Thursday, September 09, 2010

Change of Pace

It's been an oddly hectic few weeks around here. I had hoped that my leave of absence from work would yield some nice quiet time, some time with the baby, and maybe some garage time. Alas, that hasn't been the case.

At the end of August I took my first (and probably only) trackday trip of 2010. I went to Oregon Raceway Park and rode with STAR. The original plan was to ride 4 consecutive days, 2 with NESBA and 2 with STAR but the economy has apparently overwhelmed NESBA and they cancelled a number of their events in the Northwest. Hopefully they'll be back in 2011.

The days with STAR were fabulous, as always. They run a very controlled event.

I'm definitely going slower than I have in previous years but it's fun anyway. Just to prove to myself that I'm slow I decided to take a ride on the back of Jason Pridmores bike. If you ever have the chance to ride on a bike piloted by a former AMA champion I suggest you take it. It will

a) Show you what a modern sport bike is really capable of.
2) Convince you that there are better riders than you. Period.
iii) Prove that some people have ice-water in their veins.

The ride starts simply enough. You climb on the back of his GSXR1000. (It's completely stock except for an after-market exhaust and a custom tank that has handles built into it for a passenger to hold onto. It even has DOT tires.) He turns and says "Just look over my shoulder as we lean and give me a little room to shift around on the bike. When we get to that sharp left at the end I'll ask if you want to go for another lap." Sounds easy enough.

Then a very odd thing happens. But after a few turns I get used to the fact that all the other bikes on the track must be in reverse.

The "sharp left at the end" is a 1st gear, downhill corner that's been my nemesis ever since I showed up at ORP. I hate it. But I figure he'll go through it, settle the bike in the short straight that follows, then yell something incomprehensible to me at which point I'll give him the "thumbs up" and we'll go around again.

That's not what happened.

Going *into* the corner, carrying more speed, and using more braking force than I ever have, he does the unthinkable. He lets go the bars, flips up his visor, turns his head and asks me "So, you okay for another round?". His voice is so flat you think he might be a waiter asking to refill your coffee.

Since I'm a sane person my response was "No! You idiot! Watch where you're going! Two hands! Two hands! Get me off this machine and away from this crazy man!" But I don't think my pronunciation was right. All I heard was my voice saying "Holy crap! Hell yes!"