So, I went and did a track day no-no and rode my bike to the track. My story is as follows...
Firstly, I am no longer a ZX-6R owner and haven't been for well over a year. I sold my '06 6R to forum member iLean2much on January 13, 2014. I replaced it with my current steed, a 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. If that discourages any of you from wanting to read any further, there's the door. But the fact that my bike isn't even a supersport I think adds a good point to my story...
Anyway, as part of a promotion that was being run at the time, N2 Track Days (formerly NESBA) was offering a promotion in my area throughout 2014 that netted you $350 track credit for buying a new Yamaha sportbike. After investing some money into upgrading the suspension on my new baby, I decided to put that credit towards registering for a track day being done at my local track, Pittsburgh Race Complex, AKA PittRace, formerly known as BeaveRun. I chose this date specifically because a local chapter of a motorcycle meetup group that I've ridden with before made arrangements to go together, and they offered to trailer my bike. Things made a last minute turn, however, when the meetup was canceled leaving me high and dry. I probably could have opted not to go, but because the track was only 45 minutes from my home, I decided to rough it.
I logged into the N2 forums as soon as I'd learned I'd be riding and made a post introducing myself and asking if there was anyone who could allow me to pit with them. In less than 12 hours there was a full page worth of replies of people offering me to pit with them. I ended up taking up the offer from a group of 3 guys running a KTM RC8 and a pair of Ducati Panigales who made the trip from Columbus, OH (about 3-4 hours away) because they would probably be the easiest to find. They ended up being very nice and helpful throughout the day, offering me water even letting me use their tools and helping adjust my chain when I originally failed tech due to my chain being too tight. One of them even spotted me cash for food from the concession area after I found out they didn't take plastic and there was no ATM on the premises.
My bike is a 2014 Yamaha FZ-09, essentially a poor man's version of the Ducati Hypermotard. It is completely stock aside from an ECU flash and upgraded suspension (Penske shock in back, springs + oil up front). The tires I'm running are Dunlop Roadsmart 2 Sport touring tires, which is a sport touring tire based on the Q2 (predecessor to the Q3). That's right, I was running SPORT TOURING TIRES at my track day.
My gear consisted of a Scorpion EXO-R410 helmet that I purchased on closeout for $50 from motorcyclegear.com, an Alpinestars Jaws leather jacket (with upgraded CE approved back insert and chest inserts, Alpinestars Missile leather pants, AXO Aragon boots, Knox Recon gloves, and a Psycleskinz undersuit base layer. With the exception of the base layer, pants, and jacket, everything on me was purchased on closeout at approximately 50% off or even less, mostly from sportbiketrackgear.com. Yes, again, I didn't have a proper track one piece. I was essentially wearing a street-focused getup that just happened to be track legal because the pants and jacket zipped together via a full circumference zipper to make a 2 piece.
So, we're 3 for 3 so far. I'm riding my ass to the track on a bike that isn't even a proper supersport, that doesn't even have proper sport tires, wearing street-focused kit.
I packed into a set of soft saddlebags as many bottles of water as I could possibly fit, a few snacks, a roll of painter's tape, the wrench I needed to remove my mirrors, the hex key I needed to access my fuse box, a few rags, some chap stick, dental floss, a tooth brush, tooth paste, and some hand sanitizer, and that was it. I topped off my tank at a gas station a mile from the track before getting there.
I've ridden this track once before, two years ago at my only prior track day, but the layout has changed since then. Here is the new track layout:
The north track is all that used to be there. The south track is a new addition that was literally just completed a few weeks ago, and this track day we got to run the WHOLE THING.
The ratio of instructors to students in the novice group was quite high. 17 students, 8 instructors. Plenty good enough for anyone who needed one on one coaching, which was a good thing because I definitely needed some, although not as badly as other people in the group. Being the "slow guy" I was worried they felt they would need to single me out a lot of the time, but the bigger issue there were the people who were very obviously going way faster than what their technical skill level should have permitted.
For the first 3 sessions, Lenny (the lead instructor) felt the need to single me out a couple times, which made me feel a little self conscious. I had to pit early almost every session because I let my hair grow out a bit too much a bit and my bangs collecting sweat inside the helmet made my eyes burn, but I still spent most of the session out. After we broke for lunch, I had 2 great sessions where I felt almost everything I did was just plain beautiful and absolutely on point. I carried higher corner speed through every corner than I ever have before, with better lines, and the instructors were praising my body position. I even touched a toe slider down for the first time (way too easy on my bike because of the lower pegs than a supersport). For the final 2, I started getting sloppy because the heat really started getting to me by that point. It WAS over 90 degrees, after all.
I wasn't the only one because the number of people on the track started winding down at around that time, with a lot of people calling it a day with 2 sessions still left because of how hot it was.
Overall it was a great day and a great experience. Although there were a million and one things that seemed to fall apart at the last minute, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. And as far as riding to the track goes, while it's not ideal, I will say you can get away with it AS LONG AS:
1. You get on your TD Org's forum website beforehand and make sure there are people to pit with (there almost always are because it's an extremely helpful community).
2. You don't live any more than an hour or so from the track, and the ride is pretty much all highway/freeway that you can do at a leisurely pace, because you WILL be too blitzed after your track day to be able to move around on the bike.
3. You understand that if anything goes wrong and you wreck, you may be stranded without a way back home until a buddy can come pick you up.
4. You are in the novice group.
And as far as my sport touring tires performed, well, with 30/30 temperatures, they performed amazingly well at the novice group pace. After all, these tires ARE tested on the track at speeds most of us would never hit on the streets.
There were 3/4" chicken strips there before the start of the day.
And my boots have something to remember the day by in the form of a nice scuff:
So, getting involved with track days is a lot easier than a lot of people make it out to be. If you live reasonably close to one and haven't gotten to one yet, do it! And you don't have to let things like lack of access to a truck or trailer to tow with stop you.
(By the way, I don't own a car, and the bike is also my primary transportation. I just happen to live in a city with an amazing public transit system I can use if there are any problems).