I cannot keep up with on the road who simply can’t see me for dust on the track, and vice-versa.  Some of the fastest track riders are very conservative on the road.

One of my favourite moments of discovery on this subject came about 10 years ago.  It might have been in the UK magazine ‘Fast Bikes’; they were interviewing Carl Fogarty the then World Superbike Champion.  Carl was asked “do you ride on the road?”  Carl’s reply stuck with me forever: “No, not often, mostly I can’t keep up with my mates”.

Over the years that has stuck with me.  The track is as fast as you make it.  The road brings with it countless risks with poor roads, vehicles, trees etc.  If you really weigh up the obstacles, the track is undoubtedly as close to a controlled environment you will find for your motorcycle outside your lounge-room.

So once you are into the day, with your group choice on the conservative side, you can find your feet.  If you find after a few sessions that you need to move up, great; see the organisers and they will deal with it.  Generally though, until you find your feet and develop confidence in where you want to be on the track and what lines you want to use, you will be a hazard to faster riders, so the slow group is the place to start.

There are a number of things you need for a Fun Day.  Firstly, you must be wearing motorcycling leathers, boots & gloves.  Your run-of-the-mill riding gear doesn’t cut the mustard here.  Should the worse happen, leather is the only thing that you can rely on and Phillip Island Circuit’s regulations require this standard.

Secondly, if you can put your hands on a trailer to carry the bike to & from the event do so.  Whilst the Island is not far from Melbourne I can tell you from experience that once you have spent the day doing some 50 laps you will be exhausted.  Even at novice levels, the focus that you muster wears you out.  The 2 hour ride back to Melbourne can be mind-numbing at best.  When you are tired it can feel like a marathon.

The DOCV Facebook page is a good place to ask about borrowing, hiring or sharing a trailer. If you haven’t secured a bike to a trailer before then get some good advice. Again, put a post on the Facebook page or ask a committee member.

One final thing you should realise is that most insurance will not cover you on the track.  That has been a problem to many people as they fear the worst.  I have never let it worry me.  Check with your insurance company or search the internet for track day insurance if you are concerned about this.

If you have done a California Superbike School you will be aware that ‘fear’ and our ‘survival-reactions’ are our biggest enemy on a bike.  If you ride outside your own capacity you will be tempting fate no matter how fast you are.  Remember, experience counts for a lot.  If you are a new rider you will not know the limits and you are likely to overstep your boundaries more than say, Casey Stoner.

Take it easy, learn the art and keep the testosterone levels in check.  It may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.  If you don’t get stressed on a road ride, you shouldn’t feel it on the track.

On the social side, many participants go to the Island the night before and the club has an Italian dinner at Pino’s in Cowes.  There you will find countless people to discuss any apprehensions you may have.  Rather than just writing all this, I too will be there.  Feel free to seek me out and I will happily have a yarn with you and try to quell the nerves.

So if you think you might want to stick a toe in the water, keep an eye on Desmoto or www.docv.org for the next Fun Day and come along to a general meeting where there will be plenty of people happy to talk to you about doing your first track day.

You owe it to your Ducati to take it out on the track at least once.  I started as a nervous newbie...  and I became addicted.  Personally, I think track time is motorcycling in its absolute purest form!  I can’t wait to get into it again this year as the weather warms up.