Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sonoma May 20, 2013

After my last two trips to the track, I can say that I was looking forward to this trip to Sonoma. The rear axle has been rebuilt. A new chain and sprockets has been installed.

With the rear end effectively new, she is ready for a good track day.

Arrival at the track, tech and sign up went smoothly. Keigwin's surprised me by allowing garage rental so I was able to get a garage instead of being squeezed out of my original pit space. I am always amazed that people would rather squeeze into your space then move 50 feet farther away from the track entrance.

Setting up inside of the garage was quite a treat. The garage stayed significantly cooler than the asphalt outside and having power was a lot nicer than needing to start up the generator each time I came back in from the track. I will definitely be looking for garage rentals in the future. It was a nice bit of comfort added to the experience.

The day was warm and the track looked to be in excellent condition. Fortunately I am familiar with Sonoma and know that she is deceiving in the morning and will bite you in the ass if you do not respect her. This was confirmed as I saw no less than two yellow flags on my out lap and during my first session of the day. She was biting hard.

On my last trip to Sonoma I was running fairly consistent 2:04 lap times so I signed up for B+ as I was slower than the recommended cut off for A group. I started off the day peeling off 2:08 laps as I started to warm up, both the bike and my head. The goal for the morning was to get the bike dialed in for Sonoma and to get my references set up in preparation for my afternoon with Dave Moss.

The morning proceeded smoothly for me and I was soon turning consistent laps with a few dips close to 2:00 when I could get a clear lap away from traffic. Unfortunately B+ was extremely busy and it was hard to get a clean lap. On the advice of Dave Moss I gave A group a try. First session goal was to make sure I could hold my own end was not creating a dangerous situation. Since I found myself pretty much in the middle of the pack I decided to stay for the rest of the day. A group was far less busy than B+ which is good news for coaching in the afternoon.

Unfortunately the day did not go as smoothly for other people. By lunch there were at least two red flags including ambulance runs which threw everything off schedule. Once the post lunch red flag got sorted, Dave and I went out for our first session. As last time at Thunderhill, I was nervous knowing that I was being watched and tried to focus on keeping my lines consistent. After four laps Dave passed me and started to show me some corrections to my lines. Unfortunately we were running short sessions due to the red flags and we did not get very long for him to correct me.

Copyright 2013

Being that I did not have very much seat time at Sonoma I expected my lines to be a complete wreck. Therefore I was surprised when that was not the case.

There was absolutely room for improvement! However, most of my lines were good or at least good enough.

Dave walked through the session with me using the video that he recorded during the session. He pointed out both my strengths and my weaknesses, asking questions and offering suggestions on how to improve my performance on the track. After our debriefing I was looking forward to getting back out there and implementing his suggestions.

Unfortunately, between our sessions someone had a serious get off which required not only a red flag but a helicopter. Hopefully the rider is ok but it caused a significant delay and caused everyone to lose a session.

By the time Dave and I were able to get back onto the track some of his suggestions were starting to fade and I found myself with my attention split between watching him (he lead in this second session) and trying to remember what we talked about an hour+ beforehand. During the entire last session I felt "rough" and really wished I could have gotten another session in with him.

According to Dave though I was picking up the changes in some areas and he offered additional suggestions for my next trip to Sonoma. Specifically some braking drills to improve my depth perception and then some corner specific drills once my braking is stronger.

Overall it was an excellent day at the track. However it also reminded me of why I prefer two day track events to single day. When the track is vicious one day you have the other day to help balance things out. When you are on a single day event it really throws off the entire experience.

Brushing up against 2:00 at Sonoma Raceway

Fortunately I will be back at Sonoma next week for another one day event with Zoom Zoom. WIth the videos from this week in hand I should be able to break 2:00,

Interesting Lesson Learned

As I was packing up for the day and putting my bike on the trailer, I noticed a new wear pattern on my back tire.

Wear through the carcass of the tire

I drove over to Dave's trailer to ask what it meant as I had not seen it before.

Those indentations are wear through the outer carcass of the tire. This means, not only is the tire done, but that it was done a few laps ago at least :)

So new wear pattern for me to watch out for. I only had 3.5 days on that tire and I got 5ish days out of the last one. Faster tire wear is a good sign :)