My 'how to get your knee down' articles are doing really well, so I'm going to change the style of these blog like progress updates. Starting with this one, I'll be writing more about what I'm working on, and more interestingly, the thought process/reasoning involved in choosing an area of improvement.
This was one of my usual evening-sleep-day-ers at Cadwell - and my first trackday in a while. I love doing an evening and a day for a few reasons: they're great value, you get loads of track time and (on this occasion, most importantly) you can get your mistakes out of the way on the evening, sleep on it and nail the next day.
Needless to say, I made a complete hash of the evening thanks to: not eaten properly all day, over-riding the bike and not relaxing. I cream crackered myself in one session, and didn't even get a decent lap time in.
Fast forward to the next day and I had a plan: take a step back and focus solely on relaxing. I'd re-read some of my 'knee down' articles the night before (yes, I do that) and picked some things out to focus on at certain areas of the track.
For example, on the evening session I noticed I would stiffen up in the areas hard braking, especially on entry into Park corner. I found this in a previous article:
Just before you arrive at your braking marker, prepare your lower body. Use your legs (while leaving your ass where it is) and core muscles to hold as much of your weight back as possible. Use both legs if you have to - your knee slider isn't going to touch the tarmac until the bike is leant over, so you might as well put it to work stabilising your body for now.
I wasn't using both my legs going into Park, but, It's never been a problem before.
Why is it a problem now? What's changed?
I'm braking a lot harder into Park now, since I worked on it a lot at Oulton Park. However, I'm still stabilising myself with one leg - which isn't enough anymore.
What's the fix?
Focus solely on stabilising myself with both legs under hard braking for a full session - really drill the new entry plan it into my brain.
I made a plan like that for every session - something to focus on to help me relax - and it worked like a treat. I shaved a second or two every session, before eventually plateauing after dinner.
A best lap for the day, and a new personal best, of 1:42.920 is an improvement of just under 6 seconds on my previous personal best.
It was a pretty good lap, but, there's always room to improve:
It wasn't all bad, though.
A few days before I'd been talking to my friend about finding the limit of traction. We both had the knowledge that under acceleration the rear tyre breaking traction is the limit, and under braking its the rear wheel lifting - but neither of us had experienced what those feel like.
Since the day consisted of little more than a couple of laps between red flags, it was impossible to get into a rhythm, so I figured I'd stop aiming for a 'perfect lap' and take it corner by corner - not caring so much about missing markers and apexes, instead focusing more of my attention on simply feeling the bike.
On corner entry, by focusing almost entirely on feeling the front through the brake lever, I gradually increased brake pressure until - eureka - the rear started to lift. I'd found the limit.
On corner exit, by focusing almost entirely on feeling the rear through my butt and feet, I gradually increased the rate of which I opened the throttle until - eureka - the rear wheel broke traction. I'd found the limit.
Both cases were very minor - but that was the point. I wanted the understanding of what each limit feels like, without going ass over elbow into the gravel trap - all I sacrificed were lap times.
Oh, and despite feeling like I hadn't hit an apex all day - I set a new personal best of 1:46.835 on a lap with traffic. An improvement of just under 4 seconds.
This was my second time at Donington, so there's lots of areas to improve, but the stand out ones are:
What do you think to these new style blog entries? Are they interesting?
Comments much appreciated below.