How to Properly Prepare Your Pit for Trackday

With your bike all set up for a trackday, it's time to get you and your pit set up properly as well

Preparation is the key to a solid trackday. In How to Build A Trackday Bike we laid out a roadmap for bike setup to make it easy to transition your steed from street to track (and back). This article will focus on how to get yourself prepped and some essential items to bring with you to ensure that your pit space is comfortable and well equipped without the need for a big trailer or motorhome.

Trackday Pit Prep
Command central: Having everything within easy reach makes the day better. Set up your pit area at home prior to your trackday to see how it works, and figure out how long you’ll need to set up to avoid being rushed on the day of. Coolers make great canopy anchors, as do ramps.Photography by Andrea Wilson

Fitness
Yeah, we know you're not aiming to be the next Valentino Rossi or Marc Marquez, but the truth is that riding on the track is a lot more physically demanding than you might think, no matter what level of rider you are. Another known fact is that when you get tired, your reflexes and decision-making start to deteriorate—not a good combination out on the track. But here's a side benefit not too many talk about: Working on your cardio and flexibility will keep you on the bike later in the day as less-fit riders begin tapping out and parking themselves in the pits. Having a better fitness level means you'll have a clearer view of the track as the day wears on in more ways than one.

Trackday prep pit ride
Choose your weapon: The paddock can be a big place, and having a simple form of conveyance can be key. The less energy you spend trudging around in your leathers, the more you have to ride.Photography by Andrea Wilson

Another key component of fitness is diet. No, you don’t need to hire a sports dietitian, but you do need to think about what you’re eating before and during the days you are riding. A plate with grilled fish and veggies might be a better choice the night before than an order of nachos, a 16-ounce steak, and three or four beers. Start the riding day with foods that will not leave you feeling sluggish or sleepy. At the track, have a varied supply of energy snacks (including fruit, such as bananas and berries) that are easily digestible and don’t pack a lot of sugar. Be sure to munch periodically during the day; you’re going to be cranking through your store of calories, so you’ll need to replace them in small doses throughout the day.

Trackday prep air compressor
Chances are you’ll need to adjust your air pressure at the track. Don’t roll the dice here; assuming there will be compressed air at the track is a bad idea. Show up ready. Anything from an average bicycle pump to a powered compressor will get the job done.Photography by Andrea Wilson

The big one to remember though is to hydrate. You should be drinking enough fluids during the day (stay away from sugar-laden soft drinks and energy drinks packed with caffeine) to be forced to pee at least a few times, and its color should be a very light yellow, if not clear; darker yellow urine means you’re not hydrating enough. Note that as you get older, your body uses thirst as a dehydration signal less and less.

Trackday prep gopro
If you’re recording your sessions on video, safety-wire your camera to the bike. Some organizations will require this, as cameras can become missiles at speed.Photography by Andrea Wilson

Tools And Spares
Having the right variety of tools—and spares, if possible—is essential. There's no reason to haul your complete rollaway tool chest. Do an inventory of the fasteners on your bike and make sure you have the tools to fit them. In most cases, a selection of sockets from 8mm to 17mm, corresponding box-end wrenches, and a set of Allen (hex) keys or sockets will cover most bikes. Be sure to have the necessary tools to remove both wheels. You should also have an adjustable wrench of some sort (a set of channel lock pliers, for example). Additionally, include zip-ties, a power drill with an assortment of bits, wire cutters, safety wire, electrical tape, an air pump, and a reliable tire gauge.

If you have the means, assemble any spares you have. If you followed the advice of our last article and installed a set of folding levers, bring the original levers with you. If possible, a set of spare clip-on bars and footpeg assemblies are also good to have. Basically, pack any spares you have for parts that might touch the ground. There is nothing worse than ending the day with a broken item when you have a spare at home.

Trackday prep tool kit
Here is a sample tool kit. Build yours based on the size of the fasteners on your bike. Back that up with an adjustable wrench and be certain to include a spare ignition key. Nothing could be worse than unloading your bike and realizing your key is at home.Photography by Andrea Wilson
Trackday prep bring spares
Prepare for the crash: If you have any spare levers, handlebars, or footpegs, pack them. Also pack a drill. If you crash and have cracked or broken fairings, you can drill and zip-tie them back together. Rickety-looking, yes, but you’ll still be riding with a good story to tell.Photography by Andrea Wilson

Trackside Comfort
Being comfortable when you're not on the bike is a good thing, as anything that fatigues you strips valuable energy. At the very least, bring a chair and a remnant of carpet to put under the bike. Should you find yourself wrenching between sessions, having a soft (and insulating, if it's a hot or cold day) pad for your knees and butt will be appreciated. Consider buying or borrowing a pop-up canopy; exposure to the sun or rain showers saps energy quickly.

Trackday comfort
Physical comfort is important. Throw down a carpet underneath your bike and bring a chair. Also bring sun protection and a mix of high-protein energy snacks and plenty of water and sports drinks.Photography by Andrea Wilson

Food and drinks were mentioned earlier, and you'll need a cooler to keep everything cold. Do your homework and locate a store close to the track that will have ice and be open before and during the trackday should you need to replenish your supply. Another item that will keep you comfortable is a fan—for you and your helmet. A fan that you can rest your helmet on between sessions will help dry it out. If you can swing it, a generator is good to have because not all pit spaces have access to power. An alternative to buying one would be to look at your local rental store. You won't need much energy; a 2,000-watt "whisper quiet" unit will do the trick.

Trackday prep fan for helmet comfort
A simple box fan will make the day just a little better. Between sessions, throw your sweaty helmet on it to dry it out.Photography by Andrea Wilson

Last but not least, the final essential item for a day at the racetrack would be some form of pit transportation, such as a bicycle, skateboard, minicycle, etc. The track can be a big place, and trudging around in your leathers is another energy-sapper. Plus, if you followed our hydration advice, you’ll be happy to have a pitbike to run you back and forth to the head.

Trackday prep suit
A one-piece suit, over-ankle boots, gauntleted gloves, and a full-face helmet are the uniform of the trackday rider. We suggest wearing some sort of compression under­garments or the now-common undersuits inside your suit. Should you crash, this sort of gear reduces skin abrasion inside the suit.Photography by Andrea Wilson

Showing up prepared is the key to both having fun and improving your skills. One thing I always notice after a trackday is that while my skills have improved, I also find myself riding slower on the street. Get to the track where you can ride as fast as you dare, where everyone is going the same direction, and should you fall, there is a team of medical professionals already there to help.

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What? You still don't have your bike prepped for the track? Check out some tips HERE.