Wednesday, May 29, 2013

(Not) Too Cool for School

During the course of this school year I was chatting with my grade 5/6 teachers about the Science curriculum.  I always had a desire to come in with the bike and try to connect some of the science outcomes with what I do, as well as inspire them to be lifelong learners.  After some initial talks, I went through the documents and saw a connection between the unit(s) on Simple Machines, as well as Forces.  I put together a presentation, made final arrangements, booked a spare classroom, and brought the bike in to show the kids.  I ended up doing 3 presentations to approximately 25 students each, so 75 or so kids hopefully saw a connection between a "pulley" and a throttle, and understood the forces at work keeping a motorcycle upright while in motion, but also cause it to tip over while stopped (among other things!)
 Giving it the berries!  While it looks I am about to give a "whoop whoop!", I was encouraging the student to give that pulley a twist!
Body position -- remember, on a bike, 1/3 to 1/2 of the weight of the machine (the rider) is dynamic... it can move around to help it stop, turn, and accelerate.
 I also lectured them a bit about safety gear.  Manitoba has made it mandatory for kids under 18 to wear bike helmets while riding bicycles.  Good!  I also talked about leathers, hence the photo of the cow in the sidecar on the powerpoint.

Due to time constraints I hadn't been able to properly clean the bike, so there were still dead Nebraskan bugs on the front of the machine.  Perhaps added an air of realism!
A big thanks goes out to Transcanada Motorsports and Vortex Racing.  Both donated items to me to give away at the presentation... kids who answered some questions at the end left with some swag!

All in all, a fun day and I think the kids got a kick out of it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mancation 2013

Doug, Wilson, and I decided to head down south to Motorsports Park Hastings in Nebraska in mid-May (Victoria Day long weekend) for a trackday/tune up.  A bit of a drive (13 hours) from Brandon, but we have developed a bit of a system over time.  Doug and I meet at 6am in Brandon, get to Killarney at 7, load everything up, and then head south when the border opens at 8am.  Each of us drives for a a 4-hour stint (works out to a tank of gas) and we arrive in decent time.  A good night's sleep and we are good to go for Saturday am.
MPH is a new track to me, as well as Doug, so we were to go out for a few orientation laps with the Trackaddix riders.  As usual, we missed the pit exit, the guys went out with another group, so Doug and I went out for 2 laps on our own, came into the hot chute as flagged, and then immediately went out with the A group when the track went green again.  Not ideal, but I muddled my way around the track and sorta learned the place.

Coming in after the first stint, I snapped a few pics of the impressive facility, as well as the fancy rigs that tend to show up at these trackdays.  Makes Gimli look like something out of the 1970s!

We were able to take Doug's awning, and needlessly dragged his 10hp genny down with us. MPH has tons of plug ins (even 220v!) independently fused.  The track owner came by the following morning and asked for a $10 donation for power.  Good deal!
For some reason, my bike seemed to get a lot of attention.  I know it isn't immediately apparent what it even is, but a guy on a limited edition KTM RC8 came to talk to me about it.  In turn, I drooled over his bike.  He threw me the keys and I carefully tootled around the paddock.  Unfortunately it did not cure me of my desire to own one someday...
The good news is, I got back to being used to riding at speed on a track fairly quickly.  I felt quite comfortable, considering the degree of changes I had made to the bike since I last rode it.  I made a few tweaks to the shock, but I was very happy with the forks.  No more bottoming, and still supple enough to do the job!  Thank you Racetech!!!  The bike ran cool (the oversize radiator doing its job), and ergonimically, things felt right.  Over the course of the day, though, I did feel stiff as MPH is a busy track with lots of turns!  A good workout for sure.
As for bragging rights, Doug threw down the gauntlet and turned some very impressive times on both days, making fools of a number of 600 riders.  Wilson and I were 4-5 seconds behind, with my lap times becoming static, while Wilson was improving in leaps and bounds as he got used to his new (to him) ex650.  We had some really fun dices during the two days.  His bike was marginally faster in a straight line (he always won the drag race out of the last turn), he was also fast through some of the sweepers, but I could gain ground on the double apex corners and left-right-left combinations.  
On Sunday, Wilson missed doing yardwork at home so he headed off track for some lawn maintenance...
Thankfully he kept it upright and didn't go down.  Furthermore, he continued to go faster and turned a lap time in the high 1:45s... and I couldn't break the 1:46 mark... so he got bragging rights by 0.3 of a second for the drive home.  At least he didn't rub it in (too much).

In revenge, I'll post a video of me dicing with him on track...