At last, on Tuesday I was able to the brake 2:00 minutes at Laguna Seca on my Yamaha R6. It was on my second session of the day and it was bookended by 2:00 to 2:04 lap times. I also made it under 2:00 minutes without ever dropping my bike which was another goal.
It has been a three year journey, starting at 2:28 in 5/11, to 2:19 on 10/12 … 2:10.6 on 10/12 … 2:06.7 on 11/12 … 2:04.26 6/13 … 1:59.94 on 8/13. I am not sure I want to go much faster but 1:59 felt great.
After twenty years of pushing a keyboard while traveling in airplanes, trains, sailboats (6,000+ miles), buses, cars and motorcycles – a thousand nights in hotels, motels, boats, tents, couches the back of cars and trucks. Close to one million miles traveled in forty five plus countries, almost all the continents and nearly every US state. It’s been great but I needed a new motivator. I’m done traveling.
Five years ago, after a lifetime of riding my road bicycle every weekend, I got lazy and bought a motorcycle against all my friends advice. That said, I have taken this sport very seriously and have had over 30 days of track training from some of the best super-bike instructors in the world. I am still pretty slow, considering, but the track has turned out to be a great friend. A friend who only cares about absolute reality. Either you make the turn at 65mph or you crash…no politics, no opinions, simply the laws of nature. I like that. Everyone is equal.
It doesn’t matter how bold and confident I feel. When I ride a sport-bike on the a track like Laguna Seca, the only thing that counts is my ability to concentrate both physically and mentally. It’s pretty much impossible to think about anything else when you are riding at 108MPH at 12,000RPM. And I am still one of the slowest guys on the track with a lot more to learn. I always feel refreshed after a track day and somehow my keyboard looks a little more attractive when I return to the office.
A few pics from Laguna Sega this past Monday and Tuesday on my Yamaha R6. Thanks to GotBlueMilk.com for the photos and Keigwins at the Track.
Tuesday was my last track day of the year and a great day it was. In addition to recording a personal best of 2:06.7 I had a ton of fun dueling with Jasper on his Ducati 848. I’m already looking forward to next year.
On Wednesday I snuck out of the office for a Keigwins track day at Laguna Seca Raceway. What I love about this tricky track is its fast and hilly turns. The weather could not have been nicer and I had a big grin my face all day.
This is the third year in a row that I bought tickets to the MotoGP grand prix at Laguna Seca, California. Every year I have been buying better and better seats and I have to admit, I am hooked on this sport. These guys are the very best riders on the planet and seeing them live is a real treat. Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to ride my superbike on this track on non-pro track days with my best lap time of 2:20 which I am not going to brag about because it’s not that fast.
These guys averaged 1:21 per lap for 32 laps. I’m dead after 5 laps. Anyway it was an awesome day and I am glad Casey Stoner won. Ben Spies is my American favorite. I’m already looking forward to next year.
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This past Thursday was my first track day of 2011. Keigwins at TheTrack hosted the day and as always provided a super-fun day of track riding. My S1000RR was in the shop getting a few upgrades so I took a chance, (as insurance does not cover bike damage on a track) and rode my K1300S. The K was a great bike to ride on the track and I was happy I did not drop it. I was somewhat reluctant to push too hard going into the corners as this bike weighs over 500 pounds and the front suspension is not design to be as flickable as a dedicated track bike. The straights as you can image are where this bike excels with its 1300cc inline four cylinder power plant – the most powerful on the track that day. This will likely be the only time I ride this bike on a track, but with a couple of suspension modifications this could be an unbelievably good track bike.
Thanks to GotBlueMilk for the photo
This year I rode eight track days on three raceways; Streets of Willow, Sears Point and Laguna Seca. After spending most of my time training with Keith Code and his superbike school. I am now focusing on applying the riding techniques I have learned in a more open track environment provided by Lance Keigwin of Keigwins@thetrack. Both Keith and Lance offer excellent programs for learning and applying the required skills to master the art of track riding some of the most powerful superbikes built today. I plan on spending more time with both of them in 2011. I am also looking forward to riding Thunderhill, Miller and Buttonwill racetracks, I hope.
Thanks to GotBlueMilk for the photo.
Yesterday I rode Laguna Seca with Keigwins@thetrack. It was an odd day in that it rained most of the day. Most riders including myself aren’t to keen to ride superbikes down Laguna’s five story ‘Cork Screw’ drop in the poring down rain. The turnout was lite, and most of the riders that did ride retired early. I rode about five sessions, then decided to call it around 2PM with myself and bike intact. The odd thing about the day though, was that I had a great time. The track was wide open, my bike slid around but for the most part was fairly stable – and I did not crash, like a lot of other folks (no injuries thankfully). I think the reason I enjoyed the day was because after all of the training I have had this year my riding finnaly started to click. I was a happy boy.
After committing to BMW’s S1000RR superbike this fall I have been learning how to become one with the machine. I like the fact the bike is light, 448 pounds and features an incredible 185 horsepower inline four cylinder engine. The good news is that it also features a very smart computer mounted on the tank that provides traction control including a gyroscope, abs brakes and on the fly suspension tuning for rain, sport or track setups. The suspension is also very adjustable. So adjustible you need an expert to help fit the bike to you. About a month ago I took it my local shop and spent about two hours with an engineer going over the suspension documentation fitting the bike to my height 6’1 and weight 192pounds. We did it by the book and the bike felt pretty good or so I thought.
During a break at the track yesterday, I had the bike checked by a racing suspension expert Dave Muse of Catalyst Reaction. I thought Dave would confirm my previous settings, but instead he changed my setup completely. He said he liked the bike, but the brakes were ‘too good’ and the fork springs not strong enough. He was right, in my next session the bike felt completely different. It was firm and smooth in the turns and the back wheel did not spin and push the tail up on the straightaways. Net, net I am now a big fan of Dave and plan to spend more time with him tuning the bike to my body and riding style this next year. I also would caution in not putting too much faith in BMW’s suspension default settings. Get a racing suspension expert to help, it can make a big difference to your riding and enjoyment.
Based on feedback from friends and relatives, I realize that not everyone is into superbikes. For what its worth,…I take training and rider safety very seriously. Track riding on a controlled circuit like Laguna Sega is much safer then riding on the open street.