Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mancation Report

Leading up to the April 14/15 weekend at Mid-America, I made the cardinal error of checking the weather.  Poor weather wasn't going to prevent us from going, but anytime you travel 12 hours to ride a bike, you want to have some sense of how the days are going to go, and how you should prepare.  Doug lent me some wets on wheels from his ex650, so I should be ready for anything.
After a Thursday sleepover in Killarney, Wilson and I set out at the crack of day for the trip south... so early, in fact that the nearest border crossing was not yet open.  So we headed slightly northwest to end up going southeast, but it made the most sense in the long run.
As always seems to happen on these trips, we drive right into a decent headwind.  And to top it off, it is raining.  Not a huge deal, but we are using Wilson's truck and my uncovered trailer.  The ex and his tz250 were gonna get a bit wet.  Check that -- a lot wet.  We drove south for over 900km before we got to clear skies.  For my European readers, we would have driven across several countries in that distance, all under constant cloud and solid rain of varying intensity.  At least it progressively got warmer.
At noon we stopped for one of our many gas breaks, and decided to get a bite to eat.  That is when I spotted this local store...  How convenient!  Only in America would a Porn shop share a parking spot with a Hotel, a Shell gas station, a McDonalds (!), and an IHOP.  Awesome.  No I didn't go inside, but we did fuel up again and we ate at McDonald's.  Eating at "Rotten Ronnie's" was the most peverse behaviour of the trip, although my Chicken Burger wasn't too bad.  However a US chocolate shake now includes whipped cream and a cherry!  Its been years since I ate at the golden arches... Wilson and I both had trouble ordering off of the menu... they musta thought we were a pair of rubes!
12 hours after we left, we arrived at Pacific Junction, IA.  A few minutes from Omaha Nebraska, and about a mile from the track.  It hadn't rained all day, and after a quick trip to the store for lunch provisions and evening beer, as well as supper we turned in for the night.  A few other MRA guys had arrived, and so the BS'ing and bench racing was going full blast in the parking lot.
The next day dawned overcast.  After the usual well-run trackaddix rider meeting, we finished setting up our pit for the weekend.
No rain (yet).  You can see that the MAM parking lot suffered from flooding last year.  The Yanks complained about the track conditions... us dumb Canadians can't get over how smooth it is compared to what we are used to!

MRA dudes Andrew and Wayne prep their bikes for the day.  The Van is a famous vehicle that some Kenora riders use.  It actually has a motorcycle muffler/slip on as an exhaust system.  It doesn't quite sound like a gixxer, though...
As usual, my bike is ready to go, and Wilson is tinkering with his... it IS a two-stroke after all.  It hadn't run since last fall, and Wilson had rebuilt the engine the previous week.  When he got it started, he gave big bikes fits all weekend!
We were able to get 3 sessions in the morning done before the rain came.  A bit of rain is no big deal, but thunderstorms were developing, and the MAM employees reviewed the tornado safety plan.  Apparently Omaha was ringed with twisters.  We sat out the rain waiting for it to clear up...
...and it only got worse.  The track officials called it a day at around 2pm, with the promise of running longer on Sunday.  No good to us as we have to leave early to get back in time.  Hoping for good weather on Sunday, we begged a spot in the concession building to put our bikes overnight, and headed back to the hotel.

Good thing we did.  Our area was under Tornado Condition (TorCon) 9... TorCon 10 means twisters are iminent.  Not having anything better to do in the meantime, the MRA crew (numbering about 20) trucked into Omaha for pizza and beer.  Great fun!  Over in Oklahoma, a tornado killed 5 people overnight.  None the wiser, we slept OK that night.

Wilson breaks the bikes out of the overnight lockup.  No rain for Sunday, although very high winds forecasted.  This turned out to be very accurate, and by 2pm, after 4 sessions in the early part of the day, winds were steady at 40mph, gusting to 60.  Not a comfortable condition to ride in.  We called it a day, packed up the vehicle, and started the trek home.  Got in a 6pm on Monday, after an overnight in Souix Falls, SD.
The riding itself went pretty well.  My best time was a 1:52:958... not the fastest, but not the slowest -- 12th out of 21 who ran transponders.  Aside from one other 650 and Wilson's TZ, all the other bikes were 600s, literbikes, or tuned Ducatis.  Granted faster (and slower) riders did go out without transponders, but I certainly didn't make a fool of myself.  The slipper clutch works well, the exhaust appears to be fine, and most importantly, my head still is in it.  The brakes are still frustratingly weaker than I'd like (although not dangerous, just not ideal), and I was able to get on the gas very early... I think that is why my times improved from last year.  That being said, the 180 rear slick was running way too cool (its a medium compound) and despite lowering the rear pressure, I could not get the correct heat into it.  Thus it provided exceptional grip until the cold tearing condition really started to damage the tire.  By the time I was done, the tire was also done.  Normally I could expect to get 1-2 more race weekends out of a rear, but this hoop is shot.  I need to run a soft tire if the 180 is used.

A few laps from the onboard camera...

All in all, an excellent trip.  No vehicle troubles (2 or 4), and while I have some tweaking to do before round 1, its pretty straightforward.  Roll on round 1!

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