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)

 

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