Been practicing for a little bit now.
Just in case if you are not familiar with what it is, its basically an obstacle course, very similar to Cop's rodeos but done on any bike (light 250 are preferred ) and with A LOT more speed. I like to compare it as what go-carting is to formula one, so is gymkhana is to GP. Seems it originated in Japan. Lots of videos of it on YouTube, but your best bet is to actually translate Gymkhana into Japanese and post that into a search. Adding "Dunlop" also helps, as they are a big sponsor over there.
It seems there was an attempt to bring this sport to USA under BattleTrax but its still a bit different.
Given my nature of keeping my two wheels firmly on the pavement (for now) instead of gravel, grass and any other mother Earth's covers, I finally found something to do on my bike, other than going from point A to point B.
Gymkhana manages to combine a lot of good things, in a very Urban friendly package.
A parking lot gives me the ability to race a defined course.
Courses are not set in stone, so with my own imagination I can accommodate to the size of the parking lot, or my own needs and practice.
Its TONS of fun.
No more chicken strips. Seriously, I'm grinding foot-pegs on my Triple... on a parking lot, at parking lot speeds!
I'm developing and honing my riding abilities, such as general control of the bike, tight turns, hard acceleration and hard braking, tire slippage, proper posture on the bike, lean angles, etc.
Its relatively cheap compared to a track day.
Lower speeds compared to the track, and riders riding the course one a time, makes it much safer, so even if you dump a bike its minor damage to you and your equipment.
Even though some bikes perform better at this, there is no discrimination and you can do amazing things on heaviest of bikes.
So far so good.
Few things to be aware of.
Cops and rangers might not like what you are doing, so I explain, and if they insist on me leaving, I leave.
Private parking lot security might not like this either. If they ask me to leave after I explain that I'm not stunting or causing mayhem, I leave.
Beware of cars, even on parking lot. I honestly am amazed how some people manage to get their license and if they have a license at all.
Beware of pedestrians on parking lot; had two guys just walk through my course while I was riding it. It wasn't a "power walk" as in "fuck you, I'll walk where I want, you have no business doing what you do, here". It was just two guys chatting with each other, walking THROUGH the course, giving me thumbs up. Sigh... At least they were friendly.
Pavement is far from racetrack pavement quality. Potholes, sand, garbage, its all there. Have to clean up a bit before each session.
Parking lots are busy during the day. No way around it, so I try to get most of my practice either later at night (cops get REALLY suspicious in later hours) or early in the morning pre-dawn. Morning runs are much better, as there are virtually no cars. Cops don't care. No drunk or partying teenagers on SUVs, compared to evenings. Its pretty cool, and by the time I'm exhausted and ready to head home, parking lot starts to fill up and it gets warmer.
Gymkhana might actually get me washboard abs. I'm not joking, throwing my bike around from side to side, pushing with my knees, constant hard acceleration and hard braking puts a toll on my core muscles. I've been doing this for a very short time so far, but after each session I feel like I'm going home from a gym.
The only problem is lack of information on technique. The closest is probably Lee Park's "Total control" book and course. I have the book but didn't take the course yet. Speeds are not racetrack speeds, and there are a lot of really tight 8's and u-turns. At the same time, to get best time, you are really trying to gas it in the straights, between those tight turns, so you are constantly either accelerating, or braking, or grinding foot pegs.
Here is the sample of a good Gymkhana rider in Japan.
And here are my "lazy" turns and twists. I'm putting lazy in quotes, as it feels a lot more intense on the bike.
but doesn't look nearly as dare-devilish from outside.
If anybody in my area (NYC) is interested in trying this, I'd be happy to ride with you, just let me know.