DAY 3: SECOND PRACTICE DAY
From John’s audio-journal:
This next day of practice brought a new mindset; ride smooth and let the speed come to us. This is often times the lesson after a crash or off-course to be honest, and it always seems to help. This day featured all pavement and the famous “W’s”, a section on terraced road with 15mph hairpins separated by short bits of quick asphalt. The sun was rising in our eyes for the first sessions, but we could see enough to tell that the bike absolutely HATED to turn right in the slower corners. By contrast, it handled expertly in lefts. Working to take a little more wobble out of the front rim we suddenly noticed that it was cambered the wrong direction. Normally a wheel should have it’s top half tilted slightly inboard to the center, just like on a 4-wheeled car. This was cambered out away from the bike. Had it been like this before we hit the ditch? The bike pulled to the left and didn’t want to turn right before that, but it seemed worse now. It was hard to tell, and there was no way to bend the front end back even if we could figure out the proper angle; that is the type of job that requires a flat table and a torch.
With the shortcomings in mind, Gina and I simply limped around the course, trying to go fast in the lefts. I tried a few times to pop the chair up on purpose in right turns. With the resistance going away as soon as the chair was airborne, it made sense to just take right turns with the chair wheel off the ground. This proved too difficult and it had to be done suddenly and precisely, and requires a passenger who is familiar and comfortable with the sensation. I lacked the precision and Gina lacked the familiarity, so we just rode the bike carefully. The frustration was really getting to me. Having to drive a race bike infuriates me. You race a race bike, you don’t drive it. I faked being calm about it, but I was a lousy liar. On the upshot the bike had gone from terrifying to frustrating, which is quite a lot easier to deal with.