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What is the Apex?
This next question is a very technical part of racing, Apex is a word most motorcycle riders have heard but few understand. The often misunderstood, and sometimes mystical APEX.
Technically and in scientific terms, the ‟apex is often, but not always, the geometric center of the turn”. But to understand where the apex is in any given corner, we need to understand the racing line that traces through the corner. That is to say, the best line, The shortest line, The safest line through the corner.
The fastest way through a corner on a motorcycle equates finding the straightest line through that same corner. Or so they told me. Well, after years of frustration and not getting much help undertanding the apex, I started to think about it differently.
This shortest route through a corner or line as it's called, is usually demonstrated to a new racer at a track school. First on a white board. The corner is drawn and 3 or 4 different lines are shown going around it with commentary on how to take the corner by using the ‟best line.” Next, we hop on our bikes and head out to follow an instructor around the track. Every line is experienced, in every corner ,all the way around the track at a slower speed. This is the standard bread and butter way of teaching the racing line today at most schools. But I'm not here to talk about schooling, I'll save that for another chapter.
The main thing I found was my thinking had to change. Early on in my racing career, I was too obsessed with trying to get the bike set up right. I didn't sepnd enough time analysing my line or my location on the track. It was only after many an afternoon of sitting and watching the pros go around, from a lonely section of track, that I started to see and hear things that made sense.
I had an Ah-ha! I realized that the track itself did not change - it was a constant. The rider changed and therefore if a racer passed me, he knew something about the track or the corner that I didn't! That's all!
So I created a rather large hand drawing of the track and after every section, as soon as I got off the bike, I sat down right away and added notes to my track map. I noted a crack here, a bump there, a skid mark, a chip and any bit of detail I could recall from my ride. I wanted that constant film of the track in my head to be very detailed.
It worked! I knew exactly where I was on the track when I was racing. I went to a copy centre and created copies of the track. As a rule, I would draw a new line on my track map every time I changed my speed or breaking points. This worked and as I got quicker, the apex point naturally changed.
Yes the apex can be moved. Your apex will be slightly different from some other racers' if only by a few inches. The apex is not only a geometric center of a turn but as your knowledge and brain frees up and you focus on the bike and its balance in the turn, you will see your apex.
It's a TIMING point
A timing point is where the exit or drive starts. It's a marker that says it OK to add that touch of speed here as you will have room at the exit. It's a marker of a few things: location, timing, a confirmation point. In reality, it's many things to a racer.
But for now, the apex is the point that will get you safely though the corner while carrying appropriate speed. When it's shown to you for the first time it will seem strange and oddly placed, but as you speed up, the apex will make a little more sense. I believe that once you find the apex, you need to work backwards to your flick point of steering into the corner. The Flick point in its self is almost more important as it sets you towards the apex. This we can cover later as well.