I’ve been in a little bit of a slump recently. This season, I’ve been riding a 2008 cbr1000rr that has been through the hands of two of my friends. The bike is an absolute monster with every bazzaz bolt on possible, as well as a quick shifter and all the suspension mods I’ll ever need. This bike set up to get as much horsepower out of the 1000cc engine as possible, and that leaves no room for error. The following video is a small clip of my last fall at TWS the time before last.
The go down happens right at 14:28 (Video curtesy of Umayr Kaleem, subscribe to his videos)
So lets step through what has happened here.
- It’s the third session of the day, my second. It had been a while since I’d ridden this bike and I was already trying to work towards my old pace, instead of remaining calm and working on my basics throughout the day.
- That body position. Why is my body position not like how I usually ride? I narrowed this down to my vision. This season I seem to have taken a step back and have not raised my vision up to where it usually is. Always look as far ahead as you possibly can and work with reference points. If your vision is anywhere near the front of your bike, you tend to go there and your body reacts accordingly, thus modifying your body position. Normally, my shoulders are much lower then where they are here, and that would have helped me keep my line tighter
- This line. The horseshoe at TWS is a notoriously slow corner as is, but if you remain on the middle/outside of this part of the track you get caught up in the garbage that flies off of people’s tires as they take the more correct, tighter line. Here, I believe that caught up with me and allowed for my front to slip out from under me.
It’s these three factors that I contribute the most to my fall this day…. But that’s all fine and well. A few weeks later, I fixed the bike (new fairings, clip ons, exhaust, MBC, and throttle), and we were back out there.
At this point I took the bike to Harris Hill for it’s initial shakedown since rebuild with my friend Ben Hunter. That day was enjoyable as I made it out slowly picking up my pace, and made it home with my bike intact and a few things adjusted to my own liking. I think it’s paramount that after adjusting your bike, or not riding it for a while, to really take the time to feel it out, and get back to basics. Any small change on a motorcycle turns out to be a big change on a motorcycle at high speed. Please remember this. As an example, take the movement of clip-ons in or out a few millimeters. From a distance it’s hardly noticeable, but when you actually ride the bike it can be a completely different beast. With this change your leverage become drastically different, your wrist position become drastically different, etc. Take into account these small changes, and learn to work your way into them when finding out your own personal preferences.
Cool, we got the bike adjusted, time to ride at TWS again! Labor day Monday was spent with my friends Ben, Noble, and Jorge. Here the plan was to still work into the bike, since it still had only been one full track day since I rebuilt it. The day started out well. Two sessions in, and I was riding slower, but was picking up my vision and working on my basics. Then it all stopped…. I came out of turn 10 and noticed a strange knocking noise coming from the left side of the bike. Shift into another gear…. okay the bike sounds fine but I need to get off the race line and limp it into the pit…. Up against the fence at the pit… oil… all over the right side of the bike. What the hell? oil filter? tight, Drain bolt? tight. At this point I pushed the bike back to where we were pitted at, and took a closer look. Quickly I noticed that I had a small hole in the motor underneath my starter….. so that’s it. Rod pushed through block and the motor is toast. I cant tell you how demoralizing this is. Three goes at TWS and 3 times, I take the bike home not running correctly.
I have had literally the worst luck with this bike. I’ve had people mock me and tell me to give up on this bike. I’ve had people tell me about how great my last bike was because it never broke. For me, I’ve thought through it all. Do I give up on this bike? Do I fix it and sell it? Do I just part it out and move on? Not this time. I know this bike is a beast. It may very well be too much bike for me and it may very well be a huge pain in my ass every time it breaks down, but what these people don’t understand is just how much fun this bike is when it’s on point. I feel like a damn fighter pilot out there with my squadron taking down the enemy bogies as we battle through each and every turn. It’s literally a raging bull and holding on to it induces a rush that gives me that quick fix of adrenaline that all racers are chasing. But even more than that it’s the challenge. I’ve given up on a few projects in my life, and have regretted it each and every time. This time I won’t give up. I must persevere and show MYSELF that I can push through these obstacles. It’s all a part of riding motorcycles fast, and anything that’s worth it will take hard work and determination, and that’s what I’m going give.
So is my riding season done? My hopes of racing in a CMRA race this year may be, but riding all together? no. I’ll slap some race tires on my RC51, and ride out a few track days because I can’t stop myself from riding motorcycles. It’s what I love to do. It’s what I look forward to doing on weekends when I’m not hanging out with my better half and our dogs. It’s ingrained in my soul, and I can’t deny myself that passion. In the mean time, I’ll be motor shopping for the CBR and pinching pennies to try and make it happen in order to make it through the less glamorous side of racing motorcycles. Keep your head up, focus, and work towards your goals.