This weekend sucked.
On top of that, it was expensive. If you’ve considered sponsoring, now would be a great time to step up! Read this motorcycle race recap to find out why.
I hadn’t ridden this track since 2008. Luckily, Stickboy Racing had pulled together a track day for Friday. I signed up in order to get some practice and not embarrass myself during the race on Saturday. Thursday night I loaded up the trailer and headed to Roebling Road Raceway. I arrived there around 9PM, set up my pit and campsite, and rolled into bed around 11PM. Normally I set an alarm for 6:30AM, but decided not to since I never sleep that late at the track anyway, and it wasn’t a race, but a track day.
I woke up at 7:30AM, which was odd. I decided I’d better get the bike to tech and finish preparing to ride before I had breakfast. I rolled the bike to tech (no engines before 8AM!), got back to the pits, put on the tire warmers and had breakfast. It was foggy, so the first session didn’t roll until 9:00 to let the fog clear. My first session was scheduled for 9:40AM.
9:40 came around, so I jumped on the bike and took off for the first session. I got to turn 1 and realized I wasn’t getting throttle response, so I finished the lap and pitted out. The throttle grip was sliding on the throttle tube. I bought a tube of grip glue from Street & Competition, who happened to be positioned right across from my pit, and fixed it. But I had to wait for the glue to dry, so that session was a bust.
An hour later, my turn came around again. Got out there, figured out some lines, and was feeling pretty good until I got back to the paddock. I was seven seconds off of last year’s winning time for my class. I needed to find some speed!
I studied the track map and did a little visualization over the next hour, and figured out where I could probably carry more speed. I found three seconds that session, and thought I could find more since my front tire was giving up the ghost. I went back to the pits and got Stickboy to swap the front tire to a new one I had with me. I also asked him about rain tires, since the forecast for the next day looked ugly. He suggested I’d perform significantly better with a set of rains if the weather got bad, and that I’d better buy them now since he didn’t have a lot of them in stock, so I bought a set as insurance.
Third session, I picked up another quarter-second. I was running steady 1:32s, and couldn’t figure out where I was going to find 3 more seconds. I thought I might be able to carry more speed through turn 1, but I felt pretty on the limit on the rest of the track.
Fourth session, I found nothing, though I was encouraged by the fact there were a couple guys I was passing pretty consistently who were racing my class, so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t come in dead last.
As the fifth session approached, the weather radar looked ugly. The wind picked up and the sky darkened. It looked pretty certain that I wasn’t going to get another dry session, but I didn’t want to put on the rains and then have to take them off for practice in the morning, so I decided to call it a day. Fifth session did manage to stay dry, but the storms came in hard and fast after that. I had weighted down the canopy and pulled everything under it. I waited around a while to see if it seemed like everything was going to be okay in the weather. After a while I decided it was, and since I had forgotten my contact case, I decided to roll into town and get one.
When I left the drugstore to go to my car, I started to second-guess my decision, as the wind seemed to have picked up pretty significantly. I got back to the track and headed for my paddock. My canopy hadn’t blown away, but one side of it collapsed. They’re not repairable. I don’t have the expensive brand-name canopy, which means it isn’t warranted. I rigged up a temporary fix by tying the collapsed side to the car.
The following morning we awoke to a drying track! I went to registration and tech, and decided to skip the first practice session to let the track dry out a little more. The weather also looked like it might work out, at least for the earlier races. My race was #9 out of 15, so I had about a 50% chance of a dry race.
Went out for second practice and was feeling pretty good. The track was mostly dry, and when I tested out the damp parts, I seemed to have plenty of grip. I decided to leave the lap timer in the pits because of the damp track. As practice continued, I kept getting faster. Near the end of the session, I caught up with a group of about six riders as we entered turn 5. I knew if I could get by them before turn 9, they weren’t likely to pass me there, as it’s a hard turn to pass in, and I’m pretty quick through there. Got past one of them in turn 5, and I was setting up in turn 6 to try for an outside pass on a few of them in turn 7 when the rear of the bike just let loose. I think I must have hit a wetter patch and lost all grip.
Me and the bike went sliding across the pavement. Unfortunately for my visor and helmet, some of that slide was on my face. When I thought I had stopped sliding, I reached out a hand to feel the pavement and discovered I was still moving. Right about that same moment I went off the tarmac into the sand and started tumbling for another 30 feet or so. When I finally stopped tumbling, I waited a few seconds, and then got dizzily to my feet. I took a quick self-assessment, and started looking around for a corner worker. Seeing one on the other side of the track, I gave him the thumbs-up to indicate I was okay.
Got the bike back to the paddock and assessed the damage. Right clip on was bent and ground down. Rear brake lever was pointing the wrong direction. Sand was EVERYWHERE! A couple holes in the bodywork. Helmet visor was FUBAR. Small grind and some scrapes on the lid. Right glove palm had a big hole in it. On a human level, the ball of muscle under my right thumb had a big bruise, and I had a small cut on one knuckle.
Next mission was to get the bike back together and back to tech inspection before the race. My friend Gabe had a spare helmet with a visor that would fit my helmet. I had a spare clip-on. I bent the rear brake lever back into some reasonable semblance of function. An hour later, I was back at tech inspection, and was cleared to race.
One funny thing that happened at that point was that race direction, after clearing me to race, pointed me to a hosepipe and said “Hey, why don’t you wash the rest of the sand off that thing?” I rolled the bike over there and started washing, at which time I discovered that I had ground two holes in my muffler. I figured that the 250 isn’t that loud, hopefully nobody would notice before the race.
What passes for a motorcycle race recap – 3
Race time. I gear back up, get the bike started. As I’m putting on my lid and gloves, there’s still sand in both of them, but there’s no time to deal with it. I go out, run my practice lap, find my grid spot, and get ready to start.
The 4-minute board is up, so I have time. I lift up my visor, and the right side of it comes off the helmet. I quickly pound it back. I look up, the one-minute board is up. I rev the bike, the green flag goes. The visor slips off again. I get moving. A guy from the row behind me clips my right brake lever coming by me, which is CRAZY, since I’m in the right-hand grid spot, so there’s plenty of space to my left. I finally get moving, visor hanging from one side, and realize that the bike isn’t accelerating. I can’t break 9000 RPM. I get to the end of the straight and just pull off track. The corner worker runs up, sees my visor and tells me if I can get it back on I can go back out. I tell him the bike isn’t running right and I’ve got no power. He points me through the infield back to the pits.
I’m pretty sure I’ve blown another engine. At this point, I’m frustrated and have had it. I go back to the pits, call Suzanne and tell her I’m coming home. A couple people come by to commiserate, but I’m just not in the mood. I finally tell my friend Gabe that I’m just gonna pack up, go home, lick my wounds, and figure out what to do next.
Here’s the final tally:
- Grip glue: $7
- Rain tires: $315
- Contact case: $3
- Canopy: $100
- Replacement clip-on: $20
- Rear brake lever: $100
- Helmet: $500
- Gloves: $180
- Muffler: $250
- Engine $700
Grand total: $2175