Comic-book hero The Flash, was so fast he was able to outrun his own death. For a day, with a fast bike, a lot of us try to outrun stress and anxiety.
The group that officially brought Alpinestars in the Philippines, led by Charlie Ong, Peter Yung and Lester Tiu, motorsports is alive and kicking in Luzon by bringing Alpinestars Trackday 2 in Clark International Speedway, Pampanga.
When quarantine guidelines were eased out, announcements of Alpinestars Track Day were back online. With strict attendance and safety protocols involved, participants were privately invited and walk-ins were strictly not allowed.
Lester Tiu shared that it’s hard to stop passion, especially in these challenging times. It’s important to provide an outlet and give back by organizing such activities while observing minimum health protocols.
The track day was well attended and kept to a minimum headcount, with constant health reminders to keep participants safe during the activity.
Coach Joey ‘Storm’ Rivero of Zero2Podium spearheaded the track day as the Training Director with other coaches to facilitate the activity. The class was divided into 3. Orange for Novice, pink for advanced and Light blue for lightweight bikes.
We were fortunate to sit in with the novice class and we’re able to learn some useful tips from riding coach Joey before allowing everyone to use the track. Surprisingly, we were able to learn a lot despite the short amount of time given for the basic discussion.
Here are some key take-aways for beginners who want to try the race track.
- Track Day is not Race Day
For some reasons, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘track day’ is you need to be fast. No, it’s actually the best time to learn – for free! Special thanks to Alpinestars Philippines. Overtaking somebody inside the track gives you a ‘kind of high’ but we’ve learned that it’s not the main reason why you’re there. Which leads to #2.
- Find your Ideal Line
We’ve learned that the track has specific lines that can make you finish the course in the fastest way possible. We’re sure that these coaches expertly understand where they are and they’ll show you where they are. You need to understand the ‘racing line’ so that you can ride safer and faster. The ideal line is the key to riding fast.
- Dragging Knees and Elbows Actually make you slower.
Damn, it looks good on photos, but the more lean angle means less tire friction. It became clear to us that the more rubber you have in contact with the road makes you accelerate earlier while exiting a corner. Racing is all about lesser lap times. Putting a knee down is actually measuring your corner angle to ‘feel’ that you are already ‘low’ and keep it as you ride the bend. It’s scientific.
- Instinct vs Science
Bikes will fall due to gravity. The more speed you have, the more stable your bike becomes. Instinct will fight off scientific riding. At this point, you have to unlearn to learn. Instinct will protect you from any accident, but in the racetrack, science makes you fast. The combination of right technique, rider input and laws of speed and gravity applies. If it doesn’t feel right, then it is correct.
- Target Fixation
Look where you want to go. Not on the road in front of you but far where the corner ends. Get as much information by looking ahead so your body can adjust and prepare for your next move. Since speed is a factor in the track, then so are reflexes. The more time you get information, the more time your brain can process your next move and your body will obey. If your brain wasn’t able to prepare on the next road profile, instinct will kick in, your body will adjust based on your personal safety, preparing yourself into an accident. Plus the ambulance cost, bike repairs and other medical expenses hoping you don’t lose a limb in the process.
- F* the Freaking Tank
A race bike tank is designed to accommodate the legs to keep the air flowing in an aerodynamic way. The more limb exposed to air, means more friction, thus less speed and more milliseconds to your lap time. Squeezing the tank means being more one with the bike and creating a limb-like function. The hands can’t be stiff and are meant to steer. Coach Joey taught the ‘funky chicken’ technique as a reminder to always loosen your arms and relax the upper body.
Push the handlebar right to turn right. Push the handlebar left to turn left. It’s science. For those like me who are not used to riding sportbikes, it’s magic. All your sportbike anxieties will go away. For me, this is the most important lesson I had for this basic module because this is one of the main techniques that you can apply while riding on the road.
- Smooth off, Smooth on.
Throttle control is one of the most effective and reliable techniques to maintain a smooth corner entry and exit. It is one of the basic applications, aside from body position, that will help you gracefully ride a corner, because if you can control the throttle, then you control the engine. If you can control your input, then you can control your speed and momentum.
I had a unique wonderful experience, especially after a long period of time being cooped at home. Being inside the racetrack takes you in, like being in your video game dreams of racing and makes you forget all your anxieties and stress, even for a few laps. Now, I’m gonna need a racing suit. Preferably an Alpinestars racing suit.