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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Ok, here's my Rd 1 race report. TLDR: motorcycles are the best..go do a track day or race!
It started really hectic because my friend with the toy hauler got sick on Thursday. I scrambled to get the cap off my pickup, go grab my bike from him, and pull together both riding and camping gear.
Friday: Race Licensing Class. Air temp in the morning about 40 degrees and windy. On my first slow follow the leader out lap I had 3 rear wheel slides which spooked me a bit. I made it through the session and the day thankfully warmed up a bit. We alternated between classroom time and track sessions. My focus for the day remained learning lines, getting comfortable with other bikes passing me, and getting to know the wee ninja. Throughout the day I felt better and better. I did have a weird clutch slipping issue in the afternoon when I started pushing and lost all power. Came in and the lever had no free play. I loosened it back up and it was fine for the afternoon. I registered for Saturday's races, put numbers on the bike, and then went through tech inspection.
Friday night I camped in the infield. The only tent in a sea of RV's. Decided my theme was "if you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough." Air temp in the 30's and wind was screaming...but not as loud as the dudes partying in the RV near me. I'm glad they had a good time. Cannot fathom what their hangovers must have been like on Saturday.
Saturday: Cold start to the day but sun came out. Had a large coffee and got my mind right for the day. I had more of a plan for the track...what gear to be in for each turn and what sectors I could work on. I had two morning practice sessions and they felt good. After lunch we had the rookie race which is the final step in getting a license. I enjoyed that, finishing 9th out of 10. The entire paddock was supportive all weekend and as we left pre grid I saw so many friendly faces giving a huge wave and then a lot of encouragement as we came back into the pits. The racing community is pretty rad...I met @GoNinjaGo and he stopped by where I was pitting a few times to check in and hang out. I definitely appreciated it.
I had two proper novice races Saturday afternoon. Both went well. I'm slow as all **** but I just worked on being predictable and riding my own race and everything was fine. Clutch slip kept getting progressively worse and it just didn't want to let me go full power. My lap times were pretty bad but it's a starting point. I decided with the air temps being as cold as they are, why push it with the clutch. I bailed on a cold night of camping and came home early.
Weekend takeaways. I started learning the routine of a race day (tire warmers, when to be where, etc). Time management is really important. I got more comfortable riding with other bikes in close proximity and started to learn my way around Loudon a bit. I saw a 2 crashes in front of me and plenty of off track bikes and riders and stayed focused on where I need to be and not target fixating on anything I shouldn't look at. I got to know the little ninja and I like it a lot. I feel like it's the perfect bike for me to learn on. GSXR rear shock felt great and the front forks felt fine for my weight and mellow (read slow) inputs.
The bike did feel kind of sluggish to turn and I thought it was all me...like it just didn't want to lean over past a certain point. I realized today that it has a 110 front and a 150 rear tire. From what I've read a 140 rear might be helpful. Going into the next round I'm going to have the clutch squared away, maybe a tire, and from there just work on continuing to upgrade the rider. I'm very stiff on the bike and need to work on loosening up a bit. It will come, along with more respectable lap times.
If you read this far...thank you. I had a great time racing and am looking forward to Round 2 in three weeks.
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Awesome post.
Great mindset for concentrating on one thing and learning it before getting to the next phase of what to work on.

This approach seems to work and many use it to better their riding on the track. I'm learning from this. 馃憤

Unfotunate for the clutch issues and there is a fix for it so next time should be trouble free and full concentration on the go part instead of worrying about the clutch.

Thanks for the update. Always a good read and something to learn from.
Best of luck in the next session and congrats on the race license. 馃檹馃
 

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Was great to meet you in person man! You definitely have the right idea. There's a routine you get into, always making sure warmers are on the tires, especially for the first and last rounds of the season where it's colder than we all care it to be. The morning on Friday was treacherous, we saw the results of that in 1A countless times (I had someone clean themselves out right in front of me there). You'll be surprised how quickly you drop times as your comfort level rises there -- you did really good for your first weekend there, especially with avoiding the crash right in front of you and my buddy. A working clutch helps a lot as going up 4 and also out of the bowl will kill you if the clutch is slipping. Looking forward to seeing you on track again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
Was great to meet you in person man! You definitely have the right idea. There's a routine you get into, always making sure warmers are on the tires, especially for the first and last rounds of the season where it's colder than we all care it to be. The morning on Friday was treacherous, we saw the results of that in 1A countless times (I had someone clean themselves out right in front of me there). You'll be surprised how quickly you drop times as your comfort level rises there -- you did really good for your first weekend there, especially with avoiding the crash right in front of you and my buddy. A working clutch helps a lot as going up 4 and also out of the bowl will kill you if the clutch is slipping. Looking forward to seeing you on track again!
really appreciate the kind words..stoked for Round 2 in a couple weeks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Round 2 NEMRR Update: Weekend Number 2 went great. It's amazing how much easier the second round is after doing one and understanding the flow of a race weekend. Time management is a lot easier when you know how long things take and what steps you can do to set yourself up for success.
In between Rounds 1 and 2 Adam Kells of AK Race Fab sorted out my bike. He installed a fresh clutch, a 140 rear tire for sharper turn in, and meticulously checked over/prepped the bike for me. His attention to detail is exceptional and the fresh clutch & tire made a huge difference in rideability along with having confidence that the bike was in good shape. He stopped by and checked on both the bike and me all weekend had good advice for each race.
On Friday I took the Penguin Roadracing School advanced class and learned a ton..to the point where I had information overload and had to choose one or two things to work on. My biggest focus was drive out of corners and working on body position. I'm still riding very crossed up...but working on it. Lowering my head as I was standing up the bike helped me get to wide open throttle earlier, and I learned that I could hold it wide open in places on the track where I hadn't been previously. I applied both of those in my races.
Saturday and Sunday practices and races went well despite the heat. My practice times dropped to from a painfully slow 1:47 in Round 1 to a 1:37. My race pace then came down to a 1:33.4 and I was able to mix it up in races with a few other bikes. I'm still finishing towards the back of the pack, but I'm in the mix and know what I need to work on to better my lap times and finishing positing.
I have a ton of room for improvement..there is still some easy fat to trim from my lap times. I'm looking forward to Round 3 next month and I have few very clear goals to focus on. While all of the above sounds results focused I also had a ton of fun both on and off track and got to know people in the paddock better. We cooked good food, had a lot of laughs, and bikes came home shiny. Total win.
Photos to come soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 · (Edited)
Round 3 went really well. It started with a two day Penguin riding school. The focus was creating grip and feel, and then using the additional grip and feel to add speed. Thurs was low key. I rode slow and tried to work on the skills being taught. Friday I added some pace. I also switched over to Dunlop slick tires for the first time on Friday afternoon which made a big difference in feel over the Q3+ I had been running.
Friday afternoon my dad and father in law arrived for the weekend. They got a good intro to how friendly everyone is as I lost a foot peg in my last riding session. So many people ran around helping me find a replacement that would fit my Vortex rearsets (everyone at Loudon runs Woodcraft). At the end of day we got a spare peg to fit and we got the bike through tech inspection.
Saturday morning practice was cold and sketchy with lots of people crashing. In my first race I felt a little off and wasn't as focused as I needed to be. I came back very focused on where and how i wanted to do better and felt happier with how i rode in race two. When I checked lap times I had dropped my lap time by 2 seconds.
Sunday morning it was sunny and I was feeling more confidant. Shoutout to @GoNinjaGo for picking me up in practice and showing me where I could carry more pace. I set an unexpected PR in practice and was amped to race.
Sunday's race was鈥ectic. The race was initially red flagged before it started due to a warmup lap crash. After that, we got another warmup lap and I got a great race start. Unfortunately we were again red flagged on lap 2 due to a bike laying in the middle of turn 3. We were sent back in. At that point my gas light was flashing鈥nd we were then sent out for TWO warm up laps to get some heat back in the tires. I was convinced i鈥檇 run out of gas in the race. I decided to just pin it until I ran out of fuel and push the bike back to the pits.
I got a terrible start the second time around鈥ut then rode well and continued progressing in the zones i鈥檝e been focused on improving. I finished near last...but I finished the race and improved my lap times by 4.5 seconds over round 2 without ever feeling like I was pushing too hard or at the limit. I was happy with that and know exactly where and what I want to work for Round 4 next month.
The best part of the weekend was having family there and watching them get into it. My father started the weekend a little nervous when I was out on track and finished the weekend stoked on lap times and motorcycle racing. Orange Crush is doing well. For this round I had gone up +2 in the rear and added an R6 throttle. Both parts worked really well and would highly recommend as cheap upgrades to help with drives. On to the next one! Photo of my newfound pit crew.

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Attack 3,9,11 Focus on the tank. 馃憤
That's how you get better. 馃檹馃

Very inspiring to push and learn as you go without falling down.

Orange Crush is my favorite bike now after watching your video and as scary as it looks with everybody seemingly rubbing paint it looks like so much fun.

Congrats on the pb and your only going to get faster and be up front in no time.
Good luck next round. 馃馃檹
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 · (Edited)
Round 4 Race Report:

The weekend began with the sad news of Scott Briody's passing on Friday. I didn't know him personally but he had touched so many people in the racing community and there were many heavy hearts in the paddock. My thoughts go out to his family and all his friends.
Friday practices went well after a brief off road excursion in turn 9 in my first session. 9 is not an ideal place to run off but I kept the bike upright and told myself afterwards that any bike is a motocross bike if you want it bad enough. There were quite a few new novices getting their licenses this round, which is awesome. That created a new challenge of having lots of less experienced riders on track, many of them with much faster bikes than mine. Through the course of the weekend I got better at moving through traffic and learning where I'm comfortable setting up passes on bigger bikes.
I'm curious as to how much I'm losing on the straight by not having an ECU flash and full system. It seems like even other small bikes are walking me a little, which is frustrating. I still have so much room to improve on the rest of the track that I'm going to continue to focus my efforts there and then do upgrades over the winter.
Finishing results are headed in the right direction, with a best finish of 10th out of 17. Doesn't sound like much to write about, but it's a good step up for me (feels a lot better than second to last). I didn't drop much off my pb lap time, but was happy to be able to run consistently at that pace rather than having one good lap and a number of slow ones mixed in. Lots of positive takeaways, and some very clear areas to work on for the next round.
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Round 4 Race Report:

The weekend began with the sad news of Scott Briody's passing on Friday. I didn't know him personally but he had touched so many people in the racing community and there were many heavy hearts in the paddock. My thoughts go out to his family and all his friends.
Friday practices went well after a brief off road excursion in turn 9 in my first session. 9 is not an ideal place to run off but I kept the bike upright and told myself afterwards that any bike is a motocross bike if you want it bad enough. There were quite a few new novices getting their licenses this round, which is awesome. That created a new challenge of having lots of less experienced riders on track, many of them with much faster bikes than mine. Through the course of the weekend I got better at moving through traffic and learning where I'm comfortable setting up passes on bigger bikes.
I'm curious as to how much I'm losing on the straight by not having an ECU flash and full system. It seems like even other small bikes are walking me a little, which is frustrating. I still have so much room to improve on the rest of the track that I'm going to continue to focus my efforts there and then do upgrades over the winter.
Finishing results are headed in the right direction, with a best finish of 10th out of 17. Doesn't sound like much to write about, but it's a good step up for me (feels a lot better than second to last). I didn't drop much off my pb lap time, but was happy to be able to run consistently at that pace rather than having one good lap and a number of slow ones mixed in. Lots of positive takeaways, and some very clear areas to work on for the next round.
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First, awesome pictures, and that orange is incredibly delicious for a color. 馃グ馃槏

Second I absolutely enjoy your posts and how you deal with certain situations you have in the track and how you're handling them.
We can all learn from what you do and I'm also thankful for our conversations on IG.

Through those conversations it's taught me patience and to learn things slowly at a pace that's safe but also to improve upon. 馃檹

Oh and don't play a James with too many off track excursions. 馃槀馃榿
Keep us updated and congrats on P10. 馃憦馃憦馃檶
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
First, awesome pictures, and that orange is incredibly delicious for a color. 馃グ馃槏

Second I absolutely enjoy your posts and how you deal with certain situations you have in the track and how you're handling them.
We can all learn from what you do and I'm also thankful for our conversations on IG.

Through those conversations it's taught me patience and to learn things slowly at a pace that's safe but also to improve upon. 馃檹

Oh and don't play a James with too many off track excursions. 馃槀馃榿
Keep us updated and congrats on P10. 馃憦馃憦馃檶
Thank you James...I appreciate the kind words and have already decided that motocrossing sport bikes is not for me. I 100% should have been able to simply trail brake and just run that turn wide (there's a TON of track to work with), but I panicked, and tensed up in the middle of the bike while hard on the front brake. Turning doesn't happen at that point... Total rider error and lesson learned for next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
Rd 5: Moving Forward. Rd 5 was a funny one for me. I didn鈥檛 feel 100%, but in hindsight my results were a step forward.
Due to weather I only got two practice sessions in on Friday. On Saturday I felt a little off both physically and with my lines and brake markers. In the second race I had the somewhat hilarious (now) issue of my glasses slowly sliding down my nose a little further on each lap. Finally it got to a point where I had to lift my visor on the straight and shove them back up. While I was doing that, the racer behind me who I had been trying to defend against the whole time blew by me like I was moving backwards. I鈥檓 sure he must have been laughing. I finished my first race in P7 and second race in P5. I woke up on Sunday feeling worked. I decided to go out anyways and just have fun riding a motorcycle (with a breathe right strip to hold my glasses up) and ended up running a decent race with a P3 to show for it.
I was frustrated because I know that I can ride better but I still have some positive takeaways. I shaved 1.18 seconds off my previous best lap time. Landed my first official podium with a 3rd place on Sunday, and technically should have had a 3rd on saturday as well due to two bigger bikes being incorrectly scored in my class ahead of me.
Watching race video footage has been really helpful to see where I have room to improve and also what is working well. Round 6 is in two weeks and I鈥檓 looking forward to putting it all together and fighting at the front. As always, I have to thank Sam Draisse Photography for the beautiful photos.
Technical notes: I threw a Brembo Rotor on (came on my spare wheels) and fresh DP Brakes pads and a did a brake bleed. The combined sum of those parts felt really nice. As my pace wicks up I'm wanting more from the bike, and the winter upgrades list is getting longer by the day...but for now I'm really happy with how well it's serving me in the Novice class.
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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
Round 6: Race Mode.
This was the most fun round I had all season. It started off a little rocky on Friday. Mornings are starting to get chilly and with that we have a colder track with less grip. There were a number of crashes in practice on Friday. I stuck with the @penguinschoolinc lesson of riding to the grip that鈥檚 available and had a good day working on a few things at a more relaxed pace.
Saturday was race day and by the afternoon it was sunny and beautiful. It was also our wedding anniversary. My wife came to the track for the first time to see me race and it made the weekend the most fun I鈥檝e had all season. It was nice to finally introduce her to some of the friends I鈥檝e made in the racing community this season and show her what this whole sport is about. I accomplished my primary goal of not crashing in front of her (long story there). I also had 2 good races. My first race landed me in P4 behind 3 faster bikes. My second race netted me a 2nd with only an FS450 ahead of me. I also set a new PB lap time dropping another 1.4 seconds off my former best.
Sunday鈥檚 race was shaping up to be an absolute riot with two other 400 riders and me all lined up together. We鈥檝e been racing each other all season, are friends off track, and were fired up to go mix it up. Travis got out fast and took the lead, and Noah got ahead of me as well and put some slower traffic on bigger bikes in between us. After a couple of laps I was bummed to see Travis crashed in Turn 3 (he was fine). By lap 5 i had picked off the bigger bikes and put my head down to try to chase Noah. Unfortunately the race was red flagged and I walked away with a P2.
My approach this season has been about making small progress each round and it鈥檚 now at a point where the cumulative gains are starting to add up. Round 7 is less than two weeks away and I have clear focus on what I need to work on. Hoping for some warm weather and some sun. As always thank you to Sam Draisse Photo for the great photos.

Technical notes:
  • I played with tire pressure in the rear in practice. I like how the bike feels much better with the rear at 28PSI over 26 PSI (dunlop med slick).
  • Tire warmers. I check my pressures and warmers frequently. I'm glad I did because 15 mins before a chilly sat am practice I discovered my rear had disconnected. I plugged it in for 15 mins, and did three careful laps (with hard braking/accelerating when upright). it still got in my head.
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My wife came to the track for the first time to see me race and it made the weekend the most fun I鈥檝e had all season. It was nice to finally introduce her to some of the friends I鈥檝e made in the racing community this season and show her what this whole sport is about. I accomplished my primary goal of not crashing in front of her (long story there).
The first race my wife (then GF) went to was an AFM event at Riverside (1978). I got jazzed by an especially good start and tried to ride faster than I was capable of and had a low side about 1/3 of the way into the first lap. She got to ask a racer in the pit next to mine "shouldn't Michael have gone past by now?"

I'm glad your wife's first race was less eventful. :)

cheers,
Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
The first race my wife (then GF) went to was an AFM event at Riverside (1978). I got jazzed by an especially good start and tried to ride faster than I was capable of and had a low side about 1/3 of the way into the first lap. She got to ask a racer in the pit next to mine "shouldn't Michael have gone past by now?"

I'm glad your wife's first race was less eventful. :)

cheers,
Michael
thank you for sharing that one. about 13 years ago I was a pretty clueless novice track day rider on an aprilia RSVR 1000. I brought my then girlfriend (now wife) to come see a track day. I high sided to the moon and she saw it. not ideal and she was pretty upset. This past weekend was her first time back. My riding has of course come a long way. After the first race I asked her if it was stressful and she said not at all and is going back for the final round next week. Total win!
 
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