Real Riders: Southern Migration To JenningsGP

Real Riders, Travel -

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Real Riders: Southern Migration To JenningsGP

Winter for the Midwestern motorcyclist is a dark time, and not just because the sun goes down so early. Overcast skies dump ice and snow on our favorite twisties. The roads are coated in salt and strewn with gravel. The severity of this winter in some parts made it too cold even to go out to the garage and commiserate with our estranged loves.

Photos by: Super Bike Photography

For those of us afflicted with the incurable disease of sport riding, there is only one antidote for a winter that seems to tighten its grip even as the calendar marches toward Spring: head south. With that in mind, I loaded up my beloved Yamaha R6, all of my gear and headed down I-75 to Jennings, Florida for some asphalt therapy.

JenningsGP is a flowing, 2-mile, 14-turn ribbon of pavement nestled in the woods of rural, north Florida. Its mild winter climate and proximity to Daytona have made it a perennial pilgrimage for amateurs and professionals alike. All seeking to cure their winter blues and knock the rust off their skills ahead of the riding and racing season.

Real Riders: Southern Migration To JenningsGP

A late winter track day at Jennings provides a unique opportunity for rank amateurs (such as yours truly) to rub shoulders with top-flight AMA pros like Dane Westby and Danny Eslick as they put the finishing touches on their preparation for the opening round at Daytona. But leaving aside the enormous race haulers, the pit crews and the differences in pace, we are all alike in that paddock. We’re just a bunch of motorcycle junkies, trying to find a fix to get us through the last few weeks of winter.

The layout of the track makes it seem as if you’re always accelerating, always cranking the bike over for another beautiful corner. The abrasive pavement isn’t easy on tires, but it provides ample traction that both inspires confidence and allows for a multitude of corner-entry flubs, a feature I put to good use through my two days there.

Real Riders: Southern Migration To JenningsGP

Turns 1 and 2 are fast, long, sweeping left handers, sculpted to allow for constant acceleration and at least two upshifts. The squiggle of turns 3-6 act as a speed check before you get into the flow of 7-10, which is punctuated by the sharper-than-it-looks Turn 8. Your apex and exit of 10 are crucial to set up 11 and 12, which you can square up and rocket through with a hair-raising amount of throttle. Then you carve around 13 and 14, on the throttle again to the start/finish straight.

Two days of sun, palm trees and twisted throttles were just what the doctor ordered. Spring doesn’t seem so far away now, and when it comes, I’ll be more prepared than in seasons past, having gotten an early start. And when winter comes again to strip the joy from our lives, I’ll take solace in knowing that relief is only a day’s drive away.

Gear:

Teknic Knox Ricochet back protector

 

  • nick

    Was just there last weekend myself. Took a while to get acclimated after not being on a track in five years (first time for Jennings, too), but the FZ-09 did the trick. Great fun with much better weather than home. Looking forward to getting started again next year…

  • Jeromy

    I really like this write up and would love to see other track articles, but it really needs a track map included.

  • C Mad

    i will me there this weekend! Im a florida local but every time there i have meet folks from places like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Great place to ride in months that end in “ER”. The only problem is during the summer when its 102 degrees and 100% humidity I’m looking to pack up the truck and head north.

  • ThruTheDunes

    Much as what I would love to pack it in and head south, the barn gate is iced in, the trailer is iced in, and there is still a foot of snow on the ground.

    Question for you folks down south- when does the heat and humidity get really oppressive down your way? Thinking of planning a ride to Atlanta and was wondering.

    • Randy S

      I grew up in the South. Depends on where you are, but almost anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon is going to be pretty crappy in July and August. Atlanta will probably also be hot in June and September, but it might be okay for you most days if you have some tolerance for it and the right gear.

      • ThruTheDunes

        Thanks for the insight, most appreciated.

    • Ayabe

      June—>September is normally brutal, like suck the life out of you after being outside for 15 minutes brutal.

      Also travelling in rural areas of the South between May–late June and late Aug–early Oct sucks because of all the love bugs. You’re going to be washing your car/bike constantly(daily unless you just don’t care) or deal with destroyed paint.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/JakeManD Jacob D

    Decent article, but “Real Riders” in the title seems unnecessarily provocative. Simply because one cannot afford a trip to ride a track day in Florida does not keep them from being a real rider.