I started riding motorcycles when I was 17, at college with a very battered Kawasaki KH 125, and despite several near misses due to personal incompetence managed to survive long enough to get a bit of help.
Bikes got bigger over time, but interest faded due to working away from home and did not really get back into things until 7 years ago.
Resumed biking with a vengeance and went from GPZ 900R to ZX9R and then to my current bike a Honda SP1 (if only Kawasaki made a V-Twin)
As the bikes got better my lack of competence became more apparent and the need for some sort of instruction became necessary.
Started off with a police pursuit type course based on the Road craft manual, and although good it did not really improve things that much, a mate then suggested the Haslam Race school at Donnington which was excellent, by far the most exhilarating time I had spent on a bike and I was hooked on this track stuff.
I then tried a California superbike school session at Lydon in Kent, this was even better, although I had my first (of many) meetings with gravel, I learned lots of what I was doing wrong and a lot of what to do right. All on level 1
Moved to Spain shortly afterwards, and I would be lying if I said I was not looking at track locations when I was deciding where to live.
Had a ride around Albacete circuit during a free Sunday (not free money wise, just anyone can go on track), as I was on track with various race teams and the local track chaps I got a tad blasted away and to be honest I have not been tempted back to Albacete since (I know, wimp does spring to mind)
Went to Almeria circuit for a 4 day trackday with Tracksense and again had a meeting with the gravel, so things still not perfect, but getting better. The tracksense days are excellent, well run with sensible rules to keep things as safe as they can be.
Then it was up to Catalunya for a 2 day session with California again, things went very well here, no gravel (first for me) and loads of info to digest and put into practise.
Next was Almeria with tracksense again, more good news no gravel and getting quicker (anyone who knows me will say it was not possible to get slower) and definitely more in control.
Next was California again, this time they came to Almeria, and finally I think I have cracked all my early problems, its all down to commitment now, just have to avoid convincing myself halfway round a corner that I am going too fast. No gravel again, this is beginning to become a habit.
Last one was a trackday at Almeria organised by a group of Spanish riders. Things went well here, lap times down to what I was aiming at and consistent too, all was splendid, until (there had to be an until) I tried pushing just a little bit more and the old habit of I'll never make that corner reappeared, it went something along the lines of tarmac kerb grass gravel gravel grass tyre wall. Fortunately the bike stayed upright and Imanaged to get back on track for one last lap, to make sure bike was OK for the ride home and to see how much my confidence had slipped.
Latest was a 3 day session at Almeria again, this time with UK track day company Hottrax.
These people are excellent, got the suspension sorted out at long last and the bike is better than ever, in fact I had planned on changing it shortly, but with the newly sorted suspension I'll keep it another year at least (thanks John).
The thing that sets Hottrax apart is the staff seem to enjoy themselves as much as the customers.
No gravel and lap times getting better
For the many people that are thinking about a track day but worried about crashing or being too slow, go for it, crashing is rare and injuries are even rarer, as far as being too slow, chances are that I will be behind you, if not me then it will be someone. If you are still worried try one of the schools.