Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden
huskyteer

Skill!

On Thursday, Howard and I attended an IAM Skills Day at Mallory Park in Leicestershire.

This wasn't a track day, where you pretend to be Valentino Rossi, but a chance to practise skills that will be useful for real world road riding, in an environment with no potholes, pedestrians or oncoming traffic.

We were split into three groups - New, Intermediate and Experienced - each of which spent twenty minutes of each hour on the track. Within these groups we were further divided into groups of four plus an instructor, each group wearing a different coloured bib. My group, N17, got dayglo pink.

The safety briefing overran and the newbies were on first, on the hour, which meant that I was thrown onto the circuit without much of a briefing from the instructor nor the time to prepare myself mentally. In theory I knew everyone was nervous, but I could only really be sure about me as we lined up in the pits waiting for the off.

That first outing was a blur; I took in hardly anything as we followed our instructor like ducklings. In moments, it seemed, the chequered flag for 'last lap' came up and my first session was over without incident.

It was amazing how quickly your turn came round again. A debrief, a trip to the loo, perhaps a coffee if you're lucky, then mount up.

The morning didn't go too well for me. It took me longer than anyone else to memorise the circuit; in fact by the end of the day I was still happier referring to 'the wiggly bit with the little patch of grass' and 'the bit after the big Mallory Park signs' than to 'Charlies' and 'Edwina's'.

I was also informed that I wasn't getting the line through the bends right, which cut me deeply because I was sure I was doing fine. So I had to keep practising, alternately following and being followed by my own personal nanny marshal, while everyone else got to move on to things like throttle control, braking and going fast.

Things went better after lunch, when my fussy instructor was told by Personal Marshal that my lines were just fine. Thus certified fit, I was able to whack it open down the start/finish straight, braking hard before the corner (I was praised for my braking) and work on making my journey round the circuit as smooth and swift as possible.

The track at Mallory is 1.1 miles long. I reset my trip meter at the start of the day, and it was on 75 miles at the end. That's a lot of laps and a lot of concentration, and I was utterly wrung out as we rode off at half-past five. Hurrah for a B&B just round the corner and an Indian takeaway from the next village!

I'm not sure I'd go again - I don't really like riding fast, but I don't like being overtaken by all and sundry either, which is not a happy combination. I was terrified at the start of every session and hugely pleased to roll into the pit lane at the end. My relief when the end of the day arrived and neither of us had fallen off was enormous.

However, it was really useful to spend the whole day practising the same course, getting better and faster at the corners as they became familiar.

And I have some nice souvenirs:

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