I hit the road yesterday morning at 4AM with a rather rough night’s sleep for a trackday with Pacific Track Time. Trying to go to bed at 7PM when your body is used to going to bed at 1AM doesn’t work so well. Regardless, I was much better prepared this time than my first time at the track a couple months ago. I stopped at a 7-11 before getting on the freeway and bought a 5 hour energy, 2 cliff bars, and a sandwich.
The bike fit just right inside my van, and the trip was made to and fro without issues thankfully.
At the entrance of Thunderhill:
The first thing I did after unloading and finding a spot in the pits was take off the front wheel. Back when I was building up the CBR, I had picked up a set of Dunlop GP take-offs. The rears were in good shape, but the fronts had a lot of rough wear. Since I was a complete newbie, I didn’t know any better. It didn’t help that the seller played it off to me that all the roughness on the tire will just come off when ridden.
Dunlop happened to be at this trackday so I picked up a new GP-A front. This definitely gave me peace of mind.
There was a Ducati Desmosedici running at the track too:
After the tire change, I went over to Catalyst Reaction and had Dave Moss work his magic on the suspension. After turning some screws and measuring sag a few times, the bike was set for my weight. This tuning was a bargain at $20, because my tire wear at the end of the day was very even and clean.
With that, I geared up and hit the track. This was basically my first time really riding the CBR, and things felt great. The bike performed beautifully and I loved the way it cornered. The vibration ended up loosening some of the hex head bolts holding on the fairings, and one of them fell off. The worst was the front brakes. I really hate this bike’s brakes. The stopping power was always there, but the brake lever turned to mush at some point. Maybe there’s still some trapped air, I’ll have to rebleed them and see.
Power wise, the midrange of my bike isn’t bad, but lacking in the top end in my opinion.
The difference from this Trackday and my first one back in July almost a reversal. To be honest, I did not enjoy myself much at that time, mainly due to being under prepared. I undoubtedly rushed things doing a Trackday after only have been introduced to the motorcycle for a month. I hated riding that 250 I rented, I had no energy and was sleepy the entire day, the boots I wore didn’t fit, the weather was over 100 degrees, etc. Just all around bad combinations for an activity that requires a lot of preparations and focus. The one thing I did find beneficial was simply being able to ride Thunderhill and being acquainted with its layout and the rules and procedures around such an event.
Anyway, enough dwelling on the past. Back to yesterday’s event. It was a BLAST!! The weather was warm and sunny with only a slight breeze. The people were cool and very helpful. Most importantly, I felt like I had learned a lot in terms of riding.
I was fairly consistent in terms of my riding in the morning and into the afternoon… I don’t think my pace changed all that much. Throughout the day I was working on my body positioning and everything, but I was let down because I didn’t think I was able to get the bike to lean more. I still felt sub par and it wasn’t good enough. This was frustrating and quite a let down.
Then, before my penultimate session, I took some advice and sought out an instructor, and asked him if he could follow me and tell me how I was doing. When we went out, we switched off following and leading. Something just clicked while I was out there. I decided to take corners at a higher entrance speed than before, and was finally able to get a knee down. That not only gave me more confidence, but gave me a better idea of what the bike’s limits are, and I’m not even close.
It was the best thing attacking those corners with increasing speed. I went back out for the last session of the day, and traffic was reduced quite a bit. Near the last lap of that session, I was going down the main straightaway and saw a rider about to pass me on the left. I decided to give him some competition and went wide open to stay ahead. That was a fun lap for sure, gave me my first feeling of what a race can be like on a motorcycle.
Here is my left kneepuck after the last 2 sessions. The feeling of dragging through a corner is badass. I know that all new riders treat knee dragging as some kind of badge of honor and all that. Truthfully, the most fundamental part of getting a knee down for me is that it’s a gauge to let me know I’m going faster. I’m not going to lie though, getting my knee down did put a big smile on my face.
What a day that was. I am now hooked on this track riding business. I just can’t see street riding the same way anymore. I wasn’t entirely fond of street riding, and now even more so.
There’s still so much to learn and develop. I’m more comfortable with left-handers than I am with rights. I need to work on that, as well on my braking and shifting. Only time and more practice will tell.