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)?