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Dec 25th 2016, 12:24 AM   #1
 
  Jan 2016
  Renton

  2011 Triumph Daytona 675, 1975 Honda CB550K1
Track-based schools

So I have a couple of buddies that I have sucked down the rabbit hole of motorcycling in the last couple of years, both guys took the MSF course to get their endorsements, but have only a couple years' or less of street riding experience. I've been riding somewhere over 10 years but have no experience with track days or track school but have been wanting to do school at the track to hone my skills and find out what bad habits I have. I'd also like to try and get some of my less experienced buddies out there too so they can learn some more advanced skills along with me next season. What are your experiences with some of the local track school outfits (the ridge, orp, pacific) and are there any common favorites where people feel they are getting the best learning experience for the money shelled out?

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Dec 25th 2016, 08:10 AM   #2
 Boatdriver's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Washington

  07' Tuono, 08' GSXR 1K Track, 15' Kawi Concours
Your ideas are good ones, both for yourself and your buddies and I highly encourage this. Prior to going to my first track day, I had about 30 years of riding experience both street and dirt. That first day showed me what I clearly did not know and had been missing by not fully understanding the capabilities and to a lesser degree the limitations of a motorcycle. The environment itself is much safer to learn in and develop skills that will lend to a more competent and aware rider.

About myself. I attended my first track day about 6 years ago and try to get in between 10-15 track days each season, which I suppose qualifies me as a track day junkie. Which brings me to a cautionary note. Track days and track riding are addictive and I love it! It starts with your street bike with the lights taped up and progresses to a dedicated track bike, thousands of miles traveled to different tracks and a zero balance in the bank account.

Locally you have Pacific Raceway (PR) in Kent and the Ridge Motorsports Park (TRMP) in Shelton. Lay out and surface are vastly different between the two. PR is an older track that has parts of it which are in pretty rough condition along with parts that are recently resurfaced and smooth. Riding at PR is much like riding on the street in relation to its condition. TRMP is our newest track and is in the process of completion with regards to finishing the pit area (bathrooms with showers and power). TRMP is wide smooth and flowing where as PR is less so. Having the two tracks so close is definitely a good problem to have. You will find that there are more options for track days at TRMP than at PR, so that may fit your schedule better, but they are both good tracks.

ORP is quite a haul for me and its been a 3-4 years since I have been, so someone with more recent experience should answer to that. I will say that in my opinion it is best suited for 600cc or smaller bikes as it is tight and technical with short straights. I have not yet ridden at Portland, but this may be the year for that.

As for which organization to go with. Here in the PNW we are fortunate to have a lot of great options to choose from. To date I have ridden with pretty much all of them and the pros far outweigh the cons with each. All of the track day providers have a truly amazing group of instructors who live to teach motorcycle riding. I can't count the number of times that I have been walking around in the pits and heard or had conversations with someone who was having difficulty with something, but didn't want to "bother" one of the instructors with. Instead they will listen to or ask advice from somebody pitted next to them who may not have any more experience than they do, but they did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Any of them who finally did ask for some instruction was glad that they did. The instructors are there to help. Use them, talk to them, ask them to follow you around to evaluate you, ask to follow them to observe their technique and see where the line is. Don't be shy! That's what they are there for!

Looking at the information that you have provided regarding your and your buddies riding experience, I would go with Optimum Performance Rider Training (OPRT). They have a hard limit on group size limits and the focus in the novice/beginner group is on providing a learning experience as well as a fun experience. They also have a group 1 (novice/beginner) and a group 2 (intermediate level) class that they provide at an additional cost. These classes are limited in size and each instructor has a I believe 2-3 students that they work with for the day. I did the group 2 class when they first added the classes a couple of years ago. It was good then and has only gotten better.
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Edited by Boatdriver on Dec 26th 2016 at 07:48 PM Reason: Because I keep finding more things to chime in with
Dec 25th 2016, 09:41 PM   #3
 Zoomie's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Kirkland

Boat driver,
You're spot on with your evaluations. And in spite of, (or because of) their differences, all of the tracks have plenty to offer in riding experiences and learning opportunities.
I'll weigh in on Portland International Raceway. It's fast, flat, and wide. Where as Oregon Raceway Park may favor smaller bikes, PIR will give those with the hair to flog a liter bike the opportunity to let loose with some serious speed. Ask Damon Mon Wai about it, he's a previous OMRRA Champion.
And thanks for your vote on OPRT.
Being involved with OPRT makes my opinion a bit biased, however I will say they are constantly working to increase and improve the training experience offered. We have some cool things on tap for 2017. And if it's been a few years since you participated in our Level 2 training, hit me up, we may have some new things to up your track day game.
Giving credit to the other track day orgs, you would likely do well if you chose any of them. I know the owners and many of the instructors, they are pretty much all here to help riders improve their skill and enjoyment of the sport.
Looking forward to seeing all of you at the track!!
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Dec 27th 2016, 01:07 PM   #4
 
  Oct 2016
  Yakima

Too Fat is great. I did my first track day with them this year on Portland. One on one training that day, we'll worth it! You won't regret it.

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Dec 27th 2016, 01:08 PM   #5
 
  Oct 2016
  Yakima

*Fast. ;-)

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Dec 27th 2016, 03:13 PM   #6
 
  Jan 2016
  Renton

  2011 Triumph Daytona 675, 1975 Honda CB550K1
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaCorski
*Fast. ;-)

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The former sounds appropriate for the likes of me, haha!

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Dec 27th 2016, 03:15 PM   #7
 
  Oct 2016
  Yakima

They take all kinds if you're money is green! ;-)

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Dec 27th 2016, 08:39 PM   #8
 
  Feb 2016
  tacoma

I disagree that ORP is best suited for smaller bikes. I have a DRZ400SM. It is awesome to ride around there, could I use more HP- fuck yes. I have a GSXR600. It is awesome to ride around there, could I use more HP- fuck yes. People complain on a big bike you might not get out of 2 gear. On my DRZ I can't get out of 5th!!! As in anything, just depends on your skill level. Any bike would be a treat there.

-Pacific is the best track in the northwest. It is super fun. So much so its fun-ness trumps the surface conditions, or facilities.
-ORP is very fun, long drive but a must visit. Motofit is always A+.
-The Ridge is as good as anything but not very technical, at least compared to the 2 above. It is fast flowing but IMO does not have an equal fun factor.
-Portland Sucks balls. It is flat. It is boring. It is short. The facility is great tho!
Dec 28th 2016, 11:47 AM   #9
 Flyboymedic's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Hazel Dell, Wa

  Honda VFR800, Husqvarna TE 610, Ducati Hypermotard 1100S
Quote:
Originally Posted by sicc
I disagree that ORP is best suited for smaller bikes. I have a DRZ400SM. It is awesome to ride around there, could I use more HP- fuck yes. I have a GSXR600. It is awesome to ride around there, could I use more HP- fuck yes. People complain on a big bike you might not get out of 2 gear. On my DRZ I can't get out of 5th!!!
Those are small bikes IMO. Although I've never been out there yet, you've made a great argument that it IS for smaller bikes. I guess there's only one way for me to find out.
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Dec 29th 2016, 11:24 AM   #10
 ZREX MIKE's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Bonney Lake, WA

  ZRX
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyboymedic
Those are small bikes IMO. Although I've never been out there yet, you've made a great argument that it IS for smaller bikes. I guess there's only one way for me to find out.
Here's an argument for a big bike....................................My ZRX 1200 is tons of fun on that track!! It never sees 5th (5-speed) but is quite the handful with 15/46 gearing; front lifts pretty easily. I guess it should as stock is 17/42.
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Dec 30th 2016, 12:25 AM   #11
 
  Jul 2016
  Portland

  WRX
I'm looking forward to my first track day next season of a 675.

PIR is 30 minutes away, but the layout has me a bit hesitant.

The Ridge or ORP are 2.5 hours away, but they seem to offer a lot more than long straight and sweeping rights.

Then again, maybe simpler is better for a first timer?
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Dec 30th 2016, 09:52 PM   #12
 Zoomie's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Kirkland

PIR is fine! Go! You'll have a blast!
Portland is more technical than the layout might have you believe. Ride balls out, brake deep, drag everything through the corners, and you're running...1:20s?
Fast guys run below 1:10s, this is where the technical part comes to play. Learn the track, learn the bike, learn how to ride, the lap times become your report card.
And, I don't think I've seen very many frowns from people coming off the track, saying, geez that wasn't a lot of fun!
Even you sicc, admit it, if I took you down to PIR for a track day and we thrashed around that flat, boring, track....you'd have a grin in your helmet even though that track "sucks".

Track days are awesome, riding with friends, learning new skills, dragging a knee,
running flat out down the front straight, who else gets to do this!?
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Dec 31st 2016, 09:20 AM   #13
 
  Oct 2016
  Yakima

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoomie
PIR is fine! Go! You'll have a blast!
Portland is more technical than the layout might have you believe. Ride balls out, brake deep, drag everything through the corners, and you're running...1:20s?
Fast guys run below 1:10s, this is where the technical part comes to play. Learn the track, learn the bike, learn how to ride, the lap times become your report card.
And, I don't think I've seen very many frowns from people coming off the track, saying, geez that wasn't a lot of fun!
Even you sicc, admit it, if I took you down to PIR for a track day and we thrashed around that flat, boring, track....you'd have a grin in your helmet even though that track "sucks".

Track days are awesome, riding with friends, learning new skills, dragging a knee,
running flat out down the front straight, who else gets to do this!?
Well said Zoomie! Portland was my first track day and your learning so much, concentrating on everything, you won't be thinking the track is "boring". The facilities are great. Go, have a blast, learn the fundamentals then spend MORE money to learn the next. You won't regret it, I didnt. Going next year for sure!

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Jan 1st 2017, 11:18 PM   #14
 
  Feb 2016
  tacoma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoomie
Even you sicc, admit it, if I took you down to PIR for a track day and we thrashed around that flat, boring, track....you'd have a grin in your helmet even though that track "sucks".
i went there for a track day in... 2010? nesba who? maybe earlier. 1 time. i returned in this year for the joint wmrra/omrra round and i smiled plenty! i have no intention of returning unless there is another. no argument from me, it is hard to go fast there and racing is fun. non competition tho, meh

ps sorry OP. no track school stuff here.
Jan 2nd 2017, 08:54 AM   #15
 
  Jan 2016
  Bothell

hiya mike!! (waving enthusiastically)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZREX MIKE
Here's an argument for a big bike....................................My ZRX 1200 is tons of fun on that track!! It never sees 5th (5-speed) but is quite the handful with 15/46 gearing; front lifts pretty easily. I guess it should as stock is 17/42.
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