Pictures by: Moses Martinez and eTechphoto
It’s a little bit unusual to listen to Nate Kern name me, and everybody else within the rider’s assembly, one among his youngsters. “It’s true,” says the childless Kern as he can see the bizarre seems to be on our faces this chilly December morning at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. “I’m man sufficient to say I care about you guys and once you’re right here, at one among my trackdays, all I need is one of the best expertise potential for you.” This would possibly sound like lip service since each trackday supplier needs you to have a superb time, however Nate Kern and his eponymous DoubleRFest trackdays have the load of BMW behind it to come back as shut as potential to making sure this sentiment rings true.
Riders taking their S or M1000RRs to trackdays on the east coast and midwest have had the benefit of attending Nate Kern’s DoubleRFest for some time now. That is the place fellow BMW followers, it doesn’t matter what they truly journey, can journey with one another, and with the model’s most distinguished ambassador, in what quantities to a dream trackday for all in attendance. Such occasions are pretty frequent amongst different European manufacturers – each Aprilia and Ducati maintain their very own trackdays for his or her house owners – so it’s not groundbreaking that BMW and Kern are following swimsuit. The excellence right here is that, after years of attempting, Kern and staff are lastly bringing the circus out west to California – arguably the most popular marketplace for sportbikes.
This implies catered meals with precise meals that’s scrumptious as a substitute of the trackside burger particular, a bevy of sellers within the paddock space to journey and socialize with, and a few fast-paced laps aboard an M-series BMW automobile with professionals smoking rubber as they drift by every nook. In relation to what you may count on on observe, nevertheless, crucial facet of the DoubleRFest is the low group sizes – one thing you usually don’t discover at a mean trackday.
The result’s having the ability to get all the eye you might need from the group of coaches hand-picked by Kern himself. All of them not solely have some skilled expertise on their resume, however may also meet the rider the place they’re at of their using and produce them up. They will break down and clarify the intricacies of using in bite-size items off the bike, then information the rider on-track to higher make sense of an idea. If you happen to’re fortunate, you would possibly even have present professional riders like MotoAmerica Inventory 1000 champ Corey Alexander and his teammate Travis Wyman readily available to journey with. An added bonus on this explicit trackday was having some coaches from the California Superbike Faculty, a BMW-sponsored group, using round and serving to college students as nicely. Conversely, if you wish to journey your journey (assuming you’re doing it safely and aren’t erratic), small group sizes imply you may journey round and infrequently encounter anybody else on observe.
Unsurprisingly, you do pay a worth for such luxuries: roughly $300, relying on the observe. It’s undoubtedly greater than what a “regular” trackday prices, however once you determine there can be half the individuals (perhaps much less) than a standard trackday, the fee makes extra sense.
Nonetheless seems like lip service, proper? Nicely, to see how Kern trackdays actually are, I used to be invited to expertise the primary DoubleRFest on the west coast to see and expertise the occasion for myself. Having been to a number of trackdays myself, I’ve turn out to be a little bit jaded with claims of “finest trackday ever,” and actually, by now I’ve achieved sufficient of those that the group placing it on doesn’t actually matter anymore. I simply need to journey.
So, to carry me again to earth and get a special perspective on issues, we introduced alongside Ryan Adams. Averaging roughly one trackday a yr in between jet setting and using journey bikes off-road, Ryan’s simply the particular person I wanted to assist me consider a trackday, particularly a premium one, from a recent perspective.
Some issues nonetheless apply at a Kern trackday as they do at every other. There are three teams: A (quick), B (intermediate), and C (novice). It’s as much as you to determine which group to register for, however amongst their many duties, Kern and co. can be using round and monitoring that folk are the place they must be. The novice group is allowed to go on the straights solely, whereas the intermediate group is simply allowed to go on the skin of a nook. Lastly, the superior group is free to go on the within or exterior, so long as they accomplish that safely and with a snug buffer. Kern stresses within the rider’s assembly (and it’s simply the correct factor to do at a trackday, actually) that it’s the passing rider’s accountability to make a protected and clear go. It’s been my expertise that riders at premium trackdays like these, who’ve the means to pay the upper charges, perceive and abide by these guidelines higher than most people at regular trackdays. The decreased group sizes additionally imply you received’t be doing as a lot passing anyway.
With the rider’s assembly out of the best way, all that was left to do was journey. Ryan and I had our decide between a S1000R, S1000RR, and an M1000RR – all 2022 fashions, although the new-for-2023 M1000R and S1000RR have been on show (and accessible for anybody to journey, so long as they have been Nate Kern). Being a two-day occasion, and with comparatively few individuals every day, there’s actually no strain to make it out for each single session, until you need to. The chilly morning temps on this December day in all probability performed a job in many individuals, Ryan and I included, skipping the primary session of the morning to let the solar come up a little bit extra. Nonetheless, the vibe each within the pits and on observe was relaxed all through the day.
Says Ryan: The observe day itself had a really laxed vibe to it. Not when it comes to security or group thoughts you, however somewhat as a result of the observe (and pit) wasn’t overpopulated. The extra individuals you get on the market, the extra possible you might be to have somebody trying to “win” the observe day, too. It appeared just like the A and C teams had essentially the most riders on observe at any given second, so slotting myself into the B group gave me loads of house to get pleasure from my time on the large Beemers.
I used to be stunned to be taught that lots of the attendees of the occasion had by no means been to Chuckwalla earlier than, and some have been doing their very first trackday! That is the place, we expect, premier trackdays like DoubleRFest actually separate themselves out of your common trackday. Much less individuals in attendance means you get extra of the observe to your self with out distractions from different, much less accountable, riders. Extra importantly, it means you get extra consideration from the employees – so long as you come searching for it, Ryan included:
I noticed coaches working with riders on observe and within the pit lane. The coaches would submit up on the entrance to the observe able to work with anybody searching for recommendation because the session began. Throughout the second session whereas attempting to get my strains and tempo sorted, a coach handed me after which eased as much as let me comply with him. It was useful to simply deal with following his strains as I bought myself accustomed to the GP-shift sample (fortunately the truth that I used to be on a S1000 R meant I didn’t have to do a complete lot of shifting anyway, plus there’s the quickshifter making issues simple, too).
I noticed college students chatting with instructors within the makeshift classroom setup, actually listening in to what the coaches have been saying. Then, as I noticed from the pit wall, there have been loads of coaches guiding college students round, serving to them work out which line to be on. Typically there have been even a number of coaches to at least one scholar (each in entrance and behind, for instance). Small group sizes make this potential.
Kern and staff actually stress the significance of getting mirrors on the employees bikes. The mentality goes: “How are you going to coach somebody behind you when you may’t see them?” This lets the trainer journey on the scholar’s tempo, observe their using, and in some circumstances make on-the-fly corrections. No matter can’t be achieved within the second turns into fodder as soon as again within the pits. From the coed’s perspective, the coach turns into a rabbit to chase; one who’s truly using on the road, using accurately, and only a tick quicker, preserving the coed engaged however not using over their head.
You’ll be able to count on extra of the identical Within the intermediate group, however with rather less hand-holding. Amongst trackday vets, the intermediate group is usually the scariest of all of them, as a result of you may have sizzling heads who actually ought to be within the superior group selecting on the slower riders who actually do belong within the intermediate group. Conversely, you too can have the alternative – erratic riders who haven’t realized correct observe using etiquette who belong within the novice group however aren’t as a result of their egos get in the best way.
Fortunately, Ryan didn’t know any higher – and it labored out for me this time, he stated. There was a variety of rider talent within the B group as Troy talked about, however noone was erratic and actually, I feel the quickest guys I encountered (learn: bought handed by) have been coaches and racers spending time within the intermediate group as a result of it had the fewest variety of riders on observe at any given second. There have been loads of occasions the place I bought to spend my session mainly alone.
If you bounce to the advanced-level riders, usually talking, they don’t want a lot steering. On the DoubleRFest, I noticed a sophisticated rider who was new to the observe get some route from an teacher for a couple of laps simply to be taught the structure, however after that they took off to do their very own factor.
The superior group is the place the instructors get to let free a little bit and have a little bit enjoyable (however are all the time prepared to assist and can faucet their tails at somebody if wanted). From the place I used to be sitting, totally on the perch of the M1000RR, I spent a couple of periods using from begin to end infrequently encountering one other rider. And those I did journey with have been accountable and predictable – no erratic habits, wild strains, or unsafe passing. It actually was refreshing to journey my journey seeking that “good lap” whereby I nail each apex completely. It by no means occurred. However the pursuit was very enjoyable.
Is The DoubleRFest For You?
It relies upon the place you might be in your using journey and the way a lot curiosity you may have in BMW. All makes and fashions are welcome, as are all talent ranges. To have good meals, small group sizes, seller help, all the non-public consideration you might need, and a relaxed environment – $300 a day doesn’t sound too unhealthy. High it off with thrilling drift laps within the automobile at lunch and tons of bench racing and storytelling by Nate and crew within the night, and it provides as much as a enjoyable expertise.
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