Ride on the track, and someone is sure to ask you about lap times. While many people worry about them from their early track riding career onwards, I was not one of those people. For some reason, I just didn’t care about the actual time, and more about going faster than I was. There were some advantages to this method, but there were also some disadvantages.
Having the ability to just go out and enjoy the track and riding regardless of anything other than having a good time made my early track riding experience fairly enjoyable but hard to measure. Not having a definitive way to tell if what I was doing was working or not led to trying a lot of different things, and at times, pushing beyond my limits of talent and ability.
Now that I’ve started to care about lap times, I’m finding they are far more useful than I had previously imagined. Instantly you have feedback if your newly implemented handling of a situation is beneficial or not. You can easily tell if you are improving or not. It makes you available to focus on smaller tasks without having to take huge leaps to notice a change.
In my new found opinion, anyone who is a solid B group or above rider can benefit greatly from watching your lap times. The truth is I’m wishing I had started tracking mine earlier, as I believe it would have given me far more accurate feedback on whether what I was doing was helping or hindering my riding. Of course, you’re still going to have to account for things like traffic, but again, are you getting around riders smoothly and easily, or are you struggling and getting hung up behind them (a decided weakness of mine at this point)?
There are a variety of ways that you can track your lap times – of course, you can always invest in a lap timer, which is the easiest and quickest method to review things. You can also use things like time-stamped photographs, the assistance of someone on the sidelines with a stop watch, or a recording of your ride.
Use this information to your advantage to make progress steady and concrete. Change one or two things and see if they make a difference. If they do, then great, if not, change it up! Get instant feedback and allow yourself to make steady, measurable improvements that are less likely to land you in trouble since you are nipping away at that time rather than trying to take out huge chunks at once.