Tuesday, September 2, 2008

lean angle

still recovering from my 2nd track day on a bike.. again at pocono east, this time with NESBA.   great club, kickass instructors!

since i’ve reached a point where my learning curve is leveling off for autox and i've gotten pretty good at sliding a car around a track, it was time for a new challenge.  my love for 2 wheels resulted in the next logical step.  i started riding on a 250cc ninja back in college which is all i could afford at the time.  the price of admission was only $1150 so it was great poorman’s fun!   sold it when i graduated and i really never had a desire to ride on the street here at home.   so after a 10 year break, i’m back on a bike and now a novice again!  It’s actually very cool to be the student. 

i had gotten my feet wet on a street-legal yamaha r6 earlier this year and decided it would be wiser to buy a track-only bike..  not only is the upfront cost slightly less, but it also is cheaper to repair/replace race bodywork if and when you go down.  no expensive street parts to break! 

here are some of my 2 wheel learning experiences that i’ll try to share- 

as with cars, proper lines are the key to quick laptimes..  turning in too early will pinch you on the exits.  very bad.  backing off the throttle and/or applying the brakes while leaned over is not a good feeling.. bikes like to have rearward weight bias, i.e., they like to have the throttle cracked open (compare the shape of front vs rear tires on a bike to understand why)

trailbraking (self-preservation tendencies) into a corner causes the bike to want to stand up, not naturally fall-in to the corner to turn.  it’s a battle between balls and fear.  again, as with cars, nailing the corner entry is everything.   except with the bike, going in too fast will probably result in pain.

when your kneepucks touch the ground, it’s not a pleasant feeling- it’s hard plastic grinding on the rough track surface at a high speed.. takes a little getting used to.  you naturally want to stop leaning at that point and start picking the bike up..  another feeling to overcome.  the lightbulb went on for me when i built the confidence to continue to crank the bike over.  more lean angle = higher cornering speeds.  bingo. quicker lap times. 

i finally experienced what the pros refer to when they say they, ‘get in a good rhythm’.. everything flows very nicely when you’re not fighting the bike.  taking the right lines, smooth inputs, good corner entry speed...  a kickass feeling once you have the confidence to carry the speed that results in fluid direction changes.  it all comes together.

what’s my end goal?  joey is optimistic and says i’ll prolly be instructing by 2010 but that might be pushing it.  maybe instructing will be a byproduct of my real goal- to have the control to carry a shit-ton of speed into a corner, 'back the bike in' with the tail out, then powerslide out of the corner.  what i dream of.  if i can accomplish that, i will be satisfied, hang up the helmet, and find another challenge!  here’s an example:


for me, there is nothing more satisfying than taking on a new challenge and being on the steep part of that learning curve.   i had to pinch myself after waking up monday morning to confirm if getting that knee down and railing around corners actually took place on sunday.  

trying to share the feeling is nothing like experiencing it firsthand.  so it's only logical for you to join me at the track!  holunfie2 needs to be formed.


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