September 30, 2002

Before heading back to Grattan, I added front steel braided brake lines, and EBC Sintered HH pads, as well as a set of aftermarket rearset adapters.  With the ride height changes that I made before Gingerman, I figured that the addition of the rearsets would really help alleviate the clearance issues that I had through the esses last time.  

Jeff Nyquist (a.k.a. Newt) and Chad Trank (a.k.a. he doesn't like it when I call him that anymore) joined me today for the Sport Bike Track Time day at Grattan Raceway.  Both of them went out in the Novice group, and I went out in Advanced.  It was fun to watch the two of them improve throughout the day.  Not only did they get faster, but their body position improved dramatically.   Here's a few pictures of Chad and Jeff, and I'll post the pictures of me at the bottom of this page:

Jeff leading Chad through turn 5

Another shot of Jeff and Chad through turn 5

Chad through turn 11

Chad through turn 5

Chad putting his knee down in turn 7

Jeff through turn 11

Jeff through turn 6

Jeff scraping a peg through turn 7

Tad's day at the track:

The day neither started our nor ended as I expected, however, it still was a great day on the track.  On September 30th, in Michigan, it was 85 degrees and sunny.  It was a little cooler in the morning for the first session out, on new tires, that weren't scrubbed in.  Yes, you see where this is going.  On the third lap of the first session, going at a "new tires" pace, I lost the rear end going into turn 3, and despite the fact that I hung onto the bars while the bike slid away from me (hey, I was trying to save it), I eventually let go and watched the bike come to a stop in the entry to pit lane.  I walked over to her, picked her up, and rode back into the pits.   Upon examining the damage, I saw that the clutch lever was a little bent, the NRC sidecover did it's job and was scratched up but still completely functional, and the new rearset pegs were bent and hitting the swingarm.  My leathers had a seam let go on them on my left butt area.  The clutch lever bent back into shape without a problem.   The rearsets, with a few washers added, re-gained clearance from the swingarm, but were still visually bent, but perfectly functional.  The leathers, with a little duct tape, were fine as well.

I went back out in the first session after lunch, and on a much hotter track the tires heated up and scrubbed in very easily.  I took it very easy, not pushing braking markers, being as smooth as possible, and just trying not to crash.  By the end of the session, the tires were feeling good, and in the pits, I saw that I was pretty much scrubbed in, as the edges were starting to flake.  OK, great.  Time to have some fun.

I went out in the next session, and started to run my pace again, hitting the second braking marker in most of the turns, getting on the gas sooner on the exit, and working on my "three things" as usual.  I found that by the middle of this session, my "three things" were 100% unconscious now (eyes up, outside knee in tank, inside shoulder down).  The combination of those ensures that my body position is where I want it to be, and the pictures show this.  I was very comfortable with the track, so I wasn't having to think about braking markers, turn in points, etc, so I started going faster, and felt incredible by the end of the session. 

During the third session, it was more of the same.  The riding was in "automatic" mode, and I was clicking off laps at a really good pace.  I was very glad that I moved up to the Expert group today instead of the Intermediate.  I felt comfortable with the pace, and the close passing didn't bother me at all.  I was able to hang with just about anyone in turns 2-3-4 and 5-6-7-8, and in fact, a lot of the time I was slowed up by some of the riders ahead of me.  I could easily pass people going into 9, and also going into 2, although passing in 9 usually resulted in them blowing past me about 1/2 way down the front straight.  It was another great session, and I was incredibly happy with the way I was riding.  It simply felt great.

The last session started at 4:00, and was to be the last of the day.  I went out with a "more of the same" attitude.  I was moving up my braking markers in certain corners and working on trail braking, especially into turns 1, 5, and 9.  I was about 3 laps into it and feeling great about things when it happened.  Heading down the short back straight between 4 and 5, I decided to move up my braking marker, as I wasn't carrying enough speed into 5 and I wanted to use trail braking to my advantage here.  Usually, I'd brake at the top of the rise, and this time, I held it another 1/2 second, and braked after the rise on the downhill.  Well, the next thing I know, the rear wheel is way in the air and pitching out to the left.  I thought right then and there that I was going over the bars, and the inevitable "Oh Shit!" thought popped into my head, which was quickly replaced with a series of actions to get control of the bike back.  When the rear wheel hit, the bike went into a massive tank slapper, which I did get control of, but by that time it was too late to make the turn.  I broke as hard as I could right up to the edge of the track, releasing the brakes before I hit the grass, and I thought "No, problem.  I can ride this one out."   Two bumps later, the front end locked left, and I was catapulted off the bike, landing on my right shoulder.  I tumbled a few times, and had the conscious thought to keep my arms close to my body so that I wouldn't break anything, and I let the tumble run it's course.  It hurt like hell.  The initial impact of my shoulder did the damage, and I ended up landing on it again before sliding to a stop.  This just in: Crashing does hurt.  When I was done sliding, I tried to get up and signal that I was OK, but I then realized that I couldn't breathe.  It had been a long time since I had the wind knocked out of me, so I sat back down and waited to catch my breathe, which didn't happen quickly enough for my liking.  Once that was over, I removed my gloves and helmet and ran a quick systems check.  Everything worked!!  Phew.  The ambulance showed up, and they quizzed me to make sure I really was OK, and I made light of the situation in the way that I usually do by cracking a joke or two.  I got a ride back to the pits in the back of a truck as they towed my bike back for me.  I was just glad that I made it through mostly unscathed.  My shoulder was pretty sore, but nothing was broken or dislocated.  I'm sure that saving the bike from going down on the pavement, scrubbing off some speed, and making it to the grass had something to do with the minimal injuries and bike damage.

Regardless of the crash(es), it was a great day.  I'm not at all upset about the second crash.  I was doing what I wanted to do, pushing it a little harder, and I encountered something that I wasn't expecting.  It happens.  I'm still pissed that I was stupid enough to crash on cold new tyres, and I take more from that than the second crash.  I guess my "slow" pace isn't as slow as it needed to be.   I will remember that for next time.  I walk away (thankfully) a little smarter, a little sore, and with a better understanding of what can happen - which I already knew, and I just received a little confirmation of that.  I am already looking forward to Gingerman on the 14th of October.

"If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid..." - Epictetus

Here are some pictures from the day:

Tad through turn 11

Tad through turn 5

Tad through turn 7

Tad following the pack through turn 7

The end of the slide

Ah shit, what did I just do

Hey, how's it going?