Posted by: caryandjohn | December 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Trackday

Cary in her BMW rainsuit at Thunderhill

Cary in her BMW rainsuit at Thunderhill

We got our photographs from the nice people at 4theRiders.com, from the trackday that Cary and I did at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California, over the Thanksgiving holiday.

John in Turn 3, trying to keep up with Cary in the rain

John in Turn 3, trying to keep up with Cary in the rain

As you may recall, we drove up on Friday night, and woke up to the rain that had been predicted. We had rented bikes from Brian Bartlow at Feel Like A Pro, and as usual he was ready to go when we got there. We grabbed the bikes and had then tech’ed by the Zoom Zoom Track Day crew, went to the rider’s meeting, and headed out onto the track in the “C” group …

Turn 3 in the wet on Saturday morning

Turn 3 in the wet on Saturday morning

Following Cary through Turn 3

Following Cary through Turn 3

Cary pulling away as we get to Turn 6

Cary pulling away as we get to Turn 6

Cary was excited about the idea of renting a trackbike for me, so that we could run around on the track together … Fortunately (or unfortunately) my leathers, which I had not tried on for 11 years, still fit, so that was one excuse out the window … Cary was basically in mid-season form as an AFM racer, and she proceeded to eat my lunch when we got out on the wet track … Well, that is until Turn 6, just before lunch …

Hello, Turn 6, in the rain ...

Hello, Turn 6, in the rain ...

Ouch ... and muddy ...

Ouch ... and muddy ...

Dagnabbit!

Dagnabbit!

The walk of shame ...

The walk of shame ...

The crash truck picking up the little Ninja ...

The crash truck picking up the little Ninja ...

The damage and mud ...

The damage and mud ...

Well, maybe Cary was trying too hard to make me feel old and slow, considering the wet track conditions … it was a classic low side, loosing the front end in the middle of the turn … Cary was unhurt, and the Kawasaki Ninja 250 was washed off and put to rights in short order, thanks to the crew at Feel Like a Pro … thanks. Brian!

We were soon back on the track after lunch, where the weather had improved … the rain stopped and the track dried up.

Bac,k on race form after the crash ...

Bac,k on race form after the crash ...

Out of our rainsuits and getting up to speed in Turn 2

Out of our rainsuits and getting up to speed in Turn 2

All in all, I had a good day, considering the weather … Cary was unhurt, thank goodness, and we had fun in the afternoon … Tegan had a good day as well, and we all enjoyed a good dinner in the pits that evening. It was cold, though!

The next morning we were at it again after the rider’s meeting. There seemed to be a lot more people on Sunday, probably because the weather forcast had been much better … and the weather did not let us down, with a nice, calm, sunny day …

Cary in Turn 14, taken with an automatic camera at track's edge

Cary in Turn 14, taken with an automatic camera at track's edge

The fast Turn 1, going about 100 mph here

The fast Turn 1, going about 100 mph here

Cary was going fast again, and when she teck’d her bike on Sunday morning, she stayed in the faster B group. Tegan and I elected to stay in the “C” group, and we had fun riding together and working on our lines …

Pointing out the spraypainted apex marks to Tegan

Pointing out the spraypainted apex marks to Tegan

Tegan and I worked on getting our knees over the spray painted marks at the entrance and exit of each turn. The SCCA car guys had painted little red dots, about 6″ across at the inside edge of most of the turns …

Cary continued to have maybe a little too much fun, and just before lunch, dropped her bike again, this time in Turn 3. I think three Feel Like a Pro Ninja 250s hit the ground in Turn 3 on Sunday, so Cary was in good company … again, she was unhurt, and so was the bike, and after lunch Cary dropped back down into “C” group, to have some fun with Tegan and myself.

Back up to speed on Sunday afternoon, after slipping off in Turn 3

Back up to speed on Sunday afternoon, after slipping off in Turn 3

Having ridden quite a bit with Cary over the last few years, and having watched her race all last season, I have to say that I’m pretty proud of the way she handles herself around motorcycles. She never complains, and always picks herself up and dusts herself off, and gets right back on the bike after a mishap … a real motorcyclist.

It was the same this weekend. With the slippery wet conditions on Saturday, and just bad luck on Sunday (Cary was trying a bit of a different line in the off-camber Turn 3, and just lost the front end), a lesser rider (like myself, Ha!) might have been a bit discouraged … Not Cary. We went out on the track Sunday afternoon and had a great time …

Charging out of a corner on Sunday afternoon

Charging out of a corner on Sunday afternoon

I have to say, that I was really having a lot of fun on the little Ninja. I was certainly slow, and very rusty after not being on the track for eleven years (how time flys!), but was just having a ball with Tegan and Cary. I made an effort to talk to our married friends Jay and Lisa who are both AFM racers and Zoom Zoom instructors, and ask them to work with me on the track and give me some feedback on lines.

Feeling more comfortable in Turn 2 on Sunday afternoon

Feeling more comfortable in Turn 2 on Sunday afternoon

Chasing ZoomZoom instructor Jay, through Turn 11

Chasing ZoomZoom instructor Jay, through Turn 11

Jay, #43, watching my line through Turn 10

Jay, #43, watching my line through Turn 10

Jay, me and Tegan through Turns 12 and 13

Jay, me and Tegan through Turns 12 and 13

Jay races a first generation Suzuki SV650 superbike in the AFM’s 650 Twins class. You may recall that the SV 650 is one of Cary’s favorite bikes, having owned both an SV650 and an SV650S over the years … Jay’s wife, Lisa, races a Kawasaki Ninja 250 in the 250 Production class with Cary, and she has been super generous with her time and enthusiasm … always happy to talk with Cary about racecraft …

We got to go out with Lisa in the second to last session of the day, so that Lisa could watch our lines and give us some instruction regarding how to go quick on the little Ninja. Here’s the feedback she gave us by e-mail after our session:

“John – you are a demon on the gas coming out of corners, which is great! – if I match your corner speed it is rare that I can catch you out of the corner.  This is especially true on all of the corners leading onto straights.  But your entry speed is slow, but not too surprising since you’re getting used to things after a long break!  Body position is kind of upright, this is an observation more than anything else, but you are kind of twisting your torso to be upright as you go around a corner, so think about that next time you’re out.

Cary – OMG, it was so fun to follow you!!!!  You look NOTHING like you looked not too long ago and I mean that in a very good way.  Your body position is great, you are now riding around with conviction, if you know what I mean  🙂  You have the whole midcorner slump thing (putting weight over the front of the bike, as you should) down.  Body position really looks good, and you look comfortable on the bike.  So when are you going to buy a ninja?  🙂  You can enter faster, but I’d focus on getting on the throttle as early and hard as possible.  If you do this the entry speed will come…

So the next time you go out and are riding together, Cary needs to watch what john is doing at corner exit  (throttle), and john needs to watch cary at entry (speed)!”

How’s that for some great feedback? Thanks, Lisa!

Well, after our wonderful track weekend with Chuck and Tegan, I’m seriously fantasizing about getting a Ninja 250 so I can go racing with Cary next season … we’ll see. Ha.


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