First of all, anyone thinking that perhaps this is a book for the sexually-inexperienced motorcyclist really needs to get out more! – either on two wheels or two legs. Because given the fact that you need to be 17-years old to have any sort of motorbike licence, these days the chance of finding one that’s a virgin is going to be very slim indeed.
No, we’re talking bike trackdays for the beginner here, or should I say the less experienced. But even if you’re a trackday veteran, this book still has something to offer.
Now Simon’s been riding bikes both on-road and on-track since what seems to be before the age of steam, and with this book he’s managed to condense his vast experience into one small easily-read volume. Anyone who’s a regular reader of the MotorbikesToday website will be familiar with his easy-going style, and he uses this to great effect to take the reader through what could be the daunting experience of their first trackday. The book follows a fairly logical progression, starting with preparing both the bike and yourself for what’s going to probably be the most intense day you’ve had together, the importance of picking the right type of trackday for your needs, and what’s going to happen when you arrive at the track for the first time.
At the track, the administrative side of things is covered, and then with a gulp and your heart in your mouth it’s time to filter slowly out of the pitlane onto a piece of asphalt that’s been graced by your racing legends. It’s here that the book focuses on what trackdays are really all about; becoming a better rider by being smoother, improving your use of the controls, reading the track and positioning yourself and the bike for the next corner, and sometimes the one immediately after. Get this lot right and you will go faster, and be a better more confident rider in the process; make a mistake and the result will be orders of magnitude less than a similar mistake on the road, as racetracks are probably the safest places in the country to ride a motorbike. But sometimes it can unfortunately be a little more serious, and Simon offers some useful advice for when things get a little pear-shaped. He should know – he’s been there, and got the scuffed leathers and boots (plus the stainless screws and plates) to prove it.
Once you’ve got confidence in your ability to ride smoothly and quickly on a racetrack, the book takes you on to more advanced riding techniques, and then finishes off with detailed track descriptions of the major UK race circuits that host motorcycle trackdays. Finally, there are checklists for you and your bike to avoid the ignominy of turning up at the circuit with bald tyres and no driving licence, and contact details of some long-established and reputable trackday operators.
The book is well illustrated throughout with photos and diagrams that help to amplify and clarify the text, and I can recommend it to anyone who is either thinking of doing their first trackday, or to someone who has already done a few and wants to get a bit more out of the experience. But even if you never ride on a racetrack, there’s stuff in this book that can easily translate to your next trip out on the road.
Nice one Simon.
Ed: You can buy Trackdays for Virgins, and other titles from Panther Publishing, here.