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EX#434 - Round 3 - RIDICULOUSLY LONG

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    You dont know slow... PainfullySlow's Avatar
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    EX#434 - Round 3 - RIDICULOUSLY LONG

    Arrival

    I was looking forward to the 89th running of the Loudon Classic in a big way. I was 3rd in overall points for the GTL series, I had a lot of friends and family showing up to watch the races, and I was going to be riding a recently acquired 2009 GSXR 600 in addition to my SV650.

    We set out for the track early Thursday morning, intending on getting in some afternoon practice to shake down the new GSXR since I had only gotten it a few days before. Traffic was a mess even at this time of day and it took longer than expected to arrive at the track. Once I saw the familiar banner for NHMS, all of the stress was forgotten and I was looking forward to the next 6 days at the track.

    Thursday Practice
    Practice was scheduled to run from 1pm until 7pm but I missed the first two sessions while I was setting up our trailer and getting the pits sorted. I had to put some new sneakers on the GSXR courtesy of MTAG Pirelli and began the process of trying to get the suspension sorted.

    There are many reasons for me to break into the middleweight class, the one that the GSXR runs in; most of the series has their attention on this class, it would be another challenge to overcome, but mostly I wanted this bike because of the extra speed. Not because I wanted to go faster, but I wanted to become comfortable at higher speeds which would help to slow things down for me on the SV. In essence, this was a training tool to use for my lightweight campaign on the SV650.

    The first few practices felt good on the SV and incredibly awkward on the GSXR. I hadn’t seriously ridden an inline 4 bike in over 10 years and it felt completely foreign to me. Nearly everything is different about the bike. The engine rev’s to the moon, power is made much higher in the RPMs than on my trusty V-Twin, and it felt much taller in the saddle so turning was going to be different. Also this bike is a true race machine, born and bred and had all the accoutrements of such. I had never ridden a bike with traction control or a quick shifter and so was definitely out of my element.

    My initial practices on the GSXR were slow and methodical as I began to feel out the bike a little bit however after two sessions on it and its much higher top end speed I was beginning to realize the benefits of swapping between it and the SV. On my third session of the SV I realized that I was braking far too early and was able to push my brake markers way back..the result was a 1:18.8 in practice which is 0:0.1 second off of my personal best time on it.

    Two laps later my SV reminded me of her dominance in the pits and showed her displeasure at having to share pit space with “the new girl”. I had just entered the front straight and began my drive when the motor locked up solid with a loud “bang”. The rear wheel locked and began to skid as I struggled to keep the bike upright at over 100mph. She fishtailed back and forth, lock to lock, while the tire screamed in protest but somehow I managed to keep the bike upright. I looked back at the several hundred feet of “darkie” and counted myself fortunate.

    With a lot of help we pushed her back into the pits (THANK YOU to Jeff Vader and our corner workers/NHMS staff!) as the rear wheel wouldn’t even spin reliably with the clutch pulled in. Later I would discover that a transmission gear blew apart and locked up everything. I wasn’t running a camera at the time since it was just practice but here is a shot of what happens to a rear wheel when you decide to drag it across the pavement at 100mph.

    RearTire.wmv - YouTube

    It was a moment of mixed emotions as the adrenaline faded from my body. I knew that motor troubles are a risk when building a competitive superbike so while it was unfortunate, I cannot say that I was truly upset about the damage, it is simply the price of admission in the superbike brackets. I was VERY thankful to have escaped without crashing and was trying to look at this bright point however my hopes were crushed as I realized that I could probably kiss my aspirations of a GTL points podium goodbye.

    I was determined to make the most of the weekend and tried to put the motor issues aside and try to get comfortable on the GSXR as it was now my sole ride for the weekend.

    I did two more sessions on the GSXR in an attempt to get as much seat time as possible. The bike still felt very foreign to me and I was having a very difficult time with shift points as I was completely unaccustomed to riding a motorcycle with a 17k redline.

    By the end of the day I managed to click off a best lap of 1:20.458 which I had no choice but to accept as my best effort for the day.

    I would like to take a moment to touch on the LRRS community. After my engine trouble with the SV I was very depressed in the fact that it likely spelled the end of my chances at a GTL points podium. There were many racers that came by the pits to check on me after the mishap and upon hearing my plight, no less than eight people offered their motorcycles to me so that I could try to salvage some points. Some of these racers I barely knew! This is truly a humbling experience and I am genuinely thankful to be a part of such a wonderful and close-knit community. You all ROCK!

    Friday Practice
    Initially I was not going to run a borrowed bike in GTL however after thinking it through I decided to accept the gracious offer of my teammate Jay McCarthy (AM#920) to use his SV650 so that I could salvage some points. I chose his bike because it was the closest to mine in that he had a GSXR front end on it and was running the R1/Brembo brakes which I also had.

    I had a spare set of amazing EBC GPFA brake pads (HUGE thanks to Gregg Spears of Spears Enterprises as well as EBC) and quickly tossed these on his bike. I took his SV out in one of the practices so that I could feel it out before race time and I was surprised at how similar it felt to my own bike. Other than being down about 15 horsepower (approximately 20%) it felt familiar and I quickly got comfortable on it.

    I managed to click off a 1:21.225 which I felt was great considering it was a borrowed bike and so I kept my registration intact for the GTL but scrubbed the other two lightweight races I had scheduled for the weekend. I had only intended on running one middleweight race on the GSXR to get my feet wet but I signed up for several more in place of my lightweight races.

    GTL
    I was initially slated to start in 1B, front row 2nd position right next to legendary racer Rick Doucette (#6) however since there were a lot of out of town entrants due to the ASRA event as well as the Classic I ended up getting bumped to 1D which I was perfectly fine with as I prefer the outside starting positions.

    My goals were simple: do not wreck Jays bike and just roll around to collect as many points as I could safely acquire. I got a mediocre start and ended up 4th into T1 and put my head down as I knew that being down on power, I had my work cut out for me and 15 laps of very defensive riding ahead.

    I was challenged almost immediately by visiting ASRA racer Ray Hoffman (#71x) and we began going back and forth, trading positions a few times over the next few laps. I was passed by super fast guy Glenn Coolbeth (#95) on lap 5 and on the following lap I made a mistake and Ray was finally able to get past me and make it stick which pushed me back to 6th.

    Ray was making good time and I would have had to push very hard to retake my position so I decided to settle back and not risk Jays bike. Sometime around lap 11 I heard another bike closing in on me and so I pushed a bit harder. It turned out to be my friend and competitor David Dayon (#611) who passed me in T3 but went very wide. I tipped in hard, took the inside line, and retook the position immediately. At this point I recalled some words Jay said to me right before I went out on his bike “ride it like you stole it!” and with David so close on my tail I wrapped my hand around the throttle and put my head down.

    I don’t know if it was my renewed pace or just the long race taking its toll but David wasn’t able to present another challenge to me and I rolled across the line in 6th place, thankful for it to be over as 15 laps is one hell of a long race!

    I was very pleasantly surprised to find that nearly all of my laps were in the 1:20s

    Finish: 6th out of 22
    Best Lap: 1:20.181

    Middleweight Superbike
    This was to be my first middleweight race. I was very excited and a bit nervous to get out there on the GSXR with so little seat time and I rolled out to grid up in the last row in 5C.

    I had done a few practice starts on the bike and had done “ok” but this launch went better than expected and I was pleased to roll into T1 ahead of the guys in row 4. I got passed in the chute of T11 at the end of the first lap by Brian Krett (#139) but I got a better drive and took him back as we entered the front straight. Being unaccustomed to the speed of the 600s I broke too early into T1 and Brian passed me right back and made it stick as he slowly pulled away from me.

    I struggled with the unfamiliar bike but got faster with every lap as I forced my way around the track and actually was gaining ground on Brian. I was right on his rear wheel when the white flag came out and was planning on making a pass in T9-10 however I lost traction and nearly highsided as I came around T7 losing a couple bike lengths in the process. My hopes of retaking the position were dashed as the race was red flagged as we made our way into T9.

    All in all I cannot complain about my first ride aboard the GSXR. The bike is no doubt a competent and competitive middleweight package and is far more capable than its rider at this point. It is still very much an untamed beast to ride and I have a lot of work to do to get the suspension and geometry sorted.

    Still, I beat my goal of “don’t be last” by finishing 14th and was very pleased to see that my lap times started out in the low 20’s and consistently dropped time every lap to a new personal best on the GSXR of 1.19.171 which is only 4 tenths off of my PB on the SV.

    Finish: 14th out of 20
    Best Lap: 1:19.171


    Video: MWSB Front - YouTube

    Saturday Practice

    It was another perfect day for weather and I was hoping to turn up the heat on the GSXR today. The only race I had scheduled was my first time running in the Loudon Classic. Normally the Middleweight GP class, because of the classic this was to be a 20 lap main event. I have never run anything longer than a GTL which typically runs 15 laps and I was on the still unfamiliar and much more challenging to ride GSXR.

    To make matters worse I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a truck. My triceps, shoulders, and back were so sore that I had difficulty moving. It was while I was making a few changes to the suspension settings and traction control that it occurred to me to check something as simple as clipon placement. Sure enough, the GSXR was set up with very wide grip placement so that my elbows were almost at a 90 degree angle when riding! No wonder I was sore, I was essentially doing pushups throughout the entire practice and race sessions prior. A simple adjustment put them more in line with what I was familiar with and I went out to run some laps.

    I skipped the first practice in an effort to conserve tires and made the 2nd practice where I clicked off a 1:19.184, just one tenth off of my best from yesterday’s race.

    Middleweight GP – The Loudon Classic
    I was stoked to be participating in the longest running motorcycle race in the country. 20 arduous laps lay ahead of me and I was looking forward to it. There was a huge grid which naturally I was in the back of since I was coming into the middleweights with zero points to grid with; sixth row on the inside (6A).

    My goals for this were simple: Finish the race and if possible try to beat my longtime friend and competitor Christian Smutnick who had moved into the middleweight bracket at the beginning of the season. He had more seat time than I did but I was hoping I could follow him for a tow.

    As we went out to hot pit to grid up I immediately noticed that every racer other than myself, Christian, and one other were on brand new tires. With everything going on I hadn’t even thought about it and I mentally began tallying up all of the laps that I have put on this set of tires that was new two days before. Well at this point there was nothing to be done about it so I tried to put it out of my head.

    I got a pretty good start when the flag dropped and went into turn one in the middle of a giant mess of bikes somewhere around 15th place. I really put my head down here and tried to stick like glue to the guy in front of me. I was shocked we all went into T3 in a giant mess and saw that one of the favorites to win the race, Shane Narbonne (#64) had highsided at the front of the pack and was out of the race.

    As the bikes began to separate I saw that Christian was a bit ahead of me as he had gotten a much better start so I put my head down to try to catch up. It was at this point that I was really struggling with rear tire grip and was getting some uncomfortable wheel spin coming out of 2 and going up into 4 but I tried to ignore it and trust in my new bike.

    I am told from those watching that I was gaining approximately .8 per lap on him per lap. I was right on his rear tire in lap 5 and beginning to wonder where I would attempt to make a pass when the race was red flagged and we all went back to hot pit to re-grid.

    My team came out to meet me on hot pit as we discovered that the crash had spilled some oil and required some time to clean the track surface. I am SO thankful for RSP racing and am firmly convinced that they are the best team in the series as they came to my rescue with an umbrella for shade, lots of water, and a cold wet towel to put over my head. The rest of my team came up running with my stands and tire warmers to wrap my tired Pirellis in an attempt to keep some heat in them while we all sat on the grids.

    It was about a 10 minute delay so I walked up to talk with Christian and discovered that he was also struggling with traction although it seemed that he had a worse case of it than I did. In any case I was definitely looking forward to mixing it up with him once we got under way.

    Eventually we got back to the grids and this time around I got a better launch. Unfortunately Christian made a gamble and got stuck in a giant pack of riders that I snuck around on the inside of at turn 1 and I didn’t get a chance to see him again.

    The rest of the race was somewhat mild for me as I just tried to cope with ever-decreasing rear tire grip and simply survive the remaining 15 laps in the heat. I did manage to make a few passes throughout the race which gained me two positions since my start.

    The second happiest moment of my life came when I saw that white flag signaling the last lap…I was utterly spent.

    I passed the checkered and all the weight seemed to disappear. I was gasping for breath, had next to no energy, and I was smiling from ear to ear. I saluted some of my friends watching from the turn 1 bleachers with some rev’s and sped off to do my first burnout in front of the T6 grandstand (yeah, I am a noob. 26 years of riding and this was my first real burnout) and rolled into my pits.

    My awesome team grabbed my bike from me and I just plopped down on the pavement where I stood. I was showered with water, cold towels, and congratulations from far too many people to count. I had survived my first Loudon Classic and I had set a new personal record to boot! I was now officially faster on the 600 than on my SV which was not something I expected to accomplish in one weekend.

    Finish: 14th out of 23
    Best Lap: 1:18.730


    Sunday Practice
    I skipped my first practice to replace my roasted rear tire with a fresh one from MTAG Pirelli. The second session (my first) felt fantastic and I noticed that changing the bar position yesterday had the desired effect. I was far less sore and in much better physical shape to ride the beast, henceforth known as “Lindsay” after a certain celebrity known for pitching fits and being uncontrollable =).

    I felt smooth and far more comfortable than I had been, although far from at home on the bike. I was incredibly pleased to find that I managed a 1:18.547 in practice! A new PB!

    MWSS Qualifying
    Because the Middleweight Supersport race was also serving as an ASRA race we were required to qualify for grid positions. As I was preparing to go out to do just that I discovered that somehow the power cord on my front tire warmer had been severed. My front tire wasn’t even warm to the touch. Once again my team came to the rescue as Bill Coolahan tossed his warmer on my front in an attempt to get what little heat we could into the tire in the few moments that remained.
    The qualifying sessions were 12 minutes long so I opted to not go out until the 8 minute mark. I wanted as much time on the warmers as possible which would also give me two laps to roll around on to build up heat and two actual laps at speed. Not a lot to work with but it was the best I could manage. Thank you VERY much to my team and my wife for putting up with my temper during this stressful time!

    I was pretty pissed at the turn of events but tried to make the most of it. I spent two laps making sure that I wasn’t in the way of anyone who was trying to qualify and then I picked up the pace for turned out to be only one lap left to qualify. I later found out that I hit at 1:18.6 and qualified in the middle of the pack.

    Middleweight Supersport
    This race was also extended due to the ASRA competition so I had 15 laps to run. Another exhausting day! I was beginning to feel a little more confident in the GSXR and set myself a lofty goal of hitting the 17’s.

    I honestly cannot recall much of this race. I only remember pushing hard, having the rear slide around on me in several locations, and being utterly thankful that it was over once I saw the checkered flag. The race was otherwise fairly uneventful for me until I returned to the pits to discover that I had once again broken my personal best. I have officially broken the barrier into the 17’s, if only just.

    Finish: 7th out of 15
    Best Lap: 1:17.966!


    Conclusion
    Holy cow is this thing long. I am sorry to be so verbose but there was a lot going on this weekend.

    First and foremost I wanted to send out a heartfelt thanks to all of the friends, family, and fans that came out to watch the 89th running of the Loudon Classic. It was so good to see so many faces in the stands and listen to the cheers!

    A special thanks to the corner workers, EMS staff, and NHMS staff that all put in very long hours in the hot sun make this all possible. You guys and gals are the ones that deserve the trophies after the heat of the last three days.

    I firmly believe that RSP racing is the absolute best team in the entire CCS circuit. You guys make this fun and possible for me and are so giving of your time, energy, and encouragement. It really is a humbling experience to be a part of such a great thing. THANK YOU ALL!

    I am truly fortunate to be backed by some of the best people in the business. Gregg Spears of Spears Enterprises was trying to come up with ways to keep me in the GTL brackets Thursday night for several hours. Gregg you are a true class act! Huge thanks to Tony of Tony’s Track days for the advice on how not to kill myself on my first i4 ride in 10 years, to MTAG Pirelli for the awesomely sticky sneakers, to Sportbike Track Gear for all of the bits and pieces that help me go fast, Knox Armor for the things that keep me safe, John at Dyno Solutions for all of the tuning help and advice, EBC brakes for the ultimate in stopping power, and finally to 434Racer performance parts for those kickass levers ;P

    Finally my awesome wife deserves a medal for putting up with me during this whole thing. She is beyond awesome.

    So, while the weekend wasn’t what I would have hoped on some fronts, it was far better than I had a right to expect in others. Mixed blessings I suppose is better than all bad news.

    I do really miss my SV and I am already trying to figure out how I am going to rebuild and install a motor in the two free days that I have between now and the next race weekend.

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  2. #2
    .. Dayon's Avatar
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    Re: EX#434 - Round 3 - RIDICULOUSLY LONG

    The GTL was one of my funnest races to date. You pushed me to reach a new personal best of 19.4, down 1.4 seconds from my previous personal best! Good luck getting the Sbk motor replaced for the next event. Hopefully we will both be on our Sbk's to battle at the July event.

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    DAYON
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    ...inside the van. loudog's Avatar
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    Re: EX#434 - Round 3 - RIDICULOUSLY LONG

    I was bummed to see the SV in shambles when I showed up Thursday night, but you had a great attitude about it and pushed on. Then...in the GTL, you past me like I was standing still while riding another man's bike! Holy hell dude.

    Congrats on the great weekend with the GSXR too. You're going to be tearing it up with that thing.

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  4. #4
    You dont know slow... PainfullySlow's Avatar
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    Re: EX#434 - Round 3 - RIDICULOUSLY LONG

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayon View Post
    The GTL was one of my funnest races to date. You pushed me to reach a new personal best of 19.4, down 1.4 seconds from my previous personal best! Good luck getting the Sbk motor replaced for the next event. Hopefully we will both be on our Sbk's to battle at the July event.
    I am PSYCHED for you and your new PB. I know you had hit a bit of a wall but it seems you have smashed through it with style. I cant take credit for your new PB, you did that all on your own! Hopefully we will both be back in the SB market and we can run from there and see whats what. I really thought you were going to take me when I saw that pass!

    Quote Originally Posted by loudog View Post
    I was bummed to see the SV in shambles when I showed up Thursday night, but you had a great attitude about it and pushed on. Then...in the GTL, you past me like I was standing still while riding another man's bike! Holy hell dude.

    Congrats on the great weekend with the GSXR too. You're going to be tearing it up with that thing.
    Thanks Lou! I dont think you give yourself enough credit. You did amazingly well for a first time AM. You just arent used to seeing the white plate guys running at the same time.

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