Another long RR here. 2010 Season, Weekend 2.

May 19, 2010

I got to the track late Thursday night with AJ & the Kid. They both started racing weekend 1, but that entire weekend was a PITA for me due to bike issues, so I never did a writeup. Perhaps I should have, considering the cause for my problems was a family of mice in my airbox. Suppose it makes a funny story, but I was too annoyed at the time to see the humor.

So, back to weekend #2 – AJ, Kid and I show up at the track late Thursday night. It’s spitting rain, so AJ decides to grab a spot in my garage. The rest of the garage is OK with it, so he’s in. Sweet. Joe was kind enough to let me crash out in his B tramper, since mine still isn’t ready. That was awesome of him, and it made my weekend far more enjoyable – although with the end result of the weekend I would have had fun if I had to sleep outside, in the bed of a truck, in the rain.

Friday morning I breeze through tech, as usual, and head out for practice one. The evil gremlins that had been haunting my bike are STILL there! I could not have been any angrier had the world cancelled beef jerky, and trust me, that’s not a me you want to be around. I tore the bike apart again, and got some input from Dana on what the problems could be. One of the things he suggested was to look at the end caps on the spark plug wires. He also said he’d come by and look at it if he could, so I’m hoping he can figure it out. At some point AJ picks up my carb cleaner.

AJ: “Dude, you cleaned your carbs how many times with this?”
Me: “Like 5″
AJ: “You’re doing it wrong. You should have used this can to do it once. Let me show you how I do this.”

So, AJ shows me how he cleans carbs. It’s a lot different than how I’d been doing it. Now I’m stoked – the gremlins may finally be gone! Suddenly, they’re calling my practice as being up soon. Dana never made it by, and my bike is apart! Crap! So, in a panic I throw the bike back together, leather up and get out there – hoping my bike problems are finally gone and I can get back to working on me. I get out on the track, and the first time I whack the throttle, I feel as though I was whacked in the stomach by Chuck Norris, with the only noticeable difference being my body was still in one piece – the bike is STILL not running right. It’s still down on power, feels just like before. DAMNIT!!! I almost pitted in, but figured I’m already out there, why not run a couple laps.

After practice I get back into the garage, and am sitting around dejectedly. I have no idea what to try next. Suddenly, like a rabid spider monkey shot from a cannon, it hits me in the face. I DIDN’T PLUG THE RIGHT SIDE SPARK PLUG WIRE BACK IN!!! My next practice is again up in a couple minutes, so I rip the bike apart, plug in the culprit wire, and throw it back together, going back out just in time for my next practice.

I’m on the grid feeling a bit uneasy. Is that going to fix it? That solves my issue from last practice, but still not the issues that’s been haunting me all season. Did I put the bike back together right in my rush? I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss anything. I didn’t even have my warmers on, I was done for the day until I realized I had forgotten that plug wire. Why am I even on the grid? My tires are cold – it’s not like I can work on corner speed if the bike still doesn’t run right. Coming out of Pit out, I whack the throttle open at the T2 apex, expecting nothing. BRAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPP!!! HOLY SHIT! WHAT WAS THAT? I HAVE A MOTORCYCLE!!!! THAT’S WHAT THIS FEELS LIKE!!! It was such a difference I’d forgotten – the bike had not pulled decently once all season. To hell with cold tires, to hell with everything, it’s time to ride this sumbitch. And ride I did.

I don’t remember what my practice times were, but they were not impressive. 1:34’s or something. I didn’t care – they were sub-40. My bike was BACK! Now it’s time to work on me. And I spent the rest of the day doing just that.

Saturday AM, practice, I just worked on remembering how to ride the track, now that my bike was functioning. Again, nothing impressive on times – think I turned a couple 31’s. Now it’s coming back to me, and it’s time to get to work on the times. So work I did.

Saturday, Race 8, Ptwins: I get a really good start. I fully expect preteen to pull me off the start into T1, for a few little reasons. He’s ~100lbs lighter than me. With proper gearing for the track, something I don’t have. And he is good at starts. You know, little stuff. I go into 1 hot, waiting for him to get by me. He never does, and things feel OK, so I put my head down and go to work. I ran the first 6 laps by myself, and started getting cocky – I’d looked over my shoulder a couple times and never saw him. This is going to be my first win, and it’s a cakewalk, I can feel it. HOLD THE PHONE, WTF WAS THAT? Preteen is trying to pass me! Where’d you come from dude? Well now, we can’t have that, can we? So, I did the only thing that could be done, I put my head down and went to work to preserve my first win. And preserve it I did… Until T3, lap 7 of an 8 lap race. See, I’d been working on improving my line and corner speed through T3. This involved turning in earlier. Suddenly, the front of the bike is gone. Bars waggin’ like a tail on a dog left home alone for a week, sliding like I was in a cartoon and hit a banana peel. I’m not sure how, but it stayed upright. (I found out later, courtesy of a spectator, I’d hit the rumble strip in the apex of T3 with my front tire). However, as I flew off-line and stood the bike up, preteen managed to slide under me. By the time I figured out I was still upright and sorted the mess in my shorts, he was too far ahead – there was no catching up. End result: ANOTHER FREAKIN’ SECOND PLACE!!! SONOFA…

Times from that race:
1:34.816
1:33.082
1:32.122
1:32.365
1:36.711
1:32.665
1:31.356
1:29.916

And on to Sunday – LWSM:
I went into this race with some very clear goals. I’m either winning my first race, running some 28’s, or throwing the bike down the track. It’s time to get past this flat spot and start making time. I know where I’m leaving it on the track, and there’s no good reason not to go get it.

The green flag flies, and I dump the clutch. For some reason they decided to start multiple races same wave, with the race in front of me in row 1 and us on row 3. Normally we’d be on Row 2, which is nice, because the rows are staggered. With us on 3 instead, we’re directly behind the bikes in front of us. No big deal though, I’m behind a 1200cc Buell – not like I have to worry about him getting in my way off the start. Right? No, not right. In fact, wrong. Very, very wrong. The bike bogged on the start, according to my buddy. I though it stalled, to be honest. Somehow I managed to avoid rear-ending him, which was nice, and off I went into T1. Way in the back of the pack – there’s clearly going to be some work to do here. So once again, I put my head down and went to work. The Buell is behind me. There’s some red bike, SV maybe? Make the pass, forget them. They never existed. Now it’s time to get past the fast girl on the Motard. Got her, but that can’t last, can it? She is fast, and on a motard – not an EX500. I have the feeling she’ll be back, but I keep picking off the traffic. Ahead I see preteen. Really? Maybe I get a second shot at this dude after all! Time to go to work, folks. Problem is, there’s an SV between us.

[This part gets confusing – I guess I was in a “cavern of concentration” (fast guys, rich guys and idiots – check it out). Anyway, the only bike I passed and ever saw again was an RSP SV650. I was a bit faster, but not enough. Problem was, I had to pass him. No choice. So I stuck it on the inside of 3, and went in hot. Too hot, blew my line completely and he went back by. So I chased him for another lap. At one point we swapped positions again, but I don’t remember where. So now we’re coming into T3 again. This time I know his speed into T3, so I try to calculate something faster than him and not so fast I blow it like last time. I did it, and it stuck. I’m ahead and checking out. Of course, I’m still assuming preteen and Lori (the girl on the motard) are clipping at my heels, so I stayed riding hard. White flag. Good, just gotta hold the lead. Another lap. Another white flag. WTF? Stay in it, Dan. Another lap. Still in the lead.] CHECKERED FLAG!!! And that’s it – I won my first race. Not only that, I did it in LWSM against a dirt bike and SV650s. In fact I even beat 2 of the 4 bikes (all SV’s) from the race in front of us! Hell yeah…

What an awesome feeling. I got it done, just like I told myself I would. And I’m pretty sure I clicked off a couple 28’s in there, which would beat the hell out of my personal best of 1:29.1 or 1:29.2, depending if you count practice times. So, let’s review times for that race.

01:33.970
01:29.878
01:29.415
01:28.609
01:27.545
01:27.459
01:29.421
01:27.869

3 27’s, with a new PB of 1:27.4. Funny, Friday I had considered 27’s damn near unobtanium. Now I’m gunning for 26’s next weekend. And 25’s soon. My bike is back, and so am I!

8/22 & 8/23 #319 Weekend Writeup (Long, as usual)

August 24, 2009

I had another awesome weekend. Here it is, read it if you care, skip it if you don’t.

Saturday:
My dad came up to see what this whole deal was about Saturday, which was very cool but resulted in a slightly later start than I’d have liked. Thanks to a fairly quick registration and my bike breezing through tech, that turned out to be less of an issue than it could have been.

Spent some time during open practice Sat AM trying to decide if I was going to switch to rains or not. Having never done it, I didn’t want to be too rushed to switch back and forth. (Note for the future: Some night when I’m not doing anything go back and forth a couple times, get it down.) Smokin Joe was going out for 2 laps on rains to see how it felt, but was only doing a couple due to wanting to save the rains for his race, if needed. Unfortunately by the time he came back they were switching to numbered practices from open. So, I missed first practice. That’s not like me, but oh well, no big deal. 2nd Practice I was good to go. Track was wet with dry lines, too dry for rains but not dry enough for optimal DOT traction. I worked on T1 approach quite a bit in practice, and decided I like the tight line advised to me by many. Went in hot once and didn’t like the feedback I was getting from the front DOT on the wet spot, so I backed off a bit when I should have slammed it over and ran the turn wide. I probably could have stuck the turn but I didn’t want to tuck the front in practice pushing DOTs in the wet with my dad there. Oh well. Ran a bunch of 1:41’s with a partially wet track on DOTs not pushing too hard. I’ll take it.

Race 8, my first race, I got a HORRIBLE start. Started off front row closest to the pit wall and was in dead last in seconds. I REALLY need to work on my launches. Worked my way back into the pack bit by bit. I also changed my entry for 3 based on the advice of a teammate, Brendan I believe? I think that helped me carry corner speed out – when it worked. I’ll need to get used to turning in so early, it almost makes it so I’m pre-turning for 1 instead of just throwing the bike over as hard as I can. Alex crash out, glad to hear he was OK. Got Harrison in my sights and chased him for a while… he’s a hard man to pass! Was with him (well, a few bikes to a bike depending where) looking for a way around until we caught an SV we were lapping. Harrison passed him fast and smooth just past the tree house, and I didn’t have time to follow. I ended up following the slower SV through 9 at his pace, slowing up a touch more to slingshot through 10 and around him. By then Harrison was already going into 11, and this was final lap. No way I was catching him. Took my 3rd place with a smile.

Was very pleased to see that I clicked off a 1:29.961 for my fastest lap. My previous personal best was a 1:31.4 & my best last weekend was a 1:32.2. I’ve been saying for at least half the season I wanted a 1:29, even if it was 1:29.999, just to get rid of that damn three in front of the number. Unfortunately our individual lap times were not in the tech garage due to some malfunction. Got them off the LRRS website after. Turns out they were:

1: 38.011 (HORRIBLE start)
2: 33.659
3: 31.977
4: 32.362
5: 32.741
6: 31.498
7: 30.740
8: 29.961

Sunday:
Sunday had a messy start. Late getting started, showed up after 2nd practice was already over. After getting my 1:29 I wanted to work on consistency, and I find that hard to do in NV GTL bumping and grinding with 600’s and getting yellow and red flags thrown like the system needs testing, so I entered LWSM. All dirt bikes, so I’m expecting DFL, but at least I should be able to get some consecutive laps in without constant flags and dodging downed bikes. Got onto the grid with no practice for the day, but feeling good due to my performance Saturday. Got yet another horrible start. There were 2 different races out here, so I thought we’d have 2 waves. When nobody came out to tell us we were wave 2, I held the revs and waited to see what happened. Flag went, all the guys in the race in front of ours went, all the other guys in my race went, so I went too. Not the best start, but I didn’t want to be that guy to launch with the wrong wave either. Just put my head down and ran consistently for a fairly uneventful 7 laps. Then, on the last lap, as I came into the chicanes at 12, we had a waving yellow. Bike down in the apron, looked like a lowside from T12. Then I saw a dirt bike come around me using a different line for 12… straight through the dirt, damn the chicanes! On a waving yellow at that! No way in hell I’m losing my position on that move. Not happening. So I come out of 12 onto the oval hard on the gas and keeping tight to stay well away from the incident and workers. Once past it I was helmet on the tank, throttle on the stops as I reeled him back in just before the checkers! Turns out I got him by 4/10ths of a second, good for a 3rd place trophy. I was pretty happy with that, especially considering I didn’t think I had a chance of placing against a group of dirt bikes. Also, the dude who passed me off-track talked to me after the race, it was an honest mistake and we’re all cool now (although I was a tad miffed when it happened, whatever, it was an honest mistake and a racing deal. It’s all good now).

Made some progress on my consistency in that race too. Overall I’m happy, I feel like it’s coming together nicely.

1: 36.781 (poor starts are not helping these out laps!)
2: 31.929 (not sure what I messed up here)
3: 30.857
4: 30.650
5: 30.066
6: 29.577 (another personal best!)
7: 30.821
8: 31.960 (this was the yellow flag/dirt pass/downed bike in track lap)

Goals for next weekend:
1) Body position, especially in 6, needs improvement. I caught a peg coming out of 6 so hard it threw the rear of my bike (and maybe the front, but I don’t think so) to the right a few inches. I think I’m not off the bike enough, so the bike is leaning more than it has to. I need to not repeat that move.
2) T1. I’m getting better, but still need to go in hotter and throw it in harder. There is more time to be had there by going into it faster. I’m not at or near my lean or traction limits @ the 1 apex, and I should be at least close.
3) Improve my turn in for T3. I know what I need to do and started doing it Sunday, but I need some more practice with it.

Special thanks:

  • Smokin Joe, for the back protector that allowed me to race and the help w/ the rains call.
  • Brendan, for the loan on the warmers when mine got left @ home.
  • BJ, for the usual garage/advice/show running/etc.
  • Seth, for saving me when all my drinks were 100 degrees, I was out of ice, the machine was sold out and the café was closed.
  • Kitt, for the trailer/truck offer. It was just too early man, I got an offer for later that allowed me to race. Doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it.
  • Everyone else that helped me out with advice, congrats, etc.
  • The corner workers, for being there even though I didn’t make any unscheduled visits.
  • Duck aka Sheppo for my new “Dangerous Dan K” hand painted helmet, which apparently brought me some luck.
  • And now, for a few pics. More to come as they come out, not much available the day after the race.

    Coming ouf of 1A, starting to flick it from the right that is 1a to the left that is T2:
    DSC_0238

    Coming out of T2, back on the gas starting to pick it up for the straight:
    DSC_0272

    Here’s flicking it to the right for 1a after the fast left that is T1:
    DSC_0283

    Novice #319 Race Report 7/18 & 7/19 2009

    July 21, 2009

    Rubbin’s Racin’, Harry! Even on a motorcycle!

    07-18-09-NVPTWN 078_0011
    What a weekend! Thought I wasn’t even going to make the races due to some family issues. They turned out OK, thankfully, and I ended up snagging a last minute ride up with my buddy Pete. Actually got there early enough to register Friday, saving myself the Sat AM nonsense I’m normally a part of. By all counts (save for it starting to rain right as we got to Loudon) it was going to be a great weekend.

    Hung out a bit on Friday night, but packed it in before too late to catch up on my sleep for Saturday practice. Woke up Saturday to on and off rain, decided to go out anyway on my DOT’s since I had rain wheels but no rain tires mounted yet. Hey, traction is overrated, right?

    Due to the low participation in practice, they went to open practice in session 2 or ¾, and it stayed that way for a while. I stayed out there feeling out the DOT’s in the rain and trying to get the track back into my head and looking for the line through the new T1/T1a/T2. Tried to push the DOT’s once or twice, but didn’t like how that worked out for me at all. Turns out a race compound tire with just enough tread to be DOT doesn’t do too well in the rain, who would have thought? Rather than the normal feedback, on the D208’s it felt like I went from planted to in trouble with nothing in between. Not a fan. In the 30 minutes or so I was out I only saw one other bike not on rains, and I was faster than him, so I wasn’t worried about it. I was also passing bigger bikes on rain tires, guys who clearly just were not comfortable in the wet, even with rains. New riders, new to the rain, gun shy… who knows?

    Eventually, I heard a noise that made me nervous. Wasn’t sure what it was, but I wanted to get in and check it out before something gave way and I binned the bike on a mechanical. Sounded like it came from the front, so I’m thinking brakes. I get to T10, signal pit out, sit up and slow down. No sooner am I committed to the pit out than I realize what the sound was… a rock being grabbed by my tire and flipped into my zero-clearance front fender. Of course, now I’m committed to the pit out and there’s no changing that, so rather than just riding through hot pit and back onto the track I decide to break for a quick drink of water and a quick check of the bike, more for peace of mind than anything. While in, my garage mate Brendan looked at my bike as well, and told me “You’re not going back out. May as well change out of the leathers, your brakes are done.” I look, and sure as can be the big pad is shot. So I change and start tearing it apart while Brendan goes to get new pads for both of us. Turns out that pad was completely toast, backing plate on the rotor! Whoa. New pads, but I miss 2nd practice session now that it’s starting to dry out. Whatever. Ride around the infield a bit and bed the new pads in and call it a wrap until the races.

    Saturday, Race #8, NV Ptwins:
    Terrible start. I’ve been working on a new launch technique that was working for me last time we had a race weekend, like 74 months ago, but apparently I lost the touch. Get absolutely creamed off the start. It only gets worse into T1/T1a/T2 as I still don’t have a solid line through there. It’s dry now and I’m not going NEARLY fast enough into there. Make up some ground coming into T3 and start to go to work. There are a few absolute newbies in this race, so there should be some easy pickings, right? Wrong. Anyway, after working my way past a few people I see my buddy Kurlon in the distance. Yes! We’ve been talking trash for the past month about this weekend, and it may be his last novice weekend ever, so I really want to dice with him. I make some ground on him from 6-9, lose some of it into 9, lose a bit more into 11 and make a touch back up into the chicanes. Down the straight we go, and he gets a bit more on me through T1/T1a/T2. I’m expecting this so I try to brake later and use his line through there. I don’t like his line. It’s probably right, but it’s so far from what I’d been doing it felt sketch to me and I ended up trail braking longer than I like to. Don’t lose much, but it’s not a confidence booster for that section. Make a bunch of ground to him and tailgate him through the bowl, looking for a way around but not able to find one. This goes on for an entire lap, me trying to put a move on him and just not quite being able. People in the bleachers said it looked like I had him for sure out of 4, but I cooked too much momentum trying and then backing off in 3. I go into 6 on a different line than him, which sends me out much faster. I see him go wide, and there’s the window! Inside of 7! I go for it, and get some bike on him. Awesome, I’ve got it! Then… BOOM! I feel the contact and struggle to keep the bike up. I try to stick with T8 for a second, but it’s not happening. I run wide and off the track into the dirt, holding consistent throttle, and end up back on the track. Now I’m riding way too ginger, wondering if he made it out. Finally I give up and look back, even though I shouldn’t, because I just have to know. He’s not only still up, but he’s entirely too close and setting me up to pass me back! Something clicks in my head… we’re still in a race, and he’s about to pass me back! Back to work and I pull out the gap, finishing the race in front of him, for 5th place. Great race, but I’m still off pace. After checking the times I see that spots #1-3 are all 1:26-1:28. 1:26’s would have WON AM Ptwins, nevermind NV. In fact, all top 3 guys are turning times that would be plenty respectable in AM, and one of them is brandy new! He’s been doing track days for quite some time, but had just done his rookie race the day before! Wow.

    I can SEE the spots I’m leaving tons of time all over the track, but can’t seem to do anything about it. The brakes feel different, I’m not sure where the traction limit is anymore, and the new turn is still throwing me off a bit. Best time is a 1:32.2. My PB from the last weekend was a 1:31.4 and I def. should have been faster, not slower. Oh well, I can live with it. I know where I need to do my work.

    Sunday practice I’m finally managing to put some of my trouble sections together, but I’m still not on pace. I decide to work on form and being smooth, and deal with the fast after. I get the feeling I’m dealing with too many issues at once, and if I sort the technical stuff out it’ll be easier to add some fast. I feel like I’ve got some smooth and consistent back. Doing 33’s for time, but I wasn’t out there for fast, I was out there for smooth and I feel like I found it. Looking forward to pouring on some fasts in the GTL.

    Sunday Race #1 GTL:
    So-so start, better than yesterday but still not where it was before. This is going to warrant some practicing. Get out there and turn some decent laps. Before too long the first wave catches us, 600’s, 750’s, 1000’s, etc. Possibly the most hectic GTL I’ve been in, the GTO & GTU bikes are just having at it. Quite a few yellows, quite a few bikes crashed out, but no red flag, which was sort of surprising. I got grazed by passing big bikes a few times, but whatever, no harm. I do find that with getting passed in every turn by the lapping big bikes my times are off. I feel like I put did every turn on that track better than I have been at some point in the race, but never got a clean lap out to see what it did to my times. I could definitely use to get back onto the track before the next race weekend.

    Overall it was a great weekend, and I had a lot of fun. Looks like another PTwins trophy is out of the question for a bit, with the lead 3 guys running as fast or faster than the AM guys. Oh well. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, focusing on my time and form.

    There’s footage of the PTwins race from Kurlon’s front # plate here: http://vimeo.com/5688949 The contact and subsequent action is around 9:15, so if you don’t want to watch the whole video watch from 9:00 until you get bored. The pics below are from that video.
    07-18-09-NVPTWN 078_000207-18-09-NVPTWN 078_000607-18-09-NVPTWN 078_000707-18-09-NVPTWN 078_001107-18-09-NVPTWN 078_001407-18-09-NVPTWN 078_0021

    Another Race Weekend Down

    July 21, 2009

    Had an awesome race weekend. It’s a lot to type and it’ll take me at least until tomorrow to get in finished. In the mean time, my buddy Kurlon was running video on the front of his bike. We made contact and went off track around 9:15 but both kept it up. If you don’t want to watch the whole vid, watch from 9:00. I’m the orange EX #319. http://vimeo.com/5688949

    June 4, 2009

    This is my writeup of my first track day, which came after Penguin, and my first 2 race weekends, as it so happened. It was awesome! Even though I’ve raced a couple weekends I’d never done a TD, so I was in the “intro to TD’s” package. Came with a cool BM shirt and hat, coffee, muffins, etc. Also included was loading and unloading your bike. I helped, but the BM staff certainly made it a lot easier.

    Started out in the Nov group, but the pace ended up being a bit slow so I bumped up to intermediate. Got in plenty of track time, and had some really good help from some of the control riders. I’ve gotta throw out a special thanks to Bergs & A13X (Alex Dunstan) for the help on the track, showing me their lines, etc. I made some serious progress in the bowl (thanks Alex!) and through T12, which has been a serious weak spot for me. Exiting that chicane went from a train wreck to dragging my knee, and as a result I’m able to use most of 5th gear on the straight. Got to work on some passing, which I really needed work on. I didn’t have a timer, but I feel like I definitely got faster, which was my goal.

    Scottie Ducati was the man with the suspension know-how, and he worked some serious magic on my bike. I’d been going through 3 dragging my toe slider and knee, with the back end of the bike loose. This was causing me to have to modulate the rear with the throttle, so I wasn’t going as fast as I could have been. Scottie put an insane amount of change into my shock (6 clicks & 4 clicks, I forget which was rebound and which was compression) and gave me some pointers on what to tear apart and grease in the future. After he worked his magic the bike was planted through 3 (when the tires were warm, anyway, more on that later), letting me stay on the throttle harder through the turn. I feel like I’m just as far off the bike and I’m actually going faster, but I’m no longer dragging anything, I guess the bike is sitting a touch higher now? Anyway, it feels great and is faster, I’m thrilled.

    Sometime after lunch I went out and found myself on a full grid. Excited about the chance to work on some more passing, I lined up at the back of the longest line. Going through the chicanes I picked my first target, and the likely second. I decided to take the first going through 3/4. He pulled away a bit on the straight into 3, but braked a bit early and not as hard as me, so I had no problem coming around him on the outside as he turned in. I turned in outside him, came off the brakes, got into the throttle, hit the transition and found myself sliding down the track on my back. I remembered my tires were still cold before I even stopped sliding, which was still a couple seconds too late. Damnit! Patted the ground to see if I was still moving, turns out I was. Whoops. I think that’s what turned my slide into a roll, maybe it was turning my head to see if I was about to get run over since I thought I was done sliding and wanted to see if it was OK to get up, but it was still a hell of a lot better than if I tried to get up. I’m officially a fan of the “pat the ground to make sure you’re done moving before you try to get up” rule. Finally came to a stop, looked around, realized I was not about to get run over, threw a thumbs up and got up to go after my bike, which was in the tires. Bergs was already in the beach on his way to help me (thanks Bergs!). I couldn’t lift the bike alone, but with the help of Bergs (after he made sure I was OK, something he made damn sure of) we got it up and through the 3/10 split. It all happened fast enough that they were able to yellow flag the session rather than red flag it, which was cool. I didn’t want things red-flagged on account of my own stupidity. I assured a couple other people, including CEO and Bergs again, that I was indeed OK. My bike had a broken brake lever, and there were concerns of it leaking fluid, so CEO took it back in and had me bring his bike back in. That few seconds reminded me of how much I love the R6, and clinched my desire for GP shift on my Ex. Got back into the pits, got a new brake lever, fixed my throttle which was no longer snapping back, and was re-teched in no time at all. Didn’t even miss a session.

    (This section added later: There’s no doubt cold tires contributed to this crash. I did the same thing at the same pace if not faster later in the day on warm tires and it stuck. That said, I’m sure the fast guys could have done what I did on cold tires, faster, with one hand, and made it stick where I ended up in the tire wall. I messed up somewhere. Most likely culprit is too much bar input, and not holding on tight enough with my legs.)

    My next session I took it easy for 3 or 4 laps, wanting to be damn sure I had some heat in the tires. I wasn’t willing to make the same mistake twice in a row, and I’m getting used to riding with warmers. After that I got myself back up to pace.

    Last session out I was back on pace, and only taking 2 laps to warm the tires before getting back to pace. I didn’t want to let my tire heat concerns mean I was riding easy for the first 3 or 4 laps in the future, so I got after it right after lap 2. In retrospect I don’t think I’ll ride without warmers again, so it was somewhat pointless, but I got my confidence back up and got back to pace, which was all I was trying to do at that point.

    I couldn’t thank everyone if I tried, too many people helped make this a great day. All the Boston Moto crew, you created an awesome day. I heard from some of the other intro guys that just having you load the bike at the end of the day for them was worth the extra $ for the intro program. Everyone that worked with me to help me find some more fast, thanks.

    Bergs, you were a huge help. Your lines were cool, your critique in the pits gave me good stuff to work on, and following you was a blast. Following you is what let me get some decent drive out of 12 and get my knee down in there. Thanks again for the help with that tramper.

    Alex, you too man. Love your line through 6. Wish I’d spent more time working with you, I’d have loved to have heard what else you had to say about my riding/lines/etc after you followed me for those three laps before coming around me into the chicane. I know you had to go back out, no big deal, but I was getting a lot out of what you were telling me. I eased up in 9 to work on 10 like you suggested, and that worked. I think I’ve got the seat completely unweighted through there like I do the other turns now, due in part to thinking about it and in part to not blowing my approach by working too hard on 9.

    Chris, you were really helpful. Wish I’d gotten to ride with you more. Just getting on your R6 made me miss mine, and it clinched the deal – I need to GP shift that EX. Fortunately, from what I hear, it’s just a matter of swapping a shifter.

    Scottie, you made me faster through T3 without even seeing me ride, rock on man. That shock makes it feel like a different bike. It sort of feels slower because I’m not dragging a knee through there anymore, but I know it’s faster, I’m coming in at the same speed and getting on the throttle harder.

    Kitt, thanks for the help with everything, including the ride, even though I ended up working it out from NH. Glad I was able to save you the detour of getting off the highway, you had a long drive in front of you.

    Arcy, good to see you again. I’m thinking it might be a good thing you hit the head when you did.

    Also gotta say thanks to S&C, even though I don’t think Miles posted here. If he didn’t have that lever my day would have ended early.

    Sucks I need to replace the helmet, I don’t feel like I hit it hard enough to scrap it, but it’s got scrapes that I don’t think will get through LRRS tech. So, now it’s time to get another helmet, get back out there for the classic to see how all the stuff I learned translates into racing.

    Thanks again guys. I’d recommend this day to anyone, and in fact plan on doing so. You all kicked ass yesterday.

    #319 LRRS Weekend 3 Report (Long)

    June 1, 2009

    Going into this weekend, there was a lot of talk about the temporary setup for T1. Three chicanes, back to back, on the apron to the Nascar oval. Seems a lot of people were really put off by this, some even didn’t race as a result. Personally, I wanted to race, and I was racing whatever they gave us.

    Arrived Friday night. Movie night in my garage, some of the guys had a projector hooked up to a laptop. Cool setup. I got there fairly late and still had to do a clutch, so movie’s were not on the top of my priority list. Wrapped the clutch up in the wee hours of the morning, thanks in a big part to the help of my garage mates, and Dana, the EX wrenching Guru.

    Sat Practice #1: Felt slow and out of shape. Was trying to remember the track and get back in the flow of things. Lap 1 just felt off. Had to figure out the way through the new chicane, try to remember the layout of the rest of the track, etc. Lap 2 felt better, still not great. Red flag after Lap 2, and we’re back in the garages. Went to check my times, no times. Bring transponder to media center, turns out they lost about 40 riders. They got my info and assured me it’d be good to go for 2nd practice, and more importantly the race. A lot of people up there don’t even check practice times, this makes me wonder if they check that something is up just to be sure their transponder is working. It’d suck to find out after your race.

    Sat Practice #2: Everything felt much better, right from my out lap. I’m remembering where the track goes, and I’m no longer worried about getting lost in T1a-T1j. Coming through the bowl in T6 my knee touched down, surprised the hell out of me! I didn’t think I was leaning that far, so when I felt it I pulled my knee up out of reaction. Once it processed I motored up the hill with a smile. Next lap through I expected it, and kept it down a bit more. This was a nice confidence boost. Went to check the times after, and surprise surprise, I’m running faster than everyone else that I know of that’s in my class. I’ve only got a half second or so on Harrison, but last weekend he wasn’t even on my radar, he was ten and a half seconds/lap faster than me.

    Sat Race #8 Nov PTwins: Everything felt good right from the flag. Got sort of a shitty start, which is normal for me, but passed a few people back going into 1 before the chicanes. Running in 3rd place with Harrison and another bike, which turned out to be Steve Hunt, in front of me. Harrison crashed out in T3 on Lap 2, which sucked. I pulled in second place and stayed there. Steve Hunt checked out on me in a serious way, he wasn’t even in my sights for me to try to chase or use as a carrot. Turns out he was ~5 seconds/lap faster than me, and finished the race in about a minute 3 seconds more than me, with an entire extra lap throw in. My best lap, a 1:40.526, was faster than my fastest race lap last weekend on the old setup. And I get a trophy. Awesome.

    Sun Practice #1: Felt pretty good. Actually got all 5 laps in on practice for the first time this weekend. Was carrying much more speed through T3. On my second or third lap I dragged my boot through there. Since my knee wasn’t dragging I figured my position must have been off, so I made an effort to make sure I was on the forward part of the ball of my foot on the peg, as well as making sure it was right up against the engine case. Touched knee and boot that time, but it felt a lot better than just having my boot on the ground. Continued to drag boot & knee, both lightly and sporadically, through T3 for the rest of practice. Still getting knee down in T6.

    Sun Practice #2: Felt good. Was getting a much better drive from T6-T9 than I ever did before. Still overbraking a bit for T1 & T9. T1 is hard because I don’t have any reference points. T9 is hard because I’m getting different speed drives into it. Focused on both, might have made some progress but nothing to write home about.

    Sunday Race #1 Nov GTL: Fun race. I went into this with my only goal being stay on my line, be predictable and get track time. On the track with guys like CEO, I know I’m getting lapped, and with a serious speed differential. I started in position 8A, the very last row, all by myself. Got some people passed into T1, but not many. Ended up behind a couple bikes that were parked through the chicanes. Decided right then that I was going to need to get around them. They could both pull me on motor on the straights, but were slowing up early for the turns. I tried getting around the inside, but couldn’t get quite far enough and ended up needing to roll off so I didn’t get pinched between them & the apex. Tried going around the outside, but they’d motor away once we got toward the end of the turn and they got back on the gas. I was frustrated, and thinking I really needed to learn how to pass. I was also thinking there was no way I wanted go through the chicanes behind both of these bikes again. So… I’ll late brake the one closer to me into 1. Coming up the straight he’s pulling away from me, and I’m thinking “shit, I’m going to have to make up more than I wanted to, but it won’t be more than I can”. They brake, I’m to the outside waiting for it. They stack up pretty tight to each other and now passing one is not an option, I have to pass both of them. Got in front of them both, but I’m a bit too hot into the first chicane. Brake harder, start my turn while still on the brake pretty hard, and roll through the first chicane, a touch slower than I’d have liked due to losing my line with the late braking and the passes, but it works. I’m back in my line by the 2nd chicane and I’m out from there. I was told from people watching that I was around start/finish on the next lap when they came out of 12, so I made the right choice going around them. Sweet. After that the only bikes left in front of me in my class were a couple dirt bikes and one fast SV, and I didn’t have a chance in hell with any of them. I chased faster bikes when they lapped me for as long as I could and just did my thing. (Speaking of trying to chase faster bikes, CEO is damn fast!). Clicked off a couple low 1:39’s in that race, which is 2 seconds faster than my fastest race time last weekend, and the fastest I’ve ever gone around the track, old layout or new, practice or racing. Talked with CEO after the race, and he had some really good input for me from what he saw of me in that race. Apparently I look pretty good through 3, am getting off the bike and looking WAY over my shoulder (something he and I had discussed in the past). I’m making more than 1 input through T6, which I knew, I was having trouble finding the right spot to tip in this weekend in there once in a while. Oh well, I’ll get it.

    Overall, an awesome weekend. Second time up, second place trophy, made some real progress on my riding, form and speed, and can’t wait to do it all again.

    Huge thanks to 6 for getting me up there, Kurlon for the help with the trailer and Oreo for hooking me up with the ride home and the bench racing coaching session that was part of the ride.

    Here are the only pics I’ve got for now, more to come in the next couple/few days.

    Rookie Race/Race Report #319 Novice (really, really long)

    May 11, 2009

    Short version:  Didn’t wad up the bike, wasn’t DFL, exceeded all of my goals and expectations, and am way more hooked than I thought I’d be, which is really saying something.  Got into the 1:39’s on Sunday with a smoked clutch. 

    Long version:   

    I went into the weekend with what I considered to be reasonable expectations.

    1)      Don’t wad up the bike in the rookie race

    2)      Don’t be dangerously slow in the rookie race

    3)      Get under 2 minutes by the end of the weekend 

    Then CEO threw in another:  Don’t be DFL in the rookie race.  Initially I was thinking that wouldn’t be too hard, since there were some really slow guys in class.  Then we got the grid.  A couple of the slowest guys were not doing the rookie race.  I was third wave, very last row.  I was also, by far, on the slowest bike out there.  Meeting CEO’s criteria wasn’t looking so good.  I had a bunch of people tell me not to worry about DFL, just finish the race safely, and knew I had to keep that my #1 goal.  Still, I really didn’t want to be DFL, but with most of the bikes getting a 20 second head start due to being 2nd wave (first wave is just an expert rider, to get everyone used to being a different wave) I didn’t have many people to realistically catch.  I put “no DFL” on the back shelf, but didn’t completely forget about it. 

    Thursday night:  Got to track.  Borrowed a rear stand to get the bike set up in the garage, hung out for a bit, and tried on the helmet I was going to buy from my teammate Smokin’ Joe.  Unfortunately it was a bit too big, but another teammate, Brendan, loaned me his backup.  It fit perfect.  Score.  (sidenote:  Brendan is new to these helmets, and over the course of the weekend had fogging issues.  He sold me the helmet I borrowed at the end of the weekend, although I have yet to pay him for it.  Sweet…  new helmet).  Went to bed without too much craziness, wanting to be ready for Penguin in the morning. 

    Friday:  Woke up tired and behind schedule.  For whatever reason I didn’t sleep all that well in the tramper.  I was probably just subconsciously anxious about Penguin, even though I didn’t really feel it.  BJ fiddled with the throttle on my bike and got it through tech for me so it was ready to go by the time I needed it.  (Thanks BJ!)  Penguin was cool, informative, and fun.  I learned quite a bit.  I felt slow as hell on the track, and was sure I was running 2 min plus.  This was my first time ever on a track, and first time ever on this bike, so it was to be expected.  I knew what I needed to fix in a lot of ways, but was having trouble putting it together.  Later on in the day we went over to the Owens photos setup, and we were able to see pics of ourselves and discuss form with the instructors.  This was a HUGE help for me, and during our last practice things finally started to click.  I was disappointed to have to get off the track after that last practice, since I was finally getting comfortable.   

    I came into T3 too hot a couple times, one of which was WAY too hot.  I’d been following BJ for a couple laps so he could show me lines and form, and he waved me by to lead a lap or two so he could see my form/lines/etc.  I got a better drive into 3 than I was used to, and had already decided to move my brake marker back (which turned out to be a bad idea overall, not just this once).  Apparently BJ was behind me thinking “pop up, pop up!  This isn’t good” long before I knew I’d blown the turn.  I got to the point where I had to commit to the turn, assessed it, decided I couldn’t make it, stood the bike up straight pointed at the runoff chute in the T3 wall and grabbed a full handful of brake.  I was able to check myself up before the wall, and pulled along the tires while the pack went by and came back onto the track in first gear.  The next lap or two were uncomfortable, and I came into 3 too hot again, although not quite as bad.  Pitted out and took a few to regroup and clear my head, and all was well again. By the end of the day I was feeling decent.  Still not fast, but at least a lot smoother.   Friday night we all hung out in the garages a bit, Harrison (the #1 guy in my class, taking 9 lap races by 16 seconds over the #2 guy) helped me safety wire my water pump drain bolt, and I popped the throttle and fixed it for good.  Then it was get some sleep time. 

    Saturday:  Again a bit late on the start.  I’m going to need an air mattress for that tramper.  Strolled on up to registration to turn in my race license application and register for the races.  Lines were a bit long by then, but no big deal.  Started to rain while I was there, and I got about 20 seconds into the walk back before DB rolled by in his truck and gave me a ride.  That saved a few minutes and kept me dry, thanks DB!  Jumped on the bike, breezed through tech, and had plenty of time to gear up and whatnot before practice.  I felt pretty good in practice, was working on my form and trying to get somewhat consistent.  I blew T3 again, not nearly as bad, but had to take a wide line over by the beach.  Apparently BJ, DB, and a few others were watching in the stands and there was a collective cringe as I came in too hot.  That was the final straw for me:  From that point on I was working on consistency.  Since it had been raining on and off, first practice was open.  I got passed at one point on the inside of T8 by something big and fast as I was wide open coming into T8 with no more than inches between us, and no more than inches between him and the end of the track on his right.  The speed differential was insane, I was sure we were going to collide but he was going fast enough to put his bike through that tiny space between me and the edge of T8 in the fraction of a second he had before I occupied that space.  I rolled off the throttle, but couldn’t have braked without crashing.  It was a rush, and interesting to see the skill level and speed differential.  Overall I didn’t feel very fast in practice, but I was getting more consistent and smooth, so I was happy.  Later on Harrison told me that “…turned a 1:42 in practice”, but I didn’t hear the start.

    “Who did?”, I asked.

    “You did.”

    “Really!?  No shit!  So I guess I got that under 2 minutes thing down, now all I need to do is not bin my bike in the rookie race and I’m golden.” 

    At 10:55 AM, after practice, we had our rookie riders meeting.  All of a sudden, I was nervous.  I’d been calm all weekend, now suddenly I’m nervous.  Damnit!  Gotta keep myself calm and collected, loose and smooth.  Swung by the infield restaurant for a sandwich, more for something to do than because I was hungry.  Managed to eat most of it, before realizing I wasn’t hungry and it wasn’t helping.  Binned the rest of the sandwich and went to gear up for the race.  Figured being suited up and ready would help me calm down.  No dice.  

    Rookie race starts.  I’m somewhat calmed down, but still way too tense.  I know it, and I’m trying to calm myself down.  I want to sing one of my current favorite songs in my helmet to distract me, but I can’t remember how it goes.  Nevermind, doesn’t matter, there goes second wave.  7000RPM, in gear, hold it, flag goes.  Come out of the clutch, start to go, and the bike in front of me and off to the left a hair points for the clouds and walks sideways.  He rolls off, recovers, and is still on front of me.  He rolls on again, and he’s pointed at the sky again, rolling into my path.  I roll off.  This is the rookie race, I don’t have enough power to pass him on the straight anyway, and if he takes me out 5 seconds into the race I’m not going to get my license.  Start is blown, but whatever.  Ride smooth and consistent.  Oh, and don’t get DFL.  Damnit!  I’m on the slowest bike on the track, I blew my start, and I started last wave, last row.  How the hell am I going to do that?  I know, I’m not.  I’m going to try to ride smooth and consistent, and not crash.  The hell with everything else.  Yellow flag, rider down.  Shit.  I see the bike off the outside of the track.  He’s not in my line, good, screw it, just ride my line.  Coming out of the bowl, did I just hear a bike behind me?  Holy shit, I’m ahead of someone besides the guy that crashed?  When did that happen?  Oh yeah, he braked early into T1.  Must have been in my wave.  Well, I don’t want to give it away, do I?  Forget it, ride my line, ride smooth and at race pace, do NOT take any stupid chances trying to hold off a faster bike.  Is there even another bike behind me?  Doesn’t matter, focus on my line.  White flag.  Wow, already?  Ride my line.  I’m forgetting something, what?  Doesn’t matter, just ride consistent.  Checkered flag, race is over.  Sweet.  I didn’t crash, and I don’t think I was “dangerously slow”.  I should be fine.  Relax.  Now what was I forgetting?  Oh yeah, form…  I was supposed to be getting off the bike!  Damnit!  Oh well.  Pit in, back to the garages.  Congrats all around.  Apparently there was another bike behind me.  Of my wave of 6 (I think?) I was 4th.  One crashed, one I held off, 3 that beat me.  And, of course, everyone in wave 1.  Whatever, cool, I’ll take it.  I wonder what my lap times were?  Go check.  Wait, what?!  I ran a 1:42?  Is this right?  My form was terrible, is it possible I actually just matched my best time?  Holy crap! 

    Unwinding from the rookie race, there were congrats all around.  Started to relax.  OK, that’s over, I rode WAY too tense, and still ran a 1:42.  Matched my fastest time in practice.  Good news.

     2nd Call, Race 5, PTwins.  Brendan’s bike is leaking oil.  Crap!  Instantly the 3 novices in the garage offer him our bikes.  Mine’s the only one with suspension.  He’s not sure about taking it, fresh paint and whatnot.  I tell him not to worry about it, it’s a racebike, it’s running good, it’s got the suspension, go get em!  All of us working to swap the #’s and  transponders in a hurry.  We get him out just in time, tires barely warmed.  His race is over, he brings the bike back.  Bad news, my clutch is slipping.  After some discussion we come to the conclusion that what I thought was occasional tire slip earlier was clutch slip.  Doesn’t matter, minutes to my race.  Need to get out there and deal with it. 

    The good news is now I feel like I have something to work with.  If I can run that consistent I can improve.  The bad news is my clutch is gone.  It’s starting to slip earlier, and more consistently.  I am noticing it on every lap, especially on the big straight into T1.  Helped out with the corner worker’s BBQ Saturday night, good times.  A brutal squall came in right after the BBQ.  Ruined all sorts of stuff from tents to awnings on campers.  Rolled unchocked bike trailers.  It was interesting, to say the least.  As soon as it was over, there was a full 180 degree DOUBLE rainbow.  One was extremely clear and pronounced, the second was about normal, but seemed rather dim in comparison to the brighter one.  It was quite a sight, BJ got pictures and video of it.

     We found the clutch was misadjusted and fixed that, hoped it’d be enough for practice the next day.

     Sunday:  Practice #1, track was cold, with zero rubber on it thanks to the rain.  Harrison told me to take 3 laps to warm my tires.  That only left me with 2 to actually work on corner speed.  Clutch was 100% gone.  It’s was now slipping in 3rd, 4th and 5th, every time, as early as 6000RPM, which is about where the bike starts to make power.  Fastest lap was a 1:45.  Damnit! 

    Practice #2, almost didn’t even go out.  Clutch was so far gone it felt like an exercise in futility.  Decided to go out anyway, to work on corner speed if nothing else.  Smokin’ Joe was kind enough to lend me a set of tire warmers so I didn’t have to waste any laps warming up the tires.  The clutch is now slipping on every straight section above 2nd gear.  Coming out of 2 into 3 can’t even get a good run.  I know I’m going to be hopelessly slow, and focus on carrying speed through the turns.  I’m chasing Alex, who finished ahead of me in the race on Saturday.  I don’t have a prayer on the straights, but I’m reeling him in on all the turns.  I’m feeling pretty good and thinking I’d turn a good lap time if I didn’t have a smoked clutch.  Managed to keep Alex in sight for the entire 5 laps, even without a clutch.  I couldn’t do that in the races, but this is practice, and I know he’s not riding all out.  Got back in, changed, chatted for a bit and wandered over to check the times.  Wait, am I reading that right?  Check again.  Holy crap!  I dipped into the 1:39’s, with a smoked clutch!!  BJ said he was going to get me into the 39’s today, but with the clutch so far gone I figured it was a lost cause.  All of my goals and expectations have been exceeded.  Watched the races, hung out for the rest of the day and went home with a huge smile on my face and feeling awesome about the weekend.  Next race weekend can’t come fast enough!  Dana was kind enough to hook me up with a new clutch for $20, can’t wait to see what I can do with a little power to be had in the straights!

     Huge thanks to BJ, Brendan, Smokin Joe, Harrison, Alex & Dana for all the help.  Big thanks to Kurlon, DB, Oreo, and everyone else for all the support and congrats on the rookie race and getting out there. 

     I’ll have a bunch more pictures in days to come, but not much is up/around yet.  Here’s a couple for now.

    Coming into T3:

    Setting up for the bowl:
    bowl

    T2 Approach:
    T2_approach

    T2 Apex:
    T2_2

    Hill into T5:
    hill_into_T5

    Rainy Weekend Forecast

    May 5, 2009

    According to the weather forecasts, there’s going to be rain this weekend. Lots of rain.

    My current schedule looks like this:

    •  Arrive @ track, unload bike & gear, finish prep on Thursday (rain)
    • First time ever on a racetrack, Penguin Race School Friday (rain)
    • First race ever, “rookie race” Saturday (showers)
    • Possibly run PTwins race Saturday (showers)
    • Watch races and not race Sunday (showers)

    So, about that shiny new paintjob, and my first time on the track. Make that wet track. Oh well, crashing in the rain doesn’t hurt too much. Usually.

    I’ve also got a lead on a set of used rain tires at a good price. While used isn’t ideal, it’s much better than running what I’ve got on there right now. That should give me an advantage. I was also given some good advice about riding in the rain. You can turn, brake, or accelerate – just never do any of them at the same time. Sounds simple enough, but seems like one of those things that will be much harder in practice.

    Also, thanks to some of my teammates, I got a deal on a bike storing camper for the weekend. It’ll be a place to sleep that’s drier than my tent, and a place to leave my bike until the next event (if I don’t crash it up and need to bring it home for repairs). What’s really cool about this is that I didn’t even realize I was on a team. There’s no name, no stickers, etc. It’s that great group of guys I’ve already mentioned who run these bikes in the expert class. It was mentioned to me by the one that appears to be the ringleader (I should probably leave their names out of this) that, apparently, we’re all teammates now. Well kick-ass. That’s quite handy, considering I’ll be pitting in their garage, mooching their tools (what I don’t have myself, anyway) and their knowledge, and they’ll generally be helping me out. Who needs a team name anyway? “Zip Tie Alley” is already taken (by a few friends of mine) and any other team name would just pale in comparison anyway.

    So it’s now down to the last minute scramble. Gotta re-safety wire the water pump bolts (had to cut one of them loose to flush the coolant and replace with water), sort out this rain tire thing, and figure out what the hell I’m doing. Should be doable. One thing I’m certain of… this will be an interesting and fun weekend. Bad-Ass. So, is it Thursday night yet?

    Painted, and I hate bodywork

    May 4, 2009

    So a friend and I painted the bike Saturday.  People that do bodywork for a living to not get paid enough.  We were only shooting for “good enough for a race bike that’s just going to get crashed anyway” and the prep still drove me insane.  However, it’s done now, and the bike is one solid color and no longer has those stupid stickers on it.  Go me.

    Intro

    May 1, 2009

    So it seems like I should start at the beginning, but that would make this a really, really long post.  When did the racing bug start?  When I was a kid on a tricycle?  Racing around the neighborhood on 16” wheeled BMX style bikes?  Racing RC trucks?  Racing BMX?  Who knows.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved racing.  And anything with two wheels. 

     A few years ago I started riding motorcycles on the street.  It was fun, except for the occasional collision with a car, but I found I always wanted to go faster.  Even when I was already going way too fast.  Things like cars, driveways, kids, pets etc. were always a serious inconvenience to me.  “I know I could take that 25MPH turn @ 80MPH, but if someone backs out of a driveway or a kid runs into the street, it’s all over”.  That kind of thing. Then, sometime over the winter, a buddy of mine pointed me to a local motorcycle forum.  After a little bit of time on the forum, I came to a bunch of realizations.

    • The kind of riding I like to do belongs on a racetrack.
    • There’s a great racetrack (New Hampshire Motor Speedway) less than an hour from my house.
    • Getting started racing is a lot easier than I thought.
    • There’s a class called “Production Twins”, Proddy Twins, or “Shitty McBikefest” (depending who you ask) that basically consists of racing bone stock EX500’s.  They are not expensive motorcycles.
    • I needed a race bike.  ASAP.

     So, knowing next to nothing about racing at all, it seems the logical thing to do would be to take a street bike up there for a track day, right?  Well, that’s logical if you want to test the waters, see if you like being on the track, and go from there.  I already knew I wanted to race.  Hell, everyone wants to race.  How could you not?  You know you want to race.  Personally, I think you should.  Why not?

    So, I joined this forum on 2-12-09.  I asked a bunch of questions, got a bunch of good info and support, and made some “online friends” (many of whom have become real friends, who I have met and can recognize at this point).  On 2-21-09 I bought a fully race-prepped EX.  9 Days.  9 Days after finding this board, before which I’d never even seriously considered doing this, I had a bike.  And not just any bike.  A full blown, track prepped, previously raced bike.  Ready for the races, so to speak.  The guy I bought it from was, how should I say this…  unpleasant.  It’s OK though, I went to look at it with my best friend (who used to race and be a motorcycle mechanic, and was generally in charge of deciding if I bought the bike and what I paid), and while the guy was being…  unpleasant with us, my buddies kid peed on his couch.  Evens out in my book.

    A guy I met on the forum was nice enough to actually GIVE me a full Vanson leather race suit.  Not sell, not barter, give.  He doesn’t drink, so he wouldn’t accept a bottle of scotch or some beer.  After quite a bit of prying he told me I could bring him a sugar free redbull or two if it would make me feel better.  I brought him 3 cases.  He told me last weekend he was still drinking from that stash.  Awesome.

    Another guy from the forum hooked me up on the rest of the gear I needed (back protector and boots) at dealer cost.  You rock man.  I got myself signed up for one track day, with more to come.  The plan was to do track days most of the summer whenever I could, and then do Penguin (the race school) and get my first race in toward the end of the season.  You’ll notice “the plan was”. 

    Last weekend was the LRRS (Loudon Road Race Series) opening weekend.  I went up to watch, hang out, meet some people, and generally have fun.  Then I met “The EX Mafia”.  This is a small group of guys, mostly expert class, that have been racing these bikes for a long time.  They know all there is to know about them.  They are the reason lots of people that are racing were able to get into it, and stay with it.  I know quite a few people who say they owe it all to those guys, and without them they wouldn’t be racing.  I got as far as “track prepped EX” when talking to these guys, and I had a new bunch of friends.  They took me under their wing, and taught me more in a weekend than I could have learned in a season on my own.  I hung out in their garage, and they offered me a spot in it to pit when I do come up.  They let me help with their bikes.  They made me feel like part of their family.  And, they got me hooked.  Way hooked.  Remember the plan about doing all these track days and then racing toward the end of the summer?  I’ve got a new plan now.  Scramble like heck, try to have my bike 100% ready by next Friday, and take the Penguin race school next Friday.  A week from today.  Before I even do a single track day.  That means my absolute first time ever on a track will be race school, and the day after that I’ll be racing.  I’m not sure if this is the best idea, but I talked to enough racers who said it’s the way to go (including the mafia) that I think I’m going to give it a whirl.  Assuming all my stuff gets here in time, that is.  I’ve got a bunch of stuff I’m going to need on the way to me, in the mail.  I also need a new helmet (mine isn’t Snell 2005, it’s an older model).  I can get that at any shop as a walk-in though.  I’ll probably get one of those tomorrow.  Maybe Sunday.  Definitely this weekend.

    So, that’s where I’m at.  I’m hooked.  I suppose that since I bought a bike 9 days after starting to think about getting one, I shouldn’t be surprised that my plan to spend the entire summer practicing before I did any of it for real fell apart.  Actually, I’m not surprised.  At all.  I don’t think anyone that knows me is either.

    There is one thing about my bike that’s terrible.  The stickers/colors.  For some reason the previous owner found it reasonable to mate mismatched blue plastics (which I’m OK with) with a TEAL grab handle.  That, in case you’re wondering, is not ok.  You know what else isn’t OK?  ZX-10 stickers on an EX500.  And huge “Punisher” stickers on anything that’s owned by an adult.  These things are not ok.  So, since the stuff I need to finish getting the bike ready mechanically is all in the mail, I think my buddy AJ & I are going to paint the bike this weekend.  Strip the stickers, do the prep and spray it orange and blue.  So yeah, I’ll be the guy that’s never even done a track day, at the race school and the races, on a FRESHLY PAINTED race bike.  What could possibly go wrong there?  That’s not tempting fate or anything, is it?  Of course not.  It couldn’t be any worse than showing up on a bike that looks like this, anyway.

    right_side

     

    Huh, turns out this was a really long post anyway.  Whoops.


    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.