December basically sucked...
I had a bunch of family business to take care of instead of the usual preparations for racing, so all I did was basically check that the bikes weren't leaking fluids and paint over the crash scars from last month on Zina's bike. Since it was soooo cold over night, we figured we'd sit out the first few practice sessions... so why stay over Friday night?
I thought about whether or not to go out... If I stay in, I can work on her bike, but may not be able to ride again. Hmmm, that would save $60. But then I'm totally cold on race day. Eh, WSMC can use $60 and I can use the laps. So I head on out to the hot pit and get in some laps.
Ooooo, the track is funky. Both ends of the bike are wiggling around in turn 2 and I come to a complete stop for 5. Folks I know start passing me, but I don't really worry, as it is the first time I'm out on the track for the weekend and Zina DID just stack on her first lap. Again. Tim K goes by and I kinda say "Hi" in my helmet. I forget if Robin was next or not... eventually, Donnie went by, too. I figure we're so similar, so I kinda latch on to him and just follow him around. Checkered flag comes out and we all pull in.
Back to the pits and Zina's bike is kinda beat up and in the front wheel chock. I give Z a hug and she says she's OK. Here's what I saw:
The first order of business was to re-enable the rear stand. The spool/slider bolt was snappped clean, so I started in on it with a drill and it took a few bits to get going and started using an EZout. Finally got the screw out and put in a new M6 screw and locknut.
I knew that sorting out the gear shift wouldn't be trivial, so I busted out the spares box and took care of the clipon, clutch lever, and grip. Everything went as planned. The choke housing was a mo-fo as they always are and the grip seemed kinda big, so it got lots of safety wire.
Now the left footrest and shifter. Ugh, what a mess. First I pulled off the left fairing and brushed out all the rocks and debris. Whenever you see a neat pile of rocks in someone's pit, it's from this. Then I unbolted the shifter linkage and freed the footrest from the frame. Then you unscrew the bolt out of the rearset for the footrest and eventually separate the peg/hifter from the rearset. I'm starting to get good at this part: to get the remains of the footrest out of the lever, you get a drift and hammer and pound the hell out of it until the peg pops out.
Oh, yeah... as I was doing this, I got the bike into neutral and part of that process was to push on the tire to ensure that it spins. When I did that, the end of my right middle finger simply split open. Suck. My skin was so dry and cold that the skin broke. That kinda smarted, but some of Zina's girly hand lotion let me get back to work.
The next hour or more was spent un-f*cking the shift lever situation. I started off drilling the nub of the toe thing and using the EZOut on it. That eventually worked. I beat on the lever for a while to straighten out the end of it. Then I robbed the rubber covered toe thingy from the brake lever and put a bolt in its place. I ran a tap through the original shift lever but the brake side toe thingy wouldn't go in straight. Then I got a spare shift lever and redrilled it. Oh, yeah... Zina's feet are kinda short, so I drill a hole to mount the toe thing closer to the pivot. Tapped the hole and the dang toe thing won't thread in right, so I play with the tap a few more times. I look at the threads of the toe thing and they look OK. Hmm. Still won't thread in straight. So I kinda dress up the end of the toe thing with a file. Bingo! It works. And I get the shifter and rearset all back together.
I sorted out the fairing mount and got the bike back together as the sun started declining in the sky. There were one, maybe two sessions left, but it was getting noticably cooler and I'm a puss and don't want to crash. Before packing up, I walked around and borrowed a couple of front stands so we could run warmers.
Then our bud Scott crashed bigger than shit in turn 1, only a few hundred feet away. Damn, that's gotta hurt... it was a cold tire highside. Scott landed on his head or back and just laid there. Daaaammmmm. The bike didn't even leave the track, so he must have been crawling. The ambulance and corner worker screws showed up and he lifted an arm up a bit. Then the other ambulance showed up. That's not good, so I set off towards his pits to let Kevin Jump, Stuman, and Ryan know. I met them on the way to their pits and the rest of the afternoon was spent helping Scott.
He ended up with bloody elbows (among other joint soreness type of ailments), a wrecked new helmet, and a bruised SV. We spent like an hour cogitating about his bike. The right rearset broke and the front brake master cylinder plastic pipe broke, too. The rearsets were one off, hand made. Somehow, someone thought to call up Steve Moonitz. That went down as we all went to eat at the Cantina. They got that sorted and Mel Smith drove down to LA area with Scott to pick up Mr. Potatohead.
We stayed over at the Desert Inn again. Our first room ... the door wouldn't fully shut and latch, so we got another room in the back. It was pretty funky... small, quaint, and kinda old. But it still wasn't as bad as Motel 6 or sleeEZ-8. The wallpaper in the bathroom had forms of women in their bathrooms with an antique flavor. I don't think the makers envisioned people drawing in pubic hair and nipples! We engaged the heat by turning the thermostat below the current temp and were thankful that we had heat at all.
We went to the riders meeting and then time passed until our race, #5. We used this time to get ready, visit with Jamie, Jane, Susanna Schick, and their friends (Anna & Dave??). Got the generator running and the tires heating early on. It was kind of a pain heating up the bikes as one of the forks would fall out of the borrowed front stand while kick starting the bike. Finally got each bike kinda warmed up, then on 1st call, killed the generator and got ready to go... ear plugs, gloves, and helmets on, warmers unplugged... 2nd call for our race and the warmers come off, front stands, too. I help Z off her rear stand and then I get my own and we're to the grid. Pretty wierd to be on the front row of the 550 race...
We get the start and I'm in pretty good shape. Only one bike from behind catches me going into 1 and then I try to keep it on through 1 but I do back down a little. On the way out of 1, a bike or two get by. I think Donnie gets by me going into 3. That seems to be his favorite move. I don't really care since I always get him in 8... At some point (I don't remember now), Robin Clark and some dude on a GP bike go by. Daaaaang.
OK, whatever. So we keep on going around and we're all queued up on Donnie. Going through 8, I find that I'm totally off the gas and I'm like "eff that!" and nail the throttle to the stop. I close in on the GP guy and pull off to the inside and walk on all three of them on the way to 9. I keep the gas on through 9 and onto the straight. No surprise when the GP guy goes by... but then Donnie and Robin go back by into 1. Dang... all that was for nothing. Now, I think it's Donnie, Robin, me, and GP guy. Robin is swerving all over the track trying to find a way around Donnie and finally gets past. Unfortunately for me, I had to slow down once due to the swerving and GP guy got by me. He passed Donnie, too, so I figured I'd just stalk Donnie and get him on the last lap.
That's when I got motored. Last month, he claimed that I had motor, as he couldn't do anything about my drive out of 6. Turns out I was making 56 hp... no motor here. So I'm pretty shocked when I get motored by Donnie. Double damn... and he just walks away. I'm in sight, but not anywhere near him nor able to get by him going from 8 to 9. So I finish 9th instead of where I would "normally" have finished... 6th, which would have been in Rob's place.
It turns out that our bud Scott won the 550 race! He rode Steve's bike to a win! That's pretty cool... Back in the pits, we decide to call it a day, as I'm locked in for 3rd in the Aprilia class championship AND it's the last race of the day. I figure I'll dyno the bikes to figure things out. My bike still makes 56 even though it felt soft. Zina's is an effing rocket, making 63!
So with that, we were pretty beat and I was pissed at getting schooled by my racing buds I consider peers but had grown too accustomed to finishing ahead of. Perhaps my lack of practice showed? =) 3 whole sessions around the track all weekend (one of them a race). Yaaaay. Anyway, now I've got my work cut out for me to replicate Zina's bike's power for my own...
After packing up and going over to say Hi to Jay McDaniel and walking the dogs, we must have been the last racers to leave the track. I drove down to I-15, we filled up and then I slept while Zina drove down to Lake Elsinore (the center of the Roadracing Universe) to stop in for dinner at the Sizzler. Yuuuum. I still felt like crap, but enjoyed their food anyway. On home after that and one last week of work to try and pay for another month of racing.