Monday, September 26, 2011

CMRA - Race day 1

Does anybody like waking up early? I sure don't.

Yea, it's mine.
I was up at 5am.

Since I don't own a truck or trailer, I had to ride my motorcycle to the racetrack, in street legal form. This meant I had to do final race prep at the track, on the morning of.

So I was up at 5am, packing bags, and making sure I had all the necessary tools and supplies to perform required modifications at the track. I arrived around 7:30am. I found a really comfy spot next to the Redline boys. I was outside of their tent, but my bike isn't made of sugar, so it doesn't matter if it gets wet.

The pits at Race City are gravel, so every lays down a sheet of plywood to park their bikes on. I had nothing of the sort, but thankfully, there was a beat up oily chunk no one was using. Perfect!

Sat down to do the dirty work;
- Taped up the tail light (Huge thanks to PSAV for supplying the Gaff)
- Removed the headlight and replaced it with my OMGCUSTOM fibreglass number plate.
- Removed mirrors and signal lights.

Since you can't technically race with a kickstand, I removed that too, sorta. I don't have a race stand, so I kinda needed it. So I loosened it to the last few threads and left it on until it was time to go.

Everything was ready, and so was I. Got all suited up in my protective gear, and then waited until the first practice session of the day.

9am rolled around and the horn sounded for the first practice session. I jumped on my bike to ride up to pre-grid, shifted into first, and the bike died! Oh dangit. The kickstand safety switch! When I unplugged it, the dash light didn't light up, so I assumed everything was cool. Honda apparently thought this one out. So I quickly removed my seat, jammed a short length of safety wire into the connector, and tried again. Aww yea!
Quickly bolted the seat back on, and ripped out for the first practice session. It was mostly uneventful, other than totally blowing through the "bus stop" by accidentally downshifting too far while trying to execute a sketchy pass. Nobody died. No harm done.

Second session was equally uneventful. Then it was back to the pits to wait for my race to start...

At around 11am, the horn sounded for my class - Open Novice. Jump on the bike, and rip on out to pregrid. The warm-up lap was pretty slow. Since I'm poor and ghetto, I don't own tire warmers like the cool kids, so my cold tires were nice and slippery. One lap, and then it's lining up into the starting grid.

I guess things were confusing to some people. I knew my spot in the grid, and I knew there were four people in my row. There was one other guy. Again, my first rodeo, so this made me a little nervous. After what seemed like a decade of the other riders futzing around behind me trying to figure out their grid positions, the starter dropped the flag and the race started.

I had a brutal start. Let the clutch out too fast, so I wheelied, when made me chop the throttle, so the clutch grabbed and bogged, so I pulled in the clutch, got the RPMs up, wheelied again, whatever, I was off. First lap was a little sketchy with the just barely warm tires, but after that, all was good.

Then, crossing the start line for my last lap, my engine tone changes suddenly, and I feel a good sharp WHACK in the back of my right leg. MY STUPID MUFFLER CAME LOOSE. It fell off the header, and was still attached at the rear, so it got run over by my rear wheel and spun around the peg me a good one. Corner workers at corner 3 looked adamant that I pull off, so I did. I tucked the muffler away and rode my sorry self back to the pits. First race in the CMRA was a DNF (Did Not Finish).

This was a fix that would not be easy. The pipe got seriously messed up when the rear tire ran over it. After a quick chat with the Redline boys, I learned that there are no noise regulations. Guess I'll just run without a muffler? Okay, deal.

So Race #2. I started the warm-up lap with cold tires again, because, like I said, no warmers. I could definitely feel them sliding a bit, even at the easy warm-up pace, so I was doing unnecessary accelerations and braking to flex the tires more and build up some heat. Well, just as the lap was almost done, I was about to give one last good hard brake. I was also thinking about how loud my exhaust was, and how poorly my carburated bike was running without a muffler. I guess I was distracted. So I braked a little too hard, locked up the front, and I was down in an heartbeat. Yep, I crashed in the warm-up lap.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

CMRA - Preparation

CMRA was hosting the last motorcycle race ever to be held at the Race City Motorsport Park.

I went for it.

I dropped my CBR900RR off at my parent's house in Calgary on Monday, and spent the week back in Canmore training. I got back to Calgary late afternoon on Thursday, with a list of modifications I needed to do in order to ensure my bike would be race ready.

Spent a good chunk of the evening drilling bolts and securing them with safety wire. It's a positive way to prevent bolts and fasteners from working loose. I also got started on my super gangsta number plate.

The next day I changed my glycol coolant out for plain tap water, silicone'd important fasteners (Silicone stuff you can wire), put socks over my brake fluid reservoirs, and added a catch can for various vent hoses.

I still needed a bar end, and I also wanted to ensure I would pass tech inspection, so I zipped down to Redline Motorsports. They gave my bike a quick look to make sure nothing was out of line, and my BrotherFromAnotherMother gave me a spare bar end he had kicking around.

While at Redline, I learned some interesting bits about race registration. Being my first rodeo with these folk, I had no idea WTF was going on. After discovering some issues with my registration, I left Redline and zipped over to Race City to speak with the race organizers. Got everything worked out, as well as got my race number. Pretty last minute, 5pm the night before the races. No big.

Rode home, spray painted my number plate and passenger seat white*, made a number stencil and spray painted my red numbers onto the white background. Wired up my radiator cap and I was ready for race day...

*As a side note, I found "CONTRACTORS GRADE" white spray paint. I assumed this meant it was good stuff, right? Contractor grade. Sounds legit. Turns out, contractors go for the cheapest possible solution while still getting the job done, thus improving their profit margin. This paint went on like milk it was so watery. I guess at $2 a can, I got what I paid for.