Will I ever be "fast"?
First off, wrong question.
“Fast” is clearly a relative term. You may be slow on the race track compared to the top-level racers and track day heroes, but think about where you started and maybe where some of your street riding buddies are in terms of technique and ability. Don’t play the comparison game. You’ll lose every time. Focus on you vs. you.
I’ve often asked myself if I’ll ever be as fast as so-and-so. It’s a blessing and a curse that I get to hang out and ride with some of the fastest racers in the country. Needless to say, I can’t get caught up comparing my lap times to theirs; it’s too depressing.
So rather than ask myself “if” I’ll ever be fast; instead I choose to focus on “how” will I progress today? How will I improve my technique today? What specifically will I focus on to make better today? Fast is relative. Improvement is measurable.
After applying this method to my opportunities to ride, I find the measurable results and technical aspects of my riding improving. Yes, my lap times get better. Yes, my entry speed increases. Yes, my corner speed increases. But more importantly, I have repeatable and measurable “report cards” to continue to improve and go back to when I lose focus (thanks Ken Hill).
If you want to get “fast” on a big bike, try focusing on the techniques that allow your speed to increase on a little bike: eyes, bike placement, lines, braking, throttle on exit, etc. Allow yourself space to learn. Take your lap timer off your bike and measure your apexes, where you let off the brakes, where you go to the brakes, etc. Have a plan, and stick to the plan. Ironic how slowing down will make you fast.
Ohvales offer a purist’s experience for training and improving. They allow the rider to focus on the application of the technique in a more forgiving environment. Do you want to improve your trail braking? It can be hard to push the limit of your front tire at lean angle when you’re traveling 150mph. The Ohvales aren’t without risk, but it is exponentially less risk than superbikes on a full road course or canyon twisty. It’s a perfect environment to let go of ego and be a student of the sport.
If you want to be “fast,” train on minis, apply what you learn on big bikes, and repeat. Drill the techniques at least a hundred times before you go back to the big bike. I promise you it will be time well spent. As a competitive boxer, I didn’t only spar and box opponents. I drilled with shadowboxing, pad work, speed bag, heavy bag, etc. Then I applied the technique I refined during drills to my fights, and I was able to do it using less mental energy because of repetition. Think of training on minis as your drill work. It’s also some of the most fun you’ll have on two wheels.
So, if you find yourself asking “will I ever be fast,” you’ll be able to answer: “wrong question! I will improve my pace by drilling the following measurable techniques…”