Everyone remembers their ‘first’ for everything. First time riding a bicycle, first time sneaking out, your first kiss and maybe even that first … well you know. I remember my first track day to my first knee dragging. Back when I first started track riding things were just a little bit more complicated than they are now. Not too many people were into it, trailers weren’t abundant, finding a ride proved to be harder than going to Mars.
Even with the setbacks I was glad I ventured onto my first track day. Fast forward to the end of the season at which point the day of dreaming arose: dragging my knee. I felt like something had exploded from my steed, flung off the ground and smacked me right back into the pucks. I looked down frantic, pulling my knee back into my body. Nothing was there, nothing visible at least. Back in the pits I saw new scrape marks on my pucks, I was truly overjoyed. I made everyone know what had just transpired.
Being part of the Lo-Riderz to me meant lending a helping hand to all would be riders, track or street. With the knowledge I have built over the years I wanted to pass this on to other riders. Step in my longtime friend Sacha. I never knew he rode until I saw pictures of his machinery, but even at that point I blew him off for just another ‘Suzuki rider.’ He contacted me about some tire suggestions and thought my knowledge would help make the best decision for his bike, I guess that is where you say it all started for him becoming a track day rider.
Jason Phan: Please state your full name and for the record spell your last name clearly …. (laughs) no I am just kidding. Tell me about yourself, any family, friend, hobbies aside from motorcycles?
Sacha Tang: My name is Sacha I’m married and I have two beautiful kids. I live in Lowell, Ma. I used to really be into the import car scene. I did car shows up and down the east coast. I won a bunch of trophies and my car was featured in a few different import magazines. But that all changed once I was introduced into the world of motorcycles. I’m one of the newest members of Team Lo-Riderz and I am addicted to track!
Jason Phan: Car shows? Let me guess a Honda no? Kidding! How long have you been riding?
Sacha Tang: I’ve been riding off and on for about 3 years. To be honest I didn’t have many miles under my belt until this past season.
JP: In that time what KIND of riding did you do mostly?
ST: I did a lot of street riding and cruising around town most of time it was all by my lonesome (sobs). Not many of my friends owned a bike at the time and if they did they gave me every excuse possible why they couldn’t go riding. The “Wife” excuse was by far the most popular.
JP: Don’t worry I hear far worse excuse on why people don’t ride, cant convince some people!
JP: Have you ever heard of that group of riders posing up daily at the Dunkin Donuts (referring to Lo-Riderz & our love of coffee)?
ST: I knew there was a group of guys that hung out at Dunkin Donuts but I was unaware they were called Lo-Riderz at that time. Whenever I was on Chelmsford Street I made sure I was in 2nd gear so they can hear my exhaust screaming as I passed by pinning the gas. They probably didn’t even notice me (laughs).
JP: You were one of those revving their engines when they passed us huh!
JP: What was your first impression of these bands of misfits up to no good?
ST: A group of guys hanging out just shooting the shit working on modified bikes? I was slightly intimidated to say the least. I thought I was a good rider before being introduced to Lo-Riderz. Boy was I wrong. I was a total “noob” compared to these guys. From there on I became a sponge and absorbed all of the knowledge that was being passed on to me by the veteran riders.
JP: Honestly I was the same way. A bunch of older guys on street bikes, they looked pretty badass and unapproachable to me! So before us did you have any idea what track riding was about?
ST: I had no previous knowledge of what track riding was besides the fact it took place at a racetrack.
JP: I know I talk about track riding A LOT; probably more than I should but did that make you want to try it even more?
ST: Yeah, you’re definitely passionate about track riding and anything motorcycle related. To be honest I could have backed out but I knew if I did I would never hear the end of it. You had me convinced after my first group ride with Lo-Riderz to North Adams. I was hook after that!
JP: North Adams is a fun ride for sure but if you thought that was fun then the track was simply next step!
JP: Tell me how your experience was getting ready for the track?
ST: Preparing for my first track day was the toughest because I didn’t own any of the required track gear prior to signing up for Tony’s Track Day. One week before track day I bought a one piece Dainese suit, gloves and race boots from a local vendor. There was no turning back after that. Bike prep wasn’t that bad but I did need help safety wiring my oil filter. The team walked me through all of proper track etiquettes. I was fortunate enough to have a friend that owned a truck and trailer so getting my bike to the track wasn’t a problem. All I needed to do was supply my own canyon dancer and harnesses. Now a days getting ready for track days is second nature. I have to admit I still get butterflies driving up to the track and I still have a hard time falling asleep the night before.
JP: With the classroom time, tons of riders around, tons of track time, us for feedback and tips, did this make learning to ride better easier for you?
ST: It definitely did. Being around knowledgeable riders made my learning experience so much easier and enjoyable. There were times when I came out of the classrooms a little confused but sure enough I asked a question and someone in the group had an answer for me. I was more comfortable asking a familiar face than raising my hand in class asking questions. Believe me I asked a lot of dumb questions. Never mention the use of rear brakes. You may get slapped!
JP: I remember that day was raining, which sucked completely for everyone, but I also say a good rider needs to learn to ride in the rain, how was that affecting you? First track day and you had to go out?
ST: At first I was like; just my luck torrential down pours my first freaking track day. I was actually more worried about ruining my brand new gear than I was about crashing my bike in the rain. After the second or third Red Group session had passed I was like screw it I’m going out. By the time I got ready and fully suited they were having an open session. I was able to follow my new team mates for a few laps before they all started lapping me. Damn you Dat Nguyen!
JP: Now let’s get down to it – I know all day you learned a lot, once the track dried up you came back with a smile, I saw some puck scrapes on that shiny new leathers! How did that feel?
ST: It scared the crap out of me the first time I scraped my knee at turn 3. But words couldn’t describe how I felt once I saw the new scrape marks on my right knee puck. I was smiling from ear to ear and announced it to my friends that were sitting in the garage area. I felt so accomplished and elated.
JP: Same feelings I had my first time so I can believe you!
JP: Aside from the highs, there was a low too, low side I believe. What happened?
ST: (laughs) I knew this would come up sooner or later. I rode through the rain for a few sessions which really helped me learn throttle control. As the day progressed the sun came out and the track began to dry up. With every session I was getting slightly faster and little more comfortable on my bike. I told myself I was going to do one more session and call it a day. Quit while I was ahead. A few laps into my final session I was doing great and passing some of the slower riders. I’m like hey I’m pretty good at this I’m not the fastest but I’m not the slowest rider. Coming out of turn two as I straightened up my bike and a guy goes FLYING by me. I’m thinking hell no did that just happen? My first instinct was to pin the throttle and pass him back. I stayed right behind him going into turn 3. I braked hard, counter steered, leaned the bike and now I’m looking towards the fourth cone as my reference point. All of a sudden he goes from full speed to a turtles pace real quick. To avoid hitting him I grabbed my front brakes and that led to my bike washing out from under me. My Gixxer and I went right into the tire wall. I let my emotions get the best of me. Yup I low sided my first track day at turn 3 of NHMS. I felt so bad for my bike! I signed up for two more track days a few days after (laughs.)
JP: But with a good mentality you came back in and bounced back up.
JP: All in all the whole first track day saw a lot, rain, sun shine, knee dragging and even a crash, it must have been a success I say?
ST: I couldn’t agree with you more.
JP: I think, if I counted, you did another 4 more track days since then, and your riding has improved immensely. Did you think you would progress this fast? What do you think factored into it if any at all?
ST: Not at all. I didn’t think in a million years I was going to progress like I did this season. I thought I was going to be in red group for at least a 2-3 seasons like some of the other riders. But with the proper support and a great team I was riding in Blue group by my last track day this season. It’s all thanks to Team Lo-Riderz. They are the biggest factor for my success and I wouldn’t dream of riding with anyone else.
JP: So we can say your first year tracking was a good one?
ST: It most certainly was!
JP: Any plans over winter in prep for next season? I see a yellow R6 lingering around in the garage!
ST: I have no knowledge of any yellow R6 50th Anniversary with low miles, exhaust and sprocket kit. 2015 I’ll probably just keep tracking my superior Gixxer that so many people hate on (laughs). With that being said I want to thank the whole Team Lo-Riderz for a fantastic first season. I want to thank all of the guys for helping me out and answering all of my questions whether big, small or stupid. I’m a better rider because of the team and for that Thank You! #gixxergang
If you’re a new rider just cruising the streets and hitting those twisties hard then you might want to consider throwing in a track day in your near future. This interview, if anything other than provides entertainment should show that anyone who has no idea what track day riding is can just go, with the right guidance, and have a blast!
I am glad to say the progression of Sacha is astounding for someone doing track days their first season. There was so much packed into this track day season that if there were more you need a few more notches on your belt to stuff them all in; different tracks, varying conditions, warm, cold, raining, sun showers, knee dragging, fairing dragging, it had it all. All this aided him into becoming a faster rider on the tracks and a safer rider on the streets.
If you are still debating on going out for your first track day debate no more and sign up once winter is clear!