Friday, April 25, 2014

A long time comin' (but well worth the wait...)

 A reference for you Tragically Hip fans in the title... the first round of spring training arrived over the Easter long weekend, and Wilson and I trucked down to Mid-America Motoplex to do a track weekend with Trackaddix/Ducati Omaha.  Left early on Friday, and headed south.  Stopped in at our usual gas stops once we crossed the border (after a slightly lengthy delay at Pembina).  Can't recall the name of the town, but gas and food in the "complex" was a part of the process.  Within spitting distance, Subway, Fuel, McDonalds, a few hotels, and "Kandi's Adult Boutique".  Still too chicken to go inside.  Bizarre combination to say the least.
 Every year we wonder if Kandi's will still be standing, but the nondescript store remains.  In what has become a running joke for Wilson and I, whenever we go to the states, we face either a strong headwind or torrential rain one, if not both ways.  Guess which direction we were driving... After 12 hours and 1200km, we rolled into Council Bluffs, IA, and got into our rooms at the Bluff View motel, about 1 mile from the track.  The other Canucks had also arrived or were on their way as well, with the Ontario riders having to drive through snow!

 Breakfast the next morning was at the neighboring gas station... a MAM tradition.  Not even sure it has a name, but it is simply a small cafe attached to the BP station.  We resisted the temptation of Biscuits and Gravy (Wilson said it reminded him of "dog puke", and it does look like it!), sticking with toast and eggs, and frighteningly horrible coffee.  Like 'muircan beer, their coffee is a tad weak.  Best bumper sticker:  "Made in America or not made at all!"  Ironic that at the nearby track, there were no American motorcycles... mainly Italian ones.                                                                                                                                                                             In the pits.  Blatantly using an RV as a bit of a windbreak, we set up our canopy.  Wilson's EX is in the foreground... you can see that I reverted back to the KTM fairing, considering the length of MAM's straight.  More on that later.
 Cooking the tires, ready to go.  The usual trackaddix efficiency meant that sessions started on time, and a lack of crashes meant very few delays.  The usual "first ride of the year" butterflies abated quickly when we hit the track.  A lot of brand-new machines made an appearance, with the yanks having a number of 899 Panigales and 1199s to tool around on.  A few very fast and fearless ex250s were also ripping.  Only 3 ex650s, and I think a couple of SVs.  Vast majority, of course, were 600 machines.

 End of day 1... throw all the stuff haphazardly in the back of the truck and go for pizza and beer.  At the end of day 1 I was doing 1:52s.  A bit slower than I'd like, but I seemed stuck there.  The following morning I overheard a conversation between one of the local fast guys/instructors, and tried some different lines into an increasing-radius turn... very quickly I was able to lop off another 3 seconds.  For one brief shining moment, I had the 3rd fastest lap time... and then the other riders went out for session #2.  Oh well...

 In the end, I was able to turn over 100 laps on the weekend, even after heading for home at 3pm on Sunday (and avoiding a thunderstorm in the process).  "I got blisters on me fingers!"... and, depending on which lap timer you believe, I did a high 1:48 lap (or a 1:49 flat).  My XT says 1:48:9, so that's what I'm gonna trust!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Before we headed back home, we did poke about the new machines we saw along the pit lane.  A friendly guy in the B-group let me ogle his 899.  Very trick machine!

 The cockpit, with a go-pro camera mounted (I think).
 Traction control, wheelie control, ABS, and garage door opener (not sure about the last one).
It fits quite well, don't you think?  The purchase price plus race/track prep means I am sitting astride a $20,000 motorcycle, or thereabouts.  After the experiments I tried over this weekend, aside from the engine debacle (more on that later), the fuel tank worked perfectly, the forks were set up well, and the bike didn't skip a beat.  The Translogic quickshifter is one of the few bolt-ons for my 650 that actually works as advertised.  No set-up -- a turn-key modification that allowed for full throttle upshifts right from the get-go.  IMHO, the best quickshifter money can buy.  If you have an EX, spend the additional money and buy that one!  Overnight in Souix Falls SD, and the usual headwind gales back home on Monday.  Awesome weekend!

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