battle at beaverun

September 9, 2008

i’ve been meaning to post up about my most recent trackday that i did a month ago with nesba at beaverun. so here it is…

despite some electrical gremlins, the day turned out to be one to remember.

we camped overnight so there was no rush waking up early, traveling to the track, and getting set up. just rolled out of the tent, made breakfast, and chilled out until the rider’s meeting. the first couple sessions were rough. i needed to shake the cobwebs out and get my sense of speed back. i was riding ragged missing braking marks and apexes… it was especially fun to ride with johnny, who got bumped up to intermediate a few weeks prior.

then unexpectedly my bike wouldn’t start. it would crank over but wouldn’t fire. i missed the 3rd session and tore the bike down to try to find the culprit. long story short, we got it bump started and it ran perfect the rest of the day albeit it wouldn’t fire using the starter.

the day was fairly drama free. i had a couple off road excursions but kept it upright.

the last session was by far the funnest riding i’ve ever done!!! i had the pleasure of mixing it up with a gsxr-750 (rich). we were going back and forth trying to figure out each others strengths and weaknesses riding different lines trying to maximize advantages. we were pushing each other but in a good way. riding was tight but i never felt out of control or over my head throughout the session. in one instance, we into turn 1 side-by-side and felt comfortable with him next to me. i got the better of him but he made it up coming out of turn 8. all in all, fantastic riding. the kicker: we did a 1:05.77 lap!!! that’s bumping into advanced times. i dropped my personal best by 2 secs. extremely happy with that!!!

lap timing acquired by harry’s lap timer (available from twistandshift.com) top speeds indicated in red. green and yellow graph indicate g’s.

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beaverun bump

April 20, 2008

yesterday, my friend richard (on an r6) and i did the nesba beaverun trackday. it turned out to be a gorgeous day. you couldn’t have asked for better weather, esp for it being the middle of april. 75 and sunny with clouds rolling in at the end of the day.

we arrived early since we knew we had a lot of work to do on the bikes, esp mine, to make the first session. we unloaded the bikes, taped lights, and got the bikes to tech for inspection. we then quickly pulled my wheels and dropped them off at the tire vendor for new italian loafers (pirelli dcIII – fantastic tires). we had the obligatory riders meeting, picked up my freshly shod wheels and briskly fitted them just in time for the first beginners session.

the morning sessions were ugly. i was riding over my head. i was fast but i had no clue on how to get around the track. my competitiveness was also a problem. in fact, it lead me into the grass of turn 1 at 120 mph. luckly, instinct/guardian angel saved my ass and i managed to keep the bike up. the first three sessions were an absolute debacle and i was utterly lost.

during lunch richard and i discussed how the day was going. he gave me good advice: ditch the ego and run at my own pace.

after the break, i was pulled aside by pascal, a control rider (cr), and he inquired how i was doing.

“not so good,” i answered.

he saw me out on the track and read me like a book and it was titled riding over your head. he suggested that i’d benefit by slowing it down a bit and concentrating on my line.

the next session was no better. i felt like i was riding conservative and focused on consistency but i was still off line. another cr gave me a tow and i still didn’t get it. i was frustrated and upset with myself.

the 5th session of the day was a little better but i still had my doubts, esp cresting the hill at turn 7. the head cr of the beginner group, buck, noticed my performance and asked me to follow him the next session for an “evaluation.” i didn’t realize it was a test until afterward. i thought i was just going to learn the line.

buck gave me a tow for half the session and i followed him apprehensively, trying to learn and absorb as much as possible. that’s when it all clicked. everything seemed to fall into place. the corners now seemed linked and the track flowed. i wasn’t fighting the bike anymore, rather letting the bike do it’s thing. it was great seeing buck pump his fist as i correctly hussled around the once threatening track. he then let me take the lead while he followed in close proximity. in fact, i saw a wheel come up the inside a couple times, a test of things to come. i just kept my rhythm and followed the newfound line for 5 or 6 laps. the checkered flag ended and i was finally happy with myself. we pulled into the paddock and i asked buck how i did.

he retorted, “do you want to bump up?”

i was shocked! i thought i heard him wrong. i then asked him if he thought i was ready.

he walked over to the registration tent and grabbed the yellow “Intermediate” sticker and asked me again if i wanted the bump.

i cautiously responded, “i think so. will we have another session?”

he said, “yeah! in fact, go ride in ‘I’ the next session.”

i whimpered, “will you be riding with me?”

he shook his head and he released me into the wilderness that is the Intermediate group.

when i made it back to our pit, i was ecstatic. i didn’t know what to do. richard and a couple guys around us congratulated me. i had 10 mins to regroup for the last session of the day.

our pit neighbor, ben, was riding Intermediate and i asked if he could show me the ropes. we gridded at the back of the group so we wouldn’t get in the way. we stayed together for the 1st lap and halfway around the second i got my first taste of Intermediate action. a gsx-r1000 passed me on the way out of turn 7. i took it in and assessed my riding so far. it was conservative to say the least. i had a lot of speed in reserve. at turn 8, i decided to go for it and got a great drive out of the corner, passed ben, and focused on the yellow gsx-r ahead.

he pulled on me on the back straight but i realized that i could hang with him, esp in the corners. i made up a lot of time in the carousel, turn 10. i felt good and didn’t loose ground on the front straight. i inched closer braking into turn 1. this battle progressed for 3 or 4 laps, constantly reeling him in. i pounced at the carousel riding around the outside as he was balked by a slower rider ahead. that was that. i got my first kill. several other riders succumbed to my superior cornering 675 and i made passes at turns 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, and 11 (as well as the straights). i was seriously hauling!!!

there were a couple moments, however. i had 2 bad tankslappers at 120 mph heading onto the back straight which were due to rippled asphalt. i had a millisecond of doubt that i was a goner but kept it together. richard said he could hear the front tire chirping as it violently oscillated from side to side. and he was on the opposite side of the track!!! wish i had video of it!!!

i was running consistently in the 1:09’s early and then dipped into the :07’s by the end of the session which was probably a little faster than average Intermediate pace.

i was exhausted and stoked as i entered the pits. i motored into our camp, cut the engine, and enjoyed the moment as i coasted to a stop. as i was dismounting, riders were stopping by giving me “mad props” on the riding, esp the gsx-r that i duked it out with.

i was happy. a day that started so grim ended well. it took a while to get back into the groove and iron out the kinks. i’m glad i didn’t give up. thanks to nesba for holding such a well organized and staffed event. and “big ups” to buck who showed me THE WAY.