Usually I work a few hours on Friday before heading to the track. Jennings is about 215 miles from my office so heading out around 11:00 gives ample time to unpack and setup. This time I chose to take Friday off and head to the track early, this would prove to be a wise decision. The night before I'd packed the Element and the trailer with enough stuff to pit & camp a small army of people, I decided that carrying this much stuff (I can't think of a better word than stuff) meant that I would not be unprepared, and that's true. I only need a medium box truck to carry everything.
The trip was uneventful, stopped once for gas and that horrible gas station food which does nothing beneficial for your body except ensure you will be visiting the latrine and losing a couple pounds in seconds. With about 130 miles to go I start making calls. Greyhound is already 2 miles from the track searching desparately for a carwash, Snowman is somewhere in a cellular deadspot and PhatRC51 is just about to head out from Alabama. Flash forward 2 hours and it's about 11:30 and I'm at the track.
Pit setup took about 2 hours at a leisurely pace. 2 tarps spread out on the ground, 2 ezup canopies, 2 sets of walls for the ezups, tie down stakes to keep the ezups from flying away, 3 fans, tools, supplies, clothes, leathers, helmets and two bikes. WHEW! I bring too much stuff to the track.
By 5:00'ish the mildly warm weather has given way to ominous clouds. By 6:00'ish hell's fury is unleashed. Canopies are blowing everywhere, things are toppling all around, the rain is coming down by the truckload, small people are taking flight, and all I can think is... that track is going to be very green tomorrow. We all got soaked but my canopies held firm with their industrial strength tie down method.
By Saturday morning everyone is walking around with hugs and handshakes, breakfast was 2 deep fried sausage links and a biscuit slathered in sausage gravy, yummm!
The Husqvarna didn't want to start so I had no choice but to ride the CRF150F in advanced group. Surely it would be safer to ride in advanced group with people experienced with passing would get around me easily but race control felt differently, I was running just under 2:00 laptimes with other riders running in the 1:20-:30's - I got meatballed and pushed into Intermediate. 1:57.27 was my best time and the bike tops out at around 50-52mph. Had the throttle pinned nearly the entire course.
After the Husqvarna finally came to life it didn't take long for the street Pilot Powers to start talking back. Wahh, I'm tired, I'll just slide around all over the place. Wahhh! Street compound tires pushing 1:34-:38 at Jennings just isn't a good idea.
Sunday - Much of this day was spent control riding for the Florida Sportbikers group, so I spent most of that time on the CRF150. No doubt it frustrated a few people not going any faster than 50'ish but guess what, when you're new to the track you don't learn anything by blasting to 130 in the straights and creeping through the turns at 30mph. For 4 sessions they stayed behind the little 150 that could but eventually they left me for other CRs with faster bikes so I brought the Husqvarna out to play after lunch.
Say hello to Dunlop Sportmax soft compound race tires. 3 warm up laps later the bike was railing and sticking like glue. But developed a horrible jittering vibration when pushed harder than 1:34. Let out a couple pounds of pressure but still never went away, I just rode through it. Turn 1 and 7 were most noticeable - funny how changing tires can necessitate a full suspension reset. I made a couple of adjustments and saw my first 1:33 of the weekend. The rest of the day was spent leisurely trotting about running mostly 1:34-:36 laptimes.
Monday - the gloves come off. (metaphorically)
Tired, sore and feeling twice my age I awaken to a glorious morning of (you guessed it) sausage and biscuits & gravy. Shortly after finishing breakfast I started breaking down the pit and missed the first 2 sessions. The logic is "I'll ride when it's hot and sunny, but packing up sucks when it's hot & sunny". Got about half packed up and decided to ride. Suited up and the Husq fired up on the 2nd attempt, no fuss no muss.
Spent the next two sessions dicing with guys on big bikes and a couple other motards. Got my average laptimes down to the 1:33's, dipping three laps into the 1:32's and even had a 1:30.85 as my fastest lap of the weekend. The vibration came back hard and I need to sort it out. Even G2G could visually see the bike bucking as he trailed me into T1 on a hotlap. For a bike that tops out at 105mph a 1:30-:31 isn't bad at all.
The photographers are still sorting through pictures so I'll have to add them later. Seeing the friends that I only see a few times a year is always the best part of these days. Greyhound, Speedkills, G2G, Snowman and company, hell even Pete. It's not all about you Pete!
Anyway, I had prettymuch figured I'd put the SM450R on the bidding block after this weekend and find myself a nice long distance do everything bike and return to the adventure touring, and I still want to return to adventure touring (Alaska anyone?) but I just can't bring myself to put the Husky out there quite yet. I pushed myself a little outside my comfort zone this weekend, that's progress, and that's why something keeps nagging at me in a ghostly voice "go back to the track, go back to the track."
meh - I'll change my mind 8 more times in the next 3 weeks.