Stuck in a groove

Did a trackday at Snetterton this weekend with Focused Events. All in all, as trackdays often are, it was a pretty eventful day. Failed the noise test, and had to use some tom-foolery to get through it, and as a result missed the first session. I’d been put in the novice group even though I think I’m probably inters pace mostly these days, which given the fact that it was so cold, and I’d missed sighting laps, and it was a totally new track to me, probably wasn’t a bad thing. And then during the second session of the day (the first for me) it started raining. Not heavily, but enough that you see spots on your visor, and it places doubt in your mind. As a result the first two sessions were very cautious. And then things brightened up a bit, and in the third sesion (the last before lunch) everything slotted into place, I found myself getting more confident, going quicker, and getting my knee down in a few places pretty consistently. Took a break for lunch, and had another good session, and then the penultimate session of the day I threw the video camera on there and got some good footage of Tony doing a few laps while shadowing him. And then in the last session of the day, I crashed about half way through the first lap. Clearly my tyres were cold, and I was going too fast too soon, but there are a few things that have been bothering me about it, and I couldn’t figure out why.
– Was I really going that much faster in the last session, despite having said to myself, and Tony, just before getting on the track words to the effect of “this is the last session of the day, don’t do anything stupid”?
– If I was going that much faster, why? Poor judgement? If I wasn’t going that much faster, does that mean I was at risk of crashing on any of the previous sessions, and if so, why couldn’t I tell?
– Why do I seem to be crashing “so much”? My full history of crashes after 5 years of riding, and 15 or so trackdays is:

  • Low speed peg touchdown on the Monster before my first ever trackday leading to running off the road and slipping down a grassy bank
  • Rockingham second trackday exhuberance and going way too fast without really understanding anything about tyres, heat, how to ride or anything (third ever trackday)
  • Running off the track into the gravel twice at my first Almeria outing (twice in four days, this is – didn’t drop the bike either time)
  • Cold tyres low speed low side in London just before the Pyrenees trip
  • Getting hit from behind on the last day in my second trip to Almeria – ran into the gravel, and dropped it at the end at very low speed
  • Low side at Snetterton on a cold day on cold tyres last session of the day
– I’ve just bought a new bike that’s way more powerful, and much nicer, and more expensive than anything I’ve ever owned before. The consequences of crashing this bike would be much more serious (obviously depending on the crash, and depending on what crash protection I have) than anything that’s ever happened before, so I think everything I’m doing is “under the microscope” at the moment. Can I really be trusted with such a machine? Do I really want to back off to the point that I’m not anywhere near my limit for safety reasons?
– At Almeria, I was told I was “very safe” and that I had plenty of room to push it further. Was I? How come I wasn’t able to bring that kind of judgement to the situation at Snetterton?
– I didn’t feel like I was riding with my brain out in any way. I do have a tendency to go off pretty fast, but I’d justified this to myself based on being in the Novice group when I felt like I was realistically at Inters pace, and that’s just the way I do things. If I didn’t feel like I was “going for it” how could I have crashed? In other words, I misjudged my limits really badly, and that’s what bothers me most.
So what’s next? I dunno. Let things settle for a while, build my confidence back up a bit, and I’ve made a commitment to myself that I want to have 10 trackdays incident free from here. I’m not sure why I’ve chosen that number. I want to be someone who is fast, but safe. I don’t want to be out of control. I don’t want to misjudge my limits so much that I’m anywhere near to crashing when I feel like I’m not. I guess these may sound like everyone would want them, but they define where I am at the moment, so I think they’re worth stating.