Saturday, August 31, 2013

Stolen Pics

A few photos I have snagged from other MRA members...
At the awards presentation ceremony at the last round, on Saturday evening.  In typical club racer/privateer fashion, we were summoned to the presentation in the midst of me servicing my bike.  No mechanics or Dunlop truck to change tires for me.  I was midway spooning on a new rear tire for Sunday's racing.  So no nice Pilot, Racetech, or Speigler shirt... an old Oakley t-shirt that I had no problem getting dirty doing wrenching work at the track.  At least I was able to write down all the sponsors to thank!  Thanks to Cynthia of HFR for the photo!

This is a picture of 2013 Novice Thunderbike Champion and mechanic extraordinaire, Geoff Ives, in the foreground.  You can see me in one of my rare occasions of being in front of Glen.  I believe this was the first race of round 4.  I eventually got by Geoff after his jackrabbit start, but Glen also finished in front of me as well...

At least I can claim these photos as my own.  Better take some shots now, in case the pretty thing is thrown down the track at the last round of the season!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Paint and Sprocket

The last week of holidays gave me the time to prep and paint the tank to match the rest of the bike.  A fairly easy process -- just used some 350 grit on the decals to remove them, and feathered that out to 400 on the rest of the tank.  This coat of clear went on far smoother than the fairings, but I think I might have been fractionally off on the mix -- after a few days, the clear still seems a bit "soft".... and I am out of clear.  I'll leave it as is and see how it holds up.  I've read on the interweb about how it is best to err on the side of extra hardner; well, I was basically dry on the hardner, so it is what it is.  I'll give it some more time to cure, install the gripster pads to the side of the tank, and what will be will be.

I'm always reminding the race school students to draw a track map and reflect on their riding; their shift points, turn in points, what gear they are using, etc.  As long as I have been coming to Gimli, I have always been thinking about this stuff.  The last 2 rounds made me realize that I was NOT needing to shift into 6th on the two straights.  Holding 5th into the over-rev didn't cost me any time, and saved 1 downshift on 2 places on the track.  With that in mind, I decided to experiment with a larger rear sprocket.
The idea of going up in my gearing (or down, depending on how you think about it) should (in theory) provide a few benefits.  The acceleration will obviously improve.  I'm looking forward to some improved starts.  Not that they are particularly bad, but I'll take any advantage since I am starting from row 2.  Hopefully this advantage will continue through the gears, and allow me to "pull' 6th gear on the two straights.  It will cost me another upshift and downshift, but if a higher top speed, combined with quicker acceleration is the result, lower lap times might be in the cards.  Of course one can go too low, but I can at least explore the theory.  The wheelbase will also be shortened up a bit, and that might also help with some quicker handling.  We shall see...

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Day (or 4) at the Races

I was originally going to do this for the last round, but because I left my camera at the track (thanks Rene/Bob for grabbing it for me) these had to wait.  They are a bit of a compilation of rounds 4 and 5.

 Just about ready to hit the road.  I have a checklist in a binder to keep track of all the stuff I have acquired over the years to bring to the track.  Ironically, this was the first time in over a decade of racing that I forgot to bring HOME something I brought to the track...

On the road.  Good old Trans Canada Highway #1.  About 80% of the Canadian population lives within 2 hours of the US border, so our main highway is #1.  I believe there are still a few areas where it is still 2-way, but the majority is 2 lane divided, and even more lanes around larger centers like Toronto or Calgary.  Out on the bald prairie, that's not the case.

As much as I wonder about a better race hauler, the Mazda does a decent job.  I drive it like a granny -- this is my favorite sight when towing the trailer.  In overdrive, the engine nicely turning over at around 2000 rpm, and doing the national speed limit of 60 mph/100 kph.  I think I get pretty decent fuel mileage cruising along like this.  Not sure if there is a vehicle, short of a diesel Mercedes Sprinter van, that would get good mileage and haul a bike and a bunch of gear.

You've got to love Canada... railway is king, especially freight.  Our railways rarely bother to haul people, but in terms of getting grain to the east or goods to the west, nothing gets in the way of the railroad... including highway traffic!  Can you imagine STOPPING in the middle of I-90 in the states or the M-whatever in the UK for a train?  Having traveled a little on superhighways in the USA and Europe, this makes me chuckle every time.

After heading North at Winnipeg, I drive into the area known as the "Interlake".  Beautiful scenery when you get to some of the resorts around Lake Winnipeg -- the town of Gimli in particular is nice in the summer.   But getting there can be a quiet and lonely journey.  No traffic for miles!  And this is 2-way traffic, of course.

At the track the other racers have already begun to set up their pit locations in the paddock.

My sleeping quarters for two nights.  Being shorter of stature, I am able to stretch out and sleep in the back of the Mazda.  An inflatable mattress over top of foam, with a sleeping bag, is certainly tolerable.  In the upper left corner of the pic you can see the screen duct taped into the rear window opening.  Need a breeze in the evening, however mosquitoes will eat you alive, so you can't really sleep under the stars cowboy-style.  Gear is kept inside, as it often rains overnight.  May and September rounds are particularly chilly, and I've slept with a toque on my head to stay warm.

The bike under the awning, with the tires cooking for the next session.  This was after race 1 on Sunday... trying to air out the leathers as the humidity was pretty high.

Gratuitous blingy wheel shot.

Race report:
It was a great weekend for me, as I scored another two podiums (both 2nd place finishes) after a Saturday spent working with another 9 new novice trackday riders.  Two weekends in a row with healthy numbers of new riders is a good sign for any club.  Hopefully the trend continues.  I was able to get some good video of the riders, dole out a few pointers, and answer some questions as well.  Later on in the day I was able to get out with the advanced trackday riders, which allowed me to circulate the track at speed, in preparation for the next day's racing.  After a morning rain shower, lap times were slower than usual, and with a fierce wind, nobody was breaking any records.  In preparation for this round, I went down one tooth on the rear, hoping that combined with my fairing, I would be able to pull a higher terminal speed on the front straight.  Using a z1000 gauge, the speedo is miles off -- it was reading 145mph last round, without a fairing!  However everything is relative and it gave me a figure to compare to.  With the wind and the gearing change, I went no faster... I still hit an indicated 145 on the front straight.  However for the first time all year I passed a fellow sv650 rider on the straight... something I could never do with the naked bodywork.  At the end of the day I fitted a new rear tire, reverted back to the 45t rear sprocket and got ready for Sunday.

I was pleased to see during practice on Sunday morning a "152" appear on the speedo.  As well, the bike seemed to accelerate faster with the fairing (as well as the rear sprocket change, but I rode that gearing all year without a fairing)... this should bode well for the races!  7 mph increase in top speed on a 71hp bike is nothing to sneeze at.

Sunday saw me start from the 5th position on the grid, again due to missing out on points in round 1 and 2, and also skipping the Saturday races for instructing duties.  In race 1 I got a decent start, slotted into 4th, and began to work my way forward.  I was able to get by Mert by lap two, and Jason by lap 3 or 4... but aside from keeping Glen in sight for a couple of laps, I never really challenged him at all.  I crossed the line in 2nd, 7 seconds adrift, and 15 or so seconds ahead of the 3rd place finisher.  Aside from a 1:06 on lap 3, my times were consistently 1:07s... again, a bit slower than I'd like, but all lap times were down on what they usually were.

Race 2 was a far more dramatic affair, with me entering turn 1 in 4th again off the start.  This race it took me awhile to get by Mert, and by this time Jason had extended his lead on me from his pole position start.  By lap 7 I was able to draw even with him entering turn 1, but backed off as he had the better line; I did get by on lap 8, and then spent the next few circuits riding defensively, as I could always hear his booming SV right behind me through all the turns.  On the white flag lap, I was still leading out of turn 5, with only the fast 6-7-8 combination and turn 9 left in order to maintain my position.  It should be secure, although a lapped rider appeared not too far ahead.  Depending when I caught up, it could be perfect timing, or terrible timing.  As luck would have it, I came up on the rider entering turn 9; he went wide while I hugged the inside (another blocking move on Jason), and I held on for a photo finish, 0.7 seconds ahead.  An entertaining race, and satisfying in that luck turned in my favor on this occasion.  Still 7 seconds adrift of the winner (Glen again), but not miles away.

Aside from replacing a fork seal, the bike will remain as is for the final round of the season.  I'm shooting for another 2 podiums again as a goal to round out the year.  Hopefully that can boost me up to 5th in the standings (for the 3rd straight year!).  However, with club racing, you never know who is going to show up, and with what bike.

Geoff Ives managed to set the cams in my engine at the racetrack over the weekend (top fella!), so the superbike engine is basically ready for the final pieces for assembly.  If things go according to plan, I'll swap it in after the last race, get it broken in and dynoed before fall ends, and mothball it for the brutal 5 months of winter.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Headlong Progress

I tried once to put the cylinder on without a piston ring compressor tool, to no avail.  I ordered a simple one from Transcanada, and after it arrived, a quick stop at Princess Auto for a torque wrench saw me return home hoping for success.  Short of a spare set of hands, it took awhile, but I was able to seat the cylinder on the case, with the rings oriented in their right locations around the piston.  Job done!
For now, the cams, cam caps and guides are just put in loosely.  RLR racing sent me the Kent Cams specs for the new cams, which are adjustable.  With no experience on how to degree cams, I am going to leave it for someone else to do, incorporating the proper tools.  I'd love to "watch" it being done, if possible.  I've built a lot of engines which just had cam sprocket marks to orient the cams at TDC -- a KTM, a Suzuki engine, the Ducati 900ss engine (which had belts, of course!)  At this point, and error on my part, due to having no experience, would undo all the work and expense I have put into the engine so far.  When in doubt, chicken out.  I've got a line on a potential guru in Winnipeg that might be able to help me out.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fairings finished

Poor photos again (iPhone), but it gives you the idea...

Kinda reminds me of the Ducati Corse paint option on late model 848s... mine of course is done with Tremclad.  It has 2 coats of clear overtop.

It is on straight!  Bike is a bit cockeyed in the front stand, and I am taking the pic at an angle.  Unfortunately the end result of the clear is some pretty serious orange peel.  Oh well, its a racebike, right?

Sponsor decals along the lower bellypan.  Thanks for the support!

The racier fairing necessitated moving the reservoirs inboard -- not a bad idea regardless, as they are protected in the event of a crash.  I am using proper clear Tyvex tubing for brakes from Curvygirl.