Motorcycling17 Mar 2008 11:23 pm

(Archived – original posting 7/9/07)

Note to self – do not sign up for a trackday immediately following a 3-day convention! Ugh, I was beyond tired.

The date – July 9th, 2007.  The location – Sears Point/Infineon Raceway.  The event – West Coast Crashfest ’07 (by no fault of K@TT).  The players (no pimps present, thank goodness) – Cra1g Smith, Francisco Castellanos, Kevin Peet, Jonathan Gardner, crazy French dude named Regis, and Wendy.  Conspicuously absent – all the rest of you.

Monday morning came really early and painfully.  My pillow had a mind of it’s own and was PMS’g or lonely or something as it didn’t want me to leave.  I asked myself why I didn’t sell my day and ride a different event.  And then I remembered things such as 1) how hard it can be to get into Sears Point, 2) how much cooler Sears is vs. THill especially right now, 3) how much CLOSER Sears is vs. THill/Laguna/Buttonwillow/Willow Springs/Fontana/Reno-Fernley.  Said considerations sufficiently pondered (took all of 5 seconds), I loaded up my truck and ……. proceeded to run errands?  Yep.  Post Office, gas station, bank, store.  Meanwhile Francisco is wondering if I’ll show up before dusk. Get to Francisco’s and since he’s already loaded and ready, off we drive.

We arrive at a plenty decent time and Kevin is already there so we pit in an area he’d picked out.  Get unloaded, go thru registration and tech, the butterflies start flapping in my stomach and the excitement that is a trackday starts to carve a path through the hazy fog that is my mind on too little sleep.  On the way to the track I convince myself that riding the A group isn’t the best option in my present mindstate.  I’d intended to go in that group at Marc’s past prodding and Cra1g’s not-so-subtle comments at me sandbagging in B+.  Well Marc’s Triumph decided recently to nuke his budget and shake my confidence in Triumph by coughing up the engine somehow (Marc, still waiting for an update from you on what happened and whats to happen).  So at registration I quietly mention to Linda that I’d like to move down to B+.  She’s all for it, but in her kindness she speaks a little too loud and dangnabbit if Lance didn’t catch wind of it and say “nope, go convince the grid managers to find you a space in B+”.  Linda frowned but realized there was nothing to do but go with Lance on this.  Suffice to say, without detail, I rode B+ this day.

A real trooper like Kevin (as in he rode to the track and will ride home) pulls in and pits next to us.  His name is Regis and he is French.  He has ridden his bike to the track from somewhere southbay-ish.  Regis is alone but not for long.  He and Francisco strike up conversation and eventually he ends up pitting with us for the rest of the day.  Sometimes sighting laps don’t happen but this day Lance does them and for a change I get there and thru tech in time to suit up and go out.  I thought it’d be a good idea so I could make sure my new brake pads were working.  The week before I’d installed new Galfer brake pads up front.  The instructions they gave me for bed-in were 1) wet sand the rotors with 600 grit paper, 2) install pads, 3) do a series of hard braking stops first from ~45mph to 5mph, then from 40mph to 5mph, then from 35mph to 5mph  and so on.  So in the back of the pit area I went 40 mph and hit the brakes with 2 fingers.  The initial feel of NO brakes lasted maybe 2 seconds and then the bike began to stop.  It felt like there was a 2 seconds delay on the brake lever – weird.  Then 35mph with 1 finger down to almost dead stop, oops.  Then 30mph, 1 finger firmly applied and the bike lifted the rear wheel!!!!  Totally caught me off guard, I wasn’t expecting that at all.  Wow!!  So after that it was out for the sighting laps.  As we did them, I could have sworn I smelled something burning.  But it was very subtle, just enough that I thought “I’m imagining it”.

Sighting laps conclude and we come back to the pits.  I ride down to the hot pit area to address the A/B+ group matter but the person I was looking for wasn’t present.  So I turn the bike on, the tach (which normally does a complete sweep from end to end on start-up) goes to about 7k rpm and sticks there.  The starter button does absolutely nothing.  I turn the ignition off/on/off/on over and over but nothing happens.  I end up pushing the bike back to my pit just as the B+ group goes out for their 1st session.  I start to panic – “what tha ()@_*$@_”  OK, OK, calm down, check the obvious stuff.  Do all of that, no go.  OK, start backtracking any bike work you’ve done lately, oh yeah check your fuses too for clues.  As I’m accessing the fuses I’m mentally tracing what I’ve done recently.  Oil and filter change; Hyperpro steering damper; Woodcraft right side engine case cover (left side backordered) and rearse…..uh oh.  About the same moment, I discover a blown fuse, appears to be for the lighting system.  I cringe as I start to look at the right rearset and ….yep….. some numbnuts (me) forgot to ziptie the rear brakelight trigger switch out of the way when installing the rearsets.  So on the sighting laps it sat on or so near the exhaust, it melted in half and shorted.  So I figure and hope that by cutting it off/taping the wire ends/replacing the fuse, all will be well in Sonoma.  So I go to get some tools….but I don’t have any, I left them all at home.  I use Francisco’s tools instead.  And Wendy comes over.

Who dis?  A really nice Asian woman who is pitted all by herself directly across from us and happens to be riding a red Daytona 675.  Full leathers, bike rear stand, Toyota pickup truck, everything.  It was cool to see.  Marc had mentioned such a woman in the past and as she introduced herself and asked what I was doing, I wondered if she was his friend.  She is, knew his name and description right away.  We chatted for awhile and then she wandered back to get herself ready as she was in B- (or B+2 or ????) and it was almost time for her group to go.  Marc, Wendy says hi and too wants to know whats up with the engine.  She thought you’d bought a GSXR (Lance’s) to replace the 675.  I got back to working on the bike and manage to slash a near-spurting gash in my left index finger with a utility knife.  About this time is when a superstitious person would pack up and say “today is not my day” and go home.

Home-made fix completed, the bike fires right away.  So in the 2nd B+ session of the day I go out and re-melt the wires again.  Just kidding, I zip-tied them this time.  Out on the track all goes pretty well……except for all the crashes.  It was a weird day, more on that later.  I’ve been experimenting with onboard filming, last time was the first time and there were some teething problems that I’d hoped were resolved.  But this time I couldn’t get my camera to show the forward view.  Much fiddling and frustration eventually revealed that the 9v battery powering the lens was dead.  Linda to the rescue.  But not before I missed filming session #2.  Too bad too cause I felt I rode pretty well that session and some passes would have been neat to have a record of.

Regis and Francisco turned out to be a bad combination, humor intended.  These two fed off each other in what I truly believed would turn into a symbiotic relationship of the destructive kind.  They found great joy in passing and repassing and blocking and pushing each other lap after lap all day.  It got to the point that they’d come in and be slapping hands and each other’s backs and laughing and carrying on.  In fact they were having such fun that Francisco decided to take take some different routes for a closer look at the runoff of turns 7 and 11.  I think he was just making sure the pavement was clear out there. J   I’m sitting in my chair watching and wondering if Dean and I ever did that back in the day.  But I observed a couple of their passes thru traffic that…….well I just wasn’t comfortable trying myself and so I didn’t get much footage of them at all since they’d put traffic between them and I and I was more ummm “conservative?” in getting through.  It was a chore to clear my mind and even attempt to keep up.  There was only one “moment” for me that day, 3rd session of the day and I’m trying to make haste.  I get into 7 apparently hotter than I expected.  No problem, push the bike on over and see solace in a knee puck.  Ummm, helps to have the throttle cracked at least.  I didn’t, and it became a little much for the front tire.  Thankfully it just gave me a stern warning slide, putting my knee puck harder into the ground and saying “open the throttle fool”.  I didn’t forget the rest of the day  J

  Regis was funny, kinda sailor-mouthed but a very good-natured guy and ALWAYS looking for a reason to laugh or at least smile.  It was fun working to follow him most of session two, him turning around and looking to see if the pesky 675 was still sitting on the fender of his GSXR750.  But he and Francisco spent a good deal of the day sand-bagging in the B+ group (ha ha, they are the sandbaggers now).  Where is Kevin in all this?  Quietly going about his own business, not (to external appearances at least) being rattled by much of anyone or anything, just laying down consistent and enjoyable laps.  Kevin always appears to be at peace with the world when riding and that translates to smooth.  And smooth is the doorway to fast, unless you are related to Kevin Schwantz or Troy Bayliss.What about those falls?  Well there were a lot, most falls I’ve personally been in the presence of.  Lance made it clear that if you fall, you MIGHT get an instructor to give you a ride back in but your bike would stay in place until it could either be retrieved at lunch or the end of the day (excluding major incidents leaving the track to be tended to).  I guess everyone was sneaking a listen to iPods or something because the track was shut down a number of times.  Two incidents of the day – one grid manager ran into someone in front of him at T11 who’s bike found a false neutral; he ended up with a collarbone break and a premature end to his day; don’t know what happened to the guy who had the false-neutral.  I found a false neutral just entering the same turn and just about soiled me-leathers cause I knew someone was close behind, I was hoping he didn’t accidently center-punch me too.  Another incident was the yellow flag party.  2nd or 3Rd to last session of the day, there were yellow flags everywhere.  I was tailing the guys and trying to get some footage of them and then in turn 2 there was one bike down.  We get to turn 9 and there is a bike down there.  We come back around to 2 and there are THREE bikes down, one a nice Aprilia Mille sitting helplessly on it’s side on the track.  Back at turn 9 the bike is still down.  Considering the yellows get thrown starting 3 corners or so before the actual incident, it seemed almost every corner was yellow.  But that didn’t stop some people from passing, unfortunately.  I’m quite happy that none of the incidents involved us or Wendy.
During the lunch hour I sat in the pit with Kevin and for a short while Cra1g, Francisco and Regis sat in the cafeteria with a friend of Regis’ (who appears to be an AFM racer and later took us out for some laps; AFM or not didn’t stop Francisco and Regis from eventually passing him which I got great laughter from – these guys……)
I skipped the last session of the day and instead stood talking with Cra1g in the hot pit.  It was cool to be up close to the bikes as they enter the track and watch the grid managers do their jobs.  Then I rushed back to get loaded up for the trip home, it was 5pm and I had a 7pm appointment.  Overall the day went well and I really want to get back out there.

But the frustration continued.  Two days later I turned the video camera on to discover that my wife…..who NEVER touches the camera……touched the camera……..without asking if the tape needed to be changed or if it was cool to use or anything.……and recorded her with the kids at Keller beach…….over at least 30 minutes of my footage.  I haven’t yet looked to see how much is left that I can salvage.

Best recorded lap 1:59:87.