Risk vs. Reward?

This week I had a rare treat – a sunny day at Brands Hatch GP for a trackday at the tail end of summer. Bike Magazine were running a “Road Bike only” trackday with MSVT, and we were blessed with one of the best days imaginable. We woke up to a heavy dew with foggy visors obscuring our vision on the way down to the track, but as we came up the hill towards the entrance to the track on the A20 suddenly hints of blue sky were visible above our heads, and a yellow disk hung partially visible in the mist. It was going to be a good day.

And so it was. There was some standing water on Graham Hill Bend for the first two sessions of the day, but by the third it was perfect conditions. I was there with friends, and although two of the six of us crashed (not seriously) everyone was okay, and all in all it was a great day. For me personally I was able to improve my laptime by 1.7 seconds while adjusting to new tyres (Pirelli Supercorsa BSBs from Dunlop GP Racers) which was great. It’s kept my record of improving my laptime every time I go back to a track I’ve been to (and kept
times for) before. But it left me wondering – am I improving times because I’m getting better, or because I’m taking more risks?

Am I drifting closer and closer to the likelihood of crashing as I get faster and faster, and am I only getting faster because I’m more familiar with the experience of speed, or am I actually improving my technique? Unfortunately risk and technique are very hard things to measure – certainly harder than laptimes.