Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Success, Nearly

Racing Makes Heroin Addiction Look Like a Vague Wish for Something Salty.

-Peter Egan

Mr. Egan, having written about races and observed racers' at-times feverish and obsessive behavior for decades, is one who would know.  Get me to the track and going fast and I'll do anything.  Its a feeling and behavior that, try as you will to explain to a non-racer, is just not transmittable by any other medium than experience.

It really started hitting as Jamie pulled the sprinter into the loading dock.  Between his optimism and mine on what parts, tools and rituals may be needed during the weekend I had to leave my XR100 pit bike home.  The first time I actually own a pit bike and it won't make it to the track.  Foiled again!

The short trip to NJMP was uneventful and we pitted and unloaded into garage 112.  The Rotacular was honored to share the garage with a sweet Seeley G50 and an even sweeter Norton Spaceframe continuation model.  Usually the Rotacular has to associate with more pedestrian motorcycles, this weekend it was purpose-built racers only!

Friday practice was uneventful, if you consider excessive sweating, mis-shifting, and in general acting like a moving chicane most of the day uneventful.  Race shift pattern, how about that!  Why is everyone going so fast?  I think we had 5 sessions and it was only the last session that my brain remembered what I was there for.  I put a couple of laps together at the end of the day that at least felt like something could come of the rest of the weekend.  Jamie got the G50 going but still had a little fettling to do to the Spaceframe.  A successful day at the track ended with a nice meal at the Old Oar House pub.

Waking up in the morning to an unmuffled CB160 racer is an experience that everyone should have the pleasure of living without.  Knowing the Rotacular was practice session 4 I tried to soldier through the CB's warmup cycle but it was fruitless.  Up and at 'em!, even though I was in the unusual situation of having nothing to do but roll through tech, which was a breeze.

The single morning practice session felt familiar and then after a few hours of slowly building tension I was lining up for Race 6.  Helmet Buckled?  Check.  Visor Down?  Check.  Race Face On?  YOU BET YOUR ASS!!!!!!!  Red Mist Active?  I hope not.

The green flag waved, I pulled a small wheelie and away we all were.  It felt nice to be in a pack and jostling for position again.  After a bit of a slow start I started getting into a groove and passing some people.  AHRMA runs multiple classes per race wave so sometimes its hard to know who is in your actual race but it makes it more fun with more passing opportunities.  As the laps went by I felt better and better on the bike.  I always found it easier to go fast with a target to pull me forward and with the multi-multi wave start there were plenty.  As usual the 8 laps went by much too quickly and the checkered flag came out, later finding out giving me 3rd place!  A very satisfying result and the bike ran flawlessly with no oil or water discharge.  Later they insisted on giving me an award!

Jamie also did well with a 3rd place but had trouble getting the Spaceframe to run well.  Checking the timing was one of the first steps but with all our preparation and luggage neither one of us had a degree wheel.  Hmmmmm, where can we get something round with 360 even divisions around the edge?  Almost like a plate or plaque with a fancy scroll around the edge.  Now where on earth would we find one (or two) of those?

Still thinking?  After a bit of close observation I realized that our trophies fit the bill exactly!  A quick hole in the middle and a sharpie mark and presto, the trophy to degree wheel conversion is complete.
Fitted into the end of the crank we were able to verify that the timing was.......correct.  Damn, next item.
It ended up that one of the carbs was gunked up a bit, he cleaned it out and the bike worked fine.

That was tiring, so we needed another steak at the Old Oar House.

In Sunday practice I felt the best yet.  The hours between practice and the race were not filled with tension but with anticipation.  Just before the race a light rain sprinkle started.  Perfect!  No really, I like racing in the rain and especially in very light rain where slicks are still the best option.  I was extremely excited going out for the warmup lap.  So excited that somehow I stalled the bike and was unable to restart it.  I suspect that in my excitement my foot was street pattern shifting and it bogged the engine down and with a big high compression single when it goes down low it stalls.  Even though I was going about 50mph at the time I couldn't bump start it as the bike has a (apparently very effective) custom slipper clutch that whenever I tried to bump the bike it just.........slipped.  Until it slowly came to a stop in the middle of turn 8.  Damn.

I had to wheel the bike over to the barriers and watch the race from the sidelines and was not a happy camper.  To add insult to injury when they picked me up they would not take the bike at the same time, I had to pick it up from tech later and do the walk of shame down the paddock.

The next hour was pretty crappy being pissed at myself but in the end I had a mostly good weekend, didn't crash and the bike behaved well all weekend and still ran.  Jamie had an uneventful race, we packed up and headed home.

It took me a day or two after being home to talk myself down from getting a new set of tires and hitting the next NJMP track day.  Or CCS race.  Or whoever is there.  Can you open the gates for me?  Please?  PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, it was great to be in the AHRMA paddock again.  It is filled with great people and interesting machines.  There is racing for everyone, from those loud CB160s to a new Ducati Panigale.  It was good to reconnect with some friends that I have not seen in some years.  Well, for 5 years as the bloc postings go.

I'm looking forward to running again at Barber Motorsports Park in October.  I'll at least not be that rusty and can't wait to ride that country club of a race track.

Until then.....