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Discussion Starter #1
Went for a little ride Monday….
It is not too often that I get to ride on a national level track for a track day. I’ve never done it before. Anyway some local guys arranged a track day at PPIR (Pikes Peak International Raceway) in Fountain Colorado. The same track the AMA has their race at. This was the most official track day I’ve ever been to. They did it right, with insurance coverage, a medical crew and even Mercedes as a sponsor, providing lunch.
Loaded up my ZX6rr and my son’s CRF450 and headed south to Fountain. I got there around 7:30 and there was already a line of 10-12 people waiting to get in. We actually got to park in the infield of the track and they opened the garages for us. Way cool to have garage space just like the pros.
After everyone showed they locked the gate so no one could just show up off the street and for the rest of the day we had out own private, catered track day. I was more than a bit intimidated by this track. Banked corners, big cement walls all around, and 10 -15 really fast riders to make me look incredibly slow. So suffering from “plastiphobia” (the fear of falling down and busting up the expensive plastic on your bike.) I took the boy’s Motard out for the first session to scope out the track.
First off this track is huge compared to what I have ridden before. Not huge in length, but in width. You could probably ride 6 or 8 wide down the front straight with room to spare. That was cool having that much space. The un-cool part for me was coming out of turn 2 from the flat infield corner down low that the bike course runs on to accelerating up onto the banking of the back straight and the bike wants to push toward the wall and your doing around 100. That took some getting used to. I didn’t get totally comfortable with that part all day.
Anyway I went out with the fast guys in this first session trying not to be too much of a rolling roadblock. There was some really fast riders in this group. I was pretty timid for several laps, slowly building up speed and getting the feel of the track. By lap 6 or 8 I was cooking along pretty good, for me anyway, and I came down the back straight at around 100 and swooped down into the lead in to the left hand hair pin, which is the tightest turn on the track. I way over cooked it. As I was just into the turn, leaned over way to far, I crossed a tar snake patch in the turn and lost the back end, resulting in a 40-50 mph low side.
At first I hung on thinking I might be able to pick it back up, stick the tires and keep going, but that wasn’t happening so I just let go and slid off into the grass. I picked the bike up and pushed it behind the safety barrier. No damage to the bike other than more scrapage on the bar end and a little less foot peg than there was before. My leathers took the beating for me as designed so I was no worse for wear. Started the bike back up and putted back to the garage to make sure nothing was hurt.
At that point, discretion took over and I waited for the “fast” session to end. We were running alternating sessions. Fast on the hour. Slower riders on the half. When the slow session came up I took the Zx6 out gingerly. This group, much as I hate to admit it was more my speed. It was much easier to get comfortable without fast guys buzzing by at mach 1.
My little green Kawi reminded my why I love her so much as we learned the line around the track. She was rock solid and did everything right in spite of my ham fisted guidance. Little by little though I picked up the pace and figured out the details of the track. By slow session 2 I was buzzing by everyone in the slow group.
This group was all street riders or rookies so being faster than them wasn’t saying much. I retrospect, this is the caliber of riders I most generally ride with, with only 2-3 fast guys to make me feel slow. Monday, the ratio of fast vs. slow was far greater. There was 14-15 very fast riders there that day. After a few slow group sessions I went back out with the fast group again, and it still felt like some of them were lapping me 2-3 times in the same lap. Very intimidating to be out there at 10 10ths and have guys blow by at 30-40 mph faster.
I didn’t let it distract me too much though and picked up the pace to the point that I could keep up with and pass one or two in the fast group. At one point as my confidence grew I tried to follow a group of 3 that was just blazing around and on the straights I could hang behind them, but as we got into the turns of the infield my timing and skill level just wasn’t up to that pace. I blew the entrance to the chicane off turn 4 and scared myself too much. I wisely backed off and didn’t try that again.
I just don’t need to be that fast to have fun. So for the rest of the day I stayed with the slow group alternating between the ZX6 and the motard. Eventually I found a guy on a somewhat modified SV650 that was almost the same speed as me and we played for quite a few laps. I could easily pull him on the straights but would back off to go into the corners at the same time so we could dice through them together. My form was better in the turns as well, but it was fun just playing at about 50% without too much effort.
All in all a really good day at a really cool track. I rode enough to pretty much wear through a set of Michelin Pilots and a couple tanks of gas. The little green RR performed flawlessly. The CRF was a hoot to ride, while taking so little effort. (There may be a Motard of my own in the works this winter. That is just too much fun, at much slower speeds, far less physical effort, and if you fall down, it won’t damage expensive parts as much as on a sport bike.) The casualty list was low. A ZX10, an RC51 and myself were the only ones who crashed. The ZX10 rider was uninjured, but his bike was a mess. He pushed his tires too hard before they warmed up and he lowsided. The RC51 guy bruised his shoulder when he low sided by going off into the grass. His bike was pretty scuffed on the right side. I came away unscuffed, with no real damage to the CRF and the ZX6 in one piece. I learned a lot and worked on my slowly improving skills. I know I will never be as fast as the really fast guys, but I just don’t feel the need to push the limits that much. I will just continue to work on the skills to be smoother and to ride within my own comfort level.
 

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Sweet report! Glad the low side was minor. No pics of the motard in action??
 

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Where did you hear about the track day ahead of time ? Which organization ran the track day ? How much was a day at PPIR ? Sounds sweet and a bit safer than the Pueblo motorsports park.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I heard about it from the guys at Apex Sports. My son works there. It appears to be an annual event, although last year was cancelled due to insurance problems. Two local guys organize it. Dave and Jason. I don't know their last names. They put out the invite and keep it fairly small. This year was $150... I don't think they will do another until next year...
 
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