Since this was to be the first race weekend since breaking my collarbone, I decided to sign up for a Friday track day to see how everything was going to work. I have pretty good use of my right arm, but other than a brief jaunt to a business meeting, I hadn’t been on a motorcycle in 5 weeks, and riding the big bike on the street is nothing like racing. So before the motorcycle race recap, we’ll talk practice a bit.
There were very few people at the track for practice on Friday, only about 30 of us total, and about 10 people in my group, so there was plenty of available track time with lots of room. Since I didn’t want to spend session after session getting strafed by guys on 1000s, I signed up for the slowest group. What I had forgotten was the 6-foot passing rule in that group, which made for some interesting moments on the track.
I felt good in the first session, but the rear tire was sliding in strange places, so I asked Stickboy to take a look at it. He told me that I could probably run it for practice, but he wouldn’t race on it. I decided to change it out right then.
After he swapped the tire out, I asked him about tire pressures, and was really surprised at the numbers he gave me, which were pretty far outside the manufacturers recommendations, particularly the front. He explained the tire testing he had done to come to his conclusions, and I trust him, so up the front pressure went, and down a bit in the back, too.
After the pressure changes the bike initially felt a little off at low speed, but once I got up to track pace it settled nicely. This session was one where the 6-foot passing rule came into play. I tried to take a wide pass in turn 2 to stay 6 feet away from the other rider, and found that there was no traction at all past the midline of the track. The rear wheel was just all over the place! I managed to ride through it, but the outside of turn 2 is still a bit of a nope.
I ran two more sessions after lunch. I felt like I was on rails for the last session. I found some places where I could get on throttle earlier, and everything just felt good. After those two sessions I decided to call it a day, since my shoulder was getting sore, and I was pretty tired.
I didn’t realize quite how tired I was, though. After dinner, I watched the MotoGP sprint race on my phone, and I was in bed asleep by 9AM, and I slept straight through until about 7AM!
Now for the motorcycle race recap. I was ready to race on Saturday. I decided to just run one of the morning practice sessions – just enough to blow the dust off and shake down the bike for the race. Practice was uneventful. I did notice during the rider’s meeting that there were still not a lot of us, only maybe 30 or so. Grids were going to be pretty small.
When we gridded up, I was ready to go! The green flag dropped, and I felt like I got a good start. We went into turn 1 in a big group, and I got dropped back a little. I might have been a bit gun shy about getting hit after Roebling, but it didn’t turn out to be a big deal, as I was glued to the pack. We stayed grouped up through turns 2 and 3, and then the pack started to break up a little. I had some clear track in front of me as I was chasing down a slower rider, who I caught and passed in lap 3. Two laps later I lapped a rider on a vintage bike, and crossed the line first in my class!
When I got back in the pit, I had a congratulatory text from Brian. Interesting, it wasn’t for the win, but for a really fast lap I had posted. Apparently on lap 2 I set a personal best by nearly 2 seconds! Not a bad way to end a race day!
After Brian texted I looked at my weekend lap times for the first time, and was pleased that even in practice I was faster than my best laps from the prior year. Not only had I set a personal best, I had improved overall in pretty dramatic fashion.
Sunday I decided to skip practice altogether. I was sore and tired and wanted to keep my energy level up for the race. I slept in, made breakfast, and hung out a little. During a stop in the men’s room in the scoring tower, I found a toad in the men’s room! I tried to catch it so I could bring it back outside, but I couldn’t get hold of it. Never did I think that my race recap would include the Talladega Toilet Toad!
After lunch I turned on the tire warmers and went out to watch a couple races. My race was race 6, so at the beginning of race 4 I went back to the paddock, geared up, and got ready to go.
Interestingly, I was in exactly the same grid spot as I’d been on Saturday. I got a much better start when the flag dropped, and ended up not losing positions into turn 1. I was chasing down two guys from the faster class that started in front of me, and we ended up dicing it up for the entire race! It was a real blast, and we all crossed the finish line in a big group at the end. I can’t tell you how many times we passed each other, but I came across the line first in my class again!
I’m pumped for the next round! We have a doubleheader at Road Atlanta, and I’d love to see if my performance keeps improving! See y’all out there