I remember my very first racing meeting and how disappointed I was with the results, although I’d been riding bikes from a very early age; competitive tarmac riding was unknown territory and looking back I was so unprepared. I didn’t even book a track day. My only practice was on a private road in the Lake District, completely illegal, but it gave me a taste for thrashing a 36bhp 125cc Aprilia on what I thought was the racing line. I simply joined a club, applied for my race licence, which didn’t require any examination other than a medical and eye test, paid the fee, and then before I knew it I was on the grid for my first race. I probably didn’t know all the flags at that stage, hadn’t done a race start, and really didn’t have a clue how to string a good lap together. Here’s what I would do now:
Joining a club
Research where you’re most likely going to race and join the closest club, and give support to your local club racing organization. That’s where you will spend a good few years learning the ropes, and without the clubs it would be difficult for anyone to get their first competitive outing.
Applying for a licence can be done on the ACU website. It’s very easy to apply and even easier to renew each year. Once you have submitted your application, you will be required to attend a rider assessment day on a live circuit. This will be a school day and although the team of ACU assessors aren’t scouting for the next Rossi, you are required to show competency and general awareness when on a live track.
An ACU assessment day starts out with a classroom session followed by a short examination. This takes up most of the morning and you will be marked on the day. After the classroom and theory exam have finished, the group is split into smaller teams of six riders and you will head out on track for your riding assessment, not a test, just a look at how you currently ride the bike, read the track and awareness of any flag signals and the other riders on circuit. It’s unlikely you would fail this part for lack of pace, but you may fail if you don’t adhere to flag signals and thereby put your fellow riders at risk.
Your toughest test will probably be the live race starts and this part of the day has caught a few riders out, mainly down to having massive expectation and putting themselves under too much pressure. I’ve been an ACU assessor for a number of years and the start procedure is the most intense part. You are given a number at the start of the day and this will be your grid position for this section of the assessment. Your assigned ACU instructor will look after your group of six (covering two rows) and it’s the same for each of the three practice starts.
- Your first practice start is actually a warm-up procedure. Once all riders are lined up then you will all set off at a sensible, brisk pace once the Green flag has been waved and continue back to the grid.
- Your second practice start will be done in your groups, so two rows at a time, and will follow the Red light out start procedure. If you do stall on the line, make sure you follow the correct procedure and that could prevent you from being failed.
- This is your mass start procedure. My advice is to get off the line and drive reasonably hard in to 2nd gear and don’t worry about getting the holeshot. I know of two riders crashing out because they pushed too hard after the start procedure and failed because of this.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
THE TEST OF TIME
You only have to take one look at these two models to see that a lot has changed over 20 years. But what exactly does two decades of development mean for Triumph’s flagship naked bike? There was only one way to find out…
Fun but flawed, why Suzuki's naked litre bike could now be worth a second Look.
TEN MINUTES WITH...TOMMY BRIDEWELL
From not having a job to almost winning the title in a couple of years, Bridewell really has turned things around. We caught up with him to see what’s changed, how he’s prepping for this season, and get an insight into being a front-running British Superbike rider…
PROJECT MILLE: PART 1
After too many years fighting the temptation, Dangerous has finally parted with some cash and bought himself a Mille. Only, it’s a bit of a shed…
DUCATI DIARIES; SCOTT COWDRYS 899 PANIGALE
Fast Bikes reader Scott Cowdry tells us exactly what it’s like to live with an 899 Panigale.
High-performance hoops are all the rage nowadays, but with so much choice on the market, which brands really is the best?
2020 Ducati Panigale V4S Refined Rocket
With its sexy look and raw power, Ducati’s V4S Panigale hasn’t had to try hard to get our juices going over the past few years, but when it comes to setting fast laps it’s proven as user-friendly as a bucking bronco with a sore backside. Thankfully, for 2020 it’s been given some much needed refinement.
HOW TO GO RACING
It may seem like a wild ride, but it’s not as intimidating as it looks. Here’s how to go racing in 2020…
MotoE: BRIGHT SPARK!
Dull, silent snooze-fest? Or the future of motorbike racing? The electric MotoGP support series MotoE has just finished its first season. Our man Alan Dowds went to watch the final round at Valencia, and find out how it’s gone.
JOLLY FAST, GREEN GIANT - 2012 KAWASAKI ZZR 1400
Ian Carson has got a handful of bikes, but when he heads off to Ireland with his son, Aiden, it’s got to be on his 2012 Kawasaki ZZR 1400. In his own words, he tell us exactly why that is…
A circumnavigator's favorite ocean films
A still from the documentary Maiden, which tells the story of the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989-90.
HUMAN VERSUS DESERT: THE MARATHON DES SABLES
Hundreds of grueling ultra-marathons take place throughout the world, but only one is called the “toughest footrace on earth.”
Football Welcomes Back The ‘Crowds'
Football finally came home yesterday as 4,000 fans returned to Wembley Stadium.
Joy At Wembley Test
A JUBILANT army of 4,000 football fans enjoyed a day out at Wembley as part of the Covid-19 “test” events.
A Fitting Response
Ella was taken for granted – but she wasn’t going to allow her dreams to be gone with the wind
Hill must block easy access to gold zone
FRUSTRATED captain Ted Hill demands Worcester improve their discipline to halt a run of six successive Premiership defeats.
Tastes change, but can nurseries deliver? Peter finds out
‘Yoga-trance' saw Tim smash kicking records
Brendan Gallagher delves into some of rugby’s most enduring images, their story and why they are still so impactful
Suddenly, Oakham find magic of the Cup
Brendan Gallagher continues his series looking at rugby’s great schools
I'll be real wag
Rebekah tells of plan to get Britain laughing and how skating has made her feel proud of her body