Structured Sessions: Track 1
Everyone who comes to track 1 wants to be there and is looking forward to the experience.† It is important for the future of the track that they not be disappointed.† Many people who come out will have limited strength and limited bike riding abilities.† Others will want to show off and race.† Providing a supportive, encouraging experience for those in the former group while controlling those in the second is a challenge that must be met.
Keep in mind that you are teaching a skill, not a collection of facts.† The ability to ride track is an ability governed by the lower processing centers of the brain and central nervous system, below the level of consciousness.† This means that you canít expect people to be able to do the things you ask them to do.† Even if they understand what you are saying and want to do it, consciousness is not in control, and the best will in the world will not make them able to do what you say.
Rather than tell people things they wonít be able to do, get them to do simpler things that will help them develop the skills they need.† Donít waste a lot of time talking to them.† When you do talk, reduce what you have to say to a few, simple rules.† If people donít seem to be able to do what you are asking them, reduce the task to something less challenging and get them to work up from there, or look for something they are doing wrong and ask them to correct it.† For example, if people are weaving on the track or riding above the red line, donít ask them to hold their lines or ride below the red.† In most cases, if they could do those things they would.† They arenít doing them because they canít.† To help them get control, ask them to slow down, to keep their chins up or to wiggle their fingers.† Do not allow people to progress before they are ready.† If people have trouble slaloming around the cones on the infield they will have trouble riding on the track.† Keep them working on the necessary preliminaries until they get the hang of it.† At the same time, try not to single them out in a way that could be embarrassing.† Without announcing why you are doing so, get some people going on to do the next exercise while keeping others back to work more on the previous one.
Just because you can ride a bike, it does not mean you can ride the track.† People who know how to ride a bike, even a fixed gear bike, have learned from experience that if you turn too sharply, you will fall over.† This is not something they consciously appreciate.† It is a powerful instinct, very difficult to overcome.† When people go down the black line for the first time and approach the turn, that instinct kicks in and makes them think that they are going too quickly to manage the turn on the black.† They then do one or other of two things: slow down, until they are going too slowly to stick on the track; or increase the radius of the turn, which causes them to ride up the track to the blue or higher, sometimes taking such a sharp line that they bump into the track in the process, lose speed because of the bump and uphill, stall, and fall down.† Even people who have learned to ride the track at 30 km/h will still have this instinct, and it will lead them to encounter the problem again the first time they try to stick the black line at 35 km/h, at 40 km/h, and so on.† This is why it is important not to allow people to go too fast.† At 30 km/h on the black line, a crash usually results in only minor scrapes and bruises.† At 45 km/h on the blue or yellow, the consequences can be more severe, both for the person involved and those in their path on the way down.
People do not need to know any of this, and the sequence of instruction laid out here should prevent it from happening.† We first get people comfortable getting on and off the bike, then teach them how to slow it down from speed, and then work on turning and cornering.† When people do go up on the track we have them do it gradually, by climbing just a little way up the banking in turn 1 (just part way up the cotť) and then coming back down before the exit of turn 2, then increasing the height on each subsequent trip.† In effect, we get them diamonding, which replicates the natural instinct to want to climb up the track, stall, and tumble down ó but at low speeds and low heights where they are able to keep in control of the bike and ride through the turn.† Every new lap builds confidence and helps develop a new set of instinctive mechanisms that will eventually kick in to guide the learner safely around the track.
Instructors must at all costs refrain from expressing frustration or disappointment.† They should never make negative comments about learnersí performance, even quietly amongst themselves.† They should not even allow themselves to think along those lines.† Above all they should not make negative comments about learners within ear shot of other learners.
Once a year, take a moment to ride clockwise around the track.† This is a good way of reminding yourself what it is like for people getting up on the track for the first time.