Motorcycling17 Mar 2008 11:18 pm

(Archived – original posting 3/14/07)

 

My last event can be summed up in the following simple statement:  I went to back-to-back track days, burned up Sears Point raceway and set a track record in the process.

      

However, the holes in said statement are large enough to drive a train through; the only truly factual point being I enjoyed back-to-back trackdays at Sears Point.  So then, WTH am I babbling about?

 

Keigwins At The Track had back to back trackdays at Sears Point on Tuesday/Wednesday March 13/14.  I believe Zoom Zoom had the track Monday the 12th.  Francisco Castellanos went to that day as well (for a three-peat) but I couldn’t afford it. 

 

This was a pair of days I really looked forward to for many reasons.  One – the winter was long and wet.  Since I rarely ride the street anymore, I was itching for some quality track time.  Two – I had a Daytona 675 that I was really excited to experience, having only ridden it briefly on the street twice since obtaining it.  Three – Sears is so much closer to me than any other track so it doesn’t require nearly as much gas, money, an overnight stay, as early a departure or as late a return home as the other two NorCal options.  Four – Sears is a fun and challenging track.  Five – I’ve had a bone to pick with Sears, it having bitten me in the hiney thrice now.  Six – a year ago I’d purchased a used Mototote via craigslist and was excited to see how it handled the 675.

 

Late last year when I bought the 675 from a man in Martinez, he’d been advised by Hattar in San Rafael to immediately change to street tires and so he bought Metzelers, leaving the Pirelli Supercorsa Pros untouched.  He was nice enough to give them to me with the bike.  So before the track day I installed the Supercorsas and got the bike all prepared.  We lucked out (for lack of a better term) and scored FANTASTIC weather both days.  Due to the trailer vandalism last year, I decided to not bring it.  So Tuesday morning I loaded all my tools/tent/chairs/gear in the truck, installed the mototote in the hitch and loaded the bike.  Being the first time, I took lots of time triple checking everything……and was still skeptical.  I had visions of my bike falling off and down the freeway.  It put one heck of a load on the rear tip of the truck but ol’ gas-thirsty handled it anyway. 

 

I got to the track late as usual, the rider’s meeting having started about 5 min before.  I didn’t bother to unload after finding Francisco’s pit spot, instead rushing over to the meeting to make sure I didn’t miss any new procedures or changes (bottom line – nothing new).  After the meeting I unloaded and chatted with Francisco.  Just so happens that we ended up next to the coolest —

 

We interrupt this long droning report to bring you this equally useless observation – the Malaysian F1 qualifying is on and they have a camera apparently just above or beneath the front wing of someones car.  The perspective and speeds are so intense it is dizzying and somewhat nauseating.  Extremely impressive viewpoint though.  Now back to your report—–

 

older guy ever.  Steve has to be 70-something, has a nice aerodynamic enclosed trailer, and two immaculate R6s.  Steve is very kind, generous, conversational, and really added a fun element to the two days.  Steve also added a big ol’ container of cookies that were both healthy and delicious, and became quite a hit among us.  While getting my bike tech’d, a red 675 rode by.  As he rode by I noticed he was black.  Wow, is today the end of the world?  Never expected to see that.  Back in the pits, I set my tire pressure and got suited up.  I was quite concerned because I’d long since missed the siting laps and the B+ group was already on track.  I don’t like the idea of going out amongst fast people while I’m on brand new tires.  First lap out and I’m happy that it seems everyone else is still coming up to speed as it is still early.  One lap down and I decided to up the volume a slight bit; halfway thru lap 2 things feel good so I up the volume a little more.  Lap 3 and I’m waiting for some new-tire-wiggles, but they never came.  No wiggles and squirms at “which way do I go” pace was no surprise, but at higher speeds and greater angles there were still no problems.  This was awesome, as I’d expected the worst from new tires.  Let me state at this point though that new tires should always be broken in carefully, lest you engage frame sliders.

 

Back in the pits we’re hanging out relaxing and chatting, and up walks………..my cousin.  Well I could have sworn it was.  The black guy on the 675 walks up and introduces himself.  I am absolutely baffled, this can’t possibly be Mark.  But……it is!!!  Not Mark, but Marc.  Really. 

 

  • His name is Marc, I have a cousin named Mark. 
  • Marc is black, my cousin Mark is……well, black (wouldn’t that be obvious?) 
  • Marc is very tall(er than me) with apparently 0% body fat, so is Mark. 

 

So it was quite a mindtrip for me.  It was also cool to see another black guy at the track, and on a 675 no less.  Anyone who goes to trackdays knows black people actually riding on the track is about as rare as black people at a Garth Brooks concert.  Marc is a really cool and funny guy, it was fun to make another friend.

 

The remainder of the day went quite well.  I was happy to find that the 675 and I are good buddies.  Best lap of the day was 1:54:xx and while I felt I was pushing, I didn’t feel scared.  Looking back at my laptimer history, I have a 1:53:xx on the 996.  There were two “moments” but we’ll get to those later.  Cra1g came and had lunch in our tent (both days) and it’s just about impossible to explain the cool camaraderie (sp?) that takes place at the track.  Francisco, Steve, Cra1g, Marc and myself just hanging out, with assorted people Cra1g knows passing by and stopping to introduce themselves.  At the end of day one I was kind of tired and wondering what day 2 held in store.  I loaded the 675 back on the mototote and went home.  While sitting in traffic in San Rafael, Marc rides by, bike restored to road-legal and his gear in a backpack.  What a trooper.  Ride to the track, ride THE track, ride home from the track.  You da man!!!

 

At home, I decided that while I’d had absolutely no problems with the mototote and the anti-wobble device (a nut/bolt and washer vs a standard hitch pin), I decided it’s either the enclosed trailer or using the truck bed from here on out.  A couple days or so on craigslist and someone else now owns the mototote.  I just spent too much time worrying while driving and trying to grow a 3rd eyeball to attach to the rearview mirror.

 

Day two – I manage to be late again.  WTH is my problem?  It wasn’t as much an issue though because Steve camped out at the track (yes, he spent the night there) and offered to babysit Francisco’s R6 and my 675.  So we didn’t have to take the bikes home and back.  Also my tires were fully broken in, in fact too broken in.  I have tearing on both sides of the rear.  Dave Moss’ assistant set up my suspension on day two and advised some tire pressure adjustment so the tearing would fix itself.  It didn’t quite complete the healing but it did get somewhat better.  Some suspension adjustments made the bike feel even better than before, best $20 you’ll ever spend. 

 

Today Marc pits with us and we have another great day.  Marc doesn’t feel quite comfortable with his bike and ends up buying new tires and such.  But geez, I had to about if he HAD been comfortable.  Marc is pretty darn fast.  Over the two days we had multiple opportunities to play around and it was challenging each time.  I took opportunity to follow Steve for awhile too and he doesn’t bother with trying to win non-existent trophies, instead he rides predictably and smoothly and that’s a very good as well as impressive thing.  Francisco and I had lots of fun too, but his bike was playing mind games with me.  My redline is in the high 12k rpm range, Francisco’s R6 is somewhere around 100k rpm.  So we’d come off T11 or whatever the last corner is, head up the front straight, and I’d be bouncing off my rev limiter.  I could hear the R6 exhaust note rising and rising so I’d keep accelerating myself, not remembering that crucial difference of redline.  BAM – I’d hit my limiter and his engine is just getting going, you might say.  It was disorienting (and kills your drive), but kinda funny too. 

 

Day two went really well as well for our immediate group.  No problems for Steve, Marc, Francisco or myself.  And therein lies the hazy truth of my setting a record at Sears Point; I didn’t go down.  Sears couldn’t get me this time.  No freak downpours to cause the front to wash, no faulty Dunlop tires to cause the front to wash, no drenched track on which your author loses his head and charges T8 too fast and plowing his 900RR into a muddy hillside after ….. you guessed it, the front end washes.  Laptimes were about 2 seconds slower today, whether pushing myself alone or tracking one of the guys.  I only mention laptimes as a non-critical conversation point, since these aren’t races.  For me though it’s just something fun to track and maybe something to learn from.  Not necessarily learning to go faster but more as a comparison tool.  I look at the times and compare them to how I felt doing those times (comfortable, pushing, out of control, who brought some spare shorts, and so on).  It’s just short of amazing how 2-3 seconds can feel so different.  Laptimers make for some great lunchtime lies too.  J

 

How about those “moments”?  Day 1.  Trying to get a good exit out of the Carousel for a nice drive up to T7.  There is such a thing as too much throttle.  I’m leaned over and rolling the throttle on a little too hard.  The rear lets go and drifts out to the right.  It’s at times like these that nanoseconds stretch into minutes where you can analyze things and think about whats going on and weigh the pros and cons of a particular action and……yeah right.  The reality of this situation is I started to chop the throttle in fear but then stopped myself and forced my hand to freeze in place (e.g. maintaining a steady if incrementally-lesser-than-before throttle position) while lifting up a bit off the seat and onto my legs.  When the rear grabbed and recovered, the seat didn’t throw me up into the air.  A trailing rider would have seen a much less dramatic event than it felt to me.  The second moment (Day 2) occurred after following another rider for almost 2 laps.  This would be our 2nd time through turn 2 and I remembered running up behind him in that turn the time before.  So I thought this time instead of back off, I’d pass on the outside.  We came into the turn, I drifted left a bit and started to accelerate around the outside.  It would have worked but the rear spun up and out to the left.  This time I didn’t freak, just waited for the slide to stop, but half a microsecond later when it had stopped and traction recovered, we were only side by side and again there is no trophy at the end of the day, only scarred plastics and metal and leather and a lighter wallet.  So I backed off and tucked in behind him.  This moment was kinda fun cause it felt like Aaron Yates or Miguel Duhamel, lighting up the rear and blazing toward the next corner, just not nearly as impressive. 

 

Later in the day Marc and Francisco started riding the B- group as well as the B+, getting more track time in and having a barrel of fun.  I chose not to do that as my concentration was starting to give way to being tired.  Steve was being selective in his riding as well, too being conscious of his mental and physical state but still having a load of fun. 

 

Unfortunately the ambulance did roll at least twice over the two days.  Once someone apparently highsided to the moon and back in T7 and was lying motionless on the track when we passed by.  It was unsettling rolling slowly by and trying to will the rider to at least shift a foot or move a hand.  I think the end result was he got his bell rung pretty hard but came around fairly quickly.  The other ambulance-rolling accident was really really really weird.  I never found out the bottom line but apparently someone’s fork tubes sheared off at the bottom on the approach to T7.  Literally.  I saw the bike later and the lower quarter of the forks (and brakes/wheel/etc) were completely gone.  This one had to have hurt as that approach to T7 is a high speed uphill straight.  I don’t –think- the rider suffered anything major though in the long run. 

 

I skipped the last couple of sessions of the day.  I took opportunity to go to the grandstand and watch instead.  It was a lot of fun watching A group riders pull wheelies onto the front straight, and to see some B+ and B- riders who chose to ride alone at their own pace while others circulated in groups either as friends or as people who just had similar paces.   Finally it was time to head home, this time using Steve and Francisco to help muscle the 675 up into the truck bed for the ride home (note – mototote-type carriers are much easier to load into).  Overall everything went really well, it was great to see familiar faces (Cra1g), re-acquaint with others (Steve), make new friends (Marc) and play around (Marc, Francisco).  Next episode – 4/16 at Thunderhill.

 

If you go to www.gotbluemilk.com (on site professional photographers), click on the motorcycle in the middle of the screen, select month of March, then look at dates 13th and  14th (one at a time).  Select the Y category pics for pics of Francisco (yellow R6, blue color scheme helmet), and then the T category for pics of Marc (red/black leathers, red Daytona 675) and myself (face should be recognizeable, black/red/purple leathers, charcoal bike, red/black helmet)

 

Motorcycling17 Mar 2008 11:15 pm

(Archived – original posting 8/8/06)

“The Human Unicycle is my friend ”

In due time, the Subject header will make sense.  Until then….

August 7th and 8th I spent with www.keigwin.com doing one of their intermediate two-day schools, along with Aldo.  Boy did Irene make me pay for that one, but thats another story to be told……..ummm…never.  I feel like my riding has reached a plateau of sorts and so decided it was time for some more specific instruction.  This school took place at Thunderhill.  Timing and schedules between Aldo and I just didn’t work in the days leading up to the school so that Monday morning I ended up driving out to Dublin to pick Aldo and his bike up.  Problem.  Aldo lives in Danville.  ($(@#*$)(@(#@(  My error.  So I start the day with a big ol’ pre-dawn bay area loop, dragging a big white parachute (trailer) with my truck that thinks gas is still $0.98/gal.  Argh!!!

Loading Aldo up is uneventful, we grab some Threebucks (Starbucks overpriced coffee product, Aldo paid.  Thanks dude!) and hit the road.  We arrived with mostly-prepped bikes and just minutes before time for the class to gather in the classroom.  CRa1g is present so I’m happy that we’ll get to hang at least a little.  The class starts up and i’m happy that there are booklets with a specific agenda for each day and class topics.  Prior to this day I’d been worried that the weather this time of year at THill would send me straight to intensive care…or the morgue.  But just as strange as it was for Sears Point to be well over 100 degrees on our MotoGP track day, THill was strangely beautiful but “pretty warm” at worst.  I was SOOOOO happy.

The next two days held topics such as track breakdown (as in reviewing the track in sections, not as in how your bike can break down on the track and screw everyone else up), suspension setup and troubleshooting, body positioning, advanced braking, advanced passing, overcoming plateaus and more.  PLUS practice race starts and a real 3-lap race.  Ohhhhh boy.  There was an A group and a B group.  For each, 45 minutes would be alloted to classroom and 45 min to the track in rotation.  Reality – 30-35 min of each as you had to get into/out of gearing, onto/off of the track, and into/out of the classroom.  Aldo and I did group A on day one and I experienced again what I like about the A group – stability.  People there may be faster (maybe a LOT) but they are more skilled and stable.  No worries all day.

No time to go into the details of each topic and session, plus any minute now my machine will prob. blue screen and dump everything.  In fact lemme do a “save”….OK done.  But day one ended with everyone piling in various trucks for a trackwalk.  We went to turns 1, 5 and 9 and watched the Keigwin instructors come thru at speed after discussing specifics about the corner.  I’d done a trackwalk at Willow Springs once before and it was incredibly helpful to really seel things like elevation changes, camber, etc.  Things you don’t notice on a bike (or in a car I’d imagine) at speed.  But this was even better, having people demo for you.  One instructor kept coming into turn 1 seemingly 10-15 mph too fast, rear end chirping and jumping sideways like mad.  Everytime I swore the crash truck was going to get more business…..but it didn’t.  Turns out he was showboating – I overheard him the next day laughing with another instructor (who apparently wasn’t there on day one) that he was using the rear brake to intentionally get the rear squirrley.  Shame shame, scaring all of us like that.  😉  After the trackwalk, there was free pizza, beer/water/soda and a viewing of “The Doctor, the Tornado and the Kentucky Kid”.  I really want(ed) to see this but instead preferred to enjoy hanging with a table full of cool folks just chatting and such.

Aldo and I checked into the AmeriHost motel, paid $10 to watch M.I. III, drooled over his Powerbook and then fell asleep.  Next day we didn’t wake in time for more than gas and more threebucks and get to the track in time for school.  I’d paid Dave Moss to change the fluid in the 996’s forks after his lecturing on how rear shocks should be serviced every 2 years and fork oil changed once a year or every 3000 mi (my 996 has 9k+ miles).  Picked up the bike from him and immediately felt a positive difference.  In fact the rear then became a problem.  Dave helped me do the best I could with it for my level and the limited time available to us.  Overall the bike came thru once again with flying colors, being a joy to ride.  Aldo seemed to be getting on quite well with his 636, Dave having helped him out too.  In fact Dave’s advice and labor was free and unlimited the entire day 1 – Lance had compensated him for the day.  Day 2 students had to pay if they still wanted suspension work.

Strangely day 2 I seemed slower than day 1, lap timer usually doesn’t lie.  Though Aldo and I got more than a few completely missed laps.  Anyhow day 2 progressed well and as the race starts/race approached I got big butterflies reminiscent of Willow Springs.  Aldo didn’t initially want to do it, which would have been fine as this was completely optional.  But I wanted him to try it. Other instructors and even Dave Moss were telling students that if afraid then just grid up on the back and let everyone else bomb into turn 1 first.  Sounded like good advice.  Another friend, Mike on an Infostrada replica 748 was also leery of participating, but eventually decided to do it, so did Aldo.

Since grid positions were chosen by you yourself, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be up front, or start mid-pack.  But before that we got to watch the A group do their thing.  A group?  Yep, I’d chickened out and switched to the B group for day 2.  So as group A goes out and starts their warm-up lap, Aldo and Mike and and bunch of others and I who’d gathered at the fence to watch climbed over or walked around the fence and went right out to the front straight K wall under the starter tower to watch up close.  Quite impressive to be that close as 40+ bike (students with instructors sprinkled within for “monitoring thing”) blasted off the grid for both practice starts.  We’d been firmly instructed to treat this as a race only until turn 2, then raise a hand and slow down for a shortcut exit from turn 5 back to the front straight.  The 3 lap race would be the entire track though.  Everyone in A group behaved well.  Cool to watch some instructors power-wheelie’g down the front straight on the starts at arm’s distance.

A group starts their 3 lap race and a student CBR1000RR literally ROCKETS into a big lead.  A fairly hefty Samoan or Polynesian guy had a baby-blue custom painted Jordan replica GSXR1000 and matching Jumpman 23 black/blue leathers – quite the getup, but honestly I kept wondering “Squid?”.  Well before long he was in 3rd and impressive.  In the course of the 3 laps a 2nd student CBR1000RR chased down the leader and parked on his tail and then passed toward the end of the race and won by a small margin.  It was quite fun to watch.  Michael Jordan dude?  He ran off the track top of turn 5 for a mild fall but his race was over.

As the checkered flag flew, I suddenly realized we (B) were next and so took off back toward my bike.  I swore I was gonna pee my leathers I was so nervous.  How do you balance “I want to get with the program” with “this really means nothing and so don’t push any limits”?  I guess due to the proximity of our viewing spot to our pit spot and our pit spot to the track entrance, and needing only to grab helmet/earplugs/gloves, I found myself one of the 1st 2-3 bikes out into pit lane.  Ohhh boy, decision’s been made and the decision is I don’t want to be on row 1.  But I am.  However this is just the warm-up lap.  So when they release us I let a couple other bikes go first.

Man-o-man there is something to be said for the adrenaline associated with lining up on the grid on the front straight.  As we come around to line up for the 1st practice start my stomach is all over the place.  Are the tires in good shape?  I should have gassed up.  Uhh, what rpm did they recommend launching a twin at?  Am I going to fry my dry clutch doing this?  And myriad other thoughts/doubts/distractions.  1st practice start goes well, I gridded myself on row 2, a little front wheel air and into turn 1 3rd or 4th.  Come around for practice start 2 and same thing with a little better launch.  Then we line up for the race.  Oh boy, whats gonna happen?  Whats gonna happen is……Aldo is gonna line up on row 2 also, next to me.  YEAH DUDE, WAY TO GO!!!!!!  This should be fun.

At this point let me regress a little bit.  Prior to all this, in the “intro to racing” class session, they showed the following video clip to emphasize that even small bikes make power.  Watch clip now. http://www.stfunoob.com/movies/Racing%20Bike%20Wheelie%20Start.mpeg 

Can’t get enough of watching that one.  Also can’t manage to save it to my HD, but…..  Anyhow that was a Ninja 250, just for the record.  Now, back to real-time.  The starter shows us the 2-board (a 3″x8″ or so piece of white board with a “2” on it), engines all around me start revving, people are starting to hunch over the tank and settle their feet and make sure of things like helmet visor is closed, etc.  Starter rotates the board to show us a “1” and then engine noises increase.  At this point time seems to go slo-mo.  Starter turns the 1-board sideways (once that happens the green flag will be waved at any second), engine rev noises steady out to a solid roar.  I’m holding the clutch just on the edge of gripping, revs ~5.5k rpms.  GREEN FLAG!!!!   What tha…..?!?!?!?!……  Out of my left peripheral vision I see a front wheel and forks eye-level with me.  Gasp, that was Aldo, henceforth known as the Human Unicycle.  If a 10k rpm launch on a 600cc bike isnt gonna getcha, feathering out a little too much clutch IS gonna getcha.  Thankfully he had presence of mind to clutch-in so the front could come down and then proceed, unlike the video.  My compliments to the pilot on this one, great save Aldo.  And lots of other spectators and racers told him the same thing later.  I have to admit, I was laughing in my helmet.  Only because the turn 2 corner worker didn’t throw a yellow (or worse red) so I concluded Aldo wasn’t in danger.  Hence I had to laugh at the irony of it all.  First Aldo doesn’t want to even try this, but he goes ahead anyway, gets two clean practice starts, and then this.
Meanwhile I hit turn 1 in 2nd place with an orange 636 just ahead.  Wow, 2nd place.  I like this.  And the red mist decends.  I decided to maintain position and see what the 636 has.  For the first lap he didn’t do anything I wasn’t comfortable emulating and I thought “unless he has some reserve, maybe I can put a little sumthin on him”.  Instead somebody put a little sumthin on me on lap two.  I recognize the leathers of the guy that passes me – heyyyyyy thats the same guy that won the A group race.  Whats he doing out here and why didn’t someone catch him?  He pulls a little gap on the 636 and me and that makes the decision for me.  Let’s get past the 636 and see what happens.  Turn 2 seemed like a possibility based on the previous times through there but better to try to use hp on the straight.  I strive for a better exit out of turn 15 and it works as I’m closing on his tail right away.  I fade right for a pass and the starter tower’s red light is on and red flag is waving.  Takes a second to register that this means something bad has happened and you are to SAFELY stop right away so the matter can be dealt with.  The leader, 636 and I pull over and an instructor joins us.  He says we were riding well.  Eventually starter tower waves us to backtrack up te front straight and exit the track.
The incident took place on the backside of turn 9, one of the worst places something could happen.  Apparently a cbr1000rr rider was cresting the turn and highsided himself down the backside.  His bike was in the middle of the track and he was off to the left of it.  Some say the cornerworker there was slow waving the red flag.  Whether true or not, rider after rider came over the hill only to plow into the carnage. 5-6 bikes and riders down, incl one instructor who was the first to plow into the fallen bike dead-center.  If the carnage didn’t get some, the spilled fork oil and synthetic engine oil got them.  Thankfully there was no serious injury.  Ambulance did roll for one person but they turned out battered a bit but released.  Broken bikes but no broken people.  And therein lies the joy of riding on a track.  All this might sound terrible (and it is), but all things are relative.  Imagine had this happened up on Grizzley Peak or Hwy 9 or Mines Rd or on the freeway or…..  At the track, everyone is of a similar mind when it comes to “why am I in this location at this time?”.  Everyone is properly geared and doing their thing in the proper environment.  There are to cell-phone weilding SUVs acting erraticly, no road rage, no people drifiting their car/truck/van/rv over the double-yellow into your lane, no one turning left in front of you because “I didn’t think he was that close”, etc.  Wheelies on the freeway (stunting), racing cars or other bikes on the freeway or streets, or trying to be Ricky Racer on some mountainous backroads plus riding in jeans and tennis shoes WILL turn out much much worse.  Sadly, thats what lots of motorcycle riders choose.  Showboat around in less-than-ideal gear and utilise the machine’s capacities in the wrong environment.
Anyhow, off the soapbox.  The track was cleaned up and the day continued.  At the end of the day we filled out reviews of the event and had a raffle for stuff, some cool (like free track days) and some “ehhh” (like tshirts).  I skipped the last track session cause I knew a long drive was ahead and I wanted to be home asap.  But even with packing everything away early, I still didn’t get home till after 9pm.  Worn out, but happy and with good suggestions and such to ponder and work on in the future.  Thanks to Aldo for chipping in on the eats, covering the room entirely, and being really cool about everything.
 
 

 

 

 

Motorcycling17 Mar 2008 11:13 pm

(Archived – original posting 11/27/06)

“Rain rain, go away, come again on a Zoom Zoom day

Rain was a concern this past Monday as Francisco, James (Andy) and I hoped for one last track day in ’06. And we got it……rain, not track time

You may also deduce (correctly) that I’m not the biggest Zoom Zoom fan, after butting heads with a couple of employee/donkeys there 2-3 years back. But at least I’ve relaxed my personal “I’ll never solicit them again” stance, in the interests of being the mature party (more truthfully, in the interests of more track time…if other friends are going too).

Francisco has his own truck now and that was good because Andy was putting in a rare track appearance (thanks to yours truly, paying back a big favor from months past) and needed to get his bikes to Sears Point. Yep, bikeS. We loaded his ZX7 in the trailer with the 675 and he rode his (wife’s) new Hyosung 250 to the track. Francisco trucked his recently-repaired, Sharkskin-shod beauty of an R6 in his T100.

Frankly I was hoping for Noah’s flood-level rain within an hour of being at the track but it was not to be, hence I was not to ride. Some of you know that I augured my cbr900 into the Sears Point T7/8/9 muddy hillside some years ago (probably due to overconfidence and a degree of “lemme put a lil gap on Dean”) thanks to rain. And more recently I threw my beloved RC51 down in T4 the millisecond a rain front assaulted the track. Well today I felt like there were 3 strikes available and I had all 3 against me – wet track, very cold, and brand new Pirellis. I figured I wouldn’t make it even to pit lane, let alone break the tires in and stay upright.

In the a.m. the sprinkles came and went, incl a massive sideways-sheeting downpour that lasted 5 min but thoroughly soaked everything. Francisco, James and I huddled inside the trailer while James spooks us with mention of lightning (nope, just the flimsy trailer roof rumbling under the power of the wind) while a large flat metal roof hovers 6” above our heads. <:-0 But the rain was not frequent or bad enough for Sears to have mercy and close up shop and offer a 50%, 25%, 10% or even 1% credit. And so bikes took their chances.

So I hear, from James’ eye-witness experience, the LEADER of a sighting lap went down on the 1st lap. No more than a couple hours later I saw someone else sitting in their pits digging mud out of every crevice on the right side of their bike with a screwdriver. And more. I don’t –think- the meat wagon ever had to roll though. As the day droned on, more dry than wet happened and more bikes took their chances. For a few moments I even considered going out if someone could confirm a dry line was there. Bottom line – nope. I’m not into omens and such but when your bike starts with no problem……and then suddenly won’t, you start to kinda look skyward. The 675 started at home…..and in the trailer (don’t remember why I fired it briefly in there) but when I got it outside and wanted to tech it wouldn’t do more than turn over 4 rotations and stop. Hmmm, some goofy British fuel pump that makes the whole bike act strange when low on fuel? Add fuel…..now it won’t turn over once. All fuses check good, no other obvious mechanical or physical problems. Oh boy, is this the dreaded Triumph reliability demon rearing it’s head? No dummy, it’s a dying battery from lack of (riding) use. Lance loaned us a portable jumper and she fired up immediately. But that event plus the 3 strikes meant I was gunshy now, and did no more than roll down to pit lane and tech the bike and ignore Cra1g

James did a few laps on his Hyosung and declared the track scary, Francisco and I spent the day wavering between “ride” and “don’t ride”, with the latter taking hold. It was fun to sit right at the wall on the front straight and watch the bold adventurers come off T11 and zoom by, wave and thumbs-up at James as he went by, etc. For a period of notably-wet-surface time, there were 4 bikes only on the track. Two were slow (incl the leader that had fallen earlier, kudos to you for getting right back on the horse) and two were stomach-churning fast on an amateur level. Literally, I got queasy every time particularly one of them came off T11, blasted by and went into wet T1 WAYYYYYY too fast; the other rider too though not quite as fast. By the end of that session I’d decided I had to go see up close who these two were. Both had #s on their Hondas and both also had……….rain tires. Ah ha!!!! We talked to one of the riders and he and the Dunlop guy (who’d also come over to check on him) emphasized how truly amazing rain tires are. He even let us feel on his……tires (so nasty-sounding). The tread was sticky like touching a surface that had syrup residue or something equally sticky on it; it was weird. And softttttttttt. Hmmm, rain tires….maybe sometime in the future we’ll (notice how I throw y’all in there with me) have to try them.

Eventually we packed the bikes back up around 1:30-ish. Francisco went home, James and I went to Denny’s, then had the trailer latches replaced (from the theft event) and then home.

About Cra1g; dude, I’M SOOOOO SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would never knowingly brush you off. Lance announced you among others as present in the meeting, but I didn’t see you in his crew. It wasn’t until much later that I made my way down to pit lane for a tech. If that’s when you called out to me, I kid you not that I heard nothing. I was distracted, hoping the battery had enough juice to start the bike so I didn’t have to push it back. Later when Francisco and I came down to watch the front straight, he said you were down at the finish line area. Again I got distracted by the two rain tire riders and ran off to go pay homage to their skills. So sorry my friend, just some old age and dense brain matter here.

About the 675, yes a graphite one. Bought used from a guy in Martinez who put a little over a thousand miles on and decided he wanted a speed triple instead to go with his Mille and FZ1. I sold the ZX10R and this replaced it. It’s an interesting bike. I didn’t think anything could get more narrow than a Duc superbike, this one did. Also at certain rpm the 3-cylinder configuration takes on interesting engine notes. Not bad, just…….different. Overall it’s a very easy-to-ride bike, more low torque than an inline-4 600, but still willing to spool way up high like an inline 4 vs. pooting out at high rpm. Bottom line – I like it!! But most of you know how I am with bikes. You’d swear I thought they were underwear. As a matter of fact, whats on the chopping block now?  J

Motorcycling16 Mar 2008 10:11 pm

(Archived – original posting 5/11/06)

It has been quite a treat to have so many trackdays in just a couple of months, and what better place than Sears Point.   This time we managed a total of 3 in our little group – Francisco, myself and Todd Bernsdorf.

I decided to try something different this time around and have everything prepped and packed no later than the day before…..but I was nerve-racked as a result.  I just knew someone would steal everything the night before.  So I put an Alpha Lock on one of the trailer wheels, a lock on the trailer ball section locking it to the truck, locking tow hitch pin, disc locks on both of the bike’s wheels, padlocks on all the doors, and the alarm on the truck.  Figured I’d make them work for it if they really wanted it.   But they didn’t (this time).

Packing ahead worked great.  I put some brand new Metzeler Racetec tires on, soft in the rear and super soft front.  Had everything loaded up so all I had to do Thursday morning was get dressed and walk out to the truck.  It was so nice cause we got there plenty early.  That’s a first for me.  We didn’t know what to do but stand around and watch people arrive.  About the time we were taking the bikes thru tech I ran into Craig.  He was highly instrumental in helping me get out of the B- group (only one available when I signed up) and into B+ (where Todd and Francisco were).  To this very moment I’m still very grateful, we all got to ride “together” as a result

First time out – I was very leery of the brand new tires and knew I had to break them in.  But this was ridiculous.  The Duc was wobbling and pogo’g everywhere, I knew it wasn’t just the tires.  So I came in the very first lap.  It wasn’t meant to be anyway – 1) I needed gas as the light was on but they’d already called our session ready, 2) I knew my tire pressure was too low, 3) something was wrong.  So I hit the Dunlop tent for some air (they were very polite to my Metzelers), hit the gas station, and then went to see Catalyst for some suspension help.  They made a lot of adjustment and noted that the front end was way off (no surprise, I’d never tried to make an adjustment since I got the bike).  By then the session was over and Todd and Francisco came back.  We set up our tents and got comfortable as the day was beee—uuuu—tiful but the heat was coming.  Oh, and the allergies were full blast.

Next session – WOW!!!  Brand new bike.  Metzeler tech support gave me target air pressures to shoot for, Catalyst’s adjustments made the bike incredible.  A couple of “new tires” laps and I couldn’t help but go for it.  We had a great session.  I just can’t comment how much better the 996 felt over the last trackday.  I don’t know if it was the race D.O.T. tires vs street tires, or Catalyst’s adjustments.   I think it is both

3rd session out and we had an “incident”.  I’m not very good at passing.  Part of it is fear from not knowing the person ahead of me (and so I tend to watch them for a few turns to see any erratic tendencies) and part is that I try to take Lance’s 6’ separation rule for passing very serious whereas others don’t seem to care.  Anyhow 3rd or 4th lap in, I was this time carving thru the group.  I came upon a group of three.  I passed one guy and figured “1 down, 2 to go.”  We were going into T3 and before I could get them, the 1st rider checked up for some reason.  Spooked himself, made a mistake, who knows but he slowed up a little quite suddenly.  Rider #2 had to stand it up as a result, and I had to do that too.  Well according to Todd, the guy I’d just passed apparently didn’t want to settle.  Maybe he was trying to re-pass or whatever, but he didn’t check himself as well as we in front of him did and BAM-mechanical sound-tire chirp… I feel a solid impact to my left rear side, knocked my foot off the peg.  My first thought was “no pain” and a tenth of a millisecond later “stay on the track, stay on the track”.  Being that I was trying to survive a complicated turn (3) I only managed a flash of a glance back……and saw a bike sliding along behind me.

I went to put my foot back on the peg and instead hit the ground.  “Where is my peg?”  Part of the fallen rider’s impact was his front tire on my footpeg and the rotation of the tire bent the footpeg straight down.  I threw my hand up and limped the rest of the way around and went back to the pits

In the pits I surveyed the damage – toasted footpeg, cracked rear fairing, very very tiny scratch on swingarm.  Funny thing is the bike felt sooooo good and the tires had been working sooooo well and I didn’t fall so I was actually happy.  I sat down and thought “I’m truly happy, even if I don’t ride the rest of the day”.  Francisco and Todd and I talked about it all after they got back in, Todd was the one who said he thought it looked like the guy I passed “wanted to play”.  Which is cool.  Unfortunately it was his turn to be the statue and not the pidgeon, and I felt bad for him.  I went to Lance later and told him that I’d been hit by another rider, it was a mistake but if the guy came to speak about it, I was the one he hit.  Lance was cool, as I expected.  Hey, it’s part of the game, gotta pay to play.  All things considered, track riding is still light-years ahead of riding on the street

I went down to the grandstands to just kinda hang out and watch the purrty bikes go zooommmmm, and ended up talking with Craig.  Told him what happened and he arranged for a PA announcement to be made about the part I needed.  No luck there but later in the day Craig introduced me to a student of his that also rides a Duc and this fine gentleman, Steve, pulled a footpeg and a whole left rearset out of thin air for me, no questions asked.  End result, I only missed 1.5 sessions total.  The rest of the day was fantastic.  Todd and I had a blast – me chasing him, him chasing me.  We managed to get down to a best time of 1:53.8x right at the end of my day.  I was ecstatic as last time out my best time was 2:00 or 2:01 (I forget).

What else made the day so great?  All the celebrity presence in the A group (getting practice in for AMA next weekend I presume, woohoo, can’t wait).  Not only Doug Chandler, but Larry Pegram on his Honda, Tony Miering on a (literally) screaming Suzuki, Andy Carman (very, very fast AFM’er) and more.  The A group was stupendous to watch.  And Doug was cream of the crop out there on his new ZX10R.  I don’t know if he was using a Muzzy engine or stock or 2 rabid hamsters or…. but he would move thru the group like a shark thru water.  But the remainder of the group (except for one guy who was just minding his own business and toodling along) was still stoooopid fast too

I skipped the last session as the one before I’d felt too many signs of fatigue and reminded myself “ignore these signs…and disaster will surely follow”.  Packed up most of the stuff, helped Todd get packed up and we left for home.  All in all it was a great day and I’m so ready for more.

Motorcycling16 Mar 2008 10:08 pm

(Archived – original posting 4/21/06)

All’s good.  Let’s get that clear right up front, all’s good.  No crashing.  Whew.  I was starting to think the monkey was crazy-glued to my back.

A week and a day after our ZoomZoom trackday at Sears, here we are back at Sears again but with Keigwins At The Track. Francisco and I got to the track shortly before the rider’s meeting began and since the bikes were already mostly prepped, there wasn’t a whole lot to do after the meeting. I don’t know if it was due to the suspected afternoon showers or what but for the first time I can remember, Lance omitted the morning track initiation laps.  Even the 1st-timers to Sears had to settle for tackling down an instructor and asking them for some lead-around laps.  Looks like there were no issues with that though.  Oh, also Lance had said in the interest of maximizing track time, any incidents that left bikes stranded (be it a crash or running out of gas) meant your bike stayed out there till either lunch or end of day, no closing track down for the crash truck to roll.  That’s incentive not to crash or run out of gas; half your riding day could go up in smoke.

Between the ZZ day and this KOTT day, Francisco got some nice sticky Michelins installed (well I did the install, at 6-freakin-a.m. Thursday) but since they were new he was real tentative.  I was really hesitant to mention to him that last week I had brand new Bridgestones on the FZR and was hustling by lap 4; I didn’t want him to end up on his ear and then be looking at me cross-eyed.

I spent the vast majority of the day following Francisco.  I frankly was a little tentative from the previous week and having self-doubts.  Also I had Metzeler MEZ1 tires (not the stickiest) on the Duc and didn’t know a tire pressure to work with.  Plus dumping the FZR was one thing, dumping the 996 was a nightmare of a thought.  So I 1) called Metzeler and left tech support a voicemail (they never called back), 2) used the 10% pressure increase rule for the rest of the day.  All things considered, the tires performed admirably at our pace.  Only once, getting into 3a a little hotter than expected and loading the front end did the front give the slightest vague feeling of a little drift, no other issues.

Gotta say at this point that the new R6 hustles once spooled up.  Francisco matched me a few times out of the carousel up toward T7 and ticked off some GSXR rider a couple times; the guy was held up by Francisco in the turns but Francisco had the ponies to keep him behind on the straights.  Eventually the guy got around via a turn and moved off.  It was kinda funny for me to watch.  But yeah that bike is fast.  I am really starting to like the Raven color R6.

We made friendly with the guys pitted next to us, two Philipino guys (one Aprilia Mille and one GSXR1000 with Ben Spies replica bodywork and tire warmers and …) and a black guy (yellow 748 with Infostrada replica bodywork).  They turned out to be really cool and we took some pictures together and chatted a lot.  The guy with the GSXR brought his wife and two young daughters, it was cool to see them hanging with him and his buddies, and walking around and ……  Francisco and I wanted to ride with them but they were in B2 and we were B1 (there was an A group and two B groups that day, no C group.  K@TT was at max capacity)

Mid morning I broke out the lap timer and it was a comedy of errors trying to get it to work.  First attempted use – eye was aimed too high and not seeing the beacon.  Second attempted use – still no readout because the battery was dead the whole time (DUH).  Finally after that, it works, 2nd to last session of the day for me.  I followed Francisco again and had a good time.  Last session (I didn’t know it would be the last session at the time) was fun and interesting.  Prior to that session I’d gone to Lance just to say hi and shoot the breeze.

Somehow the subject of his intermediate 2-day school in August came up.  He really sold me on it and if my kids were a little older or I had reliable inlaws (or my family for that matter) to help Irene, I’d be there.  But at this point I think I’ll save my overnight brownie points for MotoGP and maybe CES.  But I sure want to go.  I told Lance I’d reached the limit of what I can do alone but want to move up to the next level and needed help.  Yeah, that’s how the school subject came up.  Really cool – he said at the end of day 2 there is a series of practice race-starts and then a real, legit 3-lap race.  Most importantly is 45 minute track sessions with 1-on-1 time with instructors helping you with exactly what you want help with, and the obligatory classroom time too.   Somehow I’ve got to go!

In the midst of this conversation, Lance said another option is to hire an instructor for the day or hire Doug Chandler (both of which cost as much or likely more than his 2-day school), and then he pointed over to a large pit area – Doug Chandler was there!!!!!  Then it all clicked and made sense – earlier in the day someone had passed us in some old Cagiva leathers that said Chandler on the back, guess that was one of his students or assistants or….

Well other people wanted to talk with Lance so I left just in time for 1st call for our session.  Francisco and I suited up and went to hot pit.  Green flag and out we go.  In short time a guy on an ’06 ZX10R comes by, green leathers too, “Chandler” on the back.  I was like <:-0    Right behind him was the person in the old Cagiva leathers and a third rider right on their tale.  Umm sorry Francisco, gotta go.  I latched onto the train and all was cool at first.  But quickly I realized that something was changing.  Doug kept looking back, kept looking back, kept ……  I realized later he was checking to make sure his tails were keeping up.  It was so weird to experience first hand that he was very gradually winding up the pace.  I stayed with them for about a lap, next lap it was difficult, 3rd lap they were drifting away by a few feet per corner and I could not close it for nothing.  By lap four they were at least 1 if not 2 turns out of sight so I found myself completely alone.  But they’d gotten me kinda hyped so I kept pushing for what I could another 2 laps.  Then I came in because I realized I was really tired and well aware of what comes next – stupid mistakes and crashes.

Francisco showed up later and after we hung out a bit with the guys next door I packed up the bikes (Francisco had wandered off to who knows where) and most gear and we bailed out.  Ride home was uneventful and everything was quite good.  The weather was fantastic, not a drop of rain.  We got to eat with Craig Smith and one of his instructor buddies and I enjoyed that cause Craig is cool and I don’t get to see him much anymore.  There were a couple crashes and an ambulance roll for what turned out to be a better-safe-than-sorry situation.  Francisco’s R6 and Michelins and my 996 and Metzelers performed flawlessly.  What else can you ask for (except lower lap times or umbrella girls)?

Motorcycling16 Mar 2008 10:04 pm

(Archived – original post date 4/13/06)

This is a summary of Francisco and my trackday at Infineon Thursday.

As you should know by now, Thursday was very good weather for any kind of outdoor activity; in the case of Sonoma, from 845a on throughout the rest of the day.

Last year a friend named Todd asked if we wanted to do a trackday with Zoom Zoom (henceforth referred to as ZZ).  Frankly I was hesitant because I’ve been on my ear more than once due to early year trackdays getting hit with rain.  However Aldo and Francisco were interested and so I decided to try too.  Well as of a week before the event I was trying to bail out.  The rain has been here for 4-5 years straight (or so it seems) and didn’t look like it was going away before 2017.

I went to Zoom Zoom’s website and it showed 29 people on the Intermediate group waiting list.  I hoped someone would bite as I offered my spot to be taken, no one did.  Strange thing I don’t understand – how can the list grow from 29 to 31 (as noted 2 days later) and yet no one got my spot?  Oh well, water under the bridge now.  So as Thursday approached, Francisco waffled back and forth every 5 minutes on whether to go or not.  I cant count how many times I told him “yes I AM going, I have no choice”, but he continued to call and ask.  He waffled right up to calling Wednesday night to say he wouldn’t be going, and then change his mind Thursday early morning to “yes”  (yes, I have to have some excuse for why we were late).

I managed to get a key made for the FZR400 since I’d lost the one it came with during the home remodel.  I decided to take that bike and so loaded everything up in the trailer, some the night before and some that morning (hastily after receiving that phone call).  Picked up Francisco and rolled out to Infineon.  We got there 15 min before the rider’s meeting and so all was well.  Being an ex-race bike, I had minimal prep (tech found a loose left rearset that I had to snug down).  SO I decided to have the Michelin man install my new Bridgestones.  That was kinda funny.  But I didn’t feel bad as I’d called him 2 days before to buy Michelins and he didn’t have my size.

I missed the first and second intermediate sessions but I didn’t care because I was on brand new tires, it had sprinkled during the rider’s meeting, Sears (I’m tired of typing Infineon and it is still Sears to me anyway) is notorious for seepage problems and there were reports of some damp spots and such anyway so I wanted someone (everyone actually) to go dry the track first.

When I finally did go out, the downside was that now the sun had been out for some time, weather was almost-warm, and everyone was basically up to speed.  I managed to take the first lap slow enough despite everyone else to wear the snot off the tires.  2nd lap I picked it up a hair and the tires gave me a little feedback that they weren’t quite there yet.  3rd lap and I started to move.  The tires worked fine from then on.  There were a couple very small drifts from the rear later in the day when pushing a little, and one small slide for a moment from the front when I got into 4 once a little hotter than I’d been trying previous laps.  Otherwise, no problems.  I knew and appreciated this would happen because these Bridgestones are the same ones I did trackday, school, and 2 races at blazing hot Willow Springs in ’04 with -no- problems.  Same for my friend Dean who’s used these tires many times an podium’d with them.  But the Michelin man made a point of politely telling me twice these were street tires and not meant for the track.  I just smiled at him, thinking “not my fault you don’t support Production-class FZR400s.

As the day wore on lots of people crashed, from the morning forward.  Even an instructor went down.  But the sun came out and it actually got hot enough to seek shade.  It was a beautiful day out there and I was happy that my spot didn’t get taken.  I was UNHAPPY though that Todd had gotten sick and didn’t come, and Aldo was in the midst of jobs changes and such plus no time to prep his bike so he didn’t come either.

Chuck Sorenson attended the day and made himself available for training as well as lunch time fast laps 2-up.  I wanted to do the lunch time ride but didn’t follow thru, choosing to nap in the shade instead.  I hadn’t ridden in a long time and to go from nothing to kneepucks was physically trying.

My first time out I felt like such a loser.  I couldn’t remember turn-in points or anything, I always had the gearing wrong, I was rustier than rusty.  Making me more frustrated (if that term could be applied) was that my jetting was off so there was no low end whatsoever, gearing errors were absolute torture and I was making lots of gearing errors.

But things got a lot better as the day went on.  I came up with some new (for me) approaches into T2 after watching the CRAZY fast A group lines from the left end of the front straight bleachers and also their lean angle in T11.

Francisco and I both noted some unsafe riding in the Intermediate session.  I don’t know how the A or C groups were going but B was “not very good”.  Inside and outside passing ZZ allows but it’s supposed to be with a 6’ spacing, many people seemed to be ignoring that completely.  I personally witnessed someone almost get run/spooked right off the track in T4 as two faster guys passed the slower rider wayyyyyy too late into his turn-in for them to be passing, especially with the first passer going up the inside.  I passed him exiting T4 and shrugged my shoulders and pointed toward them in disgust.  I saw other similar things and Francisco reported people passing him too closely as well as seeing it happen to others. My impression of the B group at least is that it isn’t as safe as the Keigwin days.  And frankly I don’t see a reason for this, there is no sanctioned race or trophy.  My other observation is the speeds in this ZZ B group were higher than I’m used to.  I got passed more than I expected.  Some can be attributed to the bike (e.g. a lot less engine) as there were quite a few guys that couldn’t pull away from me in the corners or corner entry (I could actually close them a hair or at least maintain) but once the turn was done, hp was applied and …..

Anyhow being that I had a meeting to that night as well as a speaking part too, I’d told Francisco I’d be skipping the final session so as to get on the road toward home at a decent time.  So the 2nd to last session comes up.  I go out intending to follow Francisco around for the session but he peels off to the side, looking for Chuck to do a ride-n-follow I think.  So I went out for two laps and then came into the hot pit to wait for Francisco to go by.  As I see him coming into T11 I head back out, or so I thought.  The turn worker dude made me wait till traffic passed before I could go out (prob due to the AMA T1 configuration we were using, e.g. no cones, balls to the wall if ya got’em) and Francisco was long past.  When I did get released I lit out after him.  I passed a couple people here and there, a couple passed me.  I figure there is time to catch up.  But who would have factored in a dirt sampling?

SOB unsafe ZZ riders!!!!

I’m coming into T1, at speed, line is set and no deviations are being made, no adjustments, no changes.  For those of you that have seen the AMA T1, it is FAST and NOT the place for passing. If I may be so bold and bodacious, I’m told by my peers and past instructors (when I’ve done schools) that I am a smooth rider.  I think of it like Doug Chandler – very smooth and steady (just 25 times slower), not Troy Bayliss – bike all over the place and looking like borderline out of control (think Colin vs Troy WSB battles).  So I don’t -believe- I was giving out miscues.  Anyhow I’m set in the turn and up comes some idiot inside me.  Let me repeat, T1 is the wrong place to be passing.  Not to mention the (half-hearted if I may label it such, can you tell I’m not much of a ZZ fan?) warning in the morning meeting that it’s better to wait till a straight to make a pass as this isn’t a race.

Well just as I’m having that thought of this idiot passing in the wrong turn and too close, here comes his buddy.  Umm except Mr. A$$ runs into me.

Picture our lines like | \          I am the line slanted to the left and he’s the line going straight.  He stands me up and I’m bee-lined for the runoff area.  I’m all over the brakes to bleed off as much speed as possible.  My error – I didn’t play MotoGP and immediately slam the bike onto it’s left side to TRY and salvage the turn.  I felt confident I could ride it out (THANKS Sears for all the improvements you’ve made to the track).  But when I got out into the grass, it was mud.  OK, light on the bars, DON’T brake, hmm lets feather a little throttle to not load the front end, ummmm slowing slowing…..nope not staying upright!  SPLAT, bike is sliding, I’m down and tumbling, then I’m up and fussing.

Messy but thank goodness for mud, makes things a lot softer.  The FZR cranks but won’t restart plus it is loaded with dirt/mud/grass.  Session is stopped so I can cross the track and roll back down past the stares of the waiting C group.  The fact that they were in the hot pit waiting means our session was a hair from over anyway.

Back in the pits I share a few non-Christian choice words with the next guy over, who came to see if I was alright.  Then some older man shows up asking if I was the one he bumped shoulders with.  I was fuming and angry as can be but I couldn’t yell or curse directly at him.  I did berate him a little, mildly.  He apologized a few times but what bothered me more was he everrrrr so slightly tried to insinuate that mayyyyybe I had turned in on him.  OK, lets say that is the case.  Hey dummy, I was following my line and I was set in it, not adjusting or tightening or…..  So you should NOT HAVE TRIED A PASS!!!  I told him this and he immediately backed off (in my presence at least).  He looked over the bike and apologized quietly some more, appearing more to be trying to assure himself it was only dirt/mud, and then wandered away.

Francisco arrived and then started laughing, more in disbelief and shock that once again I’m the statue and not the pidgeon.  I picked a few chunks of this and that off the bike and in truth it appears that there is no significant damage.  I still need to really clean up and inspect.  But thanks mud and thanks Sears.

As for ZZ, I’m personally done with them.

Call me a Keigwin brown-noser if you will but in ALL the track days I’ve done there I haven’t see the level of unsafe riding and idiocy I saw Thursday.  It’s as if no one heeded the morning meeting at all.  The guy in the next pit over said that though faster, the A group is safer in his opinion because it is mostly 1) racers who know how to pass, 2) racers who know how to get passed.  I might note at this point that the first dummy who passed me didn’t spook me into a mistake, only angered me at his choice.  It was the actual, substantially physical contact with dummy #2 that led to a problem.  I’ve ridden A group before and I think it is a valid argument, faster but more stable.  C group is slow enough that you kinda have to screw yourself.   Between the idiots there and my last experience with ZZ, which was the organizers acting like idiots themselves, I’m done.  Good luck ZZ!!

Oh well, in all I’d say it was a fantastic day.  Crash? Kinda but not bad (two days later and the ONLY soreness is just my muscles from cornering/braking forces as I’m rusty and out of shape.  No pain from the fall).  Bike wasn’t jetted right and that doesn’t make a small engine situation any better.  But the upside is the beautiful weather, riding a beautiful and challenging course.  And those two positives FAR FAR FAR outweigh any “negative”.

Last note – I’m -still- exhausted.  Next event – 4/21 at Sears again.  Keigwin this time.  B group again.

Motorcycling14 Mar 2008 08:52 pm

Welcome to Tales from the track!  I look forward to what the future holds.  Hopefully you’ll continue to follow along with me and enjoy the ride. 

 Mostly what will be found here is my motorcycle escapades at the best roadracing courses the West coast has to offer.  But there’ll also be other things that motivate me to share.  I have a very active if somewhat strange and sarcastic sense of humor, sometimes an interesting view on life and sometimes not.  Regardless, I hope this adventure will be fun.  But it’ll never be fun if it doesn’t get started.  So with that said….

Motorcycles are a powerful thing.  They can make you feel free and forget all your problems (at least until your butt starts to ache), they can generate endless smiles.  They catalyze people into a “pro” or “con” stance, many parents falling into the latter catagory as mine did initially.

 I got into motorcycles because they looked cool and seemed to be a natural progression from the BMX bikes I’d ridden my entire childhood.  My first exposure was with a friend’s Yamaha YSR50 and a near-miss with the front bumper of a Toyota Corolla.  From that moment, I knew I’d have my own bike.  A couple years later I financed a brand new ’91 Suzuki Katana 600. 2 hours later I had a crashed Katana 600.  6 months later I had a stolen Katana 600 and a $1600 balance to pay.  I became sour on motorcycles until ’94 when I got a used Yamaha FZR600.  A friend I call K.O. took me on his GPz900 to buy it and ride home, I was thrilled.  A few months later a brisk backroads ride with an acquaintance named Bob Gardiner and some others resulted in me getting sucked into some corners wayyy too fast and scaring my skivvies into a different color and consistency.  I then realized I had no clue what I was doing on a motorcycle.

I took a Keith Code course at Laguna Seca and then started doing Doc Wong’s Sunday rides.  By now I’d moved on to a ’92 Honda CBR600 F2 that I’d reverted from race bike to street bike.  I started to learn to work on my own bikes too, as well as develop other motorcycling friendships.  At one Doc Wong ride, there was a guest speaker named Chuck Sorenson.  He’s an accomplished 250cc 2-stroke racer.  He told the story to us of how he no longer was confortable riding the street.  Too many unknowns and dangers.  WHAT?!?!?  How could he justify going as fast as he did on a track and say such things about the street?  Whiner!!  Little did I know……

Eventually life, budget, time, responsibilities, children, etc. meant no more Sundays with Doc Wong’s group.  But I continued to ride for fun as well as commute.  One day a couple of years later (on BARF I believe) I run across news that a local motorcyclist named Declan Lynch was killed and a commemorative trackday was being organized in memory of him.  There’d be tshirts, a group picture on the track that would be sent to his parents back home, and so on.  This seems like a great way to honor a fallen comrade and enjoy some racetrack time at the same time.  This was the beginning of understanding Chuck Sorenson’s attitude.  It was also the beginning of a beautiful symbiotic relationship between myself and K@TT (Keigwins At The Track, the trackday organizer that grew from Lance Keigwin’s efforts to organize a memorial for Declan).   Over time I’ve also enjoyed tracktime with PTT (Pacific Track Time) and Zoom Zoom (except my first-ever experience with their staff SUCKED for my friend and I) From that day forward, I spent more and more time dedicating my riding activities to the track environment and less and less time on the street, excluding commuting.  It was progressively clearer that the track environment was much safer than the street.  Not to say that problems can’t happen there too, they do.  But in this environment you are surrounded with like-minded people and a comraderie that’s hard to explain; in a clean, purpose-specific environment; with qualified assistence (e.g. ambulance and paramedics) no more than 2 minutes away at any point.  Compare that to the street – idiots paying more attention to their cellular conversation then the privilege of driving; roads contaminated with slippery substances or obstacles; stray children/animals; police; stopsigns and lights; haters that only live to interfere with your adventure, and so on.

I have now become a full-on track snob.  I’ve even dabbled in amateur racing, a very small dabble in 2004 with WSMC at Willow Springs Raceway in SoCal.  The first dabble resulted in narrowly missing out on 3rd place thanks to a fast 250cc 2-stroke beating me to the line.   The second and thusfar last dabble ended in crashing out of 2nd place on the last half of the last lap, with a mile lead on 3rd place, because I was trying to catch 1st place.  Oh, I’ll still go on a street ride if a group wants to go.  But in those instances, I’m no more than a back-of-the-pack tag-along, probably enjoying most the viewpoint of the other rider’s rear tires and chains circling round and round.  For you see, other than one person who is related to me, I can’t pay any of my riding cohorts to even try an entry level trackday.  Don’t want to take the time off.  Don’t want to invest in the needed gear (umm, I’ve got spares).  Don’t want to spend the money (99.9% chance it gets blown on something else regardless).  So now I feel just like Chuck Sorenson, I just don’t have his talent!!  Screw the street.  Bring on closed circuit organized riding.  And that is mostly what this blog will be about.  The adventures of …….. whatever is to come; primarily related to motorcycle riding, but probably some other stuff too.

To start with, some archived trackday postings……..just as soon as I can find where I stored them.

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