New York Safety Track’s Annual Track Days and Hog Roast
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We said as much when a representative called us to attend the New York Safety Track’s Annual Track Days and Hog Roast. “Just come,” they assured us. “It will be great.”
With our heads devoid of expectations of what NYST14 would be like, we began to prepare for our journey. We screened off a few t-shirts and packed up a tent along with enough supplies to last us several days.
Lacking any true sports bikes, we loaded up our truck with a salvage Harley and a salvage boat and headed to Harpersfield, New York. The track facilities are located smack dab in the middle of New York State, several hours removed from the bustle of New York City and just shy of two hours west of Albany.
Arriving at the New York Safety Track
The place was gorgeous. Enormous evergreens lined the highways as we made our way upstate. When we finally arrived, the track was shrouded on all sides by trees that stood like watchful sentries over the festivities.
By the time we had reached the track, it was already bustling with activity. Some people were still unloading their exotic cars and bikes while others were still milling about, taking in all the stunning vehicles while making new friends.
We took a minute to survey our surroundings and were nothing short of impressed. Most of the facilities were clustered around the rather large pit area. A charming dining area full of picnic tables and barbeque pits was just to the rear. Slightly farther off were camping facilities – showers, bathrooms, sinks and plenty of spigots for fresh water.
A stone’s throw away from that was an enormous grass field, perfect for camping out in a tent – which we did do, in order to get the full experience. Some distance from the track was even a helipad in case you wanted to airlift in your precious superbike.
The Track Itself
Try as hard as we could, we were unable to locate a professional track review anywhere online, even at TrackReviewers.com. To make up for this oversight, we brought along two different professional riders to examine the track: Serge, who has 20-plus years of experience in road riding, and Alex, who has 10 years of riding including Enduro, Super-Moto, and GP races.
What a track it was! At 2.14 miles long, the track had a whopping 18 turns and 450 feet of elevation difference throughout, making for a truly dynamic course. You could also choose to run the track either uphill or downhill, adding variety.
On top of all this, the entire track is surrounded by the statuesque trees that create a breathtaking view as you zipped through the turns. It was truly, in a word, magnificent.
Day 1 – Saturday, September 20th
After unloading all of our gear and setting up our table, we decided to get a look at the rest of the crowd. The weather was cloudy, overcast and slightly chilly, but that was not enough to put a damper on the riders, who were determined to have fun no matter what.
Around 7:30am, before everyone even had a chance to get settled, a line had already begun to form at the pre-race technical inspection area. The expert New York Safety Track crew members were meticulously inspecting each bike to expose any flaw than could provide a potential risk to the riders.
During the inspections, the NYST crew also grouped up members according to their experience and gear. There were four expertise levels: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. Each group had to abide by specific gear requirements, and they were given 15 minutes of lap time per race hour. Every rider participating also received personalized instruction both on and off the track.
At 9am, following the participating bike inspections was a track inspection. The inspectors made sure that it was free from debris, foreign obstacles or anything else that might put the riders in danger. Once this was completed, the riders began to storm the track on their bikes.
This was quite a sight. Every group was outfitted in colorful gear and colorful bikes, the various engines sent out wails like musical notes from hundreds of different instruments. Every group got detailed on-track lessons for several hours before we took a break for lunch.
Our Track Runs
The picnic area proved to be even more inviting than it had initially appeared. Its location next to the track was super convenient, and the NYST team made sure that everything was clean and organized and that the spread was tasty. We were reluctant to depart lunch after chatting with so many interesting people, but go time was approaching and it was time for us to get back to the track.
We were scheduled for two track times – one on Saturday between noon and 1pm, and one for Sunday. During these sessions we would get intermediate instruction on some true sport bikes: an Aprilia and a gorgeous Honda CBR600RR.
For our first track time, we decided to have a little fun. We hooked the boat trailer up to our salvage Ford F-250 and towed the boat behind us. We also had the salvage Harley riding close beside. After inviting any willing crowd members to join us inside the boat, we hauled down the track at as fast a speed as we dared – which, admittedly, was not very fast.
Between track times we were running a survey and rewarding participants with a free t-shirt. In fact, this survey can still be taken online here. Participants will have their choice of a free t-shirt when they visit our office from our current collection or from our new designs, which will arrive by 2015.
PigGP Races and Pig Roasts
The PigGP race is the highlight of the NYST Track Days event. At 5pm, riders clambered onto tiny scooters and mopeds, which must be 50CCs or less in order to participate. The spectacle was equal parts hilarious and exciting, and to up the stakes we brought along a GoPro camera and promised it to the winner. The winners were: 1st place: Richard Snyder, 2nd place: Mike Mikes, 3rd place: Bruce Gendron.
Throughout the day, several whole pigs were being roasted over hot coals. By the time the PigGP race had occurred, the air was already saturated with the smells of cooking meat and crackling rind. By the time the race was over, all of our mouths were helplessly watering at the aroma of the tender meat being roasted in its own juices.
Over 150 people lined up to make themselves a plate, and then they began to dig in. Our expectations garnered from the wafting scents were not disappointed – the meat was to die for.
All the while people chatted, told jokes and stories and discussed the events of the day. Everyone was in a great mood that was bolstered by the fact that there were zero incidents during the day’s activities. The Safety Track clearly upheld its namesake. We joined our new friends for some drinks and got to know a lot of interesting people from all walks of life, all who shared a passion for burning rubber and the smell of petrol.
Once our bellies were filled with good food, we all sat down and screened the GP race. Afterwards, the RideSafely team curled up in our sleeping bags inside our tent for a tranquil night under the stars, surrounded by nature.
Day 2 – Sunday, September 21st
After a recharging sleep, we woke up early the next morning to get our track briefing. Our RideSafely riding team went to the track with the Novice group led by David, the senior instructor at NYST. David gave the lowdown on what we would be learning to do, and got everyone prepped with some gymnastics 101 in the form of stretching and aerobics exercises to get out minds and bodies ready for the ride ahead of us.
Our first lap was an amazing experience. David led at a slow pace to give us a chance to explore our bike and the track while also absorbing the nature around us. After the first straight, we understood why David wanted us to take it slow. Aside from soaking in the natural beauty, the track has lots of sudden variations in height that bobbed up and down. You truly must study the lines before gaining any sort of speed.
Thanks to NYST’s coaches and no small amount of concentration, we were able to incrementally gain confidence and increase our pace as we learned the track. Later, David took us out for several more laps and showed us the ideal line for higher speeds. Eventually, we were able to take a couple laps at an increased pace without getting worried.
We kept riding through our hour long session and even skipped lunch. The Harleys also got some track time in. We can conclude that the whole experience was thoroughly interesting – going slowly through the turns and learning the track, then later switching to the CBR and leveraging what we learned in favor of higher speeds and lower angles.
This track holds a lot of fun and adrenaline potential for sport bikes, SuperMotos, Harleys, Pit Motos and apparently even for tow boats and anything in between! Before we left we even had a chance to catch a taxi ride in a Nissan GTR.
Overall, the whole trip was a blast and a great learning experience. We made a lot of new friends and had a lot of tales to share with our folks back home. The only thing we can do different is to show up next year with a larger set of cars and bikes to explore the track further. We left the track with the promise to come back with other salvage vehicles and deepen our understanding of safe riding.
Check out the photo album from the event here.
– The RideSafely Team