My last trackday left me feeling like I am really back in the saddle again after last season’s slow and steady theme. I felt good, the bike felt good, and I had Fun. All. Day. BUT, or AND, however you want to think of it, my old demons were also back. Everyone has a stumbling block they’re working on. Mine is early and excessive braking, and I’m looking for advice on how to beat this habit.
I’ve had a couple of track day instructors call me out on this same problem and try to verbalize how to solve it. I’ve gotten the advice “just go faster”, which is not a huge help. One instructor suggested I pick one corner and try braking later and later into it each lap, so as not to get overwhelmed by working on all corners at the same time – this helped my brain manage the problem a little better. Looking for more solid advice, I remembered Honey Badger Racing had mentioned that riding guru Ken Hill had created a series of podcasts. So one afternoon while ThrottleGirl was napping and I was making dinner, I went to his list of podcasts and lo and behold, there was an entire episode devoted to the overslowing for corners problem (link). I guess I am not the only one.
While I suggest listening to the entire podcast because Ken is an excellent speaker, the three main points he hits in 15 minutes are:
- Look at the spot where you want to get off the brakes.
- Have your lower body in position for the turn before you start braking
- Don’t overbrake right away. Apply 5% brake slowly to settle your front suspension, increase contact patch, and give you a second to determine how much you really need to brake for the corner.
This gives a rider a few concrete things to work on. I think I will start by working on body positioning, because I know I tend to do all my braking and downshifting while sitting square on the seat, and only move over when I am almost ready to tip in to the turn – less than ideal, according to Mr. Hill.
Approaching a turn is a busy time, and there is a lot of advice out there on how to get yourself set up safely and efficiently (for still more advice go here) for fast cornering. I’ll try out these ideas on my next street ride (at a slower pace), and then again at my next track day, which will probably be in June at Z2’s Women’s VIP Day.