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.

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