Let’s talk mirrors. Specifically, why we don’t allow mirrors on the racetrack. This topic asked by new participants of our Non-Sportbike Track Days, so I thought I’d address it here in detail.
Questioning the logic behind the “no mirrors” rule is understandable since we are taught as street riders and drivers that checking our six every 5 to 10 seconds is important for safety.
Why Having No Mirrors is Unnerving
- On the street, we use mirrors to maintain situational awareness of our surroundings. This includes making sure that nobody is in our blind spots before we change lanes on the highway or be able to swerve to avoid a hazard. Mirrors also help us to see if an emergency vehicle is approaching from behind.
- On the street, we use mirrors to know when someone is passing us. It is startling when someone passes when we didn’t know they were there.
- On the street, mirrors help us to see whether we are holding up faster drivers or if they are driving too close, prompting us to perhaps let them by.
- On the street, mirrors allow us to know that it’s safe to change lanes to make a pass.
Why Mirrors aren’t Needed on the Track
- On the track, we don’t “change lanes”. Instead, we stay close to an agreed upon proper “outside-inside-outside line” that is taught throughout the day in every group.
- On the track, we don’t need to worry about emergency vehicles. The track is cleared before any other vehicles go on track.
- On the track, the situational awareness we must prioritize is the situation that is ahead of us. Your task is to skillfully execute the next corner. Any distractions from behind take precious bandwidth from this task. This is true for new, experienced and even expert track riders. Keep your eyes and attention ahead!
- On the track, passes occur frequently enough that it is to be expected at any moment. No need to see if another rider is about to pass…do not do anything except to hold your line.
- On the track, gradually ease off line into a “passing lane” to pass a slower rider. No need to see if another rider is behind. Simply set up your pass predictably and smoothly. Do not abruptly dart off line!
- On the track, there are times when a rider that is even faster than you may want to pass both you and the rider you are passing. This isn’t a problem if you are predictable. Faster riders behind will accommodate your pass by waiting or giving you the space you need.
Riding Safely on the Track Means Looking Forward!
- We learn to focus on the forward 60-90 degree angle of view so we can stay on line and execute corners skillfully and safely. Watch this video for more about vision.
- We learn to expect riders to pass us (and for us to pass others) multiple times a session. This is unnerving to new track riders because passing on the street is risky, requiring the passer to move into the oncoming lane. Passing is safer on the track becuse it is 40 +- feet wide and everyone is riding in the same direction. Read more about track day passing.
- We learn to ignore faster riders behind us so we can focus on riding skillfully and safely. Riders behind are responsible for getting by safely. There is nothing for you to do to accommodate them, except be predictable and stay on the line.
As yourself what you would do differently if you were permitted to have mirrors on the track?
- Would you move “out of the way” for faster riders? –
I hope not. That would be unsafe. Remember that your job is to stay predictably on the line and to focus on your riding. That is the safe way to ride on the track.
- Would you hesitate to pass a slower rider becasue you can’t be sure nobody is behind you?
That would be unpredictable. People would expect you to pass a slower rider. Hesitating to do so creates problems. Make the pass.
Did i miss anything? Add your comments below.